You have a herding dog that comes from stock lines and want to train your dog to herd sheep. Maybe you want to herd for competition or maybe you want your own flock to tend. Whatever the reason, you wish to train your dog to herd.
Three major herding sanctioning bodies in the U.S. are the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA), and the American Herding Breed Association (AHBA).
Contact a sheep dog trainer in your area to help you train your dog. (see Resources).
Train your dog in the basic obedience commands. Your dog needs to know come, down, sit, heel, stay and no.
Train your dog in the basic herding commands: come to me (or come bye), away to me, lie down, and that’ll do. Come to me/ come bye means for your dog to go clockwise around the herd. Away to me means for your dog to go counterclockwise around the herd. Lie down means lie down or stop. That’ll do means stop herding.
You can do this with a long line and have your dog move out to the commands. When your dog moves in a clockwise fashion, you use the words “come bye” or “come to me.” When your dog moves counterclockwise, you use the command “away to me.”
Introduce your dog on a long line to the sheep. A natural behavior may be for him to run through the flock and try to chase or attack the sheep. Correct any chasing behavior and put your dog in a down position when your dog tries to chase the sheep.
Practice commands while on a long line around the sheep.
Once your dog is consistent at following the commands while on the long line, you can remove the long line and practice without the line.
Things You’ll Need
Internet connection and computer.
Sheep that have been herded by dogs before.
25 foot long line and collar.
Before you purchase your flock, be aware that it’s best to train a young dog to herd rather than start with an older dog. Although herding is partially instinctual, the earlier you can train your stock dog, the better the results are likely to be.
Most people who get involved in herding usually look to find a mentor to help them train their dog.
Although many breeds of dogs can be used for herding, you will be more successful with dogs from the herding breeds.
Never introduce a novice dog to sheep that have not been herded by dogs.
Never allow a dog to chase the sheep.
Keep your dog on a long line until you know how your dog will behave around sheep.
Margaret H. Bonham, “The Simple Guide to Getting Active with Your Dog,” 2001.
American Kennel Club