Our technique for SERIOUSLY widening your dog out from sheep or cattle
Knowing where to stand and what to do, as you send your dog off to the sheep, can make a huge difference to the space the dog puts between itself and the stock but, if you want a sure-fire way to widen your dog’s outrun and flanking, and provided the dog will reliably come away from the stock, you should be able to train it to do what we call “The Slingshot”.
Years ago we noticed that sometimes, as we walked away from the sheep during a training session, a dog that was very keen to get back to the sheep would “zig-zag” backwards and forwards in front of us as we walked away.
The dog was often so keen to get back to the sheep it seemed to be pleading with the handler to send it off again. Once it was released, the dog would set off on its outrun with even more enthusiasm than it had before.
We found that by using their body language to suggest to the dog that they were about to send it off, but then calling the dog back onto line (in other words teasing or “winding-up” the dog) the handler could increase this “zig-zag” action and the dog would become so excited that by the time it was released, it would set off really wide.
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By praising the dog as it goes out wide it’s very simple for the handler can teach the dog that this is the correct way to go to the sheep. It should be noted that whilst the “Slingshot” is most effective for sending the dog off very wide, it’s of limited use at the far end of the outrun if the dog’s inclined to come in tight. However, if the dog sets off well it’s much easier to teach the dog to maintain a wide path, than it is if it sets off straight towards the sheep.
So while it’s by no means a “cure-all”, the “Slingshot” can be an extremely useful tool for widening the dog’s outrun and flanks.