The CCA's List of Herding Terms

Are you having trouble telling your "Come-bye" from your "Way-to-me"? Feeling left out at parties when all your herding friends are talking sheep shop? This list just might come in really handy. It comes from the Collie Club of America's booklet entitled The Collie Herding Program, and is reproduced with permission from the CCA Working Collie Committee.

Particular thanks go to Linda Rorem, herding judge and chairman of the Committee, for all her help. If you're interested in obtaining a copy of the CCA booklet, contact Linda at Pacifica19@aol.com.

Glossary of Herding Terms



The manner in which the dog comes toward the stock, a smooth approach being most highly prized; that is, the dog moves in very steadily and surely without bounding around, weaving, or jumping in aggressively.


Bad sheep:
In the handler's terms, uneven, ragged movers, liable to break at any moment, or turn and fight the dog. One individual may constantly seek to leave the rest. Sheep vary according to temperature, so they may become sour during the heat of the day.
The position taken by the dog, at an appropriate distance from the stock, which enables the dog to control the direction of the stock and to cover any attempts by the stock to break away.
Two dogs working simultaneously with a handler.
Broke sheep:
Sheep which have been worked with dogs before and which understand that they should move away from the dog and do so without panic or fighting. Sheep which have not been worked by dogs will tend to stand and fight, to run wildly, or both, and are difficult to work.


A dog which runs in very close to the stock, trying to get as close as possible to the stock while passing around it.
See Go-bye.
A hook-shaped shepherd's staff.


All stockdogs need a good command to bring them to an immediate halt. Down may mean to stop, sit, stand still, or lie down.
When the dog works between the handler and the sheep, moving the sheep away from the handler. In many trials, a triangular course bounded by pairs of hurdles or panels through which the sheep must pass.
Taking the livestock away from the handler, or from one side to another at right angles to the handler, either naturally or upon direction from the handler to do so.


A female sheep.
To remove the stock from the trial field, arena or pen.
An intense gaze used by the dog to control the stock, often accompanied by a creeping or crouching approach to the animals.


When the dog brings the sheep to the handler. In a trial, the part of the course after the outrun and lift when the dog fetches the sheep straight down the centerline of the course to the handler.
The flanks or sides are the directional commands the dog must learn to understand in which direction he must travel around the sheep. The commands are always given in relationship to the dog's position vis-a-vis the sheep.
Force Barking:
The dog generally works quietly, but in situations where the stock challenges the dog, the dog barks as a precursor to a nip.


In a trial, the obstacles through which the dog must move the sheep; also called panels.
When the dog collects the sheep from their scattered positions in a field into a compact group. In a trial, the outrun, lift and fetch portion of the course.
Going out and around and bringing animals to the handler, sometimes called fetching.
Go-bye or Come-bye:
The usual, traditional Scottish command for sending the dog around the sheep in a clockwise direction.
Good sheep:
In the handler's terms, these are sheep that move away nicely from the dog, remain in a flock, do not show fight, and are all of equal stamina. These would be the qualities of a flock of well-broke sheep.
See Wool-Pulling.


When the dog moves in front of the sheep to stop their progress. Most stockdogs instinctively head off individuals and attempt to keep the sheep in a group.
Heavy sheep:
Sluggish and perhaps stubborn in movement, they allow a dog to work much closer to them than do light or flighty sheep.
When the dog works the stock from behind, usually nipping the lower leg to move the stock. This is an instinctive working characteristic of some stockdogs, and occurs most often when working cattle.


When the dog approaches the sheep to move them forward. The period immediately after the dog has reached the maximum extent of its outrun and starts to move the sheep in the intended direction. This is very important because it gives the sheep their first impression of the dog. See also Outrun.
Light sheep:
Free-moving sheep that can be controlled from a distance; the opposite of heavy sheep.
A dog which does not show an intense gaze at all times on the stock. Such dogs may glance around or at the handler from time to time, and tend to take in a view of the whole group of animals. Usually an upright body posture is displayed.


Showing eye, but in a less intense form and usually with a more upright body posture.


When the dog runs out around the sheep to gather them prior to bringing them to the handler; the course taken by the dog in gathering its sheep. The ideal shape for an outrun in a trial is that of a pear, with the handler at the narrow end of the pear and the sheep at the widest point. See also Lift.


A small enclosure with or without a gate, into which sheep are driven near the conclusion of a trial, without being touched by hand or by a dog.
Strong self-confidence; a dog with power can move stubborn or fighting animals, often without nipping.


Shed or Shedding:
Sorting off one or more specific sheep from the rest and driving it or them away from the other sheep.
Single or Singling:
Shedding or separating only one sheep.
Strong dog:
All references to strength and power reflect solely on the dog's attitude toward the sheep; they have nothing to do with physical characteristics of the dog. A strong dog comes up to its sheep confidently and boldly and does not give ground if attacked. The sheep are able to sense the determination of this type of dog and more readily give ground to it.
Showing all the characteristic of eye to a marked degree. A dog with overly strong eye may remain in place, staring intently, rather than move the sheep; sometimes referred to as sticky-eyed.


Take time or Steady:
A command to the dog to slow down and approach the sheep quietly.


Way to Me:
The usual, traditional Scottish command for sending the dog around the sheep in a counterclockwise direction.
Weak dog:
The opposite of a strong dog. Weak dogs turn tail if the sheep show fight. A weak dog may flank back and forth rather than walk straight in toward the sheep.
1. The side-to-side movement of the dog to keep the livestock grouped.
2. Also, when the dog moves the stock to the handler, as in the fetch.
3. When sheep are shed or singled, those held back are said to be worn by the dog.
A neutered male sheep.
A dog who makes wide passes around the stock, naturally keeping a distance away from it.
Nipping or gripping at the bodies of sheep, marking the flesh by tearing out hunks of wool (called body biting on cattle). Biting at the body of any type of stock is a fault.