Saara Uljas
Saara Uljas

Herding dog in the city!

Herding dog's problems - how to solve them?

course has started
1 May 2022



Previous editions

March 2022

December 2021

Next editions

August 2022

September 2022

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Excessive barking, intense staring, circling around? Lunging towards cars, bikes and other moving things and not wanting to stop doing these behaviors? Loads of energy and difficulties to relax? Intelligent and learning new things fast? A herding breed dog can be the best companion you will ever have, but also behave in ways we humans find disruptive. The typical behaviors for herding breeds were very useful when working on the farm but may cause challenges in urban environments. An urge to stop a moving car might even cost a dog’s life. Deal with herding dog’s problems with Saara!

Herding dog’s problems can look like:

  • Stalking moving things intensively
  • Freezing to stalk something that is not moving
  • Lunging towards moving things
  • Nibbling ankles, shoes and things that go by
  • Very fast movements
  • Fast reacting to small changes in environment
  • Tendency to circle around objects or living things
  • Tendency to outrun moving things and turn in front of them
  • Excessive barking
  • Difficulties to turn away from things
  • Strong need to control surroundings
  • Not being able to respond even to familiar cues when executing these behaviors
  • High arousal when restrained executing these behaviors
  • Low frustration tolerance


The origin of the breeds lies in the purposeful reinforcing of different aspects of the hunting behavior chain through generations for various purposes where dogs were useful to humans. Herding breeds such as border collies, corgis and heelers have been bred for intense working on herding sheep and other cattle for centuries. Nowadays very few of them actually work on farms, but the genetic behavior models may still be very strong. Fortunately, we have dog-friendly ways to help these amazing breeds to cope with their impulses and redirect them.

In this herding dog’s problems solver course we will investigate following:

  • Why are the herding related behavior models existing and usually very strong
  • How can we help our herding breed dogs to relax trough enrichment
  • How to offer opportunities to work and think in a safe context
  • What kind of skills are important for the dog considering preventing the non-desirable herding
  • And how to teach them in a dog friendly, consent and reward based manner


This course is suitable for all herding breeds of different ages. If you have a young puppy, it is the best time to teach these skills strong. When you have an adult dog with a history of executing herding behaviors, you need to be prepared for working a long time since the herding behaviors tend to get stronger just by executing or even only starting to do them.


You will learn to:

  • Understand your dog’s behavior and needs better
  • Provide enrichment for daily basis to help your dog to feel good and relax
  • Redirect behavioral needs to more suitable targets
  • Practices to manage situations where your dog “loses it”
  • Find working rewards and how to increase their value if needed
  • Ways to let your dog to use his intelligence and desire to work
  • Teach variable skills through different exercises for your dog to help him cope with the inner impulses


By training these subjects you will help your dog to feel more relaxed, choose behaviors that are more suitable for the context and prevent over-arousal, possibly dangerous situations from happening. The daily living with your dog will not be so stressful anymore -for both of you. Consent and reward based training and feeling more secure with your dog increases the quality of dog-human relationship.

Your dog may also be able to perform better in group classes and dog sports as he is not constantly searching for opportunities to herd and is thus able to focus on you.


Week 1: Understanding the origin of herding breeds, Enrichment

Week 2: Impulse control and flexibility, Wellbeing

Week 3: Alternative behaviors 1, management

Week 4: Redirecting herding tendencies, Increasing calmness

Week 5: Alternative behaviors 2, the importance of being clear

Week 6: Desensitizing to movement


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