Sheepdog Terms


  • Casting.Can also be called the outrun, when the dog is sent around the sheep to gather them.  
  • Flanking.Where the dog is moving around the sheep to control them. Is also called sides. We put side or flanking commands on the dog so we can send them in any direction we choose.
  • Backing.Where the dog jumps on the backs of the sheep usually in a race, or force pen, to move them along or pack them in tighter.
  • Drafting. Where sheep are run through a race and a certain number/type are separated into different yards by the use of a swinging gate operated by the handler.
  • Dry training. Where commands are put on the dog without sheep present, ie by using a rope or a stick to direct the dog.
  • Eye. Most working dogs have a certain amount of eye which they use to control their stock. Eye is when the dog uses a strong stare at the sheep in order to move or hold them. Too much eye can cause the dog to be too sticky (Sticky eyed) and reluctant to move or they may focus on one sheep and forget the others. Too little eye is also called loose eyed, where the dog moves around a lot to control the stock and often work fairly close to the sheep. These dogs lack cover and hold but can often work well in yard situations where eye is not needed.
  • Crossing. When the dog crosses between the sheep and the handler. Not desirable and will result in disqualification in a Three sheep trial. Is allowed in certain European trials.
  • Instinct. What a dog needs in order to be able to work sheep. Without it the dog is of no use, it can not be taught. Most well bred work dogs have it naturally; it may take longer to come out in some dogs than others.
  • Prefix. This is the breeder’s stud name and any dogs that he breeds will have his prefix in front of the dog’s name. Eg. Kumbark Caleb. Kumbark Asher.
  • Cover. A dog is said to have cover if he can keep together a mob of sheep that are attempting to run past him. IE cover any that try to break away.
  • Hold is similar to cover but the dog is holding the sheep in one area so they do not escape.
  • Driving. Where the dog drives the sheep away from the handler. In a farming situation, usually the farmer is behind the sheep with his dog and is moving the sheep forward. In a trialing situation the dog may drive the sheep across in front of the handler, also called cross driving. In some trial situations the dog is expected to cross in between the handler and the sheep, but only for a section of the trial. In Australian sheepdog trials we do not ask this and the dog will be disqualified in a three sheep trial or penalized in a Utility trial.
  • Heading. A well bred dog is expected to get to the head of the sheep when he is sent to gather them, so as to bring them to the handler without losing any or allowing the mob to drift off line. The head is usually referred to as the area around the mob where the sheep are most likely to try to escape. A good dog will know where the head is.
  • Short heading. A dog that does not quite get to the head of a mob of sheep. A dog that does this will not be able to adequately cover the sheep and they may escape. It is difficult to train into a dog so not a desirable trait, and not good to breed from a dog like this as it may be hereditary.
  • Turn Tail. Where a dog turns right around so his tail end is facing the sheep. More likely in a weaker type of dog who can’t move the sheep so he ‘turn tails’, to take the pressure of himself. Will be penalized in a trial.
  • Push. A dog needs push to move the sheep. Some dogs may have plenty of cover and hold, but no push, which means they can block the sheep or hold them up but not actually move them. Some dogs need training to teach them to ‘walk in’ and move the sheep, while others will do it naturally.
  • Utility. A utility dog is a dog that can work well both in the yard and in the paddock.



2007 Sheep Dogs

 two little ons coming up. One can hope anyway.


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Sheepdog Terms