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Sheep Dog Training in the Lake District

If you are looking for a unique way to learn about the culture and training of sheep dogs, you will love taking sheep dog training in the Lake District.

After our walk along the White Cliffs of Dover and a few days in using our Oyster Card in London, where we ate some amazing British food and had a blast at the Tower of London, we headed up to the Lake District for some views of gorgeous landscapes.

I recently had the opportunity to fulfill an odd, yet lifelong dream (at least lifelong since my first viewing of the movie Babe). I was able to work with a sheepdog and sheep in the beautiful Lake District countryside of Northern England! And let me tell you, it was amazing!

Sheep Dog Training in the Lake District.

First the nitty-gritty; this is not a cheap experience. If you are interested you must book a reservation in advance, you can go with a group but keep in mind that only one person gets to actually heard the sheep with the dog, the rest are viewers/bystanders and they must pay a smaller fee to view. However, I do think the experience was worth it and it’s something I know for sure that I will remember with delight for the rest of my life.

Max is anxious to get started.

A Lesson with the Pros – Man and Sheep Dog!

When we arrived at the unsuspecting and very empty field in the dramatic countryside I really did not know what to expect, or even if the experience was real or not considering there was no one there to greet us. But we waited about five minutes and sure enough a woman carrying a shepherd’s staff and followed by two gorgeous black and white sheep dogs greeted us at the gate.

Heading out to get the sheep.

We then walked through a couple fields to get to the training area. After our short introductions, we learned all about the company and how many dogs they have, how much they love their dogs, and what a normal day for them looks like.  I have to admit it sounded like a lot of work from sunup to sundown, but working with dogs all day has just got to be fun.

Explaining what to do while the sheep listen in.

Upon arriving at the dog training field, we met the woman’s husband who was seated in a small tent and was attending to a very young and hyper dog.  We were introduced to the farmer and all the dogs properly, they were very excited and it was obvious that the dogs loved their job. This is their element and it’s a great thing to see animals use their basic skills and instincts!

The herding dog gets the sheep in the pen.

After a quick demonstration I realized that I was then up to bat and I became very nervous thinking I had to command this amazing sheep dog. However, my nerves soon subsided as I slowly started to learn the terminology, “Come by” which means to move around in a clockwise circle, “Away” which means to move around in a circle in a counter-clockwise direction, and “Stand by” to stop, slow down, or wait.

Max herds the sheep with just a few whispered commands.

I was given a trial run with Max, the oldest male sheepdog, who was so excited to do his job he couldn’t contain himself! It took just a few moments for him to listen to each of my commands as I said them. He was definitely the most well trained and focused dog I have ever seen or met. I started saying the terms loud, then from prodding from the shepherd began to quiet down, and even though Max was about 200 yards away at times, he could hear and follow demands as quiet as a whisper.

Walking the successful Max back to the truck.

After a few trials, we went through an entire routine, me whispering demands, Max following them to a T. We rounded the sheep from one end of the field to the other using “come by” then when we went a little too far, I said “come by” a few times, then the ever important “stand by”, in which Max slowly herded the sheep straight ahead to make it finally through the gate and once we were all done, the iconic phrase from Babe, “That’ll Do”.

Erika receives her sheep dog training certificate.

Although we were there for about an hour it felt like fifteen minutes, it was exhilarating fun and watching the dogs do what they do best was awe-inspiring. This was certainly a Sheepdog Experience to remember!

If you love animals check out this post: Encounters with Wild Ponies – A Weekend in the New Forest. And if you are looking for other Lake District adventures, how about walking the Eskdale to Ravenglass.

Have you ever wanted to do anything like learning how to call sheep dog commands and herd sheep?  What would you like to do?

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.


Friday 8th of April 2016

I never thought you could do something like this but it looks awesome fun! How did you book it?

Jim Vail

Saturday 9th of April 2016

Leticia, I found the lessons online and called her up. I'm traveling, but if you email me I can send the couple's website to you.

melody pittman

Wednesday 6th of April 2016

What a fun activity!! I am a big fan of England and huge pet lover so this would be something I would just love to partake in! That'll do! ;)

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 6th of April 2016

Melody, I'm sure you would love it. The dogs were so much fun, and the couple was very open and knowledgeable. It was great.

Jim Vail

Monday 4th of April 2016

We don't really know much about dogs either, Amy, and it was a certainly a little intimidating at the start. But the dogs were so friendly and the instructors were a hoot and they really put us at ease quickly.

mark wyld

Monday 4th of April 2016

What a unique experience , i love it. We love in the country in Australia and see many cattle dogs working to bring the cows in for milking

Jim Vail

Monday 4th of April 2016

Working dogs are always fascinating, they're just so smart and energetic!


Monday 4th of April 2016

Sounds like you had a great time. Sheep dogs are some of the most beautiful animals, especially when they are doing their job.

Corinne Vail

Monday 4th of April 2016

Jennifer, The dogs had so much personality; it was hilarious. It was just like a bunch of children.