James P McGee Sheepdog Training Videos
It’s farming Editor Catherina Cunnane sat down with James P McGee to discuss his new online Glencregg sheepdog training program.
From his native soil in the hills of Donegal, James P McGee teaches people the art of training sheepdogs all over Ireland and around the world.
His new novel, an online sheepdog training program, aims to enable people to become more knowledgeable, skilled and gain experience in training their own dogs.
The full-time farmer raises sheepdogs under the Glencregg prefix and raises a flock of 500 ewes and a herd of suckler cows with his wife, Karen, and three children: Rachel, Laura and James, in the heart of the county of Donegal.
The renowned breeder and trainer of champion sheepdogs launched the program in early May and says he is “overwhelmed by the response”.
Sheepdog Training Videos Online
He said It’s farming editor-in-chief, Catherine Cunnane:
“This training program was suggested to me in the past. I have always been reluctant, as I prefer to do my teaching clinics face to face.
“However, with Covid-19 restrictions over the past few years, I have been unable to travel and have had to cancel several training clinics.”
“The clinic organizers suggested I try setting up a virtual training program. So I posted on Facebook that I was considering starting an online sheepdog training program.
“I have been overwhelmed with the amount of positive comments, likes and shares. I am very passionate about what I do with dogs and am excited to share my experiences and help other people with their dogs .
The program, he says, is for anyone interested in training farmers’ sheepdogs or advanced testing standards.
Bronze and Gold Levels
There are two levels in the training program: one for general training (bronze level) and one to show a higher level of herding dog trials on the international standard (gold level), the latter of which he created this month.
According to McGee, anyone can benefit from all stages of training a sheepdog, from puppy, farm dog and up to trial standard.
In the series of how-to videos, he outlines the do’s and don’ts and how to avoid pitfalls in training a sheepdog.
The videos are mostly training demonstrations followed by an explanation at the end of each clip.
All training videos have subtitles to cater to non-English speaking subscribers.
Gold-level participants can submit one video per month of their own dog and receive informative feedback and advice on areas they can make improvements.
He says the training programs are attractive because all participants can post messages in an open chat community.
The public can ask questions and seek advice on issues involving their own dogs, and McGee responds with constructive feedback and advice.
New and advanced trainers
According to McGee, the program is currently the most popular among sheepdog enthusiasts around the world.
He said some registered participants are new to sheepdogs and trials, while others are more advanced handlers looking for new ideas and advice.
Acknowledging that there are other virtual sheepdog training programs available, he is keen to say that his is “unique because it caters to all levels, from beginners to advanced.”
“The special thing about the service is that all training videos are in their original format, in the sense that there is no editing in case something goes wrong.”
“Of course, in training, things can often go wrong. I show everything; warts and all. It lets the audience see that they’re not alone when things go wrong.
Additionally, he also admits that there are challenges in training a sheepdog, even for the most experienced dog handlers.
In his view, it’s about how you deal with issues as they arise; that is, he reveals, one of the secrets of dog training.
The videos give viewers an overview of the handling, as McGee sometimes puts a camera on my head and has a fixed camera that captures a view of the course.
The videos also show and demonstrate how to read dog body language. Every dog is different, as he explains, and handlers need to be able to read the pressure to be put on the dog.
“My ultimate goal is for all participants to enjoy the training, for all participants to learn, and for their dogs to perform well, whether for general farm work or in the proving ground,” he adds.
Tiers vary in price, with the bronze package – which covers training young dogs up to basic farm work or nursery trial standard – costing €20/month.
Then, the gold level – which is €50/month – is for the advanced tester. It covers starting young dogs through international standard trials and open classroom herding dog training.
It fixes shedding, looking back, penning and redirection of trailing dogs.
Payment is a monthly fee through Patreon when you sign up. This is a monthly subscription, and the site automatically bills at the start of each month.
He posts videos weekly on the bronze and gold levels. Gold level subscribers get access to standard bronze, plus two advanced gold level videos.
McGee continues, “At the moment most of the training programs are online. I travel to other countries to give individual and collective training.
“In addition, I can organize group sessions and individual sessions at home by appointment only.”
“I was overwhelmed with the amount of interest so early. The business has grown very quickly, perhaps faster than I had imagined. In the long term, we hope to continue to develop the sharing of programs of training.
“Thank you to everyone who signed up and supported the training program and to everyone who shared the program when I first launched it.”
“Thank you for all the positive feedback and support and to all the patrons around the world who signed up,” he concluded.
Interested parties can click on this link and watch the introductory video and decide which level suits them best.
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