It’s back to the rope and harness as Lloyd Smith teaches a huntaway its side commands.

I finished the last article stressing the importance of clean repositioning moves. This is particularly relevant to our next step in training, which is to teach the dog side commands.
To teach the dog these I once again take them away from sheep and return to the use of the harness and rope.
I focus on one side at a time and make sure my dog is fully familiar with the first before moving on. There is less confusion and better results by concentrating on one side at a time.
In part 1 of training I mentioned that I teach a “Face-Up” to a good level of compliance so that I can get the dog to turn away from me from any given position.
I now revisit this step and use the “Face-Up” command to insist the dog makes the required change of direction. By using the “Walk” command to move the dog forward I then use the “Stop” which allows me to move up the side of the dog.
Upon giving the dog a “Face-Up” it turns the dog away from me therefore giving the required change of direction. While the dog is turning away I also give it the appropriate side command. So I get the change of direction by the use of a “Face-Up” but add the side command and as the dog becomes familiar with what’s required I drop the Face-up and just use the side taking this to the stage where I can walk the dog around getting it to take the required change of direction upon instruction.
By having the dog on the rope and harness I can insist the side is an exaggerated one really emphasising the need for a very definite change of direction. If you allow only minor deviations when teaching sides you will find when you take your dog back to stock and apply your newly taught commands your moves will be far too tight and not the clean re-positioning moves required.
Once the dog has a good grasp of the first side being taught I then move on and teach the second in the same manner. When the dog is fully familiar with both its side commands and I can march it around the training paddock (off sheep), I then introduce these commands on to sheep. I keep the dog on the rope and harness initially so that I have control and the means to ensure any sides given are obeyed.
As with any newly taught commands the first few times you apply them are crucial to their success. So to ensure this happens you always need to put yourself in a position to enforce compliance.
Stop is the command that allows you to insist a definite change of direction is achieved. When I believe the dog has a good understanding of the side commands and takes the required change of direction in a good clean manner I then remove the rope and harness and expect and demand the same results.
A good level of compliance to this aspect of training ensures you not only can run your dog at any given distance out on to stock but also to then be able to position your dog anywhere around the stock to ensure a good level of control.
Now that you have completed the steps required to train your huntaway I believe you are very well equipped with the necessary commands to manage and control any given situation that confronts you during stock work.
The best way to consolidate and cement your commands is to put them into practice in a practical work situation. This helps the dog understand how and why each lesson learnt was so important and how they apply to the overall handling of stock.
As the dog becomes more familiar with its role you will then be able to back off and let the dog accept more responsibility using its initiative wherever possible. This helps build confidence and keeps the dog keen and focused.


1. Use the Face-up command to get the change of direction required to introduce sides.
2. Teach one side at a time – less confusion.
3. By having the dog on a rope and harness you can insist on compliance.
4. Train to the stage where there is no confusion – you can expect better results.
5. When you first apply newly taught commands make sure you are in a position to insist they are obeyed. You can then reward the dog for doing so.