Stop the dog splitting the sheep! (FAQ)

Photo of a trainee sheepdog which has separated a bunch of sheep

QUESTION: My dog likes to split the sheep up and bite them. I am having trouble getting her to go round them. Can you help?

ANSWER: It’s perfectly normal for your dog to split the sheep up in the very early stages of training. It shows she has the natural ability she needs to become a great sheepdog, but of course you must get her under control as quickly as possible.

When I started training my first dog (Dot) I called the trainer I bought her from, and asked if I could return her because she wasn’t doing ANY of the things I’d seen on the videos I watched. (They all show things going right).

I told him she was splitting the sheep up, gripping, and even hanging on to a sheep as it ran all the way around the headland of the field. He agreed to have her back and offered my MORE money than I’d paid him for her a couple of weeks previously – because she had the makings of a great dog.

Of course I kept her – and all those years ago, I eventually sold Dot for £2,000! She was brilliant!

All the ingredients required of a good sheepdog

A dog which has high-drive and a strong instinct to get amongst livestock has all the traits required of a very useful sheep or cattle dog.

Believe in your dog and learn about sheepdog training so that you understand what the dog’s likely to do and how the sheep will react. Once you understand what’s going on you’ll be in a much better place to set things up for success when you train your dog. You’ll be SO pleased you did!

Watch the video below. It shows how our Online Sheepdog Training Tutorial videos can help you to teach your dog to herd sheep and other livestock – keeping the splitting-up and gripping to a minimum.


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Over 70 clearly explained, easy to follow sheep and cattle dog training videos for first time sheepdog trainers, farmers, and shepherds. Just £10 per month or £100 per year (choice of currencies for payment). Watch the preview here!

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3 responses to “Stop the dog splitting the sheep! (FAQ)”

  1. Hi, I have a 6mth old bitch she is showing great interest in sheep, I can get her going round them both ways in the pen once she settles down, only thing the recall isn’t great, should I keep her away from sheep until I get that sorted . She’s very keen jumped the stock fence into the pen the other day to get to them.

    1. That’s a pretty good start, John! If you can get the dog going both ways around the sheep, you’re well on the way to getting her trained.
      You don’t say whether the recall is just bad when she’s near sheep – or whether it’s bad all of the time? There is a big difference!
      If her recall is OK (or preferably good) when she’s away from sheep, I wouldn’t worry too much. A keen youngster is almost certain to ignore your recall commands when it’s going round sheep. You need to work on stopping her, and then catching her.
      Remember to mqke a point of letting her go quite often, both when she stops, and when you catch her. If she thinks she may be able to carry on working if she stops, or lets you catch her, she’s far more likely to stop and let you catch her in future.
      The next step is to take her away from the sheep (just a few yards at first) and then send her off to them again. Once she gets to know that when you take her away from the sheep, there’s a good chance you’ll send her off to them again the recall near sheep will improve.
      If the recall is bad when the dog’s away from sheep, you definitely need to work on it. Teaching the dog to walk properly on a lead (away from sheep) is usually a big help, and spending as much time with the dog as you can is another.
      There’s a lot of useful advice for training your dog in our online sheepdog training tutorials.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me, her recall is not great at anytime. When I say she’ll go both ways , that’s with help from me not just on Command, I always let her go a few times before I take her away. My biggest problem is getting sheep that are quiet but not too quiet, she still has a lot of playful puppy in her which probably not helping with the recall, thanks for your help and advice, much appreciated! Ps I’ve got the first 2 of your dvds which are very useful, thanks John!

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