Shepherd Training at the Canine Ranch | American Dog With Victoria Stilwell

Hi, I’m Victoria Stilwell for American Dog.
And today, I’m gonna learn how to be a shepherdess. Lie down. Lie down, stay. This
is Lynn. She’s four-years-old. She’s one of the Border dogs that I use everyday. What
we’ve done is we got the sheep nice and stable. And with each Border Collie, they have a variety
of things that you can do with them to get the sheep where you want them to go. She has
a clockwise whistle and a word. But she has a clockwise whistle, which is–– That sends
her clockwise. And then she has a lie down–– And she has a counterclockwise–– So, we
use the Border Collie, you know, both for work and for trials. So those are a few of
their basic commands that we’ve got. They also have a walk straight in command––
So we’ll just let her bring the sheep onto us now. And is this part you directing her
and part her doing it by natural instinct? Lie down, stay. So, absolutely, it’s a combination
of both. She’s got a lot of training, a lot learning that she’s done to get her to this
level where she’s at. But it would be impossible to teach this if she did not come with natural
instincts and natural ability and talent and drive to do what she does. So you need a lot
of both. What age would you start a dog on this? With most Border Collies, what we do
is when they’re young, you wanna expose them, you want them to be able to see the sheep
and visit with the sheep so that they know that they exist. By the time they’re old enough
and physically mature enough to be ready to start training, for most dogs of the herding
breeds, it’s somewhere between ten months and a year and a half is when most dogs are
ready, both physically and mentally ready to get started. Okay. How long, therefore,
does it take to train a dog like this to do what she’s doing? By the time a dog is three,
they should have a vast majority of their learning already accomplished. A lot of it
comes through experience, so once you set the foundation, you teach the actions and
the behaviors, the more they do it the more they come to understand what they do. How
do you go about the process of teaching her, for example, that clockwise means she has
to go in a certain direction? A Border Collie, from a very small age, even when you start
with a tiny puppy, when you take them to stock, they have a natural instinct to go around
the stock and gather the stock. Very few take much effort to keep them on the far side of
the stock, which means they’re bringing the sheep to you. So as you move around the sheep,
the Border Collie pivots around the sheep to keep them to you because that’s their natural
gathering instinct. So, you start putting a word to the action. So as you move the dog
moves as well, and so that way, they just pick up the action from there. And then you’re
putting not just words to the action, you’re actually putting whistles to the action. So
you either gotta be a good whistler or you can use an actual whistle. You can. Okay.
You don’t have to whistle with your mouth — they make shepherd’s whistles that are
really handy. Right. I use them when I compete with dogs as well. Yeah. Okay. And then she
gets to understand this just really by your movement and the way she’s moving, you’re
putting, you’re associating that movement, well, that direction of movement with a vocal
cue or whistle. Or a whistle. Yep. Where did you learn this skill? Well, I grew up in the
city, so it wasn’t something that we did at home. It was something that I had always had
an interest in. I’ve always had an interest in livestock and in the dogs themselves. So
it was sort of a natural combination for me. There’s some really talented people in this
region that I went and took lessons from and went to competitions with and traveled around
with. So I just, you know, I had a lot of interest in learning, so I went to as many
different places as I could, places like the Canine Ranch, so we could get out there and
learn as much as I could and take this on so I could go out and teach students as well.
Now there are a lot of people who say: Well, I have a Border Collie, I have a herding breed,
but there’s no way that my Border Collie or my herding breed is gonna do this. But you
teach regular people with regular dogs to do this kind of thing. Absolutely, I see a
lot of dogs from all walks of life. We see dogs from in town, we see dogs from the country,
dogs that, you know, worked every single day on working ranches. But anybody’s dog can,
any dog can participate. Just about any breed and any dog can at least come out and give
it a shot, see how it goes. And then, you know, you just do the best with each dog as
an individual that you can. So you’re not necessarily saying that your dog has to be
a herding breed in order to do this? No, we’ve done all kinds of fun dogs. We’ve done a Bichon.
A Bichon? We had a Bichon. A Bichon? We did, a Bichon that had some herding talent. She
was, actually, pretty cute, and had a of doing what she did. Some of our more atypical breeds:
We had a large Standard Poodle, a big white Standard Poodle. One of the funniest things
with that was the sheep thought it was a sheep as well and ran to the dog first and then
realized that it was a dog. So, yeah, no, we’ve seen a wide variety breeds that have
some interest and have some ability while doing sheep herding. Now, in order to get
your dogs as proficient as they are, this is a daily commitment? There’s certainly a
commitment to just training and building a good relationship with your dog. It’s not
something where you have to come out every single day and work your dog on sheep. Certainly,
the more opportunity you have to train your dog the faster they’ll learn and they faster
they’ll progress. But it’s not something that you have to do every single day. No, a lot
of people come out for lessons once a week. I’ve seen dogs progress as little as once
a month. But, again, it’s a much slower progression than if you had an opportunity to do it everyday.
Okay. What would you say to people who, for example, Border Collie in an urban environment?
Oh, gosh, they’re phenomenal pets and can do so many different things, but that’s sort
of the key that makes them so successful at a home too. They do need very good training
and an opportunity and an outlet to expend some energy every single day and utilize their
brain as well. So it’s not — the ownership of a Border Collie is not to be taken lightly,
but definitely something that can be accomplished if you have the right determination because
you’re dog certainly will, so you just need to keep up with them that way. Okay. What
do you do when you’re not working here at the Canine Ranch? What do you do with your
sheep? Well, my company is Universally Green, and we are an Earth-friendly business that
goes around the city of Atlanta and eats Kudzu and other invasive weeds. So my flock of sheep
is very mobile. We’re always on the move. We do a lot of businesses and some– a lot
of contract work just going around the city and eating up, gobbling up every weed that
we can find. So wait a second: You are working in metropolitan Atlanta with your sheep eating
Kudzu? Absolutely. It’s one of their favorite thing to do. So, yep, that’s our life. That’s
— that’s bizarre. I mean, it’s a great idea. Yep. Because I know there’s a huge Kudzu problem
here. Yep. But that’s bizarre to have a dog herding sheep in an urban environment when
you normally think that it’s something done out in the country. Right, it’s definitely
not what people think they’ll see when they drive into the city of Atlanta. We go down
a lot of urban streets and in a lot of urban neighborhoods, really public places. So our
sheep are pretty well-versed in the way traffic works around the city and the way people work.
And, yep, it’s worked out really well. So if you have a call Kudzu problem, call Brian
and his sheep. Please do, yep. Now, I’m a trainer, but I haven’t worked a dog with sheep.
Right. So can you teach me? Absolutely, today’s our day. Okay. And I can’t whistle as well
as you can. Ah, you don’t have to start with that today. Alright, good. Alright then. Did
you see him look back? He’s like, “They’re in — what do you want me to do now?” What
do you want me to do? Alright, here I am. What do I do? Alright, so, first and foremost,
you need a dog. We have this lovely dog back here. Her name is Devon. Okay. She’s about
two-years-old now, so she’s had a little bit of training, but not much. So it’ll be a good
opportunity for you to learn with her, which is the way most people start with their dog.
So, as you saw with Pete, the dog we showed you earlier, there’s a few simple commands.
But the first command that we always teach any herding dog is to go out and gather their
sheep. And so we use a shush command. When you give a young dog an opportunity to work,
or a dog of any age, but that does not have a lot of experience, the first step that you
wanna build is just getting them to bring the sheep to you. So when you shush, once
they know the sheep are here, you give them an opportunity to go and they want to naturally
gather the sheep up and bring them back to you. So one of the things that you can do
is you help the sheep — you help the dog by continuing to move, giving the sheep a
place to go. So when you shush, she’s gonna go out here and she’s gonna get behind the
sheep, bring them directly to you. So as she’s brining them to you, you just wanna keep moving.
So you’ll shush like that, and you just keep moving so the sheep have a place to go. As
she’s doing this, she’s gonna move over here and she’s probably gonna move over here, but
we want to try and keep her behind the sheep, bringing them directly towards you. So that’s
why we have this great stock stick. It’s just an extension of your body. It’s here so that
you should give the dog a better idea of where it needs to go. So if, for instance, she was
to come over this direction, you’ll take your stick and you’ll just block her. So it makes
it very apparent to her that you do not want her to come this direction. Same on the other
side — you would put your stick out here. A common mistake that most people do is they
wanna try and point with the sticks. So you don’t really wanna point with your stick.
Again, you’re just trying to block your dog so it does not come in front. Okay. So, if
you’ll give me one second, I’ll show you your first step with the dog. Yes. Yeah. So, again,
this is Devon. So she is gonna go out and gather the sheep to you. And anywhere you
move, she’s going to pivot to bring the sheep to you, even without a cue. This goes back
to them having breeding to do what they do rather than just… She’s getting a little
attitude form the sheep. Good girl, Devon. So a dog with herding instinct, this is very
typical behavior, is just trying to keep them together and keep them to me. Okay. So, as
you see, no matter where I move, she’s gonna bring the sheep to me. So this is what you’re
gonna get to do. This is your first step. Okay. Is just trying to benefit, help your
dog so that she can accomplish that task too. Lie down. Lie down. Lie down. Stay. So if
you get overwhelmed, just tell her to lie down and she will. Okay. So let me step out
of the picture. Okay. Because she’ll try to bring the sheep to me because she’s used to
working with me. Alright. So when I step out, you’re just gonna shush and send her on her
way. Okay. Shush. Use your stick to block her and make her go back the other direction.
Like this? Yep, that’s it. See how it works. And keep moving. There you go. And you can
move faster or slower. And she should move her body at the same speed that you do to
keep the sheep going the way they’re traveling now. There you go. And when you’re ready to
stop, you just tell her to lie down. Lie down. Perfect. You’re now a shepherdess. I’ve always
wanted to be a shepherdess. That’s fantastic. I feel like that through all the dogs sports
that I participated in all these years, I feel like this is the one that you have the
most amount of communication with your dog. And it’s also one of the few sports that they
participate in that they truly come with all the instincts to do it. You do, you guide
them, and you manage them so that they can learn all kinds of different things. But they
still came with the set of skills that you see this dog doing — lie down — to make
it happen. And so, it is one of the few times that a dog really gets to go out and think
for itself and just do it’s end with the skills that it came from — or that it came with.
That’s fantastic. I think so. It’s pretty neat. I’m Victoria Stilwell, the shepherdess
at the Canine Ranch.

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13 Responses

  1. Sushil says:

    Yay !! First !! Awesome Job Done By Dog πŸ™‚

  2. Hippie-Lady 824 says:

    You guys should check out the fly-ball teams in Las Vegas. Incredible working dogs doing their thing in a big city environment.

    This video is pretty cool too. πŸ™‚

  3. tigerwoman484 says:

    Wow just simple whistle commands

  4. Sodoo Sodmandakh says:


  5. Natalia Alexandrova says:

    All dogs are smart and I dont think you should put them into different places, because all the dogs are smart, and amazing!

  6. extracrapthatispubli says:

    How do you find this guy? Thats a great job for Vets that would like to work with dogs..

  7. jjjjjokerface says:

    I have boarded my dogs here before! Β It's an awesome place!

  8. Elena Manubens says:

    Found this randomly, but this is my border collie's breeder lol

  9. Jo Luffman says:

    And now I want to see sheep wandering near Dragon*Con. πŸ˜‚

  10. Susan Williams says:

    Awesome doggos! But can we take a moment to appreciate the world's most patient sheep. I swear they are mentally grading how well the dog is hearding them. At this point they could probably respond to the whistles on their own XD

  11. Black & White wolf Xx says:

    HeHeHE 😈🀩πŸ€ͺπŸ₯³πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I want that dog and I wanna whistle like that lol

  12. Kevin Labrecque says:

    She's in love now

  13. Sushila says:

    Applause for the sheeps. πŸ‘

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