It’s important that your dog will flank both ways around the stock
For day-to-day farming tasks you might be able to work around your dog’s shortcomings, but when the unexpected happens (as it surely will) you, your dog, or more likely your sheep, will run into trouble if the dog is reluctant to flank freely in both directions.
Why Your Dog Should Flank Both Ways relives an incident that demonstrated the value of a versatile dog. Happily our emergency was on cosmetic and economic grounds, we simply needed to prevent the sheep from looking muddy and unattractive before they left for market that morning. But anyone who keeps sheep near railway tracks, water, roads, or neighbours’ gardens should always be in a position to retrieve their sheep safely, and with minimum damage.
The tutorial, Why Your Dog Should Flank Both Ways, is in the Flanks and Circling category in the online library.
The older the dog, the longer it will take to correct the habit of a lifetime. Changes can be made, of course, but it’s better to avoid the bad habit arising in the first place. Walking backwards is a simple training exercise to correct or prevent one-sidedness in your dog. Look for the Backwards is the Way Forward tutorial (also on DVD volume 2). Or to see one-sidedness “in action”, look out for Scylla in the Bronwen and Scylla series. This is especially apparent in Part Three, and Part Four.
You can learn more on this subject in our FAQs: Flanking both ways; and, Teach the dog to circle sheep. Or for help with terminology see the Terminology pages.
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