Instinct Tests

Let's find out if your dog is interested in herding...

A Herding Instinct Test (HIT) is a simple test to determine whether or not your dog has the "instinct" required for herding. You cannot "make" a dog herd -- he has to want to do it.

      • In the actual test, your dog is carefully introduced to a small flock of 3 sheep that are accustomed to working with dogs.
      • See the COMING EVENTS page for the next scheduled HITs.

Your dog needs no training before entering this test. I will take your dog into the arena on a leash. We start by walking in a big circle around the sheep to show him...

      1. The sheep will move willingly away from him,
      2. He does not need to be afraid of the sheep, and
      3. He does not need to use excessive force to make them move.

When your dog has his "light-bulb" moment...

Once your dog pulls on the leash to head around the sheep (instead of straight into them), I'll drop the leash and let him go.

      • This is the fun part for spectators. Each dog handles this first encounter differently.

By guiding the dog with my body language I let him know that the best position for him to be in is circling outside of the sheep so he has a chance to get behind them and gather the sheep to me.

      • During the HIT, our main objective is to see if the dog is interested in working the sheep - AND - interested in following my directions so he and you can do this as partners.
      • "Chasing" sheep is not herding.
      • Getting the sheep to move as a group in the direction you want them to go is herding.

Herding Breeds

You will see in the accompanying photos that there are many different herding breeds and at one time or another I've worked with them all.

      • Each breed is generally noted for having a distinctive style of herding; and each dog within a breed may have his own personal tendencies.

Herding Instinct Test Weekends

We have several organized Herding Instinct Tests during the year where a number of dogs who have never seen sheep before are brought to the farm to be tested. One of the big benefits to taking part in an organized Herding Instinct Test, is that Dick Bruner will be there to take photos of your dog's first adventure with sheep. And by looking at the pictures he has taken on this page and the entire website, you know you don't want to miss that.

      • We first do a short clinic to explain and demonstrate the basics of herding.
      • Then we test each dog individually and issue a certificate to the dogs who display an interest in herding (not chasing).
      • HITs are great fun for spectators. It's fascinating to see dogs enter the arena having no idea what's going to happen. Often the crowd gives a collective cheer when the dog has his "light-bulb" moment and suddenly "gets it". Enthusiastic applause from onlookers is common.

You can also book a private HIT appointment with me to test your dog at the farm on a day I'm giving regular lessons.

      • Some dogs get too excited with the energy level of the surrounding crowd of onlookers and their dogs. In that case, the dog may have a better chance of being successful in a more relaxed atmosphere.
      • Email Shannon for available appointment times for private HITs.

What's next?

After being introduced to the sheep, if your dog has shown potential, you may decide to take lessons to develop your dog’s ability and introduce yourself to herding.

      • EVERYONE starts as a beginner. All it takes is a lesson to get going.
      • Email Shannon and we'll get you on my training schedule.


BREED CLUBS often book a Herding Instinct Test at Magic's Legacy as a popular event for their club members. This can be arranged for members-only, or can also be open to the public.

      • Email Shannon for information and dates available for your club.

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