​Offset Drive Position.

FELLSTAR  BOUVS

Parallel Drive position.

Herding DEFINITIONS

NOTE: This is my own little rant.  Enjoy it.  

I have tried to effectively give good explanations to commands/words used in training herding dogs.  I have NO idea if novice handlers/trainers will understand my definitions but hope that I’ve been thorough enough that they will.  If you have a question or need further definition, just ask me.  I may revise the definitions per your question.  I would like for these definitions to help people understand the herding lingo better and to better understand the action that should follow the command.  ALL definitions are subjective to MY interpretation as per my own experiences and knowledge.  In other words, they are generally "good enough".

I also don't plagiarize.  If you give me another definition I want to use and it has a source; then give me that source.

*Away-To-Me: A flank command for the dog to move counter-clockwise around stock. (Dog OFF-CONTACT.)

*Balance:  A term that refers to the dog’s position relative to where you want the stock to go.  If you want the stock fetched to you then balance is wherever the dog needs to be for the dog to successfully fetch the stock directly to you.  If you want the stock to go toward a feed pan or bale of hay in the middle of a field, then the balance point for the dog is wherever it needs to be for the dog to successfully drive the stock to the hay bale or feed pan or gate, whatever.  A HUGE misconception is that the dog needs to be at a balance point behind the sheep that is directly opposite the direction of the destination. This would be at 12 o’clock on a clock face (in relation to the stock) if the destination was past 6 o'clock. It would be 3 o'clock if the destination is past 9 o'clock. But, in reality the Balance point needs to be wherever the dog FEELS IT SHOULD BE.  Many variables have to be taken into consideration in the dog’s choosing a balance position.  Where and what are the Draws for the stock?  There may be an open gate that is a heavier Draw than the feed so the Balance point for the dog may be off to one side covering the draw while simultaneously driving the sheep to the destination. The dog needs to cover that Draw so the sheep don’t escape to the Draw instead of moving toward the desired destination.  Remember BALANCE is no ONE place behind stock.  It totally depends on many variables.  LET the DOG choose its Balance Point.


*Blind Outrun: The action of the dog doing an Outrun without visual contact with the stock.  The dog cannot see the stock when it starts its Outrun.  The dog is Blind to where the stock is located.


*Bouncing Out of Pressure: (See Falling Out of Pressure.)


*Bubble:  A term used to describe separate “comfort zones” that exists around the stock, the dog and the handler.  You have 3 bubbles in the arena at all times.  Actually, you have more than that but we’re not going there.  The “Bubble” is the area around the stock or dog or handler where one of those entities feels comfortable. The Bubble for that entity isn't being invaded by pressure from an outside source.   The easiest way to describe that “comfort zone” is to place the human in a stressful situation.  For example, you are a pretty woman dressed to the 9s, walking down a street, at night, with little ambient light.   Your stupid to say the least if you don’t have back up but follow me here…. A group of tattooed, cursing, large males are walking toward you on the same sidewalk.  Those individuals are talking trash to you and cupping their groins and staring at you with lust in their eyes.  Watcha gonna do?  Pull out your gun I hope. If you are liberal you’ll dial 911 and not own a gun.  (Joke folks, go with it!)   Focus, Pat!  Focus…. Where was I?  Anyway, you’ll feel “pressure” from that group of men, to say the least!  The closer they get, the more pressure you will feel.  At some point you would probably react in SOME overt fashion.  Your Bubble will depend on your perception of the threat.  The pressure you feel will vary as to many factors including your past experiences, plus current options.  But those men are creating pressure that pushes against your comfort zone (the Bubble).   Now, we’ll change the scenario in your favor.  Your significant other gets out from a nearby vehicle, which is where you were going.  He’s 6’5”, dressed to the 9s in his best Navy white, with the Navy Seal insignia of the Seal Trident pin (consists of a golden eagle clutching a U.S. Navy anchor, trident, and flintlock style pistol), which is readily visible on his pristine uniform.  Rows and rows of medals gleam against the stark white of the uniform.  Such pin and dress would most probably be readily recognized as to what is signifies.  Need I explain?  The group of men stop their forward movement and direct their attention at the newcomer, which definitely threatens them more than you did.  You’re comfort zone or “bubble” has changed with the materialization of the Navy Seal.  The bad guys back up and leave.  Their comfort zone or bubble was invaded and popped by the intrusion of the new guy.  Bubbles.  Every living creature on earth has them.  Be aware of them.  You will have to take them into consideration at every moment you work stock.  You will utilize them to your benefit and they will be your downfall.  But they will have a major impact on everything you do with stock.  By the way… your dog is a Navy Seal.  He’s the one that faces down insurmountable odds and wins.  Get down on your hands and knees and stare up at a bull fixing to stomp you into the ground if you don’t believe me.


*Bull:  The male specimen in cattle that is still intact or has its testicles.  


*Cabrito:  Um, um, good.  Usually used to refer to a kid goat that has not been weaned yet and the meat is roasted.


*Calf:  A young cow or bull.  Use to refer to cattle from birth to weaning AND/OR from birth to 1 year old.  Take your pick.


*Cattle or Cows: In the subfamily of Bovinae or Bovine.   Their meat is known as beef or veal.  We do lots of things with them including herd them.  Go with it folks.


*Chase or Chasing:  This term generally described the actions of a dog when they are running after stock with no intent of controlling the movement of the stock.  Chase has NO place in herding.  The concept of herding is to control both the dogs actions and those of the stock to complete some task.  Chase is considered out of control movement by either or both the dog and stock.  Stop it!

*Chute:  A section of fencing that has 2 sides and is used to allow one or more stock (a smaller number) to move down the path between the fencing.  May be used to doctor, sort or just manage stock one at a time or as a funnel/gauntlet for the stock to walk through for any given reason.

*Close: (See "Tight".)

*Come-Bye:  A flanking command for the dog to move clockwise around stock.  (Dog OFF-CONTACT.)

*Contact:  (See Off-Contact & On-Contact)

*Course:  This is a trialing term.  It refers to the “course” your are trialing on.  In each trialing organization (AKC, AHBA, ASCA, USBCHA, etc.) there are “courses” that have different designs and strageties at play.  The dog is to traverse a “course” with stock.  AKC has several different courses;  both arena courses and field courses.  AHBA has arena courses, field courses and a mixture of arena/field called a Ranch Course.  ASCA also has arena and field courses.  USBCHA has field courses, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…  So when someone refers to a Course they are referring to a specific, pre-set diagram used for trialing.  Good luck!

*Cover: The term refers to the action of the dog in preventing the escape of one or more stock.  The dog “Covers” the escape attempt.  When a dog Covers it can be as little as using eye to hold sheep or Wearing to keep the group together.  It can also be as much as an all out run to get ahead of the stock and turn the escapee(s) back toward the group and return order to moving a group.  The dog may have to Cover the entire group trying to escape or any one or more of the group trying to escape or leave.


*Cross-Drive:  This term indicates a “direction” of movement for stock that is across the plane of the handler or course.  If you look at a clock face, the handler would be standing at 6 o’clock and the dog would turn the stock and drive them from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock or vice versa.  The drive would be across the plain of the handler or across the plain of the course if the Outrun, Lift and Fetch came from 12 o’clock.  Thus, the term “cross” drive.


*Cross-Over:  This term is meant to describe when the path of the dog crosses in FRONT of the stock and over the path the sheep are to take.  A common example would be when you send the dog on an Outrun and the dog crosses-over between you and the stock.  The dog Crosses an imaginary line between you and the stock.  Once the stock “lift”, their path will go over the dog’s path when it Crossed Over as it came in on the Outrun.  A Cross-Over can occur anytime.  The action of crossing over is negative in that the dog may be interfering with the forward movement of the stock in the desired direction and/or it may drive the sheep in the wrong direction.  As the dog crosses over it obviously is blocking the stock from going in the desired direction..

*Dive In:  This term describes the action of the dog when it gets close to the stock, feels too much pressure, and reacts by falling into that pressure.  The dog dives into the stock, usually biting and gripping as it dives into the middle of the group of stock.

*Dog:  Not "Babe".  ​OMG!  Did I say that!

*Down:  Pig simple.  Your dog better be lying down with elbows and hocks touching the ground.  This body position for the dog is used for many reasons.  It is used to stop all forward motion from the dog.  It is used to take pressure off the stock.  If the handler hasn’t trained their dog very well, it is used to stop whatever catastrophe is occurring between dog and stock.  If nothing else is trained, train the Down to absolute perfection, as it will save your butt when all else fails.  If you tell your dog to down then he should remain in that position until told otherwise.  No additional command needed, like a Stay command.  But, hey, however you decide to bastardize it is fine by me.  

*Draw:  This term describes something or somewhere that is an attraction for the stock.  The stock are drawn or pulled in the direction of the attraction.  The attraction could be anything from seeing other stock on the other side of a fence and wanting to go to that stock, e.g., lambs to their moms, feed in a feed pan (feed me, feed me, feed me), to an open gate where the stock think they can escape from the dog so they try to run to and through the gate.  So the term Draw is pretty simple.  The dog’s job is to cover the Draw and prevent the stock from running “to the Draw”.


*Drive:  The action of a stockdog “pushing” stock along ahead of it in a controlled manner. (Dog ON-CONTACT.)  (This does NOT equate to a dog “following” along behind stock.”

*Drop & Drift:  The action of the dog or the handler where the dog is Downed or the dog downs on its own and allows the stock to “drift” along without the dog controlling the movement of the stock WHILE the stock or moving forward.  Many handlers do not teach proper “driving” in their dog to “push” the stock forward while “covering” any potential escape of the stock.  When this skill set is left out of the dog’s repertoire the handler jerry-rigs the dogs performance when there is a need for a drive.  They will flank the dog back and forth trying to let the pressure the dog exerts on the sheep by the movement of the dog and the mere presence of the dog cause the sheep to move in the desired direction.  That’s not driving.  That’s Drop & Drift.  

*Duck: Anatidae family of birds. If they are domesticated we herd them.  I'f they're not domesticated but flock, then I'll try herding them.

*Duckling:  A baby duck.

*Ewe:  Female sheep.

*Exhaust or Exhaust Pen:  A term that refers to letting the sheep out of an area, generally into a pen, when the job/run is over.  In trialing, the last exercise is usually to Exhaust the stock and shut the gate behind the stock.

*Eye:  Dogs' herding styles are divided up in herding into “eye” dogs and “loose-eyed” dogs.  Many breeds instinctively use their “eye” to control movement of stock.  The most known breed for this trait is the Border Collie.  A dog will “stare” at the stock and “catch the eye” of the stock to control movement.  An “eye” breed will generally also have a “stalking” body posture with the head held lower than the body.  Many define the body posture as “slinking” also.  As with any term, there are huge variations in how a dogs work, e.g., body posture and use of “eye”.

*Falling Into Pressure:  This term describes the action of the dog pushing INTO pressure but NOT in a controlled manner.  This action usually results in a dog diving into stock and gripping without cause.  When a dog walks straight up into the face of a stomping sheep it feels pressure from the sheep.  We try to give that sheep a chance to yield to the dog but sometimes the dog loses control and lunges at the sheep before it is truly necessary.  Falling into Pressure is the lack of the ability to handle the pressure.  The dog is reacting to the pressure instead of acting to the situation appropriately.   (See Dive In.)  If a sheep head butts, lunges or attacks a dog then the dog SHOULD move forward and bite.  If the dog is told to Walk Up and the sheep is still there when the dog gets to where the sheep is, then a grip is called for.  

*Falling Out of Pressure:  The opposite of Falling Into Pressure.  A dog will try to leave when it feels more pressure than it can tolerate.  Another term would be "bouncing out of pressure".  You ask the dog to Walk Up and when the dog feels too much pressure it will try to veer away from the pressure or even turn and totally leave.  Dogs that do not wish to work in smaller pens are falling out of pressure.  Dogs that do not want to get close to stock are falling out of pressure.

*Fetch:   A fetch is the action of the dog driving stock, but the stock is brought, "fetched", to the handler and/or are “fetched” along with the handler as the handler walks about.  Generally acknowledged is that the stock is being “fetched” with orientation to the handler.  It is also generally acknowledged that a “fetching position” refers to the stock following the handler, meaning the stock are behind the handler with the relative positions of the parties being handler in front, then stock, then dog.  (Dog ON-CONTACT.)  The word “fetch” is a misnomer in how the dog works.  The term is used in herding to specifically define where the dog is to orient the stock, not how the dog is working.

*Flank:  The action of the dog moving clockwise or counter-clockwise around stock.  A flank is an Off-Contact positioning exercise for the dog. NO movement of stock is desired.  (Dog OFF-CONTACT.)

*Flock:  A larger group of … generally used pertaining to sheep or birds.

*Floss or Flossing:  The act of the dog using its front teeth to grip the wool or hide of stock.  This is NOT a full mouth bite on stock.  It is the dog reaching out and "flossing" on the stock.  On wool stock you may see a little wool pulled through the front teeth of the dog.  On hair sheep the dog is "pinching" the stock.  Flossing is generally known to occur on the body or sides of stock.  The dog runs along beside the animal and reaches out to nip.  The term Flossing came from a dog nipping wool sheep and wool being stuck between the front teeth of the dog.

*Fowl:  Referring to the birds used in herding, e.g., ducks, geese, turkey and some say, chickens but I will NOT go there for chickens.

*Gaggle:  A flock of geese when not in flight.

*Gate Sort:  Sorting stock through a gate; the gate itself acts as an “open door/close door” mechanism in sorting to either let the desired stock through or to stop specific stock from going through, into another pen.

*Get Around: "See Outrun."

*Goat:  As per WikipediA:  (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of goat, domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the family Bovidae and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. ME: If it ain't domesticated, I'm not touchin' it for herding. Goats come in hair and Mohair (Angora goat). Mohair have to be sheared like a sheep. I think of the word "Mohair" as an Ebonics slang. Hmmmmmm...

*Go-Bye:  A bastardization of the Come-Bye command.  Generally, this command is modified because the dog understands Come as a recall and the handler is trying to modify the Come Bye command to something other than Come.  My take is, whatever floats your boat.  Go for it.  I mean, why not “Get Bye”.  Just semantics.

*Goose or Geese: WikipediA tells me:  Water fowl belonging to the tribe Anserini of the family Anatidae.  I tell you that if they're domesticated, e.g., Chinese geese, Toulouse geese, etc., etc., etc., we can herd them and have a hell of a lot of fun trying.

*Gosling:  A baby goose.

*Grip or gripping:  The act of the dog biting the stock.  An appropriate “grip” is never defined as a full mouth bite as seen in protection work.  A "grip" is defined as the act of biting using the canines and frontal teeth and then immediately letting go.  (This may be modified in cattle as per the need to use a harder grip or deeper bite to effect change in the behavior of a large animal.) An appropriate grip (not how the dog grips but WHY the dog is gripping) is generally defined by the action of the stock to cause the need for a necessary bite.  Gripping is generally thought to be appropriate if the grip/bite occurs on the nose or below the hock of the stock.  Again, this is subjective to interpretation.  Certain breeds actually have an inherent trait to “bump” stock on the shoulder, sometimes combined with a quick bite.  A full mouth bite and the dog holding on to the stock while biting is a definite “no-no” to everyone involved in herding.  But, hey, let the situation determine the need in my book.  A breed specific judge may have a varied opinion of what is appropriate or inappropriate in a grip. When I see a Bouvier or Rottweiler slam into the shoulder of a cow or sheep, I “see” an inherent trait for those breeds.  Not an inappropriate action taken by the dog.  So defining Grip can be subjective to breed.  It is not common to see a Bouvier grip low in the rear.  Nice when you see it but not common.  So, again, an appropriate grip is subjective to the experience and knowledge of the judge in determining whether or not it was appropriate. Beware the judge.  In real life, I don't care how the grip is used if it gets the job done and appropriately trains my sheep to be good soldiers.  In trialing... whole nuther story.

*Group:  3 or more head of stock that are moved as one unit.  A group.

*Hair Sheep:  (See Sheep.)

*Handler:  This implies that YOU are handling a dog.  In herding this is all about you and the dog and your relationship thereof.  You can be either the trainer of that dog or not, or both trainer and handler, as I am.  I could give a rip less if you own the dog.  But YOU are responsible for the actions taken by the dog in controlling the movement and management of stock.   You OWN this baby.  It's all about YOU.  YOU are held responsible for anything that happens to either the dog or stock. Your decisions, or even the lack of decisions, in the course of using your dog, are weighed and measured.  If not weighed and measure by you then by someone else.  Ever heard the phrase, "You have been weighed and found wanting!"  Do NOT go there; especially during a trial.  (Also, see Stockman.)

*Handler Assistance:  The only time this term applies is if you’re in a trialing situation.  When a handler assists the dog through micromanagement of every stop the dog takes in attempting or in completing a given task, “I” call it unnecessary handler assistance.  I want to see the dog work… not the handler work.  Handler assistance can be either assisting the dog through excessive physical cues or verbal commands.  It can also be the handler handling the stock or the handler doing the dog’s job, not just unnecessary commands to the dog.  So “HA” or “Hander’s Assistance” is subjective to what the judge thinks.  Sorry.  Luck of the draw as far as what judge you get and whether or not HA points are deducted from your score.  For ME, as a judge, I am judging how the stock are affected by the dog and whether or not the dog has the skill set necessary to get the job done.  So is YOUR HA interfering with me seeing if the dog has the skill set needed?  Think about it.  But I have the option to use HA point deductions.  Be careful…

*Handler's Post:  (See "Post".)

*Heifer:  A young female cow.  Generally thought to be a female cow until she's had a calf.  Sometimes indicative of age.  A year  to 18 months or less, as the cow generally will not have had a calf before then.

*Herd:  A larger group of … generally used pertaining to cattle, horses or goats.

*Herding:  Controlled movement of stock from point A to point B utilizing a stockdog.

*Here:  The action taken by the dog should be to recall to the handler.  The command used in herding for a recall.  Since we already use the word “come” in a flank command we use the Here instead of a Come for a recall command.  This same command, like the Walk-Up command, is expanded upon as the dog gains in knowledge.  The Here command can be used and becomes a truly DIRECTIONAL command when utilized in combination with a Flank command.  Once the transition is made to a Directional Command it should be noted that the direction of the Here command becomes proximal to the stock.  When the dog is flanking wider than you wish, you can redirect with a Here and the dog naturally tightens its flank around the stock. The Here command gives you a steering wheel to use while your dog is flanking, to steer the dog closer to the stock while flanking.  In actuality you are  “tweaking” the dog closer to reduce the angle of the arch the dog is running.  Once you begin to utilize this command as a DIRECTIONAL command relevant to the stock, you will have to add the “That’ll Do” command to get the recall to handler scenario back.  The dog will always wish to “work” the stock over recall to the handler.  NOTE:  As a recall command off stock, the “Here” is an OFF-CONTACT action by the dog.  It REMAINS an OFF-CONTACT action when used as a redirect when the dog is flanking.  Dog should be OFF-CONTACT while flanking and it should lessen its arch around the stock but REMAIN OFF-CONTACT and continue flanking.  I suppose I could use another command for an absolute recall but it is just so easy to utilize this command as above stated and the dog naturally understands the above actions so why mess with perfection.

*Hogget:  I understand this term to mean a young sheep between 1 and 2 years of age.  I've never used or heard this term used in the United States.  Doesn't mean it isn't but I was asked to include it in these definitions.  

*Hold:  The action of the dog to keep stock in one given location and “hold” them there.  You can use the word “Hold” as the command or use another word.  But the ACTION is how I define the term “Hold”.  NOTE:  The term “Hold” is NOT a Stay command.  The dog is to ACTIVELY work to maintain a Hold AND keep the group together.  If the dog simply stands there and allows stock to leave then you have NOT done a Hold on stock.  You’ve done the obedience command of Stay.  Think about that.

*Inside Flank:  An Inside Flank is still just a Flank.  The only difference is that the dog chooses to pass in front of the handler OR is made by the handler to pass in FRONT of the handler, between the handler and stock.  The dog is “inside” the circumference of a circle where the handler is standing outside that circle. Obviously, the term Inside Flank is thought of more when working a dog in close quarters than when working a dog out in the field. A dog will naturally do an inside flank as it gains confidence and experience in working stock. But some of us get impatient and want it NOW!  


*Instinct:  That innate ability or those inherited traits a dog possesses at birth, that can be modified through training.  It directly relates to what instinct the dog has before training is applied.  For instance, “eye” can be an inherited trait.  The action of the dog using “eye” to control stock can be modified through training but the dog may be born with it.  Some eye may actually be developed along the way during training in those dogs that are “loose-eyed”.  But we aren’t modifying a trait then.  We are training that into the dog.  It may be a trained talent but not instinctual.

*Kid: A young goat.

*Lamb:  A young sheep; either sex.  Also, used to refer to the meat of a sheep that was less than a year old.

*Lift:  This term refers to the moment contact is made between dog and stock and the stock go into motion; the stock Lift or start moving.  This moment/millisecond in time is OFTEN misinterpreted as to mean when a dog gets to balance.  When stock Lift has nothing to do with “balance”.  Lift is from the stock’s perspective NOT the dog or handler’s.  It’s the second the stock are influenced by the dog.  The stock may Lift prematurely, whether in the right or wrong direction, long before the dog is in the correct position to push the stock in the desired direction.  Beware the Lift.  Watch the stock for when they Lift, not the dog for when it gets to a specific position.

*Look Back:  This command can be a doozy to decide how to define.   I was originally taught that the Look Back was considered a Blind Outrun command.  It is meant to communicate to the dog that there is stock “in them thar hills” and to look for them.  When you originally tell a dog to Look Back and there is no stock visible, the dog will not understand and need help to go further afield to find the stock.  This command is generally a follow-up command to a Flanking command.  The Flanking command is used as a directional aid in telling the dog in which direction to travel to find stock.  Go right or left.  East or West.  You start the dog in a direction of travel, e.g., Away or Bye, then when the dog hesitates to continue OR before the dog is out of sight, you tell the dog to Look Back.  You have to gradually teach the dog a Look Back to build confidence in the dog so that it will actually keep going out until it finds stock.  This command or the INTENT of this command is brought about because you cannot control that which you cannot see.  Once the dog is out of sight you cannot control HOW the dog gathers and brings stock back.  The Look Back gives the dog permission to handle stock anyway it deems necessary to achieve success in bringing stock back to a designated location. (The "location" should be the exact spot from which the dog was sent.)  It is meant to loosen the control on the dog to allow it to do the job with fewer parameters.  The dog may cross-over while Looking Back.  Who cares?  Just get the job done.  This command should be taught at close proximity to stock then the distance gradually increased until the stock are out of sight.  This command has a cool side-effect!  The command, in and off itself, helps teach dogs that are not “group” savvy, to get behind stock and stay there.  Don't circle stock mindlessly.  If you’re having problems teaching your dog “group” then you can utilize this command to put your dog back behind the stock without turning to micromanagement of the dog by repeatedly flanking the dog back into position behind the stock.  If your driving with the dog and the dog is coming up too far on the sides of sheep or “fading” too far around the stock (getting out of position to push stock in a desired direction), you can tell the dog to Look Back or Get Back and it will reposition the dog back behind the stock.  If your dog pushes too hard and punches a hole in the stock’s bubble resulting in splitting the stock, you can tell you dog to Look Back or Get Back BEFORE the egregious sin of splitting the stock occurs and the dog will fall back.   As you train this command at a close distance, it teaches a dog how to wear and keep its stock grouped while pushing them in a given direction.  The side-benefits are kinda neat IF the exercise is taught correctly.  I DO find myself bastardizing this command from its original intent simply because it aids in teaching that all important group to the dog.  Oh well.  Never said I was perfect.

*Loose-Eyed:  This term is used to describe a dog that doesn’t use its eye to control stock.  Many breeds of dogs are considered “loose-eyed” in how they work stock.  They don’t generally stare at stock and move in a more upright manner.  They don’t “stalk” stock in a crouched body position.  As with any term, there are huge variations in how dogs work, e.g., body posture and use of “eye”.

*Micromanagement:  Stop it!  This is one of the most misunderstood words in the English language when used concerning herding.  Micromanagement as applied to herding when the handler decides the dog has to be told every step to take and exactly how and what to do to effectively manage stock.  The dog isn’t allowed to think for itself at all.  Dog’s fight this type of handling and are labeled stubborn or disobedient or simply hard headed.  None of the aforementioned descriptions apply.  It is our job to teach a dog good stock management skills.  Then it is our job to LET the dog apply those skills, as needed, without our interference every step of the way.  Micromanagement is assumed by the handler for many reasons.  Obedience dogs are purposefully micromanaged and the dog is to remain totally focused on the human.  Herding dogs in direct opposition, are to remain totally focused on the stock and have a sense of self-awareness and self-control that is unparalleled in any other sport or function where a dog is used.  A dog needs to be allowed to think, react, and reason so as to allow them to independently manage control of stock movement.  We’re there to open the gate.  

​*Mutton:  A wether, or castrated sheep, that is over a year old.  Also, used to refer to the meat of a sheep that was over a year old.  (Some people only use this word to refer to the meat of an older sheep.  I've always heard it used both ways.)

*Offset Drive:  This term is used to describe the handler’s position relative to dog and stock while the dog is driving/pushing stock.  For one position for an Offset Drive, picture an upside down triangle with dog, handler and stock at each point; the handler being at the bottom tip of the triangle.  The handler will always be “offset” out away from the stock and ahead of the dog.  Generally, the handler will be stationed anywhere from off the hip of the sheep to off the front of the sheep and as far out away from the stock as needed to not interfere, e.g., be a draw or be in the way of your dog’s path as it drives and covers.   You are literally, Offset from the stock and ahead of the dog.  (See Diagram.) 

*Off-Contact:  The dog is mentallyNOT working stock or is Off-Contact.  A Flank is an Off-Contact positioning exercise for the dog.  The dog is NOT to be working the stock while flanking.  As the dog moves around the stock to get into position, the dog will tilt its head away from the stock to avoid eye contact and/or flatten its body position to be more sideways to the stock or even have its rear more toward the stock while flanking.  The dog has NO intent to move the stock in any given direction or to hold the stock in any given position.  When a dog is Off-Contact you will see a more relaxed body posture in the dog.  

*On-Contact:  The dog is mentallyworking stock or is On-Contact.  The dog is mentally PUSHING stock or even HOLDING stock still.  This mental awareness may or may not be combined with a physical action.  The dog is IN THE ACT of controlling the movement of stock whether the dog is moving or standing still or lying down.  Certain actions by the dog, whether overt or covert are purposefully done by the dog to control the stock.  When a dog is Off-Contact the dog will turn its head away from stock or ignore the stock or in general will not be mentally working stock.  Doesn’t mean the dog doesn’t know where the stock is or what the stock is doing.  When On-Contact the dog is totally focused on the stock, looking intensely at the stock and trying to control them.  When a dog is On-Contact you will see a more tense body posture or a stiffening in the body posture of the dog.  Even lying down the dog will be intense and intent on the stock.

*Out:  A positioning command for the dog.  The dog is to disengage from the stock (both mentally and physically) and move directly away from the stock until told to stop.  Generally, the action should require the dog to turn around 180 degrees and travel directly away from the stock until told otherwise.  (Dog OFF-CONTACT.)  NOTE:  This command should only be used once the dog is stagnant or not in motion, e.g., down.  If you bastardize this command and use it while your dog is in motion (flanking) the dog will begin to “cheat” on the Out and not give you 180 degrees away from stock.  In training, train perfectly.  In trialing, cheat like there is no tomorrow to get what you need.  But ALWAYS go back and train for perfection.  

*Outrun: An Outrun is nothing more than a long Flank.  No difference, other than the dog gets to run longer.  Some people may use the “Get Around” as a beginner command for a Flank or the Outrun.  I don’t see the value in that.  I use a flank word to flank the dog.  Period.  May as well set the word you’ll always use to the action performed from the very beginning.

*Packed Pen:  A small pen that is packed with stock (better be sheep if your dog is going to survive).  A Packed Pen is utilized in teaching the dog to move around stock without working stock, e.g., flank around the stock on the fenceline without excessive gripping or attempts to move the stock, other than out of the path of the dog, so it can continue around the stock in a given direction.  The Packed Pen is utilized to teach a dog to work Off-Contact.  

*Parallel Drive:  This term refers to the handler’s position relative to the dog.  While driving the handler is Parallel to the dog walking in the same direction as the dog.  (See diagram.)

*Post:  This is a trialing term.  The term is used to describe the Handler’s position on the Course at the start of the Run.  Generally you will see this referred to as the “handler’s post”.   The Post can literally be a post in the ground or a cone/pylon indicating where the handler can stand at the start of their Run.

*Pressure:  This term is used to describe the invisible force the dog exerts over stock or vice versa.  Pressure can also define the pressure of the visible force (grip) a dog exerts or stomping, charging or head butting of stock toward the dog.  When a dog walks up to stock and the stock turn and move away from that dog; the dog is exerting Pressure on the stock and the stock are yielding to that Pressure.  The stock simply move away from the Pressure.  An example of pressure would be the use of water.  You have a water hose and move your thumb to partially cover the end of the hose.  The water now comes out “under pressure”.  Now, you point that water at a pebble and the pebble moves away from the pressure of the water.  Dog and stock play the exact same game.  How much pressure the dog has to exert to get a specific reaction totally depends on the situation and a multitude of variables.  But, never forget that everything you do in herding is dependent on the game of exerting and releasing pressure.

*Prey Drive:  This term defines the drive in a dog to stalk, bring down, and then kill prey animals.  Prey animals are any animals that a carnivorous creature eats.  (Pigs could go either way in my book.)  The term as used in herding is subjective in interpretation.  I, personally, believe all herding traits and characteristics seen in a dog are derived from Prey Drive.  In dogs that have been bred and used specifically for herding for a long time, their Prey Drive has been modified.  That modified Prey Drive translates in the inhibition in the dog to take that last step and kill stock.  The modification of the “stalking” skill set, to stop before the dog pounces and kills stock, has been markedly modified in some dogs.  In other dogs we, the handler, modify such kill instinct during training.   :o)  But Prey Drive (to me) is what makes our dogs want to chase/herd stock.  Be thankful for it.  

*Ram: A male sheep that is still whole; still has its testicles.

*Rate:  This term refers to the dog and its ability to maintain a constant, given pace for stock movement.  If the stock is moving at a given pace that is acceptable the dog doesn’t push too hard or fall too far behind but maintains enough pressure on the stock to keep the stock moving along in the proper direction at a controlled speed.  A dog that truly “rates” perfectly is also covering any escape attempt while maintaining the controlled forward motion.  Dogs that are NOT rating effectively would be dogs that are running along behind stock without any attempt to control the speed.  They go as fast as the stock are going.   In an effort to train rate in dogs, handlers may pressure the dogs to get further away from stock to prevent runaway stock instead of teaching them to rate effectively; both  push and cover at the same time.  

*Run:  This is a trialing term.  It refers to your time in the arena/field when you are trialing your dog. 

​*Sheep:   As per WikipediA: Of the family (Ovis aries) are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. If it ain't domesticated, I'm not touchin' it for herding. ME: Sheep come in both "hair" and "wool" varieties. The name is given to define coat. Pretty self-explanatory in my book. BUT, these varieties are crossed many times and the result is up for grabs as to what coat they may have, whether wool or hair. Generally, the crossing of types of coat results in a degradation in the wool the first generation but you still have to shear them at the F-1 level (1st generation of crossing). At the F-2 level, if you've bred away from wool again the need for shearing is not as readily seen. May be clean and totally hair. My F-2 crosses generally don't need shearing any longer. But, now and then I'll get enough wool as to need to consider shearing that sucker!

*Shed:  The action of the dog shedding or taking one or more stock away from the group/herd/flock and keeping control of the movement of that/those animal(s) that were shed.  In herding we “shed” stock to isolate one or more animals away from the herd/flock.  We do this for varying reasons.  We may need to doctor that animal or remove a diseased animal from the flock and take that one animal to another location.  I've shed animals in the pasture to doctor Pink Eye for instance.  I've shed an animal with a broken leg so as to doctor/splint that leg.  A Shed is always accomplished using a dog to do the job.

*Short Flank:  A flank command, e.g., Away or Bye, where the dog takes only a few steps in the desired direction.  In training the rule of thumb is generally followed that if you only want the dog to take a few steps on a flank that you will shorten the flank command so as to let your dog understand that you only want a few steps instead of a 100 yard outrun, e.g., the command will be “Away” instead of “Away to Me” or “Bye or Come” instead of “Come Bye”.  Verbally, you will say the command in a clipped manner instead of drawn out.  (Dog OFF-CONTACT.)

*Sit:  The action of the dog lowering its rear to the ground to sit on its haunches.  As far as I’m concerned a totally useless command in herding.  Use the Down.

*Sort:  This term means to separate or take from.  The action of dividing animals up and/or placing specific animals into a different pen or place.  Sorting is usually done in pens and using equipment to sort with.  A dog is generally used to help, e.g., keep pressure on the stock to come down a chute to sort at a sorting gate.  This is NOT a Shed.

*Square Flanks:  This term reflects the “body posture” and position of the dog when it is “in motion” moving around stock doing a Flank.  When you Flank a dog the FIRST STEP should be at a 90-degree angle off the stock.  You are squaring up the dog as compared to the stock’s position.  IF your dog’s side is to the stock while its flanking, it is at a 90 degree angle to the stock.  Period.  Teaching Square Flanks helps get the dog mentally Off-Contact.  It requires the dog to mentally turn loose of the stock and to almost face away from the stock while flanking.  Dogs that start a flank by stepping TOWARD the stock will be mentally working (On-Contact) stock.  The Square Flank body position for the dog is to be maintained throughout training.  The body posture of the dog should be that the dog is flat sided (or 90-degrees) to the stock.  When you want a wide(r)/bigger flank the dog has to turn MORE than 90-degrees away from the stock to achieve the wider flank.  Teach your Square Flanks from day one in training.  You’ll need them throughout the dog’s herding career in an innumerable number of exercises to make the execution and completion of tasks easier. 


*Stalk:  A term that refers to the body posture of a dog working stock.  The dog will generally have its head down in a “stalking” manner and may also crouch in the front.  The head may be held lower than the body or almost on the ground with the dog crouching almost to the ground in the front end assembly of the body; the rear slightly higher than the rest of the body.  This body posture may generally be seen in “eye” breeds like the Kelpie or Border Collie but can be exhibited by any breed of dog while working stock.

*Stay:  A Stay is a Stay.   You say it and the dog stops moving and stays in whatever position he’s in. Stop moving and stay.  A true stay is the deluxe micromanagement command.  :o) 

*Steer:  The male specimen in cattle that has been castrated.

*Sticky:  Directly pertains to a dog’s inability to move itself forward or to be in motion.  A “sticky” dog will choke or stop forward motion and stand still instead of continuing to make forward progress.  There are many reasons for this.  But the term “sticky” is used to describe such a dog’s actions or lack thereof.

*Stock:  This term is used to refer to any animal, whether it is a horse, cow, sheep, goat, a pig or fowl, that is domesticated and raised by man for man’s use.  Note the word “domesticated”.  Animals are domesticated so that they can be more easily “handled” by man.  Domesticated animals can be maintained, secured, bred, handled and utilized for human use more easily than a wild animal.  The term domesticated is important; as these are the animals we herd with dogs and the animals that respond appropriately to training from a dog. Note I said training FROM the dog.  Some stock is more domesticated than other stock. 

*Stockman:  That's what YOU'RE supposed to be when you are herding stock with your dog.  It implies that you can manage and handle stock safely and get it from point A to point B either with or without your dog depending on the circumstances.  It also implies you are empathic both with your dog and the stock.  You are supposed to know what both stock and dog are thinking at all times and be sympathetic to their plight in life at the same time.  It implies that your stock grow fat and happy and go through life (whether a short life or long one) understanding the rules of the "game" and how to comply so as to grow fat and happy.

*Strafe or strafing:  This term comes from the era where planes made “strafing runs” on targets.  Low flying aircraft would machine gun ground targets as the airplane flew by.  When your dog runs up the sides of stock barking, griping or spinning stock it is called strafing.  Not an appropriate action on the dog’s part.  Stop it!

*Talent:  Directly relates to a dog’s herding abilities after training.  Talent is subjective.  The talent of a dog will depend on instinct as well as the trainer’s talent.

*Thank You:  This is a trialing term.  It is used when the Judge decides to call or put an end to your Run or stop your run and dismiss you from the arena/field.  The judge will say, “Thank you”.  That means your Run is over and you are to collect your dog ASAP and leave the arena/field.  This usually happens because the dog is out-of-control and you should have called your own Run OR no progress has been made on the course for at least 2 minutes and the judge thinks enough time has elapsed waiting for progress on the course.  Other reasons exist for a judge calling a run but these are the most likely 2 reasons.  ALSO, the handler has the option to call their own run when things are going badly.  The handler just needs to say, “Thank You” and the judge will stop judging.  You are allowed to get your dog and leave the trialing arena/field when you call your own run.

*That’ll Do:  This is a Call Off command.  The action of the dog should reflect that it has been called Off-Contact and the dog should mentally turn loose of the stock and leave.  Generally, the That’ll Do command is combined with the “Here” command for an absolute recall to the handler.  Sometimes when a handler cannot get a dog to mentally turn loose of the stock so as to take a flanking command the handler will bastardize the "That'll Do" command to jerry-rig a flanking scenario.  They make the dog turn loose with a That'll Do then call the flank.  Keep doing that and you'll lose your That'll Do too.  Stop it!  Train the flank better.

*There:  This command is an orientation command only.  It is meant to orient the dog to the stock in preparation for the next command to be given by the handler.  The dog should be facing the stock, not sideways to the stock, but FACING the stock.  The There command does NOT have to include the act of downing by the dog, or sitting or anything else.  It is a command where, if the dog is IN MOTION, the dog should immediately (without taking another step) turn in and face the stock AND NOT TAKE ANOTHER STEP.  This command is NOT a movement command by the dog.  The command in and of itself should ALWAYS stop ALL forward motion of the dog.  The dog should then await the next command.  (Dog is BROUGHT ON-CONTACT by the command.)

*Tight-Eyed: (See "Eye".)

*Tight or Tight at the Top: This term generally refers to the Outrun or Flank.  It is referring to when a dog cuts in toward the stock while flanking and causes premature or inappropriate movement of the stock.  There are varying reasons why the dog may be “tight” on a flank or “cut in” on a flank.  But, in general, the dog is moving too close to the stock, causing the stock to move in an inappropriate direction from that desired.  You’ll see this term on paperwork you get when trialing as an explanation of why points were deducted.  You’ll also see the word “Close” used referring to the same definition.

*Tweak:  The handler’s ability to bastardize any damned command they want and, in doing so, either shoot themselves in the foot or actually succeed where failure looked inevitable.

*Tweak Queen:  Me 

*Tween Commands: The slurring together of two diametrically opposed commands and expecting those commands to fix an action the dog is doing that is incorrect as per the original command.  Tween commands are used as a “crutch” to explain an exercise/command to the dog.  Okay, maybe that is a little harsh for a definition but for ME I have been known to use the command Come Here or Away Here when the dog takes the wrong flank.  I may have told the dog to do an Away To Me and the dog does a Come Bye.  The dog is off to my left and the flank should be toward me to start with in a counter-clockwise move.  Instead of stopping the dog and redirecting with the correct command, I’ll redirect in motion (while the dog is moving) with an Away Here to tell the dog the flank is first toward me. The dog does a reverse flank while still in motion and I'm happy.  Wrong but happy.  Also, commands like "Away To Me" or "Come Bye" and adding the command "Out" as a suffix, e.g., "Away-Out" or "Bye-Out".  Both Off-Contact commands, I'll give you that, but you're using them to try to get a wider flank INSTEAD of going back and retraining the Flank command to BE a wider flank, as it should be.  So, instead of going back and addressing the problem, I mix two commands to “fix” the problem.  Don’t do it!  Do as I say!  Not as I do!

*Upright:  A term used to describe the body posture of a dog while working stock.  Generally the term is used to describe the body posture of a “loose-eyed” dog.  The dog utilizes a more upright body posture when working stock.  It does not “slink after” or “stalk” its stock as much as walks or moves in an upright manner.  “Upright” dogs can and do lower their heads in a “stalking” manner but will still generally carry their body in a more upright manner while working stock.

*Walk Up:  A “push” command for the dog to walk a straight line directly toward the stock.  This command “sets a line” for which the dog is to adhere to push the stock in a specific direction.  The dog may be walking to the heads of the stock first to turn them in another direction or to the rear of the stock to push them forward. But the command is a DIRECTIONAL command for the dog.  (Dog ON-CONTACT.)  NOTE:  The Walk Up command is multifaceted. It is one of the hardest commands to understand in that its meaning can expand with the advancement in experience in the dog.  In novice dogs a Walk Up command should be the dog walking a straight line toward the stock without that line bending or arching.  You have “set a line” to which the dog should adhere and which moves the stock in a specific direction.  It is meant to push stock forward in a straight line also.  The handler should reset the “line” if the direction of the Walk Up does not push the stock in the proper direction.  BUT, and this is a BIG BUT… The dog may need to “cover or wear” to keep the stock grouped together AND to move the stock in the direction specified.  Some dogs naturally “set a line” and maintain it while others have to be taught to keep the group together while pushing the stock in a straight line. But it is all oriented toward the dog walking in a predictable straight line so that the handler can position the dog to then move the stock in a specific direction.

*Wear or Wearing:  The action of the dog to keep stock in a group.  The dog will move from side to side to group the stock.  The dog will wear while pushing the stock forward in a specific direction.  Wearing may consist of as little as the dog turning its head to put pressure on one head of stock to make it get back with the group or move forward.  Wearing may consist of as much as the dog having to move all the way across the back of a large flock and part way up the sides of a large flock to keep the group together while moving the group forward.  (Dog is ON-CONTACT.)

*Wether:  A male sheep that has been castrated.  

*Wool Sheep:  (See Sheep.)