Corgis are natural herding dogs which means that many of them have an inherent aptitude for working and moving livestock. This livestock can include chickens, goats, sheep, ducks, pigs, and even cattle.
Corgi owners can train a corgi to herd by being patient, remaining consistent, and by following through with their training program. Corgis may have a natural desire to herd, however, they still need proper training to keep them, their owners, and the livestock they are moving safe.
Training a corgi to herd can be a rewarding, yet challenging task. Knowing how to train a corgi to herd is vital for corgi owners that live and work on a farm.
What Age Should I Start Training a Corgi to Herd?
If possible, corgis should start their initial, basic training while they are still puppies, around 8 to 10 weeks old. This should be after they have been weaned off of and successfully separated from their mothers.
If your corgi is past the puppy age and already a young adult, training is still possible and should begin immediately.
It is not recommended to train senior corgis to herd since herding is dangerous and can be too hard on a senior dog.
Start With the Basics
Before you even begin to train a corgi to herd livestock, you have to teach the dog basic commands. All corgis should know how to sit, stand, lie down, stay, and return to you on command.
Think long and hard about what verbal or physical commands you plan to use to train your corgi to perform these specific tasks; these will be the same ones that you expand upon as the training advances. Corgis should know basic commands before you move forward in their training.
How to Teach Basic Commands to a Corgi
Different dog owners use different methods to train their corgis the basics, however, the positive reinforcement method seems to work wonders for most trainers.
Here are some strategies to use to train your corgi the basic commands it should know.
Use Positive Reinforcement
The quickest way to train a corgi basic commands is by using the positive reinforcement method. This simply means that you reward the corgi when it listens either by giving praise or a treat, or a combination of the two.
There should be no angry yelling or physical punishment for a corgi that fails a task while learning basic skills. This will delay the process and may have unwanted consequences and negative behavior.
Keep Sessions Short
Overstimulation can delay a corgi’s training and cause unforeseen issues. Keep training sessions short in the beginning to avoid overwhelming the puppy.
If the dog is unable to focus and the training session is not being productive, take a break or wait until the next day to continue.
Staying consistent with training is vital for your corgi’s success in the long run. Try to have short training sessions at least once a day so your dog does not forget what it has already learned.
Use the Same Commands
Always use the same verbal commands throughout their basic training. It can get confusing and frustrating for a corgi if you change the word or cue that you want them to listen to.
5 Basic Commands That Your Herding Corgi Should Learn First
|Sit||You are asking your dog to sit still in place until you provide a cue to move.|
|Stay||You are asking your dog to stay still in any position until you provide a cue to move.|
|Return/Recall||You are asking your dog to return to you, wherever you are, immediately.|
|Lie Down||You are asking your dog to lie down, not on its side, but resting its body on the ground or floor on top of each of its legs.|
|Bark/Speak||You are asking your dog to bark or make a verbal sound on request.|
When Is a Corgi Ready to Start Training to Herd?
A corgi is ready to start training to herd livestock only after it has mastered the basic commands and it obeys you exceptionally well. A dog of any breed that does not know and listen to basic commands will not listen to its owner when it comes to herding.
The safety of your corgi, livestock, and yourself all rests on the fact that you and your dog have a strong relationship.
How to Train a Corgi to Herd
Training a corgi to herd is not as hard as it may seem, but it is challenging. Use the following tips to help train your corgi to herd livestock successfully.
Let Them Get Familiar With the Livestock
Herding dogs, especially corgis, need to be comfortable around the livestock they are going to herd. It is really important for your corgi to be familiar with and comfortable around all the livestock on your farm.
The more familiar a corgi is with the livestock, the less likely it will be to intentionally attack or injure the animal. This is especially true when it comes to small farm animals like ducks and chickens.
Show Them the Ropes
Once your corgi has the basic commands down pat, you can move towards more herding-specific training. It is best to start off by introducing your corgi to small-sized livestock and physically showing them what you expect them to do.
You can start off by bringing your corgi around the livestock while on a leash. Walk through the motions with your dog to show him or her what you expect and practice using the herding commands discussed below.
Most corgi owners recommend walking through the steps with your dog in the beginning. Goats, calves, and sheep are great starter livestock for young corgis to help build their confidence.
Larger livestock like 1,100-pound cattle can be a little scary for corgis that are unfamiliar with them.
11 Herding Commands to Teach Your Corgi
While all herding dog owners tend to come up with their own set of commands, these are the most common ones that are used. Each of these commands provides a vital component to the herding process.
These commands can be spoken by word, given by a physical cue, or you can use a whistle. Just remember to remain consistent with whatever delivery method you land on.
- Walk Up – The “walk up” is a command that prompts your corgi to simply walk up to the back of the herd and push it towards you.
- Come Bye – The “come bye” or “bye” command tells your corgi to move quickly in a clockwise direction around the livestock herd and push it to the right.
- Away – The “away” command prompts your corgi to move quickly in a counter-clockwise direction around the livestock herd and push it to the left.
- Wait/Lie Down – Your corgi should already know how to stop and how to lie down when asked to, however, in herding, you will teach them to stop, or wait, and lie down or even sit during the herding session.
- Recall (Return) – The recall command is when you want your corgi to come back to you. This command is imperative to you and your dog’s safety.
- Steady – Steady simply means that the corgi needs to slow down and take its time.
- Hold – The “hold” command is used when you want to dog to hold what it has got and keep the livestock in the same place.
- Find – This command simply instructs the corgi to find the livestock herd in the pasture and alert you to it.
- Keep Away – The “keep away” command just means that you want the dog to keep some distance from the livestock and not get too close while herding.
- Look Back – This command is used when you need your corgi to “look back” at livestock that has gotten separated during the herding process.
- Get Back – Herd dog owners will use the “get back” command when they want their dog to get back away from the livestock. This is useful around dangerous livestock like cows or bulls that can kick when a dog gets too close.
Let Them Practice Herding Off the Leash
Once the corgi is familiar with the livestock and these herding commands, it will be time to let them get their feet wet, so to speak. Let the corgi off the leash and see what they know, recalling them when they do not listen to your commands.
If the dog is not grasping a specific command, put them back on the leash and walk them through the process again, giving the command as you show them what to do.
Corgis are extremely intelligent and want to learn, they just sometimes need our help and patience to get there.
Practice Makes Perfect
There is no denying that repetition improves action and the same is true when training a corgi to herd livestock. Take your corgi herding with you often and let them practice their moves.
Call In An Experienced Herding Dog
One great training method is to allow your corgi to watch an experienced herding dog in action. If possible, you can even allow your corgi to work alongside the other dog so it can really get some hands-on experience.
While training a corgi to herd may seem a little overwhelming at first, now you know how to move forward and all that you as a trainer need to do.
Focusing on the basics will lay a sturdy foundation for your corgi and make herding training that much easier.
Training a corgi to herd is not the easiest thing to do, but it is an extremely rewarding adventure for both the dog and its owner. Here are the sources that were used to help craft this article.