Sheepdog puppy training

Starting a puppy on sheep

Two tutorials about early lessons to give your sheepdog puppy a head start.

The usual age to begin sheepdog training is between 6 and 12 months. We need the puppy to be fast enough to head the sheep, and to be mentally mature enough to cope with the stress of training and close proximity to livestock.

Sheepdog pups Dash and Hayley moving the sheep under the supervision of Carew.
Puppies working with a trained dog

However, if you have a suitable training area and some docile sheep, it’s quite possible to start “training” even earlier.

These very early lessons are really intended to spark the dog’s interest in sheep, show it that we’re happy for it to chase them, and to boost the dog’s confidence. Sheep are often quite shy of the darting movements of puppies, and this can give the puppy a sense of its power while it’s still small enough to be easy for us to control. The discipline can come later.

“Starting a Young Puppy”, parts 1 and 2, show an 11-week old Ezra in his first session in the ring, and a second lesson, at 15 weeks, out in the field.

Ezra begins to learn about keeping the sheep together and seems to be enjoying himself, but such early lessons must be kept short. Your puppy may not seem physically tired, but is likely to become mentally tired far more quickly.

Watch “Starting a Young Puppy on Sheep” parts 1 and 2, from the online tutorials library.


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