Sheep Dog Training
Train your own sheepdog to help you herd your flock of sheep.
A sheepdog helps the shepherd to herd sheep according to his instructions. Herding sheepdogs are agile, using eyes to hypnotize or " set " the sheep to move in specific directions.
Before you can train a dog to become a sheepdog, it must exhibit basic obedience to simple commands like sit, stand and heel. You need to use a constant disciplinary measure to let it know that it is being punished for a wrong behavior. Don't use physical abuse to control your dog. Try " grounding " it by keeping it lying still on its side.
Use a long stick like a broomstick or bamboo stick to teach the dog to move in directions indicated by your stick. Tie the dog to the end of the stick so that it learns to obey the directional changes at the end of the stick. When it behaves appropriately, you can confidently leash the dog on a rope and tap the stick on the ground to indicate the direction you want it to move.
Give the verbal command so that the dog will also learn it and associate it with that particular behavior. Slowly, as performance is perfected, you can teach the dog to respond to whistles. Whistling carries over far distances and is preferable to shouting.
A novice sheepdog should practice on the young sheep that are up to a year old. These sheep are gullible and obedient to even an inexperienced sheepdog's herding. The dog will gain confidence as the desired behavior of the sheep is positive reinforcement for it.
The novice sheepdog must be closely watched to monitor its behavior. The training of eyeing the sheep starts by keeping the dog in a small paddock next to the sheep and allow it to focus on the sheep. Work with the dog to herd the sheep by steadying and guiding the sheep to obey the dog whenever necessary. This helps the dog to build up confidence.
When you think that the dog is ready, begin the actual "field practice" by the same training procedure with the rope, then the stick, followed by verbal instructions or by whistling. The distance is gradually increased as the dog becomes better at its job.
The sheepdog's instinct is to gather the sheep by "eyeing" at them. It understands the sheep and uses its own instinct and initiative to herd the sheep in the direction the shepherd commands.
At far distances, the young sheepdog may test his shepherd master by ignoring his commands. The shepherd should discipline the dog by " grounding " it or refresh its memory by conducting the initial stages of training again with the broomstick, rope and etc.
A good sheepdog is one that has been trained to control its inherited instinct and obey its master. It has the advantage of having the instinct to gather the sheep by " eyeing " them. The shepherd needs to make use of this instinct by commanding the dog to move the sheep in the desired directions.