Training a Lancashire Heeler to herd sheep

Heeler herding sheep

Ann Jordan has kindly sent me a piece about her gorgeous liver and tan Heeler, Flora, and how she started to train her for herding.  We meet her each year at Discover Dogs so she is a multi-talented little dog!

Wanting to “downsize” from Collies and Kelpies, I chose a Lancashire Heeler to help with sheep control in the future.  Not really knowing anything about how a Heeler may work, I was taking a risk but having met one or two, I decided it was worth it. 

Basic training was easy as Flora was very bright and eager to learn but there was a hilarious aspect to the ‘heeling’ instinct…. which made ‘herding’ more challenging!  It had to be done at 200 mph!  Flora definitely had the “gather” to a ‘T’ because the flock gathered themselves as soon as she entered the field.  Then it was a red bullet shooting across in a dead straight line to the ‘heel’ position which obviously changed as the rear sheep galloped away!  Gradually, with the help of a collie, which distracted Flora occasionally and helped gain control, she realised that I wanted the sheep near me rather than 25 miles away as the crow flies! 

Since those early days, Flora has become quite useful for fetching the sheep and bringing them to me.  And the brakes are better, too, with addition of a ‘stop’ command we can also put them into a pen, so job done!