Another clear advantage of a puppy is the bond you form with it early on. Training a sheepdog is not complex from the standpoint of the end result you’re trying to achieve. You’re looking to train an obedient animal who will be able to wrangle the flock in an effective way and fast, without it being too aggressive and stressing the sheep unnecessarily. Any well-trained sheep dog will be able to perform this task. But each trainer is different in the way commands are given. For example, you might prefer to whistle a command, while the trainer might have preferred shouting it.
Even when you’re buying a young dog that has been trained there will be an adjustment period. A dog will need time to get used to its new environment, the landscape, the live stock and, most importantly, you. Yes, the sheep dog is a worker, but it’s a worker that also needs to be a friend since you’re likely to keep it for the rest of its life. So if you buy a trained dog, you’ll reap the benefits of its training only after it settles down with all the new factors it needs to process. Patience and communication with the animal is key here. You might initially be disappointed by the poor response to even the simplest commands, but since the dog never executed those commands in the new context, and those commands were given by someone else, it might get confused at first. It’s important to initially give commands the same way its original trainer gave them, even if those commands are not your “style”. It takes somewhere between 2-3 months for the dog to get fully used to its new work environment, after which time you will begin to really bond. You may be able then to adjust the style of interaction gradually, training the dog to your way of communicating.
At the end of the day, there are too many variables that go into buying a sheep dog to be able to give you a universal formula for buying one. The best thing you can do is gather as much information as you can. This usually means researching breeders in your area, looking at online reviews, as well as getting some word-of-mouth ones. The latter may prove to be more reliable. But once you have a breeder in mind, you can expect to be asked questions as well and your answers should be as comprehensive and truthful as possible. This will enable an experienced and responsible breeder to select the best dog he has available to suit your set of circumstances, even if that means not selling you any if none fit. Just because you saw a dog advertised and thought it would be perfect doesn’t mean it would be. You know your flock and farm better than anyone, but by the same token, the breeder is an expert in his dogs. In an ideal situation, both you and the breeder are looking to achieve the same goal – a productive and healthy animal. It is in the best interests of both to be as thorough as possible.