If you need further information about Training then please contact me
Caroline – caz@rackley.fworld.co.uk Or call me 07703 197823
The training of a young dog is time-consuming but, with a suitable dog and determination, the process will be rewarding for both handler and dog.

A structured training course will enable you, the Handler to perform basic stock tasks with minimum stress to the sheep, to your dog and to yourself.
A course will aim to help you achieve a basic understanding of the process of training the working sheepdog and together with a level of competence in sheep dog handling you will attain the maximum level of work from the individual animal. Having achieved these basic skills much of the training can be undertaken during normal daily work.

The emphasis in training is on the Handler but it is essential for dog and handler to have a strong bond upon which their working relationship can be based.
A suitable sheep dog will be between 8 months to 18 months, but this depends on the individual animal and whether or not they have shown an ‘interest’ in sheep. Some older dogs have been successfully trained by their handlers.

Assessments

By having an initial assessment you will find out what to expect from the dog’s first experience with sheep. You will ascertain your dog’s potential and how that potential may match your aspirations. If you are not an experienced shepherd you will also gain knowledge of working with sheep.

An assessment session can be taken as ‘one-off’ in order to determine if your dog is ready for training. Or the session can be taken immediately before a course so that the trainer can see the best method to use.

We advise that Group training enables the handler to interact with other group members giving a rounded approach to training.

Beginners and novice

‘Beginners and novice’ covers a wide range of handler ability. For example we have experienced handlers joining this course in order to establish a working relationship with a new dog.

These sessions last for two hours only and group numbers are restricted to four. This means that you will get a couple of ‘runs’ with your dog and probably with two sets of sheep. You also benefit from seeing how other people and their dogs are faring.
Some trainers favour the ‘Pen’ as a training aid. This means that a circular pen made of hurdles is erected and about 5 or 6 sheep placed within. Your dog will then move around the outside of the pen with you endeavouring to ‘balance’ the dog and introduce commands for left and right – traditionally ‘come-by’ and ‘away’.
Once the trainer is satisfied that you are in control of your dog and your dog is in control of itself, he will progress you to a flock of – say – 20 to 30 sheep in a small field. This is where your ability to ‘read’ sheep will come into more prominence!

Again, balancing the dog is paramount. With the confidence that the dog has gained through working the ‘pen’ it is always hoped that ‘gripping’ a sheep will not take place. This sometimes happens when a young dog gets over anxious that the sheep are not doing what it wants them to do and attaches itself to the sheep’s fleece.
Obviously this is not to be encouraged but is a natural response when training a young dog. This is one reason why trainers are careful about the group of sheep they use for training! Prized pedigree stock might not be the first choice!
There are a couple of our trainers who prefer not to use this method and will introduce a young dog to a mob of 40 or 50 sheep from the outset. In terms of success this method does depend more on the handlers’ ability to ‘read’ the sheep. But all trainers have their individual methods and you can always put together a pen at home if you prefer, for practice!

Workshops

The ‘workshops’ are designed for the more experienced handler who is requiring coaching in one particular aspect of their dog’s behaviour and again are about 2 – 3 hours in length depending on the number of people who join the group.

Private Sessions

Private Sessions are available for the handler with not much time to spare or who is shy!

Welfare

There is always the concern that the sheep are being stressed in theses training sessions. We must reassure our readers that the welfare of the sheep is paramount to our training. Constant re-appraisal of the sheep is carried out throughout the session and a group is replaced at regular intervals.

Coverage

You will see on our Who Are Our Trainers page that we have a wide geographical coverage and it is planned to offer our service beyond the boundaries of the South West of England. We are already looking at potential courses in Sussex.

Costs

We endeavour to keep our costs at a realistic level and where there is the possibility of acquiring Govt. Funding all efforts are made to pass this financial support to our clients. Because of the changes in Govt. Funding, the Course costs alter from time to time. For example, at the moment – July 2014 – there is no Funding availble and a five session course run overten weeks (attendance is fortnightly)will cost £130.

A Well Trained Dog

You can appreciate that once fully trained; the working sheepdog is the right hand of the shepherd and will help the keeping of sheep less difficult and more pleasurable.

And remember, at all times – Practice makes Perfect