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Thread: Dog training problems and related issues

  1. #51
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    Truthfully- invisible fence!

    SOME dogs can be trained to never cross a boundary onto the road or wherever. In my experience, the only breed that seems to have that almost "built in" are the English Shepherds- and even then, it's an individual thing. They aren't "roamers"... but they WILL go onto the road to bark at someone walking a dog, or for other "protection" reasons.

    I've got a full invisible fence set up sitting in a box in the mud room- as soon as the soil thaws enough in the spring, it's being set up to keep the current pack from going onto the road. They *rarely* do so... I trained each of them as puppies (except for Red, Mollie's mother, who we didn't get until she was a year old) for "no road".. every time I walk to our roadside mailbox, I put them in a "sit/stay" about 50 feet back, and they are really good about not following any of us to the road.

    But if something looks interesting enough, they will go on the road. And even with one with as little traffic as ours, that can be a tragedy at some point.

    You can try the "no road" routine... putting her on a leash, walking NEAR the road, and then immediately jerking her back and saying firmly "no road" the minute she gets ahead of you... but I suspect that it will work- if it does- only while people are watching. A shock collar MIGHT help, but again- it will require multiple repetitions and near constant supervision for days to weeks until she finally realizes that she gets "bit" (shocked) every time she goes near the road.

    And even then- our dogs have all learned that for some reason, they can get away with certain sins when they're not wearing a collar! One example- ours just love to chase the pickup out of the driveway when we leave to go somewhere. They've all been taught to stay on the front deck when we're leaving... but Red (she's the worst of them!) will lead the pack out to the road and chase us down the road if she thinks she can get away with it. We can generally stop it by getting out of the truck once, insisting on a "sit stay" and then enforcing it verbally out the window as we drive slowly out- but that's a PITA, especially if we're dressed for town!

    Recently, Jack- Mollies litter brother- has been getting really bad about chasing. I had to get out, break a branch off a trash bush by the ditch, and threaten him with it (we've never actually hit him, but he fully understood the threat! LOL!) to get him to stop a couple weeks ago. So, out came the shock collar. The next time hubby was getting ready to leave, I made sure the collar was turned on, and I hid in the house, peeking out the big bay window. Hubby told Jack "no chase" and "stay" when he got in the truck. Sure enough, as soon as he was driving down the driveway, Jack was heading for the front tires to chase it. I zapped him once, with it set on the lowest setting. He jumped, stopped... and then continued to chase the truck. I zapped him once more, and that was it for him- he stopped, tucked his tail, and ran for the deck. Hubby's last view of him as he drove up the road was him sitting calmly on the deck, watching him leave.

    Since then, he hasn't even tried to chase us. Even with the collar off.

    However, Bandit (the absolute pinnacle in terms of "hard dogs"... I pray I never run into another one like him!) was almost impossible to break from chasing cars. Having lost my great Lucky dog to a drunk driver, I didn't want another dog at risk, and I hate car chasers. Nothing we tried did anything- in fact, our attempts to break him from chasing cars was the primary reason we bought our first shock collar. Well... the first collar system worked, but it was fairly inexpensive (comparitively- none of them are cheap, but they surely are cheaper than a vet bill, or a dead dog!) and didn't have a lot of range. Bandit very quickly learned that range, and also that if we weren't visible, he was "safe" to do what he wanted!

    It slowed him down, but that was about all. If we were in the house, he chased with impunity.

    We got a better shock collar. THAT was interesting! It has a range of 3/4 mile, and I can activate it from inside the house- whether or not there are any doors open! Essentially, after a couple "lessons", it stopped him from chasing cars permanently. We had to do a "tune up" every few months- if we saw him lurking behind the big Norway Spruce by the mailbox (he didn't just CHASE cars- he ambushed them, hiding completely until they were nearly within range- a sure way to get killed sooner or later!), we'd "beep" the collar. Instant reminder... he'd slink away and sulk on the deck- but he didn't chase cars!

    However, buggies were tougher- for a highly aggressive herding dog, the horse trotting along the road, combined with strangers in the buggy AND the rattling noise they make, was just about THE perfect prey! We kept him from ambushing buggies most of the time, but if he thought we weren't watching, he'd chase.

    One afternoon, I was heading back up to our nearest Amish neighbors (who live up on top of the hill above our farm, so can see everything that goes on where we live- it's their primary entertainment, I think!) to take some extra meds up for a horse I was treating. Just as I turned out of the driveway, I saw a buggy cresting the other hill to our east (we live on sort of a small plateau halfway up a pretty steep hill). So, I drove about 1/4 mile up the road, and then pulled off to the side.

    Sure enough, I could see Bandit lurking behind the spruce, in my rear view mirror. JUST as the buggy got to our driveway, he headed at it in full ambush mode. I zapped him with the shock collar, and he turned a complete back flip, and ran back to the deck, looking around him suspiciously- obviously confused as how he could have been "schooled" when I'd just left!! Interestingly, that was the last time he chased a buggy - apparently, we "won"!! When I got to our neighbors, they were all convulsed with laughter- they'd seen the whole thing out their shop window.

    But for preventing "adventuring" (includng "free-lancing", which is what we call herding livestock without permission), an invisible fence is probably the best investment you can make. For one BIG reason; it doesn't require constant supervision. Once she's trained, you should be able to let her play outside without constant watching, and without being tied.

    (If you DO decide to get a shock collar at some point- and they can be amazingly useful in controlling a fast, "strong willed" dog, especially if running them down physically isn't in the cards anymore!- given your situation, you shouldn't need a really expensive, "top of the line" version. The Sportdog brand is excellent- we're using collars which are 5 years old, and which have been recharged hundreds of times. I did have to buy replacement batteries last year, but found that "generic" batteries are cheap on Amazon.. the brand name battery packs are stupidly expensive. Anyway, they've stood up to typical barnyard conditions for herding dogs, including swimming in the pond, really amazingly well. Heck, our neighbors have even borrowed them to use on horses which were misbehaving!! But you don't need a 1/2 mile range system... 400 yards *should* be plenty.)

    And remember- these are simple aversion therapy- making "sinning" uncomfortable and simply "not fun". They have multiple settings, and the lowest isn't much stronger than a static shock you'd get off a carpet. Plus, they have a "tone"- separate button- which lets you "beep" the dog and remind them that they're wearing a collar, and you've got the control! Once they learn what a shock collar means, you almost never have to actually shock them- simply beeping them will remind them that they may get shocked if they misbehave.

    I'm not saying a shock collar can't be abused deliberately- but intelligent use isn't abusive, and it has the added advantage for sensitive dogs like Borders of not associating the owner with the discipline. As far as they know (although as I said, they can seem to figure it out- Bandit actually knew if I wasn't wearing the control on it's "necklace" that he was 'safe'- I had to hide it in my pocket after he figured that out!) their bad behavior is what causes the "zaps".

    If anyone else has any ideas, I'd love to hear them... short of physical fencing, I've just never found anything that works as well as the invisible fences for keeping dogs safe and off the road.

    Summerthyme

  2. #52
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    Long story short...I've got my American Bulldog on a lead at all times when outdoors if there's no appropriate physical fence.
    In the front yard..I've got a 2 1/2 foot spike driven into the ground and he's tethered to it with a steel cable.
    He loves every human he's come across, but hell on male dogs and any prey animals ( and trucks for some reason).

  3. #53
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    I really hate tying/chaining dogs out, especially those from a potentially aggressive breed. (Note that I understand the necessity for it, lacking a good fence, but I don't like it)

    It essentially reinforces their territorial instincts, and if a child or another dog "invades" their (limited, by necessity of the chain length) territory, bad things can happen.

    When I bred Akitas, I actually had it in the puppy contract that they couldn't be chained, tied or staked. That ended up saving my butt once when a couple of morons ignored the clause, kept their nice young dog on a chain most of the time (fortunately, they sent me pictures along with notes about how much they liked the dog, how beautiful/well behaved, etc he was... and the dog was chained in every pic). Sadly, he got loose one afternoon, and killed a neighbor's cat and mauled at least one dog. They wanted to sue ME (God knows what grounds... I suspect they were looking at lawsuits themselves).

    Anyway, I know that we're really fortunate to have a half-mile-square area for our dogs to roam around on safely. We did install the invisible fence, and it's worked fantastically well. It's installed along about 1000 feet of our road frontage. The dogs have figured out that they can get around it if they cross two lower fields, jump a creek and go around the pond... but the only time they try that is if we're working the fields beyond the limit, and they want to be where we are.

    The cool thing is, we pulled their collars off for the winter, and it hasn't made any difference... they act as if they will get "corrected" if they go anywhere near the 50 foot from the road "boundary". I'd planned on putting the collars back on for a week or so, but now the fence isn't working... we probably damaged the wires during haying. But so far, it hasn't even occurred to them that they aren't getting shocked if they go too close to the road... not that they're trying.

    This is partly the difference in breeds, too- the English Shepherd and Border Collies we have tend to be homebodies, haven't been bred for aggression (although I've seen a line of English Shepherds with extreme aggression issues in the genes) and in general desire to be with their human pack, whatever we're doing and wherever we are. My son has a Catahoula hound who figured out fairly early that he could "break through" the invisible fence, and for a moment of pain, be free to roam. Catahoulas are another "hard" breed.

    They also likely wouldn't work well on hounds (either sight or scent hounds... either way, when their "trigger" is alerted, they're GONE... and they don't pay attention to shocks, their humans calling, or things like traffic) or some of the breeds with very strong prey drive (Akita's, "pit bulls", some terriers)

    But if anyone is going to tie a dog, they need to be aware that the area the dog can reach on the tie is "their territory" (much like their bed and food dishes in the house) and they may aggressively protect it from a stranger- animal or human.

    Summerthyme

  4. #54
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    I hear you, and generally agree regarding 'chaining'...But...the dog is with me 24/7...I'm 'retired'...If he's tethered in the yard, I'm a few feet away. and he'll obey my voice commands...at most i'll leave him for couple of minutes..off to the kitchen to get a cup of joe, and i can see him from the kitchen ( thats why he's tethered, to give me that freedom).
    Also, he's on a harness, not a collar, because he'd gladly choke himself trying to get to a male dog ( or a truck...can't understand the truck thing).

    He's the 11th dog I've trained from a pup, got him at 5 weeks, and weened him ( and naturally taught him not to bite since mom wasn't there to do it... too young I know but it was me or the pound) Your right about breed of course and theres a load of personality differences between individuals too ( I know you know this, just talking)..his sister, who i also trained, is compliant as can be. She responds to 'stay', with him it has to be " !!!STAY!!!). He's a definite A type, strong prey drive, I can't imagine an electric fence slowing hm down.

    My brother, who lives in rural area, used an e fence to control his 2 labs, worked great, but when he got a st bernard as well...had to go to a physical fence.

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summerthyme View Post
    My son has a Catahoula hound who figured out fairly early that he could "break through" the invisible fence, and for a moment of pain, be free to roam. Catahoulas are another "hard" breed.
    When our Anatolian died last year, we ended up getting a Catahoula Leopard. Very smart, hardheaded, energetic dog. If I had known how much exercise they require every day, I probably would have gone with a different breed, but there you are. Sometimes she'll grab something in her mouth and start running madly from one end of the house to the other, as fast as she can pelt. Crazy to watch!

  6. #56
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    Catahoulas are cool dogs, but yes, they're VERY high energy. Tucker was a rescue; he'd been returned to the shelter at least twice before DS got him, due to extreme "separation anxiety" and the ability to totally destroy a house while the owners were away.

    DS walks him a minimum of 2 miles a day, which helps, but really the only thing that has calmed him down is getting older.

    The rescue org told DS he was a black Lab. I took one look and said "um... no"... but I really wasn't sure what he was at first. He had intense hunting instincts (and was a proven cat killer... it took several years of work before he was safe around our barn cats) and he had a lot of hound traits. But it wasn't until I realized he also had herding instinct (he helped our dogs round up and bring the dairy herd in several times, and did a darned competent job of it!) that I figured out he was a Catahoula.

    Maybe the funniest thing about him is that, despite the "hardness" bred into these dogs (they're used for wild hog hunting, among other rough jobs), he's figured out how to "fake"... when DS does ANY discipline (very mild, as in physically pushing him into a down when he's resisting) he'll start yelping and screaming like someone is killing him! Since they live in a suburban neighborhood, that can be pretty effective, except most of the neighbors know him by now. But DS was threatened more than once with having the SPCA called on him by a stranger who thought he was abusing the dog, who is a great actor!

    The difference between the Catahoulas and most hound breeds is the intelligence... they aren't just "one trick wonders"

    Summerthyme

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