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Everything posted by deadlywarbler

  1. I'm still getting no search results on that subject. Can anyone share their stories of training border collies in this way? Mine is about 20 months old. She has had a start in livestock and is very well trained and socialized. Thanks!
  2. Has anyone trained their border collie for bird control work on golf courses and public parks? I know most stock dog trainers would look at that as pretty bad behavior for a border collie, but it seems like interesting work. Has anyone worked their dog in this way?
  3. Donald, Thank you for this. I am suddenly remembering the last time she made a small break-through was when I did away with the flag and commands and simply worked off body language. I am going to go back to this. I could feel my own agitation as well as her growing discontent with our sessions Tuesday. I could tell she wasn't having fun. I should have cut it short but I was so adamant about trying to end on a good note.
  4. The trainer didn't call this defiant behavior. I did, after the fact. She was concerned, however with the pup disregarding commands. For example, I will have my pup in a down about 25 yards or so from the sheep and our exercise is to give a "that'll do" and take her off the sheep. Often she will totally ignore that command and blast straight at the sheep. This happens maybe half the time. The other half of the time she comes off the sheep happily, which I reward her with by setting her up to go back to work. My BC is especially sensitive, so we have been working on ways to minimize pressure as much as possible. I'm guilty of glowering over her too much in an effort to time corrections, so I've been working to change my posture and positioning. Anything you could add?
  5. I understand that this behavior is avoidance. The trainer and I recognize this in the dog, but we're trying to avoid habituating her blowing off commands, which she was doing yesterday. I'm sure it was an off day and she could have been tired from the day. I just want to know how to move forward with this mixed behavior. Poop sniffing and then suddenly zipping at the sheep looks very much like fear/uncertainty. If this continues, is this a sign that she's being worked to much? Too much pressure? She gets one training session per week (2-3 10 minute runs) in a small fenced yard. Thanks everyone!
  6. Yesterday's work day shed a whole new light on my 1.5 y/o BC. She has been working sheep periodically since she was about 9 months old. She's shown quite a bit of talent, a nice easy demeanor with the sheep and the ability to pick up commands. Things were going quite well. Yesterday, however was a mess. She would go from complete disengaged sniffing the ground with her back turned to the sheep to exploding in after the sheep, especially when I would give a "that'll do" command. Often she would do a nice small "fetch" and as soon as I would say "down" she'd lay down, but then turn her attention elsewhere. The whole day seemed to be a about the sheep poop on the ground. She showed some seriously defiant behaviors that the trainer and I could only interpret as her feeling the need to be in charge. So, I am curious if others have encountered this with their dogs and how did you interpret that? How did you change your training? I understand she's still a pretty young dog. I work her 1x per week. Thanks!
  7. Root beer, I was very very close to having this problem with mine too, but somewhere along the line she just felt like she could do it on her own, so I think I lucked out there. But there's probably five things I don't want her doing for every one time I lucked out. I love her all the same. The nice thing, and the thoughts that keep me sane are than she's perfectly house trained, won't touch a SINGLE thing that isn't hers, she's great with people including babies and is a generally happy dog. I need to make a sweater than she can wear that has the words "Don't forget, I could be chewing your house to pieces right now." stitched on it. =)
  8. I totally understand, and luckily I realized that way before I got the pup. Still, it's hard not to be human and imperfect because she's picking up on ALL OF THAT! One sheepdog handler I worked with was noticing that my command for "lets go get some sheep!" and "that'll do" sounded virtually the same even thought I didn't see it that way. We were working on a problem of her diving in from a lie down at the ship when I gave the command "that'll do." How many other mistakes am I making, I have to wonder! Lately I'm trying to remind myself that she's a young dog still (thank you to everyone in this thread that reminded me of that) and to keep calm and consistent with training...and to NOT let her mistakes affect me personally. I realized last night that that is a big part of these "low points."
  9. I think I've made quite a few mistakes along the way. I think I over used certain command words, and tied a reaction to certain words like "ok". These have been hard things to overcome. I decided around 15 weeks to just play with her and stop doing any structured training. It was my hope that she'd start to associate playing with training and vis versa. This worked to an extent, but she learned the difference really quick. I've been thinking a lot the past few days that even thought I've never been abusive or hurt the pup in any way, I've been too emotionally reactive with her. It comes from my inexperience in training and not knowing exactly what to do in certain instances. I'm regretting the way I reacted when she got into a scuffle with my sister's dog. I misread what was happening and reacted loudly. I think that only makes things worse. I would like to think that being as intelligent as BCs are that they would be MORE accommodating to dummy trainers than they are. =)
  10. This is great alligande! I'd love to share the sentiment, but it doesn't feel the same around here. I need to change up my perspective a little, but it's been a constant process to get the pup to work with me.
  11. You are right, GentleLake, I have been lax on certain commands. The recall issue is a really hard one. She's already learned that "come" isn't a super important command. I'm beginning to slowly apply a whistle command to times when I know she'll come to me, so that seems to be helping outdoors, but I'm certainly not going to whistle loud inside. Anyway, she's outstanding a blowing me off, which ups my frustrations, but I hear what you are saying about labeling or coloring behaviors. I'll work to view them more objectively and figure ways to change them. I thought a lot yesterday about the notion of a dog "respecting" an owner and what exactly that means and how you earn that respect. I don't feel like my dog really "respects" me, but then I'm struggling to figure out what that means. Training is a challenging process!
  12. This is great, I appreciate everyone's perspective. I agree about the defiance vs. over-threshold perspective too. I think the defiance idea came out of my own frustration with the situation. I forgot to see it from her perspective. It takes a lot of work to stay in that head space. One problem I see is that the words I always used to verbally praise her "Yes!" or "Good dog!" are now very arousing to her. In instances where she might turn from the cat and come to me, often if I enthusiastically reinforce that with a "Good!" she will excitedly zip back to the behavior, if that makes sense. For example, when I use verbal reinforcement on walks, saying "good girl!" when she falls into a nice walking position simply forces her to zip forward (makes me crazy!). The clicker is still the only thing that doesn't arouse her, but juggling a leash, treats and a clicker is a pain on walks. Anyway, what frustrates me is that verbal commands seem to signal to her to run back to whatever she was doing a lot of the time rather than pay more attention to me. This is frustrating because I spent months simply conditioning the positive verbal commands with treats before applying them to many activities. Bah! So, what I need is a way to calmly reinforce her in a way that says "good girl, you are doing what you should, keep it up..."
  13. Shetlander, thank you! I know you are being helpful and I appreciate the reply. I'm trying to be constantly aware of my shortcomings in her training. In this case she got aroused at the sound of the cat behind the door (tail slowly raised and body position slowly shifted forward). I saw this and assumed a gently tone and said "Hey buddy, come here!" I kneeled down in a position I know gets her to come over to me. She looked at me and turned back and charged the door. That's about as defiant as a dog can be. So I corrected her for that. It worked, but it's not the way I want to work with her. Can you see where I came up short here? The click to calm and control unleashed philosophy makes so much sense to me. I've been working on reinforcing her looking at me, especially when I say "watch." I only do this when I'm sure she'll look my way. The one thing that gets to me about clicker training calm behavior is...do you need to carry treats and a clicker around every waking moment? In the above instance, it was first thing in the morning and I was just waking up and getting coffee going. The clicker was up in the cabinet with the other dog stuff. What do you all do in this case?
  14. Thanks Blackdawgs, I had a hunch this would work. I'll be trying it out this week. I also like the suggestion of college campuses, so I may try that as a new spot too!
  15. Finally regarding the cat: I get how this situation is self reinforcing. Unfortunately the cat is sequestered into a certain part of the house as a result. I could start to reintroduce them on leash, but the cat needs to be on a leash too. Brix doesn't have issues with any other cats, unless they startle her outside. I've seen her laying calmly in a house with a cat near by. This cat has attacked her multiple times, so she obviously has her tagged as a threat/interest. The problem with reintroducing them is that the cat is as likely to charge the dog as the other way around. My inclination is that they need to be separate, but this isn't a long term solution since my girlfriend doesn't like having the cat put away in a back portion of the house.
  16. Regarding new activities, I have been feeling that pull as well. We have a general routine, but I feel like we need more. I am a mountain biker, so naturally I love the idea of having her come on rides with me. The only problem there is that I can't entirely predict her behavior with other dogs/bikes/people on trail. Not that I think she'd be bad, but that she just doesn't understand the trail and might knock someone off a bike accidentally. The other one is that we occasionally encounter horses on trail and I can't be sure she won't spook the horses, which would be REALLY BAD. I like the idea of new walks, but her leash walking is really bad. I've been working on this with her since she was 10 weeks old using treats, clickers and the "red light, green light" game. Still she is the perfect example of what Leslie McDevitt calls a "yo-yo dog." She will hit the end of the leash at which point I stop, she returns to my side and the minute I start to move she shoots straight forward to the end of the leash. So, after a year of constantly working on this, new walks are not exactly fun relaxing explorations, they are tiring and frustrating. This is something that I am still working on diligently, but I would love to be able to take long walks with her. One thought I had was simply extending the walk distance so she tires out a little bit. In that mindset I can start to reinforce the nice walking. What do you think?
  17. Hi Everyone, sorry for the delay in responding, I was away from my computer. So many things to respond to, but so many good suggestion. You called it, I was having a bad day... I felt very disconnected from my dog and that is new for me because I LOVE her so much. She started the day by introducing a new challenge: charging the cat through a closed door. This was the first time this had ever happened (normally she just looks curiously at the door when she hears her behind there). She did it once and I calmly tried to redirect her. She did it again and I got frustrated, poked her hind side which knocked her over a bit and yelled "No!" I never know if this is too much. I vowed to never hit or abuse this dog (I'm not that kind of person and i don't believe it is effective in training) but she blew it and I was mad. This is when I knew we were both having a bad day. Thoughts? Regarding the ball, she gets a lot of ball play, I admit. The game is highly structured, however. In short, no the balls are all put away if we aren't playing. After a ball session, I conclude with "all done!" and she enthusiastically goes to drink water and lay down. I stopped using "last one" because she figured that one out right away. So now the game ends suddenly and she doesn't protest. That being said, if there is any toy inside or outside of the house, she will drop it at anyone's feet and stare at it...literally for a long long time. This is cute in some instances, and annoying in others. I keep inside toys handy so she has something positive to play with and doesn't get the idea that shoes or furniture will do.
  18. I think I'm in a bit of training fatigue. This is the first time I have really not enjoyed my pup since I got her just over a year ago. She has been a handful from the get-go, but has also developed into a sweet dog. She's well manured around the house, no chewing or unwanted behaviors. At 15 months old I would expect the puppy behaviors to be through for the most part, which many of them are. What is frustrating me lately is that many of the challenges that I have been working on relentlessly with her simply are not coming to fruition. The big one is her excitability and charging/growling at the cat in the house. I will give her the one point which is the cat is a major jerk, but i can't seem to get her to relax. The other day I found a portion of the porch screen pushed through where the cat usually sits and I know it was her. I've worked SO HARD to get her to stop and she simply will not. Seeing that porch screen was very discouraging. So, I wonder how others have dealt with the low points in training a young BC. At the moment I'm really feeling no joy whatsoever around the pup, which is very hard since she is always there and always wants to be involved with me. What I want for this new year is to get her weaned off the ball a little bit. She's definitely ball obsessed, which I take full responsibility for. It was the best form of exercise I had available. I need her recall to be better and I need her not charging cats or generally being reactive (outside of the normal BC behavior). What I want most of all is to feel like the hours and hours of work I put in will actually pay off. Thanks everyone!
  19. Thank you all for your posts, it has been great to read. I wanted to pose the second question whether anyone has recommendations for books specifically geared toward training therapy and service dogs. I would love to do some reading! Brix comes from a strong working line. Her dad was a strong cattle and sheep dog with all the amazing qualities of a working BC. Her mom dabbled in working sheep, but spent most of her life as a family dog keeping an eye on kids, and her surroundings. Both dogs were good manured. Brix has some weaknesses that I will have to address, mainly surrounding her reactivity. She does however LOVE people and if she's in a room, she'll go from person to person putting her head in their lap. She acts particularly calm and sensitive around one of our older relatives (102 years old!) in that she doesn't act to boisterous around her. She simple sits next to her and awaits her slow pet. I think this was the one thing that turned me on to the idea. I would love to keep reading more and start pointing our training in this direction. Thanks everyone!
  20. Her self cleaning coat is astounding sometimes! I think I just need to be more diligent about having the clicker and treats handy when the brush or scissors come out. Correct?
  21. This is something I'm really interested in hearing about. My pup has so many self rewarding activities that she reacts to and I want to find a way to get her to listen to me more. When we are out and about, especially when there is something she wants, she will virtually never look up at me. I know this is sign of her either not respecting me, or being confused by me. The Control Unleashed book tells to do the "whiplash" game, but that hasn't really taken yet. The other issue, which is the one that gets her into trouble is rushing up at things. She rushes up to things that she's curious about, mainly other animals. She's gotten into trouble with our very grumpy cat because she reacts very aggressively when this happens, which causes Brix to then react. She also got into a fight with my sister's Jack Russell because she won't stop rushing up at her, and if you know JRTs you know they don't tolerate that kind of behavior so it escalates into a fight. No good. How have you addressed this?
  22. When you get to a computer, Sue, please do share those stories!!
  23. Thank you all for your responses! This is encouraging. Brix is a very sociable little pup. When we have her at family functions she does "lap rounds" where she goes up to everyone and puts her face in their lap and awaits pets. It's very sweet and I could see that being very useful in a therapy dog. She also displays a much more controlled behavior around my girlfriend's very elderly grandmother. She loves Brix, but she's so old she can't handle a dog jumping up. Brix always seems to greet her much more calmly than others, which is actually what gave me the idea in the first place. She does have her 1 year old BC tendencies though. She's very reactive and this is my top goal this year is to slowly work her to the point where she's not needing to be "in the fray" all the time. She can be fast asleep in the back room in her crate and I can shuffle my feet just a little at the other end of the house and she'll come running to investigate. I'm sure she's just looking for the next game of ball, but she does show some reactivity toward other animals (one cat and one dog in particular) but never toward humans. Some timidness, but that is getting better. I am reading through the TDI testing and man...I think there is a bit to work on. I think it's all doable, but she does have some cruxes that we work on constantly, mainly walking nice on leash, reliable recall and situational reactivity. You can see some of my previous posts to get a sense for these challenges. The other, perhaps minor concern, is that she does not like being bathed. She's find with me handling her paws, but she doesn't like me checking her coat for mats and certainly hates the bath and the towel-off after a run in the rain. I'm still figuring the best way to reprogram that for her, but I'll save that for a different post. I just read that TDs need to be ok with a stranger examining their coat, nails and ears. Bah! So much to work on. But I think this is a great pursuit.
  24. I'm curious if anyone has successfully trained their BC to be a therapy dog. I feel like I am constantly searching for purpose in my training with my 14 mo. old BC. I've dabbled in agility, I take her out somewhat regularly for sheepdog class as well as basic obedience. I search for purpose both for her and for me. Seeing her learn about herding is like watching a fish jump in a lake, but I personally don't have much intention or inspiration around livestock. I do, however, have experience in medicine. Has anyone had luck or stories to share about training their BC to be a therapy dog? How early did you start? What was the dogs temperament before you started and how did it change? Were you successful? I ultimately want to find something that allows us to work together and be inspired together. I'm happy throwing the ball for her forever, but I know she and I will want more. Thanks!
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