A shepherd uses his rod to protect himself and the herd from wild animals, such as wolves, coyotes or hyenas. A shepherd's rod is usually made from solid wood, and it may be thrown at predatory animals or used to club them.
A shepherd's rod may also be used to prevent sheep from straying. Skilled shepherds can manipulate the rod to nudge a straying sheep, triggering it to come back to the herd. This allows the shepherd to control sheep from a short distance. A shepherd's rod may also be used in correlation with a staff to guide the sheep.