Home' Smart Farmer : June 2012 Contents June 2012
P to this point, you have
trained your dog in a con-
trolled environment --
namely a round yard.
This has enabled you to get your
message across by ensuring that
you have the three main elements
of training, which are control,
position and consistency.
If you have observed all those
keys to training and ensured that
you have completed every stage
and then passed every exam, your
goal is eventually to be able to use
your dog in real work -- to be able
to work out in a paddock and in
It is time for the transition -- time
to move from the round yard to the
When you first started training
little Andy, you had to prepare
your round yard and have all your
training aids (such as the rake and
lead) ready to go.
Moving out to a paddock envi-
ronment is no different. It must be
in stages. You wouldn't want to
jump from a round yard to a 40-
hectare paddock with sheep run-
ning in all directions while you
stood watching sheep and dog dis-
appear into the distance. That sort
of scenario is definitely not exhibit-
You need a small paddock, about
50 metres long by 30m wide. If
you haven't already got a paddock
that size, then you need to modify
an existing paddock by placing
another fence in an appropriate
Have at least two gates -- they
should be only 3m metres wide
(maximum). Any wider and you're
Part of transitional training is being
able to teach your dog how to work
in the yards. Therefore, you also need
to design a set of small yards that run
off your paddock.
Have at least two 3m-wide gates
Mesh yards are death traps
Never permit a dog to jump
with BEN PAGE,
Working Dog Centre
going to have a problem during your
Part of transitional training is being
able to teach your dog how to work in
the yards. Therefore, you also need to
design a set of small yards that run off
If you don't have a set of yards
already on your property, then it is easy
to buy a basic set of portable yards. You
can add additional panels as the need
One of the gates to your transitional
paddock is used as your entry point
(No1 gate) and the other (No2 gate) has
the yards running off it. In other words,
as you open No2 gate, the sheep will
travel into the yards.
As I said before, the yards do not
have to be costly or elaborate and they
can be a portable set. However, the yard
design needs to be as follows:
•No2 gate leads into a small forcing
yard. It should measure 6mx6m.
•The forcing yard should have one
straight side and one curved side that
funnels into a drenching race.
•The drenching race should have a
gate at both ends and it should be 800
centimetres wide by 6m long.
•Place some panels in a semi-circular
shape that allows the sheep to come
back into the forcing yard.
•Insert a small gate (1.5m wide) in
the forcing yard that will allow you to
move the sheep back into the forcing
This design will allow you to move
your training sheep from the transition-
al paddock -- into the forcing yard --
through the drenching race, out of the
drenching race, around and back into
the forcing yard (or the No2 gate) in a
At this stage, your dog should
be permitted to jump over any
fence, let alone a yard fence and you
work any dog in yards
that are made of mesh.
A dog that is permitted to jump a
fence is going to have a nasty accident
one day. That is a certainty, and your
dog will probably be crippled for the
rest of its life. It is cruel and irresponsi-
ble to allow it to happen. Train them
not to jump.
Mesh yards are death traps and a dog
will get his leg caught and snap Achilles
tendons or his leg or rip the hip or
shoulder beyond repair. Indeed, I go
so far as to refuse to use my dogs
when working on a property that
has yards with mesh panels.
Before you start on your transi-
tion, you need to teach Andy the
Young Andy has already been
taught to stop instantly. It was one of
the very first tones (commands) you
taught him and it is the most impor-
tant one -- but to go onto a higher
level he needs to have an additional
tone and that is the 'wait' command.
Make yourself a long, lightweight
lead, about 30m long. The easiest
venetian blind cord. On one end,
attach a spring-loaded dog clip with
a swivel. On the other end, attach a
piece of wood to attach the cord.
I use a small length of broom han-
dle, about 15cm long, and drill a
hole in the middle of it. I then feed
the venetian cord through the hole
and tie a knot on the other end. Now
wrap the cord around the broom
handle. I call it the long line.
Attach the long line to Andy's col-
ask Andy to 'stop'. Once he is in the
clap position, turn your hand side-
ways and say 'Andy stop -- wait'. Put
the 'wait' very close to the 'stop'
Very slowly, back away from Andy
while he is in the clap position, con-
tinuously repeating 'stop -- wait'.
When you are about four or five
paces away from him, slowly go
back to him, repeating 'stop -- wait'.
Once you are back beside him,
walk off for about 20m to another
spot and repeat the exercise.
As he gets better and better at just
waiting for you, then only say 'stop -
wait' the first time.
While backing away, you can sim-
ply say 'wait'.
Your objective is to be able to tell
him to 'wait' and turn your back
with confidence until you have gone
out the full length of the long line.
You can progress your training
and change things a bit by:
• Getting to the end of the long
lead and then moving left and right
until you are off his shoulders. He
must not move.
• Dropping the long lead and
moving further away.
• Every now and again calling him
to you instead of going back to him.
The 'wait' tone will get the dog to
stop there until you come back, or
until you call him to come to you.
You will use this 'wait' com-
mand/tone for the rest of his life.
You have prepared your transi-
tional paddock and your yards and
you've taught Andy how to wait.
Now you are ready to go into the big
time. We are ready to move into the
Training on a fence-
line -- it's like a big round yard.
• Need to know more?
Yards do not have to be costly or
elaborate and they can be a portable
set. However, the design needs to
follow strict guidelines.
Round yard to paddock
major transition for Andy
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