Earlier I discussed the importance of “flanks” in your herding training. They should be wide enough to let the stock know the dog is there but not within the “flight zone” so that the dog can get into proper position to illicit movement desired.
The end result of this is the “Outrun”.
The outrun is a GIANT flank that allows the dog to get around the stock and begin the gather. Border Collies should have a natural cast to acheive the outrun but other breeds can be trained to do it. It takes more work, lots of chasing the dog wider but I have seen Aussies, Rotties, Aus. Cattle dogs, GSD, etc go in excess of 100 yds to do the gather. Having a great outrun will allow the handler and dog go to any trial and do well. I routinely train my clients and their dogs to prepare for a Border Collie novice trial, even if they are not a BC.
When pushing the dog to go wider, they usually look at their handler as if they are CRAZY. I mean, seriously WHY so wide??? Frequently the dog is looking WHERE to go, as in a geographical location, rather than AWAY from the stock. If there is a hill near the lift point, the dog will not want to go up it or around it. This is a GREAT opportunity to teach the dogs that terrain is NOT a barrier. MAKE them go around it. When you go do a trial with a tree trunk, small hill, rocks, whatever on the outrun path, the dog will not see it as a barrier and go TOWARD the sheep. From your training, you can indicate to the dog to go AROUND it, thus not getting too close to the stock. If you have done your FLANK training properly, the dog will know to go wider on the command.
You will NEVER be able to train a good outrun in a fenced, small area. The dog needs to learn the sheep can GET AWAY. I start ALL dogs in outrun training in an open field and yet when we first go into an arena, the dog almost always runs too tight. The fence puts pressure on them and they want to get tighter. However, it’s so much easier to get them to widen out if they have learned it in the field.
The outrun is the technique needed to get the dog into position for the “lift”. I will be discussing the importance of the “lift” in the next blog.