According to Stephen Flanagan, CAFRE beef and sheep advisor, a “well-trained and reliable” sheepdog is something a farmer will never part with.
He made the comment following a recent visit to the farm of Michael Gawn from Parkgate, who hosted local sheep BDG members on his farm.
The event was held in response to some members’ requests for information on nurturing and developing the young sheepdog.
Flanagan commented: “Michael has the skill and patience needed to develop and train his own collie pups into fully trained farm dogs.”
“In the past, he has also helped other local farmers with the training of their dogs.”
Buying and training sheepdogs
Here is a summary of some of the tips he shared at the recent event:
- See the mother or even both parents working to get an idea of the breeding potential and also if that breeding line is suitable for your farm;
- Temperament important – friendly, keen, active and in good health;
- Before you introduce a pup to sheep, get comfortable with the universally held commands like ‘come bye’, ‘away’, ‘lie down’, ‘that will do’ etc;
- Teach the dog its name and familiarise it with the farm surroundings and the type of environment it will be working in;
- Try to avoid training sessions at the edge of dark. Sheep become unsettled in low light, and the pup’s eyesight becomes less focused;
- Introduce the pup to sheep as early as you like but do not let them chase sheep on their own until they are fast enough to pass them, or it will become a ‘game of fun’ for them, which will hinder training later on;
- Training: As a rough guide, 8 to 10 months is an ideal age, and over a year old before serious training starts – Every dog is different, and if you think they are not coping with the pressure, it is worth going back a step until they mature a little.
You can find other sheepdog training tips for beginners on That’s Farming.