Winter Crag Sheepdogs 

Why I decided to start offering lessons on De sheeping 

 

We are a busy working fell farm in Martindale which is a honey spot for tourists going walking. We have a flock of Herdwicks on Hallin Fell , Swaledales on Beda and through the valley.

These are all common fell ( like most of the Lakes) which means that all the local famers can put their sheep on and throughout the spring and summer the ewes and young lambs live out on the Fell.  

There are so many footpaths in the area, they are enjoyed by many.  The issue is people that don't respect the local animals and carry on to walk with their dog off a lead.

We often see people on the footpaths with a dog way a head of them, they can't see the dog but we can and the majority of them do actually show interest in chasing sheep. Sheep hide on the fells, they can be anywhere around you and could be disturbed at any time so this is why it is so important to keep your dog close and on a lead. 

It is great to see so many people enjoying this beautiful landscape and lovely to see their dogs enjoying it too.Thank you to the people that already stick to the rules and keep their dogs on leads, it really is greatly appreciated. 

It doesn't take much to teach your dog not to chase sheep, it is well worth it for peace of mind for owner and farmer.  

 

 

Why does your dog want to chase sheep?

All dogs descend from the wolf, they are pack animals and it really doesn't take a lot to spark the prey instinct.  

It is actually completely natural for your dog to want to chase a moving sheep, it is exciting for the dog and is usually the first reaction it would have to a sheep suddenly shooting out the Bracken.  Don't blame your dog for this, it is his natural instinct.

Your job is to take responsibility and control of the situation.  The best action is to De-Sheep before your dog has even shown any sign of chasing sheep. 

ANY breed  and age of dog can chase sheep and cause damage.  No dog is looking to "play" with the sheep, the instinct that you see coming out is the prey instinct and the more excited your dog gets the more likely it is to actually bite and seriously damage the sheep.  

Lambs are a great example as they panic if seporated from their mother , they run fast and make a lot of noise which is super exciting for dogs.  Especially dogs that come from the cities and have never seen these exciting wooly things! 

 

Why De-Sheep your dog? 

Dogs can cause a lot of damage in a short time, one bite in the wrong place can paralyse a young lamb or a bite to the throat can be really nasty.  

If a sheep or lamb is damaged by a dog and isn't found it could be lying in the Bracken and take days for it to eventually pass away.  

In the summer fly strike can be an issue, if the sheep is bitten and escapes but the farmer doesn't know the bite can turn septic and flys will lay eggs on the wound. The eggs then hatch and bury into the sheeps skin causing great discomfort, unless the sheep is found and treated this can lead to a slow death. 

Chasing can cause pregnant mothers to abort their lambs early.  

It can seporate mothers and lambs and they may never find one another again which would lead to the lamb dying of staravtion.   Many sheep that are worried by dogs have to be put to sleep which is awful for the farmer and dog owner alike.   

Going on a walk with your dog is SO much more enjoyable when you know you are in control. I always advise to keep a dog on a lead around any livestock but a dog that will walk to heel when it sees a sheep is a joy to walk with. A dog that is lunging on the lead , pulling and barking is no joy to walk.  

For us farmers the most important thing is protecting our livestock from un necessary damage.  It is actually legal for a farmer to shoot a dog that is showing ANY interest in chasing / worrying their stock .....even if the dog isn't grabbing hold of the sheep it is still  classed as worrying and a very real possiblity that your dog could be shot.  

NO farmer wants to shoot someones beloved pet, it is a horrible situation so take control and don't let it happen.   

A lead is a great way to stop your dog actually getting to sheep but what happens if the lead is pulled out of your hand?  What can you do to stop the dog? By having some lessons you can learn how to actually control your dogs desire to chase. 

 

 

What is De-Sheeping your dog? 

De Sheeping involves several lessons to learn how to take control of your dog and to squash it's desire to chase sheep.  I can train and advise you on how to enjoy your dog in the fells and have peace of mind.  

The amount of lessons depends entirely upon the dog and handler , a dog with little interest in sheep will get it much faster than a dog that already has that spark.  A logical , calm and dedicated  owner will also speed up the process. 

The idea behind my type of De sheeping is basic obedience.  Once you know what to do you have a tool that you can use on any dog in the future, it is simple for the dog to understand and it isn't complicated for the owner...it takes a little practice and dedication but is so simple that it will become second nature to you. 

There are no rough or brutal techniques in De sheeping, no chucking the dog in with some Tups and no beating the dog to stop it.

There needs to be a little bit of negative from the owner ( especially in the first one or two lessons)  or it won't work . The negative is a correction to the dog and is quickly followed by a positive reward. The dog will learn that when it sees sheep it must come back to you and it will also become second nature to the dog. 

 

Lessons and Prices

Lessons are around half an hour each session. This is long enough as we don't want to bore the dog, we want it to be switched on and learn ( and hopefully enjoy it). We can do up to 2 dogs in a lesson. These are £25

The first session will involve a chat about the dog, a brief explination of why the dog is showing this behaviour and how we can address it.  I don't do block sessions as some dogs may only need 1 lesson and 1 practice , others may need several sessions.

Each dog is different and each breed is different. Some dogs really want to please ( like Border Collies) and other breeds need some persuasion / bribery ( like a Malinois or German Shepherd). The lesson can be catered to each individual dog. There is no set plan and I can cater to each sitiation as it arises. 

You can practice this away from sheep too, then once you feel it is concrete you can come back and try with sheep there. I can offer fields and sheep to practice on. 

 

 Please contact me via email or phone

Tel: 01768486535

Email: wintercrag@gmail.com