A Sheepdog’s Glossary

A Sheepdog's GlossaryWatching sheepdogs at work is amazing, isn’t it?

Of course, the desire to herd is pure instinct.  But most of the sheepdogs that you have seen have probably been taught how to channel that instinct in the desired direction in response to spoken commands.

While commands do vary from handler to handler, the following is a glossary of some of the most common words and phrases:


  • Away (or away to me): Circle counterclockwise around the sheep.
  • Come bye: Circle clockwise around the sheep.
  • Get out (or get back): You are pushing the sheep too hard.  Back off.
  • Lie down: Stop.  Some trainers rely on the dog to determine if standing or lying down is the appropriate way to keep the sheep under control.  Others, however, use lie down to mean “drop to the ground” and use stand for “stop.”
  • Look back: You missed a sheep.  Go back and get it.
  • Stand: Stop, but stay on your feet.
  • Steady: Slow down.
  • That’ll do: Good work.  You finished.  Come back now.
  • Walk up (or walk on): Approach the sheep.

By hsotr

Pulling from nearly 20 years of experience, Michelle Lindsey started Homestead on the Range to help Kansans and others around flyover country achieve an abundant country lifestyle. Michelle is the author of four country living books. She is also a serious student of history, specializing in Kansas, agriculture, and the American West. When not gardening or pursuing hobbies ranging from music to cooking to birdwatching, she can usually be found researching or writing about her many interests.