QUESTION: I’m trying to put the sheep into a yard but my dog stops them from going in. How can I get my dog to put the sheep right in?
ANSWER: This problem is more common than you would think. One example of it is when you first begin to move sheep into another field. As the sheep go through the gate, the trainee dog will often race after them, and try to bring them back. This is because the dog thinks the sheep are escaping – and if it doesn’t bring them back, the sheep will escape.
Smart dogs learn fast!
Another example is when you’re training the dog, and to end the session, you get it to put the sheep into a yard, a pen, or even another field before taking the dog away. If you keep doing this, the dog will realise that once the sheep go in, its training session will end – so the smart dog does its level best to make sure the sheep stay out!
This happens quite often with our dogs, but fortunately, once I recognise what the dog’s doing, the remedy is very simple.
Just as letting the dog go again when your first manage to get it to stop, will make it more likely the dog will stop next time, instead of putting the sheep or cattle into a yard or pen to end the session, do it much earlier, then keep training the dog. Perhaps teach the dog to work in a confined space, or just do some flanking practice before taking the sheep out again and continuing the session for a while.
The dog will be far more likely to help you to put the sheep somewhere if it thinks there’s a good chance it won’t be the end of the session.