Why is it beneficial to join other Sheepdog handlers to train our sheepdogs?

nursery trials

Most of us are short of time when it comes schooling our sheepdogs and trial dogs but I think it is important to remember how beneficial it is to join other sheepdog handlers occasionally to train sheepdogs for sheepdog trials and to try and make time to join forces. Recently I visited with my friends Matt Murphy and Eamonn Connell. My dogs had made some mistakes at Matt’s nursery trial that he had held the week before. afterwards I had asked if he would leave the course up so that we could come back and correct our dogs on it the following Saturday, Matt agreed to it.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to get back there again and Eamonn joined us too. We got to school out the correct our dogs in this pseudo trial situation and have some fun at the same time.

I decided to make a short video for my Patreon subscribers just to give a little insight into the type of things we do in our sheepdog training to aid in the preparation for sheepdog trials. I’m sharing it again here in case it might remind someone else of additional opportunities they may have available, that they could use in their training. Even just the other night I got the opportunity to school under lights with some friends, on a few wild Wicklow Cheviot sheep. It was great because it was a new place, new sheep and a completely new scenario for my dogs. All that, and also the enjoyment and joking that comes out of hooking up with three other lads on a wet windy night ha!

This is just a short clip from our Saturday morning in Matt’s, but for anyone outside of Ireland it will give you a quick look at the place and as well as that, Matt and Eamonn share a few thoughts on camera here too.

Ten reasons why I think it is very beneficial to join other sheepdog handlers to train our dogs

  1. I have a new place for my dog to outrun and make mistakes
  2. I can send him each side and i can got to another end of the field and run him back each side
  3. I have someone to hold the sheep for me so that i can correct my dog on his outrun if need be without the sheep ever moving off the spot where I started with them
  4. if it is a very green dog that i have, he will be learning to lift sheep off the man and dog that are holding them, balancing them down the fetch to me instead.
  5. I get to work on sheep that are not my own which will present a new challenge for both my dog and my handling.
  6. The man holding my sheep can give me feedback about how my dog lifted for example, maybe the dog needs to be deeper at the top. this way i can work on it in the next outrun.
  7. it is a trial like situation for the dog so if he has gotten to know that he can get away with some type of misbehaviour at a trial becuase the handler cannot leave the post to correct , I can leave my position and surprise him and correct the particular misbehviour.
  8. it is an opportunity to get input from other trainers
  9. perhaps the field is near the road with traffic noise or under some electricity wires etc that can effect on the hearing and so the dog can get experience of listening in odd conditions
  10. on one occasion I went to a friends place to school before a national. I went to his place because the ground was very flat and the National Sheepdog Trials course that year was also very flat. It was a good thing I did practice on it because I found it to be very tricky to know how deep the dog was behind the sheep for the lift with it being so flat. This proved very useful when I ran my dog in that National a few weeks later.


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