Clicker Training

Duration 6m 2s

Clicker Training is a method of training an animal using a clicker. This is a tool which makes a clicking sound when pressed to mark a particular desired behaviour. Clickers have been used to train whales, bears, lions and domestic dogs and cats, and even humans.  This method of dog training uses positive reinforcement, is reward based and allows the subject to identify that a behaviour is sought and also how precise it needs to be. Only once behaviour is established and reliable is a cue e.g. a verbal command such as “stand” added to the click. Once the response transfers to the verbal command a click is no longer necessary. This method of training informs dogs or other animals of their success in a prompt and precise manner. I generally use a clicker in the early stages of puppy training prior to sheep work, although if I struggle to achieve trust in recalls, whilst with sheep, then I often resort to using a clicker. If a positive association has been achieved in previous training then this is useful tool to re-adjust a dog’s thought process to be more in line with your aims. If handlers choose to, they can use a clicker at all easy stages of sheepdog training.

 

The Practical Shepherding Online Bundle

Consists of all the chapters as follows:

Practical Shepherding Online – Systematic Guide To Sheepdog training: Duration 1H 21M

Trailer – Introduction-Choosing a Pup –  Basic Obedience – Whistle Training  – Gripping and Confidence – The Round Pen – Training in an Open Field – Extending the Outrun – Flockwork – Epilogue

 

Practical Shepherding Online – The Perfect Partnership: Duration 2H 56M

Trailer  – Clicker Training – Training at Mealtimes – Lead and Collar Training – Kennel and Crate Training – Achieving Perfect recalls – Stand & Downs – The First Time On Sheep Parts one and Two – The Beginning of a New Chapter

Teaching the Stand and Down

Teaching the stand and down, otherwise known as “The Stop” are easy enough to teach independent of sheep, simply by baiting with a treat. However applying these in the context of sheep-work is another matter and gaining your dog’s trust is a skill that must be acquired. Trust is essential to achieving success as most dogs are likely to assume that when you stop them or indeed attempt to stop them that you are being a “killjoy” and trying to deny them having fun and doing what comes naturally. Once your pup understands your motives and  comes to realise that you are on the same side, trying to achieve the same goal, then the partnership will begin to both develop and strengthen. The way I achieve trust with young pups is to allow them to run past me around a training pen, in both directions. Once this information has been banked then I attempt to stop the dog with my body. This is not a long stop, rather its just causing the pup to hesitate as it runs towards me before allowing it to run past. Eventually the stop becomes more precise. Stopping a pup in the early stages is like approaching a set of traffic lights with a car. You are not making  making an emergency stop, rather you are after a gradual smooth stop. Check out the reading materials to see the additional notes.

The Beginning of a New Chapter

Duration: 3m 44s

 

Having carefully guided and nurtured the pups through every stage of their upbringing we assess  how Cap and Pip have progressed through their training stages from inside the training pen to out in the open field, by the age of 9 months. Both pups have different strengths and weaknesses. Cap is tighter then Pip on the outrun and on his “left flank”. Pip is wider on the left outrun and tighter on the right flank. Pip also has recall issues so she will come towards me but not right up to me and also not at the right speed. I believe this will pose problems later on when teaching her to shed so I will be mindful of this at all subsequent stages of training with her. Like a car if problems are present when they are new, a pup when it is older will repeat the same problems that are present at a longer age. These problems need to be worked on with empathy, through out their training and overcome slowly, if your intention is to succeed in trials and keep the dog. There are many who will rush a dog’s training and sell it on as a farm dog. In some cases problems can be totally ironed out and solved whilst in other situation significant progress can be made.  Where there is a shortfall in progress, the handler’s skills in managing the problem, at a trial for instance, is called for.  As a rule most clients who come to me for training to iron out problems in shedding or penning have their roots in earlier training.

Training at Meal Times

Duration: 7m 13s

This section covers the routines around feeding time and does not delve into the specifics of diet and nutrition. Feeding times offer the perfect opportunity to bond with puppies and provide guidance on training elements which you will need later on such as recall and stop. My pups are kennelled from 4-5 weeks of age and every single time I come into contact with them I reinforce the same commands such as “dinnertime – That’ll Do” – Stand or Lie Down” – The commands are delivered to coincide with actions the pups are already performing or to create an association with food, thereby there is no failure associated with the delivery of these commands. By the time any formal obedience training starts the pups are already familiar with the clicker and associated commands, which greatly facilitates any work I do with them. In short every contact with the pups offers an opportunity to inform them about you or indeed words you use to communicate with them.

The Perfect Partnership Trailer

Duration: 1m 45s

 

This series of 10 videos have been filmed and devised to provide comprehensive and minute detail in various aspects of a puppy’s upbringing.  Although it is possible to purchase individual chapters all of the videos are interlinked with the same/similar themes running through them, therefore by purchasing individual chapters may not provide the complete picture or information you are looking for. The common themes are  “the stop, recall, empathy, clicker training and in general guidance and nurturing”. The overall aim is to build a strong and everlasting bond where sheep work is seen as a partnership and beautiful poetic art form with no place for antiquated old fashioned methods.  By using our methods you will not only provide a totally fail-safe environment for training, but also, you will greatly minimise the problems you are likely to face in the future. The carefully edited compilation of videos consciously includes the highs and the lows, to demonstrate how mistakes and problems are turned into learning opportunities. The use of Clicker training is novel to sheepdog training but widely used in many other disciplines with great success.

The Video Chapters included are: The Perfect Partnership Trailer – Clicker Training – Training At Mealtimes – Lead and Collar Training – Kennel and Crate training – Achieving Perfect Recalls – The First Time On Sheep Parts 1 and 2 and The Beginning of a New Chapter.

Lead & Collar Training

Length 16m 4s

 

The vast majority of problems are caused during lead and collar training through handler error causing puppies to mistrust their owners. By enhancing trust the bond will be much stronger and will enable the first introduction to sheep to be a positive experience for both handler and dog. I use a very simple half-check collar and a 10cm x 1m Webb lead with negligible weight. The less intrusive leads and collars are the more trust you will achieve. This video demonstrates how to use the lead and collar effectively and how to build a positive relationship between you and your puppy. It also demonstrates how to incorporate the balancing exercise, which you will eventually undertake when training begins with the sheep. in my opinion a pup/dog that cannot walk on a lead correctly or pulls in very direction has disregard for the handler. More-so the handler that does not bother to define their role and their dog’s role, whilst on a lead, will empower the dog to do as it wishes and will be harder to control whilst training with sheep. I also observe that my sheep do not take to dogs that pull on the lead as they find this threatening. As is the case when lifting a “heavy table” two people will automatically maintain their sides without criss- crossing, when on a lead the handler and dog must maintain their sides, so their job and task at hand is defined.

Teaching a dog to go into a crate voluntarily.

Kennel and Crate Training

Duration: Length 10m 5s

All aspects of working with puppies bring a potential for creating long standing problems, simply because our agenda and that of the puppy rarely matches in the early stages. You might want it to go into its kennel but the pup might want to carry on playing.  Achieving and building trust at the early stages greatly enhances the work you do later with sheep as your puppy will understand your motives so much better. Crate and Kennel training offer wonderful opportunities to educate your pup and the same methods can then be used in training other elements such as riding on a quad bike. This video demonstrates how easy it is to persuade a pup to go into the kennel or a crate without ever laying a finger on them or using force or pressure of any kind. The training is achieved through the use of a clicker, which are available in our shop. (https://sheepdog-training.co.uk/product/clicker/). The alternative to using a clicker or training the pup to go into kennel is simply to pick it up and put it in. By doing this a negative association can develop with the hands known as “hand shyness”. Subsequently pups can avoid being caught or recalled so they do not have to go back into their kennels. Further down the line, when sheepdog training begins, the same pups will avoid being caught  as they do not wish to stop working, or will be harder to stop. In turn, further down the line, dogs can refuse to come through on the shed or single elements causing great frustration in the handler.  In so many cases problems observed at trials can be rooted back to earlier problems when puppies. I have already predicted that Pip is going to prove a challenge when it comes to shedding and singling, at the very onset of her training so I am very careful to address this with care and delicacy. Time will tell if I have been successful. She is like my Skerry dog who at two years of age would not come through on her shed but by three years she was as good a shedding dog as I have ever had, and made the England team in 2006.

Achieving Perfect Recalls

Length 11m 5s

Achieving a perfect recall is a target every sheepdog trainer sets. I believe in influencing puppies early and instilling trust that I am on their side and not trying to stop them having fun. By conditioning them with food a positive relationship is built up in the crucial first few weeks of life and by the time your puppy’s instincts get stronger around 6 months of age, they will have loyalty to you, as well as to work and understand that coming to you leads to them continuing working. The early stages of training whether it be during feeding time, or obedience training , toilet training or otherwise are all connected and success or failure in each one of them plays a cumulative part in either success or failure. Learning to whistle is key to good communication and handlers should spend perhaps more time learning to fine-tune the whistle than training their puppy. There are some aspects of training that are easier to achieve through whistle command than voice. Also as was the case with Pip, she was automatically more responsive to a whistle command as well as voice, so had I not been proficient at using a whistle, how long would she have had to wait for me to catch up. I observe many pups progress far quicker than their human counterparts and their training is held back, whilst the handlers learns to use the whistle. In some cases the handlers never ever get to grips with a whistle and their communication with their dog, particularly at distance or where acoustics are difficult, is compromised. Many dogs can also become frustrated if their training is not progressing and can become harder to handle.

The First Time On Sheep Part Two

Length 28m 51s

“The First Time On Sheep” Parts 1 & 2 have been split so that you are easily able to break down the viewing as so much unedited detail is contained in both. Greater detail is provided on the training outside of the pen, particularly in Part 1 and details how control is gained using a long line and how subsequent trust building takes place. The first few times on sheep can be a stressful time for handler and pup as there is mistrust of the long line, sheep, the large training pen and the handler. In some cases both pups are out simultaneously to demonstrate so the pups can be compared. Achieving recalls and stop can be a very anxious time for handlers and it is very natural for pups to disregard their owners as they are presented with so many new and alien experiences. Time, as they say, is a great healer but only when the handler maintains calmness and confidence, at the same time a willingness to help, guide and support, as well as object to inappropriate elements, but with empathy. There is no room for a busy mindset and all that is required is a quick eye and movement. Both videos clearly demonstrate that an easy pup can be hard and a hard pup can be easy to handle, as is the the case with Pip. In any case the attributes that are desirable to me are “speed- confidence – forward gears -biddability and in some cases a grip” In the early stages some, if not all of these might not seem to be positive attributes. If you wrongly observe any attribute as solely negative and get rid of them by mistake, in later training you may well find your dog wanting and lacking confidence, power and so on. I prefer a cautionary approach when dealing with puppies, whereby any contact they have with sheep is by way of making an assessment, not training.

Both Parts 1 & 2 totally compliment my book “Sheepdog Training and Trials”. and the original “Practical Shepherding – A systematic Guide to Sheepdog training” They also provide the missing link for so many handlers who are inexperienced and sometimes nervous and don’t want to get things wrong.

As with my DVD, I summarise the salient training tips in the form of “Review”  notes both in the middle and end of the videos so that you can easily reference certain pieces of advice.