Monday, 5 March 2007

Sheepdog commands


Training sheepdogs relies on them having a strong natural instinct to round up sheep and bring them back to where the farmer wants them.
Working sheepdogs learn four main commands and those are fairly standard amongst sheepdog handlers: “Stand”, “Walk On”, “Come Bye” and “Go Away”. The first two are self explanatory. “Come Bye” means to go left-handed around the sheep and “Go Away” means to go right-handed. Once the dog is trained to these commands most handlers replace these words with different whistles because the sound of a whistle travels better and the dog can hear them from further away, particularly when the wind is howling. The best handlers have different whistle commands for different dogs. This means that when they are using several dogs on a big flock of sheep they can command each dog independently, keeping two dogs still and just moving the third one for example. There are of course more than 4 commands. Each handler has his set of words or gestures and the most important thing in all aspects of dog handling is the relationship between the dog and his master. (ref: Cornwall Advertisers. Clare and Mike Parnell of Carruan Farm near Polzeath)

10 comments:

Suzie said...

I have a 'heinz 57' puppy of 6 months, who has a small amount of collie in him - roughly a quarter I believe. The natural rounding-up instinct amazes me - he will try to round up anything - from people gathered in a room to horses in a field. I always assumed this was something sheepdogs had to learn.

Eurodog said...

Amazing isn't it. I know of a border collie who rounds up supermarket trolleys on a super market car park.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I loved the book Babe by Dick King-Smith (not so much the movie). It gave me a new appreciation of sheep dogs... and sheep pigs, of course.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Do you by any chance know of Meirion Thomas [or Meirion Waunlas, as we know him], also trainer of sheep-dogs and organiser of sheep dog trials par excellence ? Not really in your neck of the woods, but the world of sheep dogs is no doubt a small one.

I also saw a book a few weeks ago in 'Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights' in Bath called 'Teach your dog to read' !! I thought this was some of sort of comic book, but the bookshop owner swears it was being serious. Although they have not tested it out on the 'shop dog' Vlashka...

Any thoughts ? Just a load of tosh ? Or similar to those chimps who can be taught to associate shapes with asking for a drink ?

Eurodog said...

I am sorry but I do not know Meirion Thomas. Have not heard of the book either.
More details would be welcome. You can always send me an e-mail. Check my profile for address.

Anonymous said...

There are in fact many more sheep dog commands than 4! My welsh bordie (an ex champion)has a vocabulary of over 10 commands ....... a few examples:

The command "lie down" is used to stop the dog facing the sheep (thereby guarding the sheep and keeping them under control when cornered). Another one is "look back": this gets the dog to look behind it and gather more sheep or sheep that it has missed. And a MOST important one is "That'll do" - to stop the dog working.

My dog regularly rounds up over 100 sheep with the single command "Come by" and will happily continue to drive them across all the fields (open gates permitting) without another command until told "That'll do"!

That'll do from me!!

Eurodog said...

Anonymous,
Thank you for your comment on commands. I will amend my post to take your comment into account.

mutleythedog said...

I would only round up sheep if I was paid at least the minimum wage - it is hard work as they keep trying to escape. One thought - why not keep all the sheep on leads?

Jean said...

My dog knows the "house commands": bring your blanket, bring me the remote control, get my cellphone, etc.
Sometimes he even brings my stuff without my asking (and is very proud to bring me these gifts!).

Jean

Eurodog said...

Jean,
Ton chien n'est pas vraiment un chien de berger dans le sens propre du mot. Et s'il l'était quand même, il serait atypique.