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Terminology/Basic Commands

General Terms: (Note:  most of these terms function as both verbs and as nouns.)

Balance:  When the dog is in position to bring the stock in a straight line to the handler. As the handler’s position shifts, the dog should reposition accordingly.

Cross Drive:  When the dog is taking the livestock across the field in a straight line in front of the handler.

Drive:  Any time the dog takes the stock in a direction away from the handler.

Eye:  An inherent characteristic of working dogs which allows the dog to control the livestock. Too much eye in a dog can have an hypnotic effect on the dog and adversely affect his/her ability to move stock.

Fetch:  Any time the dog is brining the livestock in a straight line toward the handler.

Flank:  From the dog’s perspective in relation to the stock, a circular movement either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the stock.

Grip:  When the dog bites the stock. For both sheep and cattle, an “acceptable” grip is either on the nose or low on the heel or hock, and is usually done at the handler’s command.

Heading:  Generally, when stock are leaving or trying to “escape,” the dog will run in an arc to their heads and come up in front of them to stop them.

Heeling:  When the dog bites the stock on the hock or low on the heel to make them move. Done more often with cattle than sheep.

Instinct:  The inherent ability in a stockdog to work livestock. We cannot teach a dog to work if it does not have instinct.

Lift:  The moment when, after the outrun, the dog first comes in close enough to the stock to influence them and move them. The very first movement of the stock.

Nursery:  An age designation for young dogs competing in USBCHA sanctioned trials.

Open:  The most advanced class offered in USBCHA sanctioned trials; in the Open class, any dog may compete with any handler.

Outrun:  When the dog leaves the handler’s side, runs out in an arc to either the right or left, and comes up behind the livestock to gather them.

Pen:  When the dog and handler, in a joint effort, put the livestock into an enclosed area.

Run:  In a trial, a contestant’s turn, i.e., she had a good run.

Shed:  Separating 2 or 3 head from the rest of the flock and preventing them from regrouping.

Sort:  Sorting livestock. To put certain individuals into different areas, usually done with gates and pens.

Sticky:  aka clappy. This describes a dog, often as a result of too much eye, who becomes so busy staring at one individual head of stock that s/he quits moving. A sticky or clappy dog will stand still or even lie down, and can be very hard to get moving toward the stock.

USBCHA:  the United States Border Collie Handlers' Association. The official organization for those with working and trialling Border Collies. Click on links to see their website.

Walkabout:  When the handler just walks around the field, often making either S curves or very square turns, with the stock behind him/her, and the dog behind the stock, bringing the stock toward the handler. The turns are to teach the dog to reposition so as to always be in balance with the handler. An exercise generally done with young dogs.

Wear:  When the dogs moves laterally behind the stock. With large groups of stock, this is necessary to keep them bunched together, but some dogs wear unnecessarily behind their stock. When the wearing becomes unnecessary, it is often called winging and wanging.

Basic Commands:

Away to Me:  The traditional command that sends the dog in a counter-clockwise movement around the stock.

Come Bye or Go Bye:  The traditional command that sends the dog in a clockwise movement around the stock.

Get Back:  A command that widens the dog out in a flank or on an outrun. Used so that the dog is farther away from the stock as it moves.

Lie Down:  The dog should lie down and not get up until given another command.

Look Back:  A command given to make the dog stop, turn around and look behind him/her to look for livestock that have been missed.

Stand:  The dog should stop moving, but remain on his/her feet.

Take Time:  A command given to slow the dog down.

Walk Up:  A command given for the dog to walk in a direct line straight to the stock from wherever s/he is.

Watch Your Sheep/Cows:  A generic command given to get the dog to pay attention to the livestock.

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Anna Guthrie




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