When most people hear the word “sheepdog,” they immediately think of the beautiful long-haired Old English, the pint-sized Collie-like Shetland, or perhaps even the ancient Catalan.
However, the term can actually refer to any of the herding breeds, including German Shepherds and Border Collies, writes Nicole Etolen, editor-in-chief of AlphaTrainedDogs.
Since these highly intelligent dogs were bred specifically to work alongside farmers and help herd livestock. They are fairly easy to train, especially if you focus on positive reinforcement methods.
That said, some of them do have very strong personalities, so you will need a lot of patience in the beginning.
Here are some very important sheepdog training tips for beginners you will definitely need when getting your next shepherd.
Sheepdog training tips for beginners
1. Don’t start training too early
A common mistake trainers make is to assume a puppy can be trained for herding from a very young age. The problem with that is the fact that puppies don’t have the required attention span to learn all the procedures, and they will play whenever they have the chance.
At first, your puppy needs to learn the basics, and what he is allowed to do and what he shouldn’t do.
2. Train for 15 minutes at most
Regardless of the dog’s age, the training sessions shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes. They will not be able to focus for more than that, and it’s going to become stressful.
It is much better to train 15 minutes two times a day than train for one hour every couple of days. Dogs need consistent routines in order to learn.
3. Start small
When you start training your sheepdog, make sure you start with a few sheep, so he is not completely overwhelmed by the situation. Your dog needs to gain confidence and slowly learn what he has to do.
In general, when your dog is learning something new, he needs to perfectly understand what he has to do. If he is disturbed by the environment, he can get confused.
Before you go ahead and start teaching your dog complex commands, you need to make sure he perfectly understands the basics.
You need to start with commands such as ‘Away,’ ‘Come,’ and ‘Steady.’
4. Take advantage of his instincts
Herding dogs were originally meant to herd livestock, and they have that in their blood. If you choose a herding dog, then you will have an easier time training him.
Breeds such as the Border Collie or German Shepherd will be more than happy to herd whenever given the chance, as most casual owners are not thrilled by the fact that their dogs are trying to herd everything they see.
5. Pay attention to body language
Herding dogs usually have some very specific behaviors you need to know and recognize. Some of them may nip, others may poke, or even circle their targets. Make sure you know when your dog is doing something like this and help him do it when needed.
Whatever your reasons are, make sure you take all the steps and carefully train your dog for his purpose.
These sheepdog training tips for beginners will definitely help you understand more about your new herding dog.