Happy New Year! And what better way to start the year than to consider that vital third component of our sheepdog training – sheep.
Don’t ever be tempted to think that sheep are stupid; they’re experts at protecting themselves from a dog – either by running away, or by standing and facing – and can be intimidating to an inexperienced or shy dog.
We talk about sheep on our First Steps DVD and the revised sheep chapter appears in the tutorial library. Sheep – Essential Facts for Trainers looks at finding suitable training sheep, where to keep them, and why sheep can be controlled by a dog.
Of course we can’t all choose our perfect sheep, and many of us simply have to work with what we’re given. Watch Woolly Jumpers for some ideas about coping with sheep who’ve discovered that escape is the easier option.
You don’t want your dog to cause distress to the sheep, for reasons of both welfare and productivity, so it must learn to control and move the stock with respect. Watch Give the Sheep Space to see the difference it makes when a dog keeps its distance; the sheep will be calmer, and easier to manage than excited or frightened animals will be. Calmer sheep make for a calmer dog, and you’ll probably feel calmer too.