This month, I’m going to discuss something that most people don’t understand when I talk to them about it: Square flanks, or, as some think of it, “Making a square circle”.
A square corner is when the dog starts to move around the sheep. Rather than a true circular motion, the initial movement should be a sharp ninety degree turn. If not, what tends to happen is that the dog gets closer to the stock, cuts in, and creates too much pressure. By creating a square circle (Here we go with the geometry lesson!), we can maintain control and distance.
There are a few different ways to accomplish this. One I like is to work on the fenceline. kick the dog out to the opposite site, maintaining distance and control. This forces the dog to go out at a ninety degree angle. If your dog doesn’t, set it up again, and start over. They will get the idea. If you dog starts cutting in, stop him or her, and set it up over again. If your dog cuts in on the opposite site, move toward your dog, pushing them out again.
Another way is setting up yourself between dog and sheep. Give your dog a flank. When the dog gets to the distance far enough out from the sheep, stop your dog. Then begin flanking patterns back and forth, moving from side to side. Once the dog reach the point in the flank where continuing in that direction would move the dog past you, stop your dog, and send him or her back the other direction. If the dog gets too close, step in, to force the dog out. This also is helpful in teaching a ‘get out’ or ‘get back’ command.
Good Luck, and happy herding!
© 1998, by Joel Levinson
This article originally appeared in “Bagpipes”. Reprinted with permission of the author.