Monday 28th August and Tuesday 29th August 2023


A sheep dog trial is the ultimate test of the ability of the shepherd and his dog to work together. The trial is a combination of several stages and competitors are given 9 minutes to complete it. The following is a guide only as different judges may have their own system of awarding points: -

  1. The Outrun [20 points] – The shepherd stands at the cross and sends his dog up the field to the three sheep. The dog can be sent either to the right or left, but it must be a pear shaped run around the sheep so that it approaches from behind the sheep and slows or stops.

  2. The Lift [10 points] – The sheep’s heads should come up and they should slowly move away from the dog towards the fetch gates.

  3. The Fetch [20 points] – The sheep should now be driven steadily in as straight a line as possible, without stopping, through the fetch gates to the shepherd. They should then be turned round the back of the shepherd and out away from his left hand.

  4. The Drive [30 points] – As the sheep complete their turn around the shepherd they begin the Drive. This tests the ability of the dog to drive sheep away from the shepherd, ‘push’ them through the obstacle on the left hand side of the field, then across the field to the obstacle at the right hand side, where they should be ‘pulled’ through from the top side of the gates, and back to the shepherd at the cross.

  5. The Cross [10 points] – The shepherd may now leave his position at the cross and help the dog to guide the sheep into the cross. All the sheep must pass through the cross from left to right.

  6. The Pen [10 points] – The shepherd now moves across to the pen where he has to hold the rope fastened to the gate and cannot let go once the penning task has been started nor may he touch any of the sheep, but he may help to guide the sheep towards the pen with his crook. The pen is complete when the gate is shut on the sheep.

Commonly Used Commands

There are eight common herding commands and words used by shepherds when working or training the dog.

For further information please see www.workingsheepdog.co.uk

Come - bye

This means to move around (circle) the sheep in a clockwise direction.


Move around (circle) the sheep in an anti-clockwise.


Confusing this one - it can mean stop, or sometimes just slow down!

Get back

The dog is working too close and likely to cause stress.

Lie down

Stop, lie down, slow down, or just stand still, but often used to slow the dog down.

Look back

The dog must leave the sheep it's working and turn around to look for more sheep.

Walk on

Requires the handler to move straight towards the sheep in a calm, steady fashion without spooking or stressing them.

That'll do

The dog must stop what it is doing and return directly to the handler.