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Thread: Dog training problems and related issues

  1. #31
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    OK, Davy... you REALLY need a decent book or video on training Border Collies. First, keep her AWAY from chickens, until she's a lot older. At this age, I concentrate on "no chickens", "no cats", etc...

    I recently bought a video on training BC's, and while I disagree with some of it (he's a pure sheepdog trainer, and he kennels his dogs unless they're working or being trained- I just can't do that!), it's an excellent video on starting them on livestock and herding commands. I know there are plenty of books on training BC's, but I don't know of a title offhand of a good one...

    Second, the natural instinct for BC's is to bring the flock TO YOU! Driving- pushing them away from you, with you behind them (the more common way to handle most animals except sheep) isn't "natural" for them. It must be taught. English Shepherds tend to be a bit different- while they also may have a natural tendency to round the herd/flock up and bring them to you (we have to caution Dixie to "stay back" a lot yet), it isn't as hardwired into their brain as it is in the BC's. ES tend to "help" their human, and at least the ones I've had learned what we needed by watching us, and helping where it appeared to be most needed.

    Sometimes they were wrong, especially as young dogs, but a bit of warning, or guiding them with a light, long line, worked.

    Now, you really need a "potty word"! This means, you take her out on a leash, you don't encourage any side excursions or "fun" until she GOES... and when she does, you use the "potty word" and also praise her. It can be anything that works for you- a silly phrase, whatever- just don't make it a common phrase you might use at other times- don't use "Hurry up", for example, unless you never use that at any other time! LOL!

    What do you do when she messes in the house? While "punishing" a pup who "can't wait" is futile, they DO have to know it's not acceptable. I still can't imagine trying to house train a pup without papers or another "allowed" indoor potty area... not for the first 4 months or so. The problem is, the more she uses the floor, the more ingrained the habit gets. Seriously, it's time to crate her in the house (or set up an x-pen or gates in one SMALL area), and then IMMEDIATELY put her outside when you let her out of the crate. Leash her, use the "potty word" and then praise her lavishly when she "goes".

    We've got one male pup left, and we're planning on keeping him and starting his herding training- in about 8 months. Until then, we mostly are working on basic commands (still pretty impossible, as he's way too wiggly yet to do much. He does walk on a leash, he knows "sit" (but only does it after he's worked all his wiggles out!), and comes fairly reliably. That's about all I expect at this age. I'm taking him for truck rides, teaching him to stay out from underfoot (hubby's cane both makes that a necessity and also has made it very easy- he just pushed him away with the cane when he got within tripping range, and he now stays about 2 feet from us when he follows us around the farm.

    Aside from "no chickens" and "No cats", we're teaching "no horses" (tails are really tempting for pups, and while my mares are pretty pup savvy and patient, all it takes is one kick to ruin a good pup) We also are teaching "wait" and "stay" (as I've mentioned before, "wait" means "stay where you are temporarily". I encourage them to "wait" until I use the "that'll do" command... but I don't punish them at all for breaking early. I use this mostly in doorways, at stairs (I don't want a dog pushing past us on the stairs, either way... it's a good way to take a bad fall), and when I'm driving machinery and don't want them following.

    When coming in the house, even if I'm going to let the pup come in (we bring him in for 2-4 hours a day, usually... we've had precisely one puddle in the house!), I tell him "wait"... I enter the doorway, get out of the way, then say "ok, come". And he comes in. This is so routine at this point, that he automatically sits outside the door until he's "invited" in. (some of this is "puppy submission"- I fully expect at some point for him to start saying 'hey, I'm coming in anyway- it's crappy out here, and that house is warm"!) The older dogs pull that on occasion (you ought to see the kitchen floor when all three of them do it in the rain!) IOW, just because they KNOW what a command means, doesn't mean they will absolutely do it every time! They're individuals, and they're SMART. Only you can decide how much you need solid obedience, and how much "mischievous selective deafness" you can tolerate.

    Rather than working on rigorous obedience stuff at this age. PLAY with her. Balls, tug-of war (not a lot of that, especially if she's showing any signs of dominant behavior), race her, scoot around and let her herd you (use the "that'll do" command when you're done with that, and enforce it!) Our dogs love floppy stuffed animals- although they "kill" them on a regular basis and I have to make or buy more!

    And if she's testing you by running away, or otherwise making it difficult for you to enforce commands, start leaving a long (about 25'), light (clothesline weight or even a bit lighter) line on her collar when she's outside, especially if you're working with the chickens or other "tempting" things. If she ignores you and keeps doing something she shouldn't, you can step on the line and pull her in to you, repeating "that'll do" or "here".

    ONE instance of them "getting away" with ignoring a command will mean a hundred repetitions with enforcement before they forget they "got away" with it!

    You can do this! She's a smart pup, and right now, it sounds like she's outsmarting you a bit. Remember she's still a baby, and give her a chance to mature a bit before demanding too much in the way of training. But you've got to get control of the housebreaking now... and that means a crate or pen, papers and a "potty word".

    If you've got any specific questions, you know where to find me!

    Summerthyme

  2. #32
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    Thank you, Summerthyme
    I think I'm going to print this out and tape one copy to my head and one for Hannah.
    I agree that she's quite smart.
    I always thought German Shepherds were smart but this little girl is very smart.

    I haven't been disciplined enough with her. It's not Molly who has failed but me.

    I think you're telling me to take her out to do her business. These trips are dedicated to that purpose. If she doesn't go, put her in the crate when she comes back in.

    The old dog has a potty command. Will give Molly one too. Probably the same one because we're trained to use it
    It is time for the long line, too.

    She's been starting to run away when it's time to go back in.
    I have to be in town today so I'll pick up a hook and some line.

    I love this little dog. Hannah gets a little frustrated
    Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools, because they have to say something.”

    "Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." "Men willingly believe what they wish to believe."
    Julius Caesar

  3. #33
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    Our old boxer/rott cross that we called Toby passed away a couple months ago. After weeks of saying "no more dogs" we finally just had to go "look" a week ago. You all know how that turned out.

    Meet Moses. He's a year old shepherd cross we found in a rescue in KC with some dominance issues we are already addressing. This will be my first experience training a shepherd but I had good luck with Toby and the Great Pyrenees before him. We'll probably be looking to some of you for advice as Moses is a bit more high energy than we're used to. I think he's got possibilities though.
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  4. #34
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    He's a cutie, Snowbandit
    Good luck and sorry about your loss of an old friend
    Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools, because they have to say something.”

    "Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." "Men willingly believe what they wish to believe."
    Julius Caesar

  5. #35
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    He looks like a sweetie- with a mischievous streak! The first weeks with an adult (even a young one) adoption can be a bit challenging, but as you get used to each other, it usually works out great.

    If there are any human dominance issues *at all*, don't play "tug of war" or any other "contest" type game where the dog is actually directly challenging you.

    With most dogs (probably 99% of them... my experiences with Bandit and an extremely dominant Akita male were absolute anomalies... valuable experiences, but nothing I'd wish on my worst enemy!) "dominance" mostly means "I haven't seen a human worth following... yet". And if you display your worthiness (being steady, and consistent with both loving attention and discipline as needed) the "dominance issues" often disappear like magic.

    Davy... I'm glad I'm not turning you off... I surely don't mean to be critical, but you're definitely getting played a bit! Molly sounds like a pup who is very engaged with her humans... which means that she focuses so much on "fun" that she forgets little issues like going potty! If you leave her in the crate at times (basically, any time she hasn't been out AND "went" within the last 2 hours), and then let her out and *immediately* head outside, you should be able to get her trained.

    As smart as she is, she should fairly quickly learn that if she messes in the house, it earns her a trip to the crate for awhile. This shouldn't be in the spirit of punishment; don't yell and scream... just show her the mess, express "disappointment" (voice tone means a lot more than the words) and put her in the crate for a bit. (an hour, maybe, unless it is bedtime). Then let her out, and immediately take her outside to "go".

    Housebreaking can be time consuming... we usually accomplish it in few days, but it can be an INTENSE few days... essentially someone keeps an eye on the pup, at least peripherally, at all times when they're running around loose in the house. ANY hint of them beginning to sniff the floor, or squat, has us leap up, grab the pup and head out the door with them. It's like a Chinese fire drill at times, but it works! If I notice "scanning" behavior (the pup sniffing out a potty spot indoors) I make my patented "gong show buzzer" sound in my throat (sort of a mechanical buzzing noise saying "uh-uh" as I grab the pup and head for the door. Then we set them down on the grass, and if using "potty command", give it.

    You want to know how smart pups can be? Bandit was scary smart... and, of course, patently insane later on! But as a pup, he was a BRAT. Bullheaded, very dominant and absolutely saw no reason why humans should be Alpha!

    One evening, when he was about 10 weeks old, we still had papers down, and he was completely paper trained, and starting to go outside a lot more. He was being a snot at supper, chewing on our feet and being pretty rough about it, even when we scolded him and tried to get him to stop. So I got the leash out, and tied him in the corner of the kitchen, so he could reach his papers, but not our feet.

    He promptly gave us a "look", stomped over to the papers and peed. It was NOT a biological need- it was a comment! And then, he looked at us, walked over to a couple of bags of groceries which had been sitting on the floor all afternoon, waiting for me to find time to put them away, gave us that look again, and deliberately set his teeth in a bag, and ripped it open, spilling the contents!

    It was pure temper tantrum... once he got it out of his system, he sat down and behaved for the rest of the meal!

    THAT was the type of pup I NEVER want to see again!

    Molly will be just fine... you're just going to have to put some effort into staying ahead of her! It sounds like she may have a bit of a lazy streak, too, where hey! The floor worked just fine the last time... why not? LOL! But it probably also is that she doesn't quite know HOW to ask to go out! (oh, and every time you take her through that door, you ask 'do you want to go out?" or otherwise use "go out" in a sentence. Dixie "nudges" me when she wants something... pushes my leg or arm with her nose. Then I have to figure out what she wants! I'll ask "do you need to go out" and if that's what she was trying to tell me, she'll trot to the door. If not, she'll stay sitting next to me, clearly wanting attention for a bit.

    But it took some time to teach that!

    It's funny... writing some of this, I have to really *think* about what we do... it's so automatic after almost 40 years of training pups! I hope I'm explaining it understandably!

    Summerthyme

  6. #36
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    Summerthyme, you couldn't offend me or turn me off.
    If I didn't want your opinion, I wouldn't ask.

    I talked to Hannah about some of this and told her this is what we're doing
    Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools, because they have to say something.”

    "Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." "Men willingly believe what they wish to believe."
    Julius Caesar

  7. #37
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    She's a tough one.
    We got a long rope lead which goes on her every time she goes out.
    If she doen't "go" she's in the crate until she goes outside and all night.

    This morning she did both outside. Twice.
    While I had my back turned she totally tore a hole in her bed and ripped out all the stuffing.

    Then she peed all over the old dog's bed.
    She has done that a lot.
    I'm guessing that's for dominance over the old dog

    And she's been tearing through the house like a maniac.

    I'm thinking of getting one of those runs that go on a wire line and hooking it up to the metal clothes line to run more of her energy off.
    Thinking about a shock collar for a couple things, I don't like this idea but I need to cool her jets a little
    Thoughts?
    Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools, because they have to say something.”

    "Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." "Men willingly believe what they wish to believe."
    Julius Caesar

  8. #38
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    Way too young for a shock collar! This is pure puppy "stuff". It's a shame the old dog apparently isn't interested in disciplining the little stinker!

    The pup we've kept (for now; we'll be starting him on cattle and possibly sheep and selling him as a started dog next summer- we hope!) was probably the worst one in the litter for being a brat. Not destructive (well, except for typical puppy destruction- they've chewed up multiple stuffed animals, and God help us if they ever find a piece of paper! LOL!), or aggressive... just mischievous and bratty!

    Dixie- the black and tan ES- has NO tolerance for bratty puppies! I caught her one day holding the pup down by the throat on the lawn- he was screaming and thrashing around, and I thought she was hurting him... until I looked closer. Her mouth was OPEN... she was simply holding him down, but not clamping down on his throat at all.

    She held him down for TEN minutes! (I sat down to watch this one- it was instructive!) Every time she'd let him up, he'd go right back to nipping and biting at her mouth... that was apparently the cause of the "discipline session". So, she'd hold him down again!

    After 10 minutes of this, when she let up... he laid there, like a turtle on it's back- clearly saying "ok, you win!". But... that wasn't enough! Dixie had apparently decided she was going to straighten him out... so she left him on his back, and started gently nipping each of his legs in turn- again, not really using pressure, just "miming" the behavior that he had been doing to the other dogs. If he tried to nip at her to stop her- back she went to his throat!

    After probably 15 minutes total, she could do ANYthing to the pup, and he'd just lay there. He finally learned who was the boss- and it wasn't him!

    I don't like dog runs... but they're far better than simply tying them (which can cause all sorts of issues... it's a bad idea). IF she'll play on the run- some don't- it would give you a better way to keep her outside longer without having to constantly supervise. We have a very different situation here, with the older dogs keeping an eye on the pup, and no traffic to speak of, plus a ton of room for them to roam around without bothering anyone or leaving our property.

    Now, the peeing on stuff deliberately- that IS "punishment" worthy. If I saw it happen, I'd have the pup lifted half off the ground by the scruff of the neck in about 5 seconds, and they'd get a good shake (not enough to hurt them- just "emphasizing" that you're serious) and a very stern scolding. You're right- that is dominance behavior, and it's not to be tolerated. (note, I'm not seeing ANY hint of "people dominance" in anything you're reporting, and even the really strong Alpha male pup we sold last was very submissive to people... but he was extremely dominant with the other dogs)

    (to clarify a bit: "punishing" a puppy for messing in the house- smacking them or sticking their noses into it- is futile, IF they "went" because they didn't have any choice. And that is the more usual scenario. In those cases, simple maturity and a growing bladder will solve the problem. But in the case of deliberate "marking territory"... well, that should be disciplined, and the discipline needs to be strong enough to make them think "oh, boy! I really goofed... better not do that again!" And that takes a different level for each dog. I'm getting the feeling Molly takes after Red (her mother) strongly. Prince- our pup from last year- is very "soft". He's not timid, but man, he HATES to be wrong. And if you yell at him for something, he just lies down and quits for a time. He clearly is saying "ok, I was wrong. I'm going to stay here and not get into trouble".

    Red, OTOH, knows when you get after her for being wrong- she just doesn't really care! Her entire life is herding... She's stubborn and "selectively deaf", and we often wish we'd gotten her as a young pup and worked through a lot of those issues when it could have changed things.

    Essentially, you need to reward "good" behavior, and make the "bad" stuff "no fun" to the point that she doesn't do it. And you need to watch the "any attention beats no attention" problem!

    I suspect you're missing a few little things... I'll bet you *almost* anything that before she started tearing into her bed, she gave you (or anyone who was around) a "look" to see if anyone was paying attention! I mean, a lot of "destruction" is simply teething and playing- Dixie and Prince removed every netting cover on 24 blueberry bushes last summer, and chewed them all into nice, hand sized pieces which they then spread all over the back lawn! Clearly, that was a huge fun game for them (and this year, NO problem with any of it... they DO outgrow most of this)

    But chewing in the house, especially if it's not something firm (which is generally teething issues- Bandit chewed up at least a dozen chunks of 2x4 when he was teething as a pup! And no, that's NOT a good idea... but he'd grab them from the woodbox or machine shed.. he just preferred wood for teething) is more of a "brat" issue.

    Oh, and pups are very much like toddlers- if you don't see them, and don't hear them- you might want to check to see what they're up to!!

    Now, practical stuff- there are sprays out there ("bitter apple") which I'd suggest you get and USE. Spray her bed, any shoes (if that's a problem) and any furniture legs, door frames, etc that she has shown an interest in chewing. It will make chewing on that stuff a lot less desirable. If you see her even trying to chew, redirect her (pick her up, take her away from where she was starting to chew, and then give her a toy, saying "chew that")

    If she goes back and tries again, crate her for 30 minutes or so.

    One of the problems with Border Collies (and the same traits make them just fabulous dogs, once they're grown and trained!) is their extremely high energy levels, plus being very bright. Again, it's like kids- a very smart preschooler is going to be a much more challenging kid to keep on track and engaged than one who is more phlegmatic and has less energy. But then, the breed has been bred to be able to run a hundred miles in a day, herding sheep- and then go back and do it again the next day.. and the next!

    Believe me, she WILL outgrow most of this behavior, and things do really start settling down in some ways at around 6 months.

    Summerthyme

  9. #39
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    I'm not complaing about Molly.
    I love her.
    Some days a little more than others.
    You're right about watching her, though..

    This happened in a short period this morning.
    Hannah had walked her and she did her business.
    I had just walked her the second time and sat at the desk (or was doing dishes). My wife came out and saw the bed.
    It wasn't very long that she was alone.

    As far as peeing, I was always under the impression that if you didn't catch them in the act, it did no good to discipline them.

    The old dog is just a little too old.
    Occasionally she gets tired of Molly roughing her up and lets Molly know but, otherwise, she tries to ignore her. Even when Molly is chewing on her

    I'm not a fan of shock collars but Molly heads to the road and willfully is deaf to us calling her.
    The long rope may be a better tool
    Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools, because they have to say something.”

    "Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." "Men willingly believe what they wish to believe."
    Julius Caesar

  10. #40
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    I was wondering something about crates.
    If a young dog can't "hold it" when free how can they go hours in a crate and not mess it?

    Molly's quality of life is being diminished and I feel bad about it.
    But not bad enough to stop

    Molly now has two places. Outside with me or in the crate.
    I can't let her loose in the house for now.

    Yesterday, she was out a lot and for pretty long periods of time.

    When we came in, she'd leave doggy dumplings on the floor. She did this several times.

    She was in the crate for about 7 or 8 hours over night.
    I had her out for about 20 minutes this morning and she tinkled only.
    But she did check out the cat and explore the perimeter.

    I let her wander where she wanted hoping she would find her spot.
    She didn't.

    Back in the crate.

    Getting ready to take her out again. Even if she does go, she is quite capable of coming in and dumping again.

    She is one tough little girl.
    I hate crates but feel I have no choice
    Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools, because they have to say something.”

    "Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." "Men willingly believe what they wish to believe."
    Julius Caesar

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