Home' Smart Farmer : September 2012 Contents September 2012
THIS month, we are going to
train your dog to work in the
Every property, whether as big as
Anna Creek Station with 1200
square miles, or as small as a hobby
farm, will need to have a set of yards
and be able to bring stock into them
You can't own stock without hav-
ing a set of yards.
This is a completely different
phase of training and leads you into
such things as:
• Ensuring a dog never suffers
injury by jumping fences or stock
• The 'wait' command.
• Multiple gate openings and how
the dog can assist you to clear gates.
• How to teach correct backing
By now, your dog will be able to
cast out, pick up sheep, and bring
them into a forcing pen while you
stand in one spot.
You are developing into a team.
There is no need for you to walk
miles every time you bring stock
into the yards.
How many farmers have you seen
who walk behind their sheep --
where the dog should be -- and then
jump up and down making strange
noises to try and get their sheep into
the forcing pen?
Believe it or not, I have seen whole
families doing this, and sometimes
the next door neighbour as well!
There is nothing that looks as silly
as a farmer doing 'star-jumps'
behind a mob of sheep.
You won't have that problem. You
have already taught Andy to balance
sheep, to stop, to go left and right,
and last month you taught him to
bring sheep into the forcing pen, just
by standing at the gate.
Before we get going, now might be
the time to leave your rake and move
onto a training stick.
Training sticks are generally four-
foot high in the old measurements and
are made of plastic that doesn't bend.
They are lightweight and a lot eas-
ier to use. You use them just as you
have been using your rake.
For these lessons, you will need
your yards laid out in the design I
gave you in the June edition of Smart
Farmer, and you will need the 10
sheep you have been using. These
sheep are now used to following you
and we are going to capitalize on
The purpose of having this yard
design is to be able to move in a con-
tinuous circle and end up back
where you started. To make it easier
to describe, I'm going to use num-
bers on the gates.
Train dog and stock
Our goal this month is to get your
dog to move with confidence in and
out of different-sized yards. At the
same time, we will do something
with your stock that is going to be a
huge benefit to you.
We are going to lower their stress
levels and make them familiar with
moving through the yards.
Start your training sessions with
something Andy already knows. So,
go to the forcing pen, open the gate
and cast him out to pick up the
sheep and bring them into the forc-
ing pen. Ask him to stop and then
send him "Behind" to bring the
sheep back out. You can do it a cou-
ple of times and then call him off.
Open the gates
Go and open the following gates.
Open Gate 3 out of the drenching
Open one side of the drafting race
to allow the sheep back towards the
Get Andy and, once again, cast
him out to bring in the sheep. But
this time, when your sheep are in the
forcing pen, close the forcing pen
gate (Gate 1).
At the same time, send Andy
'Behind' and 'Stop' him as he gets to
Quickly walk through your sheep
and you'll find that with all the train-
ing you've given Andy, he will imme-
diately go around to the other side of
the sheep to balance you.
Open Gate 2 and immediately
walk down the drenching race and
through Gate 3. You'll find that your
Stick with all the
YARD SETUP 4
OPEN GATE 5
SHEEP BACK INTO
YARD SETUP 3
YARD SETUP 2
YARD SETUP 1
with BEN PAGE,
Working Dog Centre
sheep will follow you through the
Closely watch what Andy does.
Don't let him 'push' the sheep too
hard. If he does, you'll have to 'Stop'
him for a short while.
Hint: When I'm training a young
dog in the yards, I walk backwards
quite often. It enables you to be able
to see what's happening.
Give him continuous encourage-
ment by talking to him. He is likely
to lose sight of you and wonder
where you have gone -- so you need
to talk to him and reassure him.
Remember, his eye level is lower
than the sheep.
Once you're out of the drenching
race, move through the drafting race
gate and walk towards Gate 5. Open
it quickly so you don't spoil the flow
of your sheep.
Andy already knows how to bring
sheep into a yard (you taught him
last month), so the sheep will now
go back into the forcing pen.
Once they are in the forcing pen,
either push your way through the
sheep and back down the drenching
race or hop over the yard panels and
walk down the drenching race.
Repeat the exercise
You can now repeat the whole
exercise. You should be able to do it
about 10 times until the sheep get a
At about the fifth time through
your exercise (or when you think
Andy is comfortable), you can hop
out of the drenching race and stand
to one side.
Then move towards your drafting
gates and stand beside them while
Andy brings them through. If he
makes a mistake, you can easily
jump back in and walk through, as
you did before.
Over the years, I have worked
with a quite a number of landown-
ers -- from very large properties, to
quite small -- and I couldn't count
the number of times I have been
asked how I manage to get my dogs
to bring the sheep or cattle through
the yards and do all the drafting by
I wouldn't be able to do it if my
dogs were not trained to balance
stock to me. So now you know the
If you have been following this
column for the past two years, you
will also have the secret.
But most stock owners either don't
know how to train a dog correctly,
or won't spend the time to invest in
the best mate they will ever have.
A good working dog can do the
work of three men.
Next month: Time to wait, Andy.
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