Getting Started & FAQs

The Talking Dog is a website to help you learn more about herding in between your live training, or lessons with a trainer. It can provide you with a quick and ready reference to watch and review at pennies per hour verses the cost of a half day seminar.

There are a number of courses which have, within the courses, many lessons which might include; video lessons, articles, or presentations, and links to help you better understand the subject.

Each Course generally has a series of lessons; some lessons are presentations including video, some are just videos, others are useful articles.  Occasionally the course may be presented entirely in video.

When you click on a course for example; you will see a list of lessons. They will be in order of how we recommend working with your dog. However, every dog is different so be flexible and make sure you pay attention to how your dog responds.

For many courses we may have Ruff Cuts (coming soon), which a a little like Herding Bloopers. Watch the Ruff Cuts as they might offer solutions to working with your own dog that you had not considered.

You can think of it as a Library of resources which include articles, videos, and a variety of specific lessons within each course. Once you subscribe you can easily access any of the lessons in order or as you choose. We do recommend that you establish a good solid foundation first to uphold the basic Foundation Building approach to training. But you are free to purchase individual course and build on those concepts as you wish.

Courses start out by example and explanation of the foundation, then lead to training examples.  Often but not always often courses will be followed by “Ruff Cuts” (again, coming soon)– fun videos that show other dogs and handlers trying the same thing.

The Ruff Cuts will help you understand that it doesn’t always work perfectly at first and might remind you that if things continue to not work – you might be missing and important part of your foundation training or skills.

The Talking Dog is intended to show you how to stop and consider things from the Dog’s Point of view!   The teaching and philosophy try to make you a better handler by considering more than just the teaching variable or technique.  The Talking Dog grew out of an interest in sharpening human observation in training situation.  Great handlers are observant, clear in their goals and expectations, and are capable of discovering the hidden variables that often hide under the cute and furry being that is your dog.

The motivation for the development of the Talking Dog web-site came from a lot of different places. Watching videos of working herding dogs and seeing things you simply can’t see when you are out on the field is a fantastic tool to see what actually happened out there is one of the best ways to get the bigger picture.

You must learn to appreciate what your dog is seeing and how he reads the livestock. If you don’t understand how sheep/cattle/ducks move or respond to pressure from a dog, or human, how can you be of any real assistance to your dog? If you understand what it is you expect your dog to do and why he/she is doing it or not responding to your training, then perhaps you need to brush up on your own handling skills, with livestock and dogs.

The approach uses a strong emphasis on Foundation and the importance of grasping the building blocks for a solid herding foundation for you and your dog.  At the Talking Dog we help you constantly re-evaluate your dog and your own skills and decide if the problems we are having are new or if they are occurring because we are missing something in our bottom building blocks, those which need to be solid before putting more advanced skills above.   For a better understanding of the approach to Foundation Training for Herding see the course “Herding Foundations”.

The Foundation model is based on always having a motivated dog and always checking back with the basics when you find holes in your training. A Foundation approach to training dogs is based on the individual and isn’t a formula for all dogs. So it will accommodate your learning approach and your dog’s individual style and makeup.

Books are a great resource and often send the authors’ message and philosophy of training, and I can place it on the shelf and take it out from time to time.  For many of us, our shelves are full of training books and DVD’s we watched once and never return to take them out but for the occasional reference. Zooming through a DVD can be dry and take a long time. Often I can’t find what I wanted to in a book as quickly as I’d like.

The Talking Dog Website quickly provides me with a list of courses by subject – a list of lessons under the heading of the course, and bam! I’m there.

The primary purpose of the site is to enhance your understanding of herding concepts, and get ideas for training by watching videos, reading associated articles on certain subjects, and by following the order in which they are presented to help you build a solid Foundation through the training process.

The biggest asset between a book and video training is you can stop a video – look at something specific, pause or slow the video to see what is actually happening. Highlight reels – both good and bad – will show you the interaction between dog and sheep – and sometimes the errors handlers make that aren’t obvious when you are part of the three ring circus.

Have a peek here to see what we are talking about….

The videos have been tested on the slowest internet we could find so that videos resolution is maintained. If you have serious issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we can try to see what we can do at this end.

As a beginner it can take a long time to grasp some of the concepts herding represents.   Often while you are out on the field things are moving too quickly for you to see what is going on.

Sometimes we get more dog than we can handle in the beginning and you can watch others with similar problems. Watching the videos and Ruff Cuts (coming soon)– can help you see that it doesn’t always work!

All the Videos and courses are listed in a suggested order under “Courses” that you can follow or return to if you find yourself lost. Ruff Cuts are included where we have examples of others trying the same thing; sometimes successful , sometimes not so successful. But very fun to watch. Again it’s like a clinic on your desktop.

Even experienced trainers need resources.

Often trainers train alone which can make it hard to see your own assets and sometimes the holes in the training you offer others. Maybe your experience is limited to a certain breed or type of dog and you are looking to be able to help a broader spectrum of breeds for those people who come to you for lessons or classes you teach.

The Talking Dog resources are there for you to use as a guide or even refer students to better understand what you are trying to teach them. When your students get better you look better – faster.

Those who train others often leave their own dogs behind and get lost in where they are in their own training. The Talking Dog courses and the Log Book will help you review regularly to see if you have those foundation skills in order, and to ensure you are moving forward without gaps or holes in your training.

Some courses will expire after the specified time (most are 6 or 8 weeks in duration). These would be directed or coached course plans. Other courses you will enjoy for a lifetime. We want you to stay and be part of the growing community of stock dog handlers who seek positive training support.

You will be billed through our secure system when you purchase a course.  The system will ask you to provide a username and password and some details to fill in your account so that we can recognize you for future contact. Payment can be made through Stripe. Your information is stored securely and will never be sold or traded to an outside party. We have no access to your private password but in case you lose it you can create a new one for yourself, or we can generate a new one for you which you can customize later.

Over the years I have found it very useful to record my training with my dog for a numbers of reasons. Like anything you wish to get better at, knowing your strengths and weaknesses in the beginning is a genuine asset and an important part of establishing your training goals.

For example – if you have an excellent DOWN on your dog, then it might not be as large a part of your future training goals as something else that he isn’t good at. Or if your dog is a naturally WIDE working dog that orbits sheep, this might be an important thing to set a goal towards getting the dog to come in closer to work or visa versa.

Professional athletes, successful business people, and virtually any successful individual has established a plan for goals they wish to accomplish.

You certainly don’t have to log your training but it will improve your game.

Logging your sessions and making plans for your next training session is the key to progressing at a rate realistic to your goals. It is much more fair to your dog if you are prepared for your training session. It also makes a difference to your trainer if you do take classes if you come prepared with a lessons plan. A Good lesson plan should be based on your past training efforts and some evaluation of your training success last session. There is a great section in the log to help you assess your training session that you should fill in after each training. This helps you evaluate what worked and what didn’t work, what you should focus on in your next session and more great keys to creating better goal success.

We want you to have a great experience on The Talking Dog. If you have any questions, if you lose your username and password, if you’re not sure which course would best suit your needs, please contact us at We will be happy to help!