(translated from the French by Pam Green, © 1994)

French original © Institut de l'Evage, 1993

This is my translation of Guide pour une Bonne Utilization du Chien sur Troupeau , written and copyrighted by l'Institut de l'Elevage (Institute of Stockbreeding) of the Ministry of Agriculture of France. This booklet is used for teaching short courses to shepherds so that they may get better use from their herding dog, who is regarded as an invaluable working partner.
notes on the translations and typography :


Manual destined for breeders having followed the instruction course for dog of the flock of the Institute for {livestock} Breeding, Ministry of Agriculture, France

translated by Pam Green (translation copyright 1994

French original © Institut de l'Evage, 1993

This document was drafted by J.M. Jolly with the collaboration of the teaching monitors for the use of the dog of the flock : Pascal Cacheux, Jean-François Calmet, Alain Cotte, Jean-Marie Davoine, François Desrues, Stanislas Gryzbowski, Thierry Le Morzadec, Phillippe Heintz, under the responsibility of J.M. Chupin. It could be realized and published thanks to the financial contribution of the Ministry of Agriculture and of the Central Canine Society. Illustrated by Alain Crétien. Institute for Breeding, 1st edition July 1993.


You have just followed a course of instruction for "dog of the flock." Here are several reminders which can help you to well utilize your dog on the flock of cattle, sheep, goats, or even other species eventually.

The dog of the shepherd is for the {livestock} breeder, more than just a companion, a tool of work.

The dog is the prolongation of the hand of the shepherd. He is much more mobile than his master and much faster in action.

{drawing : the shepherd is sitting behind a bush with the puppet head of a Beauceron dog on his arm , barking at a sheep with a question mark over its head, while two other sheep are looking on and laughing so hard that they have tears coming out of their eyes.}


The qualities of the master

Choose a dog which pleases you. Give him a name which improves him, short , easy to pronounce, and which phonetically does not resemble any command. Your dog will do all in order to please you.

{drawing: the sheep are running off rapidly into the distance, the master points towards them and says sternly "Nabuchonosor du Val des Loups Blancs, I have said 'to the right' " ; and the dog , a Beauceron, replies " in the headlong haste, you had omitted "des Loups Blancs". I had believed that you addressed yourself to someone else."


The shepherd dog works by instinct (thus, the shepherding breeds and the cow-herding breeds are predisposed, but certain lines within these breeds are better than others) and also in order to please his master (thus the importance of the master - dog relationship).

The size and the sex have no influence on the quality of the work ; it's a question of mentality (certain types of dog are more adapted than others for certain works, thus the interest to choose well the breed).

The training of timid dogs is always very delicate.

Certain dogs can react negatively to the physiognomy or the particular appearances (for example : hats, eyeglasses...).

The dog can execute quantities of different works, so don't hesitate to solicit him to help you {to back you up}. It is nonetheless necessary to not forget that each dog has his own proper limits, related to his breed , his weight, his size, his intelligence, and his genetic courage.

{drawing : dog and master face a stone wall about double man-height, and master points to it and tells dog "jump"}


Translator : the French term "l'éducation" refers to basic teachings, which are similar for all dogs regardless of future work : bonding with master, socialization, house-breaking and daily manners, and basic obedience training.

Education is the period when one teaches the dog to learn (from two months to 1,2, 3 years).

{drawing : classroom scene, with dog - master pairs seated at desks, professor pointing at drawing of dog embracing (actually humping) master and saying "its necessary to obtain absolute confidence between you and your dog!"}

Training is the period when one teaches the dog his future work (from 6 -7 months to 3, 4, 5 years).

Utilization is the period which lasts a dozen years and during which you will have a dog useful and easy to employ. {Tr : obviously the periods of education, training, and utilization overlap with each other substantially.}

An educated dog is a dog easy to train, his training can continue until 5 years.

No education = no training.

It is necessary to obtain an absolute confidence between you and your dog.

Education begins at the very instant when you first have your puppy. It ought to be constant and progressive.

This phase is primordial in order to create a privileged relationship with your dog and to teach him to obey. For that , he ought to recognize only one master.

You ought to make all that is positive, to talk to him , to caress him, to take him for walks, to play with him, to give him his food. Let someone else tie him up and then you come to untie him several minutes later (positive). Make it so the negative actions are done by someone else (tieing up, taking medicines, give vaccinations ...)

Don't let your dog make himself be caressed by persons other than yourself. Above all , never let your dog play with the children.

When you travel , take him with you. In the car, put him in the front, talk to him, he will quickly be put into confidence.

{drawing: in the car, master in passenger seat and dog behind the wheel driving; wife in rear seat says "you begin to exaggerate with your dog"}

If you cannot take him with you, leave him tied up or in a crate, so you will be sure to refind him there {when you return}.

A dog tied up or enclosed {crated} is not an unhappy dog for he knows that his master will return to find him. A dog at liberty is not a happy dog. Above all don't attribute human sentiments or behaviors to the dogs. The dog has not the same notion of time as the human.

The dog at liberty puts himself to do all that pleases him, to run after the chickens, the cars, the balloons or to excite himself on the calves in the stable or the lambs in the sheepfold.

{drawing: the dog, a Border Collie, is making use of unsupervised freedom to slingshot a rock through the window of an outbuilding; at his feet are a dead rabbit and a dead chicken.}

Don't tie up your dog in the proximity of domestic animals, this risks that he becomes to familiar with them and will finish by no longer interesting himself in them. It is necessary not to have a relationship of "buddy" between them, otherwise the dog will not have any authority later.

{drawing : one sheep is holding the dog in its arms as if it were a baby, while others gather round saying "oh, what a cute one", "can I touch him" and "me, me too", while the master comments to his friend "he hasn't any authority over the flock"}

Your flock ought to respect the dog without being afraid of him.

The good and the bad {praise and rebuke}

During the education, teach your dog the idea of good and bad.

When your dog does well, tell him "that's good".

When he does badly, and for all that is forbidden to him to do, tell him "no". In order that a dog understands, its necessary always to teach him the contrary of each thing. For example, if he wants to jump up on you, say "no", then soon as he has retaken the normal position, say "that's good."

The "no" said with a certain authority permits you later to stop the bad actions in mid-action.

The "that's good" ought to be accompanied with caresses. Don't be afraid to make the caresses bold and strong. The term "that's good" replaces the caress at a distance.

{drawing : master at a distance from dog and sheep calls "that's good", the words "that's good" with a hand attached fly towards the dog, until the words and hand land on his rump causing dog to smile and wags his tail}

If your puppy puts himself on his back, don't caress him and wait till he arises. If you caress a dog who submits, you accept his submission and risk to have a dog too tender to go into contact with the cows with calves.


- The first lesson :

The first lesson during the education is for the dog the recognition of his name and the recall {command to come}.

The name of the dog is not the recall command ; it's a word which serves to call upon your dog {t get his attention}. It ought to always precede each command. The recall command consists to make your dog come to you {Tr: the French command "au pied" literally means "to the foot" and is used both for the recall, ie "come to heel" and as the "heel" command}.

For example : do not say "Fido, Fido, Fido" while changing intonation until Fido shall want well to come, but say "Fido, to heel" until he returns.

{drawing : the master is waving his arms and calling many things, "Tarzan!" "come here" "yoo hoo" " my dog" "little one, little one" "Taaarzaan!" etc while the dog is faced away from him and is ignoring him , saying "if you please, is this for the dogs?"}

Have a gesture which encourages him to come : crouch yourself down, slap yourself on the thigh, clap your hands, if necessary depart in the opposite direction ; and when your puppy is at foot, caress him unreservedly and tell him "that's good."


- Come :

The command "come" {in French "viens"} consists to make your dog come in your direction but without having him come truly to your feet.


- Walking at heel

On leash and without leash.

In the first times , it is indispensable to teach your dog to walk on leash. In so far as your dog is not obedient, the leash is the umbilical cord which you connect to him.

To teach him to walk correctly at heel :

For example "Fido, walk at heel". Advance. If he pulls or drags {either pulls ahead or hangs back}, force a little while encouraging him. Stop yourself when he walks well with the leash not strained. Say "Fido, stop."


- Sit

Teach your dog the "Sit", for this say "Fido, sit."

Raise his head while drawing it backwards lightly and your dog will sit himself naturally. Maintain it several seconds. A young dog concentrates himself in general between 3 and 20 seconds.

The time of concentration increases with education and training. A dog who does whatever he wants is never really tired. A dog who concentrates himself on that which his master says and who is learning becomes tired very quickly. {Tr: this refers to mental fatigue, obviously, which must be distinguished from physical fatigue.}


- Down

Proceed as for the sit, then draw out the {dog's} forefeet foreword, so the dog finds himself lying down : say "down"

The "don't move" { = stay} confirms the position "sit" or "down".


- Stop

The stop is very important.

The stop consists in making {causing} to halt a dog which is in movement. It is necessary not to confuse this with the recall.

A dog who does not halt himself when one says to him "stop", however good he may be {in other regards}, is a dog practically useless.

{drawing : the master commands with increasing emphasis "stop ! stop ! stop!" but the dog continues to run past the sheep and splats himself against a stone wall}

When your young dog stops himself on his own, make profit from that by telling him "stop." The command follows the stop, in this fashion, the dog memorizes the action and the command.

Leave your dog sitting or lying down, at distance from you of 15 or 20 meters {=45 or 60 feet}. Lower yourself while saying "Fido, to heel" ; when the dog has gone half the distance, raise yourself back up while opening the hands and saying "Fido, stop"; your dog , surprised, will stop himself. Once the dog has stopped, say "sit" or "down" {then} "don't move"; this will confirm the stop.


Translator : the French term "le dressage" generally implies training of a more advanced or more specialized nature than the fundamental lessons of "l'éducation"

The training makes it so that the natural aptitudes of the dog become utilizable


The training at the flock is the logical following of the education. It is the result of a summation of all important details.

There is no training without {previous} education.

The training at the flock can begin when the dog becomes able to overtake {get ahead of} the heifers or the ewes in running.

{drawing : on the race-track, two heifers are running along and the dog , somewhat behind, is struggling to catch up to them ; one heifer calls out to a man with a stop-watch, "coach, what time did I make?"}

In effect, the instinct of the dog of the flock is to halt the flight of all the animals who run. If your dog is too young, rather than stopping them, he will become the pursuer and his instinct to gather risks to disappear.

There is no ideal age to begin , but 7 or 8 months is a good average


The dog put too young to the work takes bad habits, risks to receive blows {from the animals} and to be discouraged or to become too inclined to bite. You can bring your young dog into contact with your animals. Avoid the mothers who have little ones. Let him look at your flock, to get himself used to the noises and the movements, but do not let him go out on your heifers or your ewes. Take him on leash or on a long line.


The basic commands:

- Left - Right

Teach your dog to go to the left and to the right of the flock. It is the left and right of the dog in relationship to the flock. The left corresponds to the sense of the hands of a clock {ie clockwise}; the right to the inverse sense {counter-clockwise}.

In order to teach him this, gather together several heifers or a little flock of ewes in a circle of 10 to 15 meters {30 to 45 feet} in diameter, within wire lattice fencing or electric fencing (for cattle).

The position of 12 o'clock corresponds to the fact that the majority of dogs of flock instinctively position themselves at the opposite side of the flock, opposite to the herdsman when that one is at 6 o'clock. The work at the circle permits to develop this instinct and to make it so that it becomes utilizable.

Place your dog at your side. For the right, put him on your right while saying "Fido, to the right". When he is in position of 12 o'clock, and you at 6 o'clock, tell him "stop." Recall him by the side from which he went out by saying "Fido, come to the left".

Proceed in the same fashion for the left : "Fido , to the left" , "Fido, stop", "Fido, come to the right."

Your dog leaves {goes out} to the right and returns to the left; leaves to the left and returns to the right.

If he does not go out, accompany him a little while encouraging him to {go towards} the right. As soon as he goes in advance of you, leave him by running {back} in the opposite sense and stop him when you find yourself at 6 o'clock. All the dogs which have the instinct of the flock stop themselves in the 12 o'clock.

If truly your dog does not leave {go out} to the left nor to the right, place him somewhere on the circle in sit or down stay. Go place yourself at the opposite (position 6 o'clock) and call him by saying "come to the left" or "come to the right." Since he is going to want to rejoin you, run always so as to remain at the opposite side to him. This game of hide-and-seek will become a play which will permit the dog to develop his instinct to gather. Praise him as soon as an action positive is effectuated. (see figure 1)

{drawing "figure 1" :
a group of sheep with notation "12 h" (= 12 hours) at top, "9 h" at left, "3 h" at right, and "6 h" at bottom. the master stands at 6 o'clock and dog is at 12 o'clock. arrows show the semi-circular routes for "to the left", "to the right", "come left", and "come right". there is a stop sign at 12 o'clock. the area between the flock and the master is marked off and labeled "zone forbidden to the dog." Shepherd commands dog first to "Stop" and then to "Sit.
Note : the original drawing is a black and white line drawng , but I have added a bit of color to dress it up and make it more easily seen." .}
Drawing showing how to send to left and right around flock, with dog forbidden to cross between flock and shepherd.
{Translator : This drawing is unmistakably equivalent to the clockwise & counterclockwise circular motions and commands which is the standard central training concept known and accepted throughout the U.K.- U.S.A. - Australian herding world as fundamental for training of Border Collies, Kelpies, and other "fetching / gathering" breeds.}

When you send the dog to the right, place him on your right. For the left, place him on your left.

{pair of drawings :
(top) flock is moving along a pathway, with master at the rear. one arrow shows arcing semi-circular path with command "to the left ahead" which takes dog from master's side , arcing through the adjacent field to arrive in front of the flock, where dog is told "stop" second arrow with command "come to the right" shows dog's path arcing back through the adjacent field to return to the master's side.
(bottom) flock is moving along a road or path with master walking at the head of the flock. one arrow with command "to the left behind" shows dog's path arcing through adjacent field to arrive at the rear of the flock where dog is told "bring". the other arrow with command "come to the right" shows dog's path arcing through the field to return to the master's side at the head of the flock.}
Note : the original drawing is a black and white line drawng , but I have added a bit of color to dress it up and make it more easily seen."
Drawing showing how to send to left and right to rear of flock or call dog to front of flock
{Translator : This drawing makes it unmistakably clear that the French usage is based on arcing movements similar to those familiar to the U.K. (etc) system of working fetching dogs. The dog may be sent behind the flock to move it foreword or may be sent ahead of the flock to arrest its foreword motion (or turn it back); the herdsman might walk head of the flock or behind it, presumably as suits himself or suits the circumstances.}


name of dog    
recall   "heel" "come"
"sit"   "don't move" ("stay")
"down"   "don't move" ("stay")
"stop"   "don't move" ("stay")
"to the left" "come" "ahead" , "behind"
"to the right" "come" "ahead" , "behind"

Examples of words utilized

no it's good jump pass
press {squeeze} step aside bark be quiet
mount descend re-enter go outside
softly {slow, easy} go fast look {watch} behind


Never let your young dog pass between the flock and yourself, or he passes behind you or he stops himself at 3 or 9 o'clock.

{drawing : herdsman stands in front of flock with a bit of space between self and flock; this space is posted with signs with horizontal bar, and another sign labeled deviation {detour} shows arrow pointed towards rear of herdsman. the dog is facing the space between man and flock , with a question mark over his head ; and arrow on the ground indicates that he will take the detour around his master rather than go into the forbidden zone between man and flock}

This forbidden triangle {between flock and herdsman} will make it so that later , when your dog will have gathered together a group of animals in order to bring them to you, he will not seek to repass in front of them thereby stopping them and preventing them from returning towards you.

When your dog will have well assimilated the left and the right {ie as in the basic lesson described above}, try without circle {ie without circle of fencing around the animals} on the animals who hold themselves assembled.

Send your dog to the right or to the left, when he is at the 12 o'clock, tell him "bring" or "push" and withdraw yourself in order to let the animals advance towards you. Do not advance towards the flock because your pressure will be stronger than that of the dog.

If the flock overflows on the left or on the right, make your dog to come on his left or on his right; when the flock advances in a straight line, then replace the dog in the rear.

If your dog pushes too fast, stop him and remake him advance softly.

If the flock passes beyond you, let it go by past you and send your to to the left or to the right ahead {ie to go ahead of the flock}. Stop your dog and take his place while re-sending him to the left behind or to the right behind.

Between each change of direction, don't forget to say the name of the dog and the "stop."

Be clear and precise ; utilize always the same words for the same actions.

Don't use words which resemble each other phonetically for the different orders.

Never let your dog make a fixation on a single beast. He must have a vision of the whole of the flock. It is natural that the the dog goes at the head of the cows more than at the hocks. In these conditions, the animals come to seek refuge towards the man.

For the cattle , the dog ought to bite only on command and at the muzzle. A cow who makes herself {ie finds herself to be} pinched on the muzzle knows that it is the dog who has done this to her; when the same animal senses the presence of the dog behind her, she will advance.

Never leave your dog in difficulty; if he is aggressed against {by the animals}, encourage him and go to help him.

{drawing : the dog is held at bay with his back up against a tractor wheel and is sweating in anxiety while a gang of sheep or goats with chains and leather jackets is assaulting him. the master , wearing a super-hero's cape, flys in to the rescue}

Your dog ought to acquire a strong mentality; he ought always to come out victorious from all confrontations {with the flock}. For the cattle, the training ought to permit to teach the dog to do the impossible.

In order to teach your dog to gather together a flock in a field, make profit when your animals gather themselves together in order to send your dog to the right or the left (by preference on the side where there is the most disengagement). When your dog finds himself in the position of 12 o'clock, tell him "bring." Stay at the fence while your dog guides the flock towards you. Encourage him much and praise him.

If he forgets some animals behind him, stop him, tell him "look behind." If he does not understand, accompany him a little; as soon as he sees the animals, make him turn around them by the left or the right and make it so in a way that your dog pushes the beasts towards the rest of the flock.

{drawing : little extraterrestrial space creatures are dragging a few of the rearmost sheep off towards their flying saucer; from the front of the flock the master calls out "some are missing! look behind !"}

In order to regroup {the flock}, if your dog does not make the circuit of the field, stop him and resend him to the right or the left until he has turned around the limits of the portion of land. Have a progression in your demand for search {seeking out animals}.


For the dairy breeders {dairy stock keepers}, the dog is very useful in the milking parlor. For this , it is necessary to habituate the dog very young to enter there with you. At first, tie him up during the milking so that he accustoms himself to the sounds and the movements of the animals and people.

When your dog is obedient, begin to make him push the animals towards the milking parlor. Stop him when you have your count of milk animals on the platform; recall him to heel in order that he can help you repush your beasts at the end of milking.

All is possible for the dog if you know how to utilize him and if you have given him a good education and a good training.

The utilization of your dog does not limit itself to the milking parlor. You can use him :

{drawing : the milk animals are lined up on the milking platform and the Border Collie is pulling the lever that closes the stanchions; the master comments to his friend " he's not bad, but I can't teach him to milk"}


Choice of the breed

Choose a dog of shepherding or cow-herding breed, but watch that you take him from a working stock, issued from working parents and if possible registered in L.O.F. {= the French stud book}.

The choice of breed is a function of your tastes and your needs.


Choice of the puppy

In a litter, choose a puppy who pleases you ; but watch that he conforms to the standard of the breed and that he is in good health.

He ought to be tattooed and vaccinated

Choose a puppy of whom the parents have the eyes the most dark colored (sign of a stable character). Don't take a fearful puppy.

The dogs with long hair suffer less from the hot weather than the dogs with short hair, but they dirty themselves more.



Your dog ought to have his own personal space {a home of his own}.

{drawing : the dog relaxes inside his dog-house, sitting in a comfortable chair , hoisting a glass of wine (we trust it is of a good vintage !) and watching television. on the wall a sign "home sweet home". the dog is smiling.}

A spacious nest {dog-house} where he will be tied when he is not working , and during the night, or a comfortable crate where it will be alone.



The dog is a carnivore, that's to say that his ration ought to include an important percentage of meat, besides which his needs for proteins are elevated.

There exist in commerce some excellent dog foods in the form of wet/moist foods and of dry kibble/bisquits containing meat. Wet food or dry? A matter of taste. The kibble, if they are not all eaten do not become spoiled. For an active dog , hold to the average norms of 30% of protein and 15% fat and water at will {ie unlimited water}

Only one meal in the evening for the adult dogs.


The bitches return in heat two times per year, for the first time towards 10 months. The first mating ought to take place when your bitch is very advanced in training : 2 1/2 years or 3 years.

The heat period lasts 3 weeks. the bitches are fertile in general between the 10th and 14th day. Duration of gestation : 9 weeks.

During the gestation, augment the ration of your bitch in quantity and in quality. During the lactation, super-feed her (there exist special feeds for gestation and lactation).

The puppies begin to eat at 3 weeks and are weaned towards 6 weeks (puppy diet, 3 meals per day; 2 meals until 8 months; one meal after that).


Your puppy ought to be in good health.

Vaccinate your young dog against the viral illnesses:

First injection at 2 1/2 months. Second injection a month later. Booster one year later, then every two years. For rabies, an annual vaccination.

Internal parasites

With young dogs , one meets always a worm round and long : acaris. The infestation can take place during the fetal life. Give worming medicine to the bitches at the time of mating.

{drawing : while bitch and dog are copulating, the master throws a pill into the bitch's mouth , saying "it's written in the book"}

Treat your puppy every 3 or 4 weeks until 7 or 8 months.

Among the older dogs , one encounters the tapeworms, the hookworms, and the threadworm. Two tapeworms are dangerous : "cénure" which is responsible for illness in sheep, "échinocoque" responsible for cysts in man.

Worm your dogs 4 times per year. Use specific vermifuges.

External parasites

They are numerous : ticks , fleas, lice. Treat your dogs and their bedding regularly with insecticides (banish {don't use} Lindane). The ticks can transmit piroplasmosis.

The good health of your dog requires a certain number of cares which must never be neglected. His activity at the flock depends on it , as well as his well-being.


This document is reserved to persons having followed a course of training, and can only be complementary during the days of instruction.

If you meet with problems with you dog, do not hesitate to contact an instructor at the Institute for Breeding or to participate in another course of training.

Translator's Comment
That the French herding methods are based on gathering and fetching, similar to the British/American/Aussie methods, is inescapably evident. This is in total contrast to the "boundary" method practiced in some parts of Germany, which rejects gathering and fetching as the basis of work. There is thus no one single "continental style" which "ought to" be used by those with "continental breeds."


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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 6/21/07 revised 6/23/07
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