This exercise has been a mainstay in teaching a dog many different elements in herding.  It helps teach specific elements that when combined make for many tools in your dog’s tool chest that are useful and


When starting this exercise is can be a “fun” exercise for the dog and can be used to increase drive in a dog or as a reward.   It is a confidence builder for weak dogs.  I start novice dogs fairly early on doing this exercise but I also will come back to this exercise with older dogs to help fix a problem or build confidence.


Sheep are my choice of stock to utilize this exercise and its many facets.  It’s too dangerous for cattle. As a more advanced dog you can use it on fowl to help for pressure issues but don’t allow the dog to overrun fowl in performing the exercise.


Some of the concepts I use this exercise to train are, to-wit:


  • Put push in my dog
  • Refine my dog seeing and maintaining a group. 
  • Encourage my dog to cover escapees automatically without command.   
  • Work a pressure issue when a dog bounces out of pressure from the livestock looking at him or stomping at him.  The reverse is true, in that I can help a dog that falls into pressure also.
  • Teach a dog a Hold.
  • Teach my dog how to skim (stay on) the fence while flanking through the corner or past sheep on the fenceline to pull sheep off the fence or out of a corner.  
  • Teach the dog an Out.




I pick a corner of the arena and take the sheep to that corner.  At first I’ll only use 3 to 5 sheep, but as I use this exercise to train and refine different concepts in herding, I will increase or decrease the number of sheep as per my need.  I will also use different “types” of sheep, meaning I may use lighter (wilder) sheep
or heavy, knee knocker sheep.


The first exercise I’ll do is a Flanking Exercise Against the Fence.


I take sheep to a corner and stand facing my dog.   The picture is, my sheep in the corner, me, then the dog out toward the interior of the arena.  I should have a little room (a path) between the fence and the sheep.  So, I’m not yet trying to pack the sheep tightly into the corner.  


My first goal is to ask the dog to perform a flank all the way around the stock (360°).  I cue the dog to flank and as the dog completes the 360° flank I’ll give the commands, “There, Down, Walk Up”.  (I always Down the dog with a There command to make sure the dog stops all forward motion immediately on hearing the There command.)  The Walk Up is because the dog will come through the flank and the stock will probably blow out away from the dog as it passes behind them.  This is fine and appropriate.  Then you’ll walk the dog up until the stock is repositioned again so as to do another exercise.


As the dog passes behind the stock I will take a few steps away from the stock toward the interior of the arena to given the stock room to move with me and away from the fence allowing the dog more room to flank. 
This would be my best scenario.  But, as with some novice dogs, they may have trouble going between the fence and stock and I may have to walk behind the dog as it flanks between the fence and stock to “help” propel the dog forward so it can complete the flank.  That’s fine too.  As the dog comes out from behind the stock and into the interior of the arena, finishing that 360°, I’ll also be coming out from behind the stock and should be ready to block the dog so that it doesn’t dive back into the stock.   My goal is to flank the dog around behind the stock while remaining on the interior of the arena and the dog is just flanking
around me.  All I would be doing is walking out of the corner then backing back into the corner as the dog flanks.


Again, with the completion of the flank you will have the chance to do a STRAIGHT Walk Up to push the stock back into the corner.  Make SURE that Walk Up is STRAIGHT and the dog does not veer off that straight line.


Depending on the competency of the dog to predictably and consistently execute this first part of the exercise, you may have to back track here and work on whatever problems you had while executing that flank and Walk Up.


ALL I’m asking of the dog is to flank and STAY on the fence while flanking.  THEN I’m asking for the dog to drive the stock back to the corner.


All dogs need to learn how to pull stock out of a corner or off the fence.  You’d think that would be a simple
exercise.  Call your flank and let the dog go between the fence and sheep to peel them off the fence.  Then stop your flank at whatever balance point you so choose so that the stock are heading in the correction
direction.  May be simple for a given dog, then again, it may not be quite that simple.  


Problem Solving:


Once a problem is identified, the completion of the exercise is moot UNTIL the problem is fixed. 
You HAVE to step back in training and FIX the problem.  Yes, you will use the exercise to fix that problem but the completion of the exercise is moot.  Remember this, as it is very important in training all dogs in herding.  


Once a problem is identified I’m going to break that exercise down into smaller pieces.  I’ll back up and continue to break ANY exercise down into smaller and smaller pieces until I fix whatever problem I have in the dog executing that small piece of the exercise.


Pressure Issues:


Many dogs panic over the close quarters when they are asked to flank between the fence and stock.  That is NORMAL!  It’s like you being in a crowded elevator and being crushed back against the rear wall.  The escape route is on the other side of the people in front of you and you may feel that pressure of being hemmed in or unable to get out of that closed in area.  Your dog just stepped into that elevator and purposefully made his way to the rear wall and may have some difficulty in getting back out.  


That panic can lead to the dog refusing to go between the fence and stock (bouncing out of pressure),
or diving into the stock and gripping unnecessarily (diving into pressure), or even the dog racing through the exercise trying to get to the other side instead of calmly executing the flank (diving into pressure).  Either scenario is a response to the pressure the dog feels from the stock and/or the pressure the handler is exerting on the dog by asking for the dog to “run that gauntlet”.  You are asking that dog to endure an attack on his “senses” from all sides.


I see handlers standing still and not going to help their dog through that gauntlet.  They repeat the flank command over and over, in essence increasing the pressure on the dog to get his butt into gear and flank through the pressure to complete the flank.  Stop it!  You’re a team.  Go help your dog!  


This exercise allows for the handler to work through a problem AND help the dog gain the confidence
to execute the command without the handler having to intervene.  Want a dog to execute a flawless Take Pen.  This is ONE of the exercises to help teach the dog how to do that.


Whether the dog bounces out of pressure or falls into pressure, the correct response is AWAYS to hold the dog in the pressure.  That does NOT translate into driving the dog through the pressure.  The ONLY way to desensitize a dog to pressure issues is to HOLD them in the pressure zone.  The proper way to do that is to DOWN the dog at the exact instant the dog FEELS the pressure.  The Down is what holds the dog in the pressure.  I did not say stand the dog.  I said DOWN the dog.  While standing a dog will NOT relax.  The dog WILL relax somewhat and accept the pressure when in a Down.


The way YOU know WHERE to Down the dog is by the dog’s actions.  When a dog becomes uncomfortable with the pressure it feels it’s going to hesitate at going forward.  It’ll try to bounce away from the pressure or it may speed up on the flank trying to hurry up and escape the pressure by running through it to get to the other side and/or it will grip/bite while trying to execute the command. YOUR job is to DOWN the dog an instant before the dog succumbs to the pressure and doing any one of the above three (3) responses (bounce, speed up and/or grip).


IF you cannot Down the dog in pressure then you need to #1 work on your Downs as they NEED to be absolute; #2 you need to move closer to the dog if you have to, to physically block the dog from running through your Down command when it tries to bounce, speed up and/or grip.  You may have to put the dog on leash and go with the dog so that you can keep the dog from getting away from you and not Downing.


In Downing the dog you are not allowing the dog to repeatedly escape the pressure.  Also, when you Down the dog the sheep will move away from the dog, in effect, relieving the pressure by putting a little distance between themselves and the dog.


AT THIS POINT in the exercise you are NOT going to try to finish the flank.  You will keep the dog in a Down until you see the dog accept that it HAS to stay Down.  Usually the dog will physically relax as the pressure is accepted and/or the pressure is released by the stock moving away.


When the sheep move off you will back flank (reverse you flank to go in the opposite direction) and
catch the heads to turn the sheep back into the corner.  THEN you will DOWN the dog on the OTHER SIDE of the sheep when and where you see the dog fixing to succumb to the pressure again.  


Some dogs will have a good side and a bad side when flanking.  They’ll succumb to pressure on an Away Flank but not on a Come Bye Flank.  Read your dog.  The millisecond the dog shows signs of
pressure DOWN the dog.  The dog may do nothing more than turn its head away from the pressure.


Once again you are going to hold the dog in the pressure with that Down until the dog relaxes its body posture, then flank the other direction and hold the dog in the pressure on that side until the dog relaxes its body posture. 


Whatever it takes to accomplish this DO IT!  If need be put the dog on lead if the dog beats you and keeps bouncing out of pressure or running through the pressure and you cannot catch him in time to Down him.  If he’s on leash then you have the control to make the Down happen.  Make it so.


In effect you are flanking the dog back and forth to the heads of the sheep and holding the sheep in the corner UNTIL the dog is relaxed.  You may have to work the flanking back and forth for more than one session to gain a little ground as to how far you can flank the dog behind the stock, between the fence and stock, before having to Down the dog.


If you work this correctly you will gain a little ground in a short time and be able to flank the dog further and further without the need to Down the dog to hold him into pressure.  Eventually the dog will flank all the way through on the fence without having a pressure issue and VOILA you have a dog that is quietly and calmly flanking between the fence and stock without panic.


BE PATIENT.  Holding the dog in pressure will ALWAYS work to desensitize the dog.  The dog will get
better and better.


Remember the sheep NEED A PATH OF ESCAPE when the dog is flanking around them.  They have to be able to step AWAY from the dog to release the pressure they are feeling from the dog.  So always think about making sure they have a path of least resistance.


Closely watch WHERE you have to Down your dog to hold the dog into pressure.  Make SURE that the dog isn’t holding the stock in place but have a way to yield to the dog to escape.  


I see handlers totally oblivious to where the dog ISN’T on the fence.  Meaning the dog isn’t ON the fence but, instead,  is actually a few feet out off the fence while flanking.  The handler doesn’t realize the dog is HOLDING the sheep in the corner by its inappropriate body positioning.  Make sure when you flank
your dog you get that dog ON THE FENCE to flank through.  That means seemingly touching the fence with its body.  That allows a path of least resistance for the sheep to be open and waiting for the sheep to take.


NOTE:  Also, watch your dog’s head position as he flanks along the fence.  The head should
be tilted OUT away from the sheep.  Not inward toward the sheep.  This head positioning is paramount when working ducks along a fence and you want to peel the ducks off the fence or out of a corner.  Be AWARE of your dog’s body position AND if his head is tilted out on inward.  Teach/Train so that the head is tilted OUTWARD!


There are many ways to help a dog go through pressure.  Once you can Down the dog, the dog can then calmly and efficiently process what is happening with the stock and the dog will see the stock move away.  Some dogs will panic as they now fear that the stock is escaping while they are Down.  We took care of this when we back flanked the dog to cover that escape. You are allowing the dog to maintain control of the stock.  You’re just helping it do so within the parameters you set.  


So as you’re training this exercise and/or fixing a pressure issue remember I am NOT talking about working a Down Stay.  I’m talking about Downing the dog in pressure.  That Down may only encompass a second or two before you back flank the dog.  The RELEASE of pressure the dog feels may only take a millisecond.  So DO NOT work on a Down Stay.  That ain’t the beneficial or appropriate at this time.  We are working on teaching the dog that falling into or bouncing out of pressure isn’t allowed and is inappropriate.  We are also ALLOWING the dog to THINK it is still in control of the stock and you are NOT taking that control away.   We will NOT allow the sheep to escape.  We WILL back flank the dog BEFORE we allow an escape.  We are just stopping the inappropriate behavioral response the dog is exhibiting by Downing the dog for the millisecond it takes to prevent that behavior.


Weak Dogs:


Dogs that are weaker and keep trying to bounce away or out of pressure may need more help.  Sometimes you’ll have sheep that are drawn TO that type of dog because the dog exhibits a weakness the sheep readily recognize.  The sheep will then stomp and want to butt the dog.  Bad sheep.


My first rule of thumb is to put appropriate sheep in the pen for that particular dog.  I’ll use docile sheep that will not fight the dog, even a weak dog.  I will work my way through different types of sheep until I come to the tougher sheep.  IF I’ve done my basic training correctly the weak dog will have a rock solid understanding of this exercise and how to do it.  Because the dog is confident in doing the exercise with docile stock we may never have a problem.  That is because the dog understands the concept and applies it appropriately.


But, sometimes shit happens.  I don’t worry about it and move forward with the dog.  If I have stock that fights then it is time for me to train that particular stock to NOT fight that particular dog.  I have several options in front of me to train this but I’m going to be VERY careful as to what I’m asking of this dog.  He has GOT to win at all costs.


I ALWAYS will step in and help the dog by empowering the dog.  I’ll step in, grab a leg (preferably a back leg) on the offending sheep and start dragging the sheep out away from the group.  I’ll hiss the dog on that sheep.  #1 I’m allowing the dog to discipline that one particular sheep for bad behavior.  I’ve got hold of the sheep so its not like the sheep can hurt the dog.  This teaches the sheep its behavior is unacceptable.  (Yeah, this really works and sheep CAN be taught) #2 I’m giving the dog permission to step in and grip, molest, do whatever it wants to that sheep without recourse from me (as long as I’m not bit).  The millisecond the dog comes in and the sheep tries to leave, I turn the sheep loose and Down the dog.  Pressure is taken off the sheep (it did what I wanted, e.g., left to the pressure of the dog) and #2 I don’t let the dog continue the discipline because I don’t’ want the sheep to turn and fight again.  The dog has won (sheep left).  I praise the dog for a job well done and reset the sheep for another try.


I may not get the dog all the way through the flank today.  But I’ve just made a HUGE step in the confidence of that dog to get the job done.  Patience!  One step at a time in the training of a great dog.


Biting dogs.  


Biting does not mean the dog has confidence.  Biting can mean the dog is weak and trying to protect itself under pressure.  It’s just easier to train a biting dog because the sheep usually leave more readily and you don’t have a dog that is sticky.


Yep, most of mine come in this category.  Whether biting because they don’t have that trait tempered by instinct or biting out of fear, I NEVER discipline a dog for gripping.  Period.  I ALWAYS want my dog to have the option to grip if necessary.   I try to use my Down a millisecond before the dog grips.  IF my dog takes the Down then he’s not gripping, is he?  Again, this is a simple pressure issue.  Hold the dog in the pressure.  If need be put the dog on lead if you cannot get him to Down.  Work it.  The Down is the issue here NOT the grip.  With biting dogs I may fall back to working a Packed Pen exercise again then come back to this exercise.  Just depends on how biddable the dog is.  But if I’ve worked the Packed Pen correctly I’m not going to have a huge issue here.  That was taken care of when I worked that Packed Pen.


Again, you will rock the dog back and forth doing flanks one direction then the other to get a little more distance on that flank and a little deeper into the corner.  If you have to, walk with the dog on lead through the corner however many number of times it takes for the dog to quietly flank on lead all the way through the flank.  Make sure the dog is ON the fenceline not 2 or 3 feet away as it is important the dog skim that fence.  If you’ve done the beginning round pen exercises of walking the perimeter with the dog both on lead then off lead, walking through the stock with your dog on lead then off lead, calling your dog through stock, then the gripping will NOT be a big issue.  If you haven’t done the beginner exercises then go back and do them.


The Out:


This is a great time to teach your dog an OUT!  You have the dog flanking all the way around the stock at a good clip without a problem.  The sheep are probably not blowing out as badly because the dog is moving through the corner smoothly and without incident.  So now the dog is tightening its circle and coming in a little to close and moving around the stock a little too tight.  That’s because he’s having a pretty grand time now!  


Go ahead and start Outing your dog when the flank is completed.  Remember the Out (during training) always ends with a Walk Up.


When the flank is complete Down your dog.  Then Out, There and Walk Up.  The Walk Up just rewarded
the dog for not only the flank but the Out as well.  So work this exercise as part of the Corner Exercise.  But remember is IS an “add-on” to the Corner Exercise.  You WANT to work this as part of the Corner Exercise because it will soften the dog’s mind for a quieter and bigger flank even though the flank is on the fence.  If you don’t have an Out on your dog then train it.  (See article, “Training an Out”.)


Training the Push Through on the Flank:


Now you’ve got the dog flanking through the corner with you standing in one place in front of the sheep.  We’re going to add another element.  We want to begin to push the sheep deeper into the corner.  We want to cram them into a smaller space, closer to the fence.  We want to make it harder for the dog to flank around the stock between the fence and sheep.  We’re going to “pack that corner”.


Now if you’ve worked your Packed Pen exercise you shouldn’t have problems with the flanking portion
of this exercise as the Packed Pen helped desensitize the dog and taught him to push through on the flank.  But we’re adding an ON CONTACT command here.  The Walk Up.  We’re asking the dog to PUSH THROUGH THAT BUBBLE OF PRESSURE.  Some dogs don’t feel that bubble.  Some dog’s may be 50 feet away and you will have problems getting the dog to Walk Up and poke a hole in that imaginary bubble.


Got a sticky dog?  Here’s an exercise for you to help the dog push that bubble.


You may have to fall back and help the dog.  That’s fine.  We’ve increased the pressure on the dog.  We’re going to make sure we hold the dog in the pressure (again with a Down).  If the sheep are crammed into the corner so tightly as the dog cannot seem to make a path, go over and help him by pulling sheep off the fence.  Down the dog, pull a sheep’s butt off the fence and flank the dog a step at a time.  If the dog grips IT IS APPROPRIATE TO CREATE A PATH.  TRY to make sure when you pack sheep on a fence this way you SEND THE DOG TO THE HEADS.  As it is easier to create a path by yielding the head away from the dog
than by asking the dog to go to the butts where the sheep cannot readily see him.  So pay attention to which direction the sheep are facing.  Send the dog to their heads.  IF the dog is skimming the fence the sheep will turn their heads away from the dog and fence and move away from the fence, creating a path for the dog. 
Again, have patience.  Allow time for the sheep to move off the fence to create that path.  We’re not trying to break a world record here.  So don’t rush it.  Wait for the sheep to move.


The dog will learn to literally shove his way along the fence between the fence and stock to make his own path.  This is a huge confidence builder.  But remember, how many times in a trialing situation will this actually happen?  Not very darned often, if ever.  We’re training it to make sure the dog truly understands that he is to be ON the fence, BEHIND the sheep.  If you don’t train this and proof it, the dog may flank toward the sheep and instead of going between the fence and sheep he may veer around the sheep taking the path of least resistance to him and going to the interior of the arena.  He will have effective skimmed the sheep.  Not good.  So train this.  When you need it, it will be a lifesaver.  I HAVE seen a lot of dogs in my judging career that could NOT pull stock off a fence.  Train it.


Another positive is that when you train for sheep packed against the fence it truly explains to the dog that he needs to be BEHIND the stock on that flank.  When you send a dog on an Outrun the dog will totally understand the concept of getting BEHIND the stock.  You will lessen the possibility of the dog Crossing Over on an outrun or on a Flank.


So now you have a dog that will skim the fence.  Let’s modify this exercise for more training diversity.


Training Push on the Walk Up:


I want to teach my dog to push and I’m going to use this Corner Exercise to do that.  But when I let my dog push a group of sheep like this, some of them are going to end up popping out of the corner to try to escape the pressure the dog is exerting on them and I don’t want to let my dog learn not to cover.  Sooooo, I want my
 to push AND cover while holding sheep in the corner.


I’ll now break up my Flank into two sections.  I’ll down my dog behind the stock to get them to leave the corner.  Then I’ll Flank my dog again to get to a balance point where the dog can drive the sheep back to the corner.  


On the Walk Up we’ve been doing, I’m going to now ask my dog to Walk Up and push the sheep into the same corner but I want MORE pressure exerted by the dog once the sheep get to the corner AND I’m going to ask him to HOLD that pressure and not Flank around the stock.  Before we’d push the sheep into the corner, pack them BUT I’d then call a Flank.  We are not DROPPING the Flank.


For this exercise I’m going to turn and face the sheep and step off to one side.  That way I’m not in my dog’s way.  I’m basically going to be doing a parallel drive (me walking beside my dog) while asking him to Walk Up and Push.


As the dog pushes, the sheep will pack into the corner and become very nervous as there is no place to escape except out either side as the dog is exerting pressure in the middle (straight Walk Up).


As the sheep feel the pressure, one will periodically look for relief by escaping left or right up
the fencelines.  (Remember we’re in a corner.)  MY job is to LET the dog cover the escape and bring the sheep back to the group.  


If the dog does NOT cover then MY job will be to encourage the dog to cover.  On a novice dog I’ll do this with a physical cue.  I’ll block the dog from continuing to work the sheep in the corner and yield the dog in the direction of the escapee.  I’ll only allow the dog to work the one that escaped.  Preferably the dog
will cover the escape on its own accord.  But, not a problem, that’s what I’m there for, to help him understand
what is being asked of him and to help him successfully accomplish that task.  Again, if I have to I will put pressure on dog to leave the sheep and me.  I have attitude of; “These are mine, that one is yours.  Go work you own”.


At first I will not care HOW the dog brings the sheep back.   That isn’t the point of the exercise.  The point is to build drive to cover and maintain the group as a whole.  If my timing is good, I can use my stock stick to yield the dog away from the group about the same time the one sheep goes to escape, basically helping the dog go in the right direction.  When the dog gets the escapee covered I immediately Down the dog, not allowing the dog to chase the sheep all the way back into the group.  I’ll ask the dog to Walk Up to a safe distance, Down him again and walk out and release him as the exercise is over.  He pushed and covered.  Then I’ll start over.


With the repetition of this exercise the dog is learning to push and cover at the same time.  He’s also learning to Hold the sheep in ONE place on the fence.  It’s a corner now.  But we’ll expand on that later.


I am NOT worried about how the dog covers at this juncture in training.  Training a square flank will teach the dog to cover appropriately and kick out to cover the escapee.  I do not want my dog chasing stock BUT if
that is what he does in the beginning them I’ll use heavier stock that will back to the group even if the dog is chasing.  I’ll use a dishonest sheep to get the job done as that is what knee knockers are.


What I’m trying to accomplish is for the dog to understand the CONCEPT of cover and for it to become a HABIT that all sheep should remain in a group.  Bring it back!


If I’m not careful I’ll have to trade out my sheep as the sheep will learn quickly that escape is not an option and they’ll simply quit trying to escape no matter how much pressure the dog exerts.  So you may have to have a leader in the group and trade out for some lighter sheep in the group periodically that will try to escape.


This same “popcorning” effect will also energize dogs that have low drive.  They love to chase!  You create an artificial way to build their drive and confidence.


Working the Hold


As you work the Corner Exercise you can utilize it to teach your dog to do a Hold anywhere on the fenceline.  It doesn’t have to be in a corner.


You will need a modicum of Drive on the dog.  The dog has to leave you and Drive stock to the corner or wherever I so choose.  His level of confidence in driving and how far away you can get will dictate the level at which you can teach this exercise.


You will also need a square flank.  By the time you get to this level you should have trained that good Flank anyway.  But, this exercise WILL allow YOU to help the dog maintain a square flank when covering or break back away from the stock to cover in an arch.


Your first step is for YOU to move over to the fenceline and point in the direction you want the dog to Drive the stock and do his Hold.  The dog will inadvertently have the concept that the Hold is to YOU at first.  We’re going to change that concept.


You are now going to drive the sheep into the corner and have the dog Push and Hold the stock in the corner.  At first you will simply be off to one side.  You will ask the dog to Push allowing for some popcorning of the stock so as the dog understands that it is to cover and Hold the stock at the same time.


I’ll use physical cues to help the dog cover utilizing a square flank.  I’m off to one side remember and can position myself to “interfere” when necessary so as to create a square flank.


When the sheep popcorn do NOT allow the dog to default to fetching the stock to you.  Maintain the corner position by driving the stock back into the corner.


Slowly, by increments of 5 or 10 feet, you will move up the fenceline AWAY from the stock but still ask the dog to Hold the stock in the corner.  You will pull the stock out of the corner and drive them back into the corner.  YOU will just not be in the corner with the stock any longer.


You will also take away the major Push the dog has been doing.  That was to help teach the dog to cover.  NOW you will be stopping the dog long before he crams/packs the stock in the corner.  The drive will STOP when the dog has the stock loosely in the corner.  From THAT position the dog will have to cover using SQUARE FLANKS!!!  No going toward the stock.  This is a Hold NOT a Pushing exercise.


At first the dog may try to bring the stock to you and hold them to you.  If you’ve trained your Walk Up correctly and the dog understands something about Driving (which is nothing more than a straight Walk Up), the dog can be tweaked to drive the sheep into the corner instead of fetched/driven to you.


As you repeat this exercise the dog will totally get the concept of Driving the stock into the corner and Holding them there.  It will become a Habit for the dog.  Make sure that habit includes the second the stock are in the corner the dog STOPS ALL FORWARD MOTION!!!


It is paramount to this exercise to make sure the dog does SQUARE FLANKS when covering.  It is also paramount that you do NOT get further away from the dog until the Square Flanks are done out of habit and you do not have to “make it happen”.


As the dog begins to easily Drive the stock into the corner without confusion as to WHERE to drive
the stock you will ask the dog to Stay instead of Down and Out as you did when working the Flank through the corner.  (You’ll be adding the Out command back into the equation later.)


MY STAY is a STAND STAY.  I do NOT tell the dog to Stand as it is unnecessary.  I simply say Stay.  I haven’t told the dog to Down.  I haven’t told him to Sit.  His default for a Stay command will be to STAND.


If the dog Downs I DO NOT CARE as long as he keeps the stock in the corner and covers any escapees.


The dog will seek his own level of comfort as to how he wants to Hold the stock.  I’ve given him the parameters in which I want the job done and its up to him to figure out how to do it.


As the dog understands to drive to the corner and to Hold the stock I am moving further and further up
the fenceline away from the dog and stock.  It may take me weeks to get 100 feet from the dog.  The goal is for the dog to comfortably and easily understand the concept of Holding stock in the corner, using square flanks to cover and return to the exact place where the Hold stared and to do this without me anywhere around.


Once I’ve achieved a close to perfect Hold in the Corner I will ask the dog to drive the stock to a DIFFERENT CORNER.  I will start over with me being closer to the stock and slowly moving up the fenceline until I’m not
in the picture at all.


When the dog Holds the stock in a different corner I’ll move to another corner until I’ve successfully done all 4 corners in my arena.


The dog should have a total grasp on the Hold by now.


I will then ask the dog to Drive the stock to a midpoint on one of the short walls/sides of the arena.  I am going to ask the dog to Hold the stock along the flat fenceline now.  Same parameters.  Wherever the Drive ends is the point where a Square Flank will be utilized to Hold the stock in that exact place on the fenceline.


Same concept.  Different area.  More to cover because the dog isn’t in a corner.


Since it is NOT in a corner I may add a tidbit of food to help hold the stock for a minute or two to help the dog see and understand that the same parameters are being set.  Just in a different place and it may take a
little more effort on the dog’s part to succeed.


I may then actually place feed in a corner for a draw to emulate the sheep escaping as we practiced in the corner.  My job, should I choose to accept it, is to make the dog understand that the sheep are NOT allowed to
move along the fenceline, e.g., to the feed draw.  The dog MUST keep the sheep held on the fenceline where I requested.  A little harder concept and a little harder job for the dog.


I will repeat this exact scenario at different locations on the fenceline.  The dog is to become comfortable holding the stock anywhere I want them.


We’ve now utilized the Corner Exercise to create good practices in flanking, to fix pressure issues, to teach push for driving, to teach cover, to teach a hold.  I can modify this exercise in many ways to teach different elements needed in herding.  


I hope this is useful to you.


Enjoy the journey!



The Corner Exercise (Sometimes referred to a the Popcorn Exercise) (Teaching Push, Cover and how to peel stock out of a corner, a Hold and more … +++.)  By Pat Taylor Fellstar Bouvs