Since any Beardie worthy of the name tend to follow Newton’s Law (A body of motion will remain in motion), teaching a “STOP” on stock is not only the first command needed, but is equally the hardest to teach. once a Beardie starts moving stock, the instinct is to cover and keep the sheep grouped at all times. The concept of “Stop” suddenlyt becomes a nonentity!
First, decide the kind of “stop” you will be using. “DOWN” is common, but many Beardies will eventually resist taking a full “down”. From a Beardie’s point of view, his ability to correct improper movement of the stock from a down may take too long (nanoseconds?). “STAND” keeps the dog on his feet (Which pleases him no end!), but it is quite easy to cheat and move out of position. “SIT” seems to split the difference, but in time can have the same problem as “Stand”. Whichever command you will be using, teach it off of stock first.
When training “Stop” on stock, make it a rule that until the dog does the “Stop” properly, he cannot have his sheep. Make him sit and stay every time he goes into the arena or corral, and heel a few steps, stop, and heel again before you allow him to move up on the sheep. Let him bring the sheep to you (A short distance at first), then require a stop before proceeding. If you have to stand against the fence with the sheep for some time, do so. When the dog takes the stop, move to allow the dog to take the sheep a short way and call him up to the rear of the stock.
Most Beardies son learn that they must stop when so commanded or they can’t “Play” with the stock. As the dog settles in behind the stock, the “Stop” can be used to teach him to slow down. Again, “My Way or No Play!”
Do remember – once the “Stop” is reliable, use it sparingly; You don’t want to take away your dog’s talent through over control.
© 1997 by Ann Witte. Reprinted with permission from the author.
This article originally appeared in “Bagpipes”, the Bearded Collie Club of America’s monthly newsletter. Reprinted with permission of the author.