Herding with your Border Collie

Getting In Touch With Instinct

Herding is fun and a great social activity. It gets you outdoors, keeps you active and is good exercise for all involved. Herding will intensify the relationship between you and your dog. It's a great pleasure to watch dogs perform the basic farm work they once were used for. Ask any handler and they will describe the satisfaction in learning to work your own dog. Herding is complex and very challenging to learn, but well worth the effort! Border Collies are a breed which seems to have retained a natural instinct, and they thrive on the attention and love being given a job to do. It is a great way to reward your dog by stimulating the Working Dog within - mind and body.


What is the ANKC Herding program?

The ANKC program aims to preserve the working instinct and ability of all breeds with herding origin. This can be easily lost when breeding for exhibition in the show ring. Many of these breeds have working styles that differ greatly from the modern sheepdogs we see in Australia today. Like all herding dogs, they have developed as a response to local conditions and needs in the breeds country of origin. Many of these through pedigree recording and exhibition, went on to be recognised as pure breeds. The ANKC Herding program is designed to preserve the traditional working styles and herding instinct in all breeds with herding origins and recognise these by way of instinct certificates and herding titles.


Why do Herding?

Herding is fun and a great social activity.  It gets you outdoors, keeps you active and is good exercise for all involved. Herding will intensify the relationship between you and your dog- - It is hard to describe the pleasure it gives you to watch dogs perform the basic farm work they once were used for.


Is my dog able to compete?

To be eligible to compete in ANKC sanctioned Herding trials, a dog must:

  • Be a recognised breeds in the ANKC Working Dog Group, that is: Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Kelpie, Australian Shepherd, Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, Bearded Collie, Belgium Shepherds [All Varieties], Bernese Mountain Dog, Border Collie, Bouvier des Flanders, Briard, Canaan Dog, Collie Rough and Smooth, German Shepherd Dog, Finnish Lapphund, Keeshond, Kerry Blue Terrier, Norwegian Buhund, Norwegian Elkhound, Old English Sheepdog, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Puli, Pumi, Rottweiler, Samoyed, Shetland Sheepdog, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Tibetan Terrier, Schnauzer (Giant / Standard), Swedish Vallhund, Welsh Corgi Cardigan, Welsh Corgi Pembroke.
  • Be registered on the Dogs NSW Associate Register and be clearly a mix of herding breeds.
  • Be registered on the Dogs NSW Sporting Register.
  • Be at least 6 months of age.


What titles can I earn?

ANKC titles can be earned on three type of stock: sheep, ducks and cattle. The dog progresses firstly through the non-competitive Tests; the Herding Test (HT) and Pre-trial Test (PT). The the dog moves to trial level, where handlers and dogs can compete on three different courses A, B & C at three levels; these are Herding Started, Herding Intermediate and Herding Advanced.


Where can I go to train?

Regular training is held on Dogs NSW Complex at Orchard Hills virtually every weekend from March to November, early on Saturday and Sunday mornings.


What age can I start Herding with my puppy?

It is recommended that dogs need to be around 6 months of age, although some trainers like to start earlier. Care needs to be taken introducing puppies to stock as one bad experience as a sensitive puppy cannot always be undone. You also have to balance the physical and mental demands of herding with the relative maturity of your puppy - some can start earlier than others. Your puppy must be at least 6 months of age before it can enter an ANKC Herding Instinct Test.


What do I wear to Herding?

Safe attire for a handler is protective; wear a hat, a comfortable shirt, long pants and tough, covered shoes. You need practical clothing that will not be caught but allows you to move around. Your dog needs to wear a flat buckle or snap collar that cannot be pulled over the head, and a long leash (6ft) is essential.


Where can I go to watch a Herding trial?

ANKC Herding trials are held one weekend nearly every month at Dogs NSW Complex at Orchard Hills from March to October.  Contact Dogs NSW for dates or one of the following Herding organisers:


Tips for the First-Time Herder

  • Make sure your dog is appropriately registered with the ANKC
  • Be sure your dog is current on all vaccinations
  • Learn from an experienced trainer in order to compete competently and safely
  • Join a local Herding club
  • Become familiar with the ANKC regulations for Herding trials – rules are available on the ANKC website
  • Attend some Herding trials and become familiar with the procedure
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions of the experienced triallers
  • Attend training with your dog and practice!

*Article supplied by Sue Fedoryschyn and published with our thanks.