The Dean Sheep Dog Trials test canine competitors and their human handlers

The dogs were in charge at the Dean and District Sheep Dog Trials with more than 40 of the state’s best sheep dogs showing their skills and entertaining the crowd.

The competition was fierce as the dogs and their handlers worked to herd three unpredictable sheep through four obstacles and in to a pen.

STALKING: Sheep dog Shine herds a mob of three sheep under the command of his owner Barry Paton through a testing course in front of a crowd of about 250 people at the Dean and District Sheep Dog Trials. Pictures: Kate Healy

STALKING: Sheep dog Shine herds a mob of three sheep under the command of his owner Barry Paton through a testing course in front of a crowd of about 250 people at the Dean and District Sheep Dog Trials. Pictures: Kate Healy

Fifteen trainers put 41 dogs through their paces, including Victorian state champion team John Tuddenham from Ross Creek and his dogs Paddy and Roo, and a Tasmanian team in Victoria to compete at the national titles in Seymour next week.

Event organiser Brian Maher said the 250-strong crowd was the biggest ever seen in the five years that the Dean and District Sheep Dog Trials have run.

TEAMWORK: Koroit handler Barry Paton and his dog Shine walk back to the crowd after moving the sheep around the obstacles and into the pen.

TEAMWORK: Koroit handler Barry Paton and his dog Shine walk back to the crowd after moving the sheep around the obstacles and into the pen.

“About 80 per cent of the people here had never been to a trial before,” he said.

“We introduced everyone to a handler or trainer, explained the rules and they have been sitting watching and having a magnificent day.”

More seasoned sheep dog trial watchers delighted as the audience broke in to applause when the dogs moved the sheep through various obstacles.

“I’ve never heard a crowd clapping to get three sheep through a gate,” he laughed.

CHAMPION: Current state champion John Tuddenham with Roo, 7, and Paddy, 3, competed at Dean as a warm-up to the national championships next week.

CHAMPION: Current state champion John Tuddenham with Roo, 7, and Paddy, 3, competed at Dean as a warm-up to the national championships next week.

Each dog and trainer had 15 minutes to move three sheep through four obstacles and in to a pen, with the handler standing at one end of the ground using voice commands or whistles to direct the dog up to 120 metres away.

“Each dog starts with 100 points with points deducted if they lose control or make mistakes,” Mr Maher said.