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Everything posted by gleehibbs

  1. Hi, all, thanks so much for all the support and suggestions on walking on leash politely. My BC Winnie is now 10 months with me. Still seeking suggestions for a new variant of the problem: unpredictably veering right into me at knee level and causing me to fall. What has improved thanks to all your help -- much better response from Winnie to stop pulling, although it is not totally consistent. Big progress is that she can often go on a 30 minute walk now w/o pulling on either an easy walk harness or flat collar. I do let her go ahead, sniff, etc. as long as she is NOT pulling. I have pretty much giving up on teaching heel, tho. The new walking problem has caused me 3 hard falls in the last two months. Luckily, I broke nothing but had bone bruising and limited mobility for several weeks at a time. It relates to Winnie zig zagging into my space. When I first got her, Winnie would pull violently and zigzag back and forth constantly. It took months to teach her to walk consistently on my left. But she still seems to have no sense of her own space or mine -- in the house or outdoors, when walking near me she will suddenly veer right, knocking into my knees or getting underfoot. I often catch my balance but there seems to be no way to predict when this is going to happen. It's not due to a sudden distraction, like a passing car/person/rabbit, etc. She will also unpredictably step into the path of my other dog at home, or literally step on him (not aggressive, just oblivious). Thus, the 3 hard falls for me, one was going up steps and I hit my head very hard as well. I have briefly tried a plastic prong collar under a trainer's supervision, with no effect on the pulling or unpredictable veering right. So I went back to positive training techniques as many of you suggested. I have been to my vet and Winnie has fine vision and hearing. So it is not a medical issue. Thanks to all for any suggestions!
  2. Thanks again for all the advice and encouragement...This forum has definitely reminded me that there IS a better way when I get frustrated.
  3. Mr.McCaig -- looks like yr account here is blocked from new messages. Could you send me a message back re: Ecollar if you are able to get a reference? Thanks so much for the offer. I would gladly drive a good distance to work with someone who is a good Ecollar trainer & could help my rescue. Best, Gwenn Hibbs, Bethesda MD.
  4. Thanks to all so much for the good wishes and ideas. I have been very VERY afraid to go the Ecollar route because of the challenges you mention, I.e. finding the right trainer. However, it is now life or death or giving her up to an uncertain future. I did try a citronella collar with one of my prior trainers who has several obedience titles and has used them before with good results; it was totally unsuccessful to "snap her out of it" and get a recall when she was exploring a fenced in yard of an acre.
  5. Members, thanks to all for your advice. I’m hoping some owners more experienced than me can offer perspective on the best life for my sweet BC Winnie, 5-7 y.o., adopted 7 months ago. I love her dearly, but I fear her lifespan will be very short if she continues to live with me in a busy suburb with lots of car traffic. I need some perspective on whether to rehome her to give her a better life. Or whether I should keep trying and give her more time. She is my second BC, third rescue dog, fifth dog I have owned, first I have ever considered giving up. She came to me in recovery from heartworm disease, and very emotionally shut down. After 7 months, Winnie has blossomed into a very affectionate and loving companion. She gets along well with all dogs, loves every human she meets, and isn’t in the least fazed by other dogs barking/lunging/acting unpredictable, and is a pretty good (not always perfect) leash walker. Her obedience and recall are very good indoors or small enclosed areas, like a tennis court sized space. BUT, despite months of private (positive) training and follow up by me, she cannot be trusted off leash, has low impulse control and door dashes unpredictably – front doors, car doors, gates –she will exploit any small gap and then just run away until a Good Samaritan finds her. She has no typical BC herding drive, or focus on her human companion when outdoors, or interest in toys -- so I can’t get her to return by offering the chance to play tug, retrieve Frisbees or tennis balls. Instead, she has an overwhelming obsession with car traffic. When we go to the dog park, she ignores the other dogs and sits by the fence fixated by passing cars. If she dashes out the door, she will sometimes travel to a nearby street, lie down a few inches from traffic, and give it the “collie eye.” I found her like this a couple of times, but it was only luck that she didn’t decide to go into traffic. At home, she will for hours sit by the fence and just “listen” to traffic passing on the busy street close to my house. This is such a powerful drive that I don’t think I can extinguish it. I worry every day that this could be the day she bolts and is killed in traffic. I am not hypervigilant enough to prevent the “next time” chance when I fail to close a door/gate etc. fast enough. She is presently living a very restricted life to prevent her from bolting. She has to be leashed at all times outdoors; she can’t loaf around the house or backyard when I leave but has to be crated so she can’t door dash when I come home. There are no large fenced athletic grounds nearby that allow dogs or that I could take her to for better training off leash. She can’t run off leash in a nearby wooded park; thus she can’t get enough exercise to keep her weight down, and she needs more exercise to build up her muscles to counteract severe hip dysplasia. Please, I would appreciate compassionate yet no nonsense feedback. My heart is breaking as I write this, but I lie awake at night and worry about this constantly.
  6. Hi all, I'm seeking advice and training tips on recall for my rescue dog, 3-5 y.o. female, Winnie, and I've had her for 7 months. Feeling guilt and desperation because she has no recall outdoors. Have used several trainers without success to get a better grip on this. This is my 3d rescue dog and second border collie (that one was raised from puppyhood). All learned recall really quickly and were reliable off leash. I have no experience of a dog that just won't return. I live in a suburb with a fair amount of street traffic. We've practiced recall constantly both inside, inside with distraction, outdoors with distraction. She is quite good when practicing outdoors on a long line, or even offleash within a half block of my house even with distractions. Winnie is extremely affectionate and wants to be with me INDOORS, follows me around the house, etc. Outdoors she always wants to meet passers by, will go up on leash and sit and wait to be petted. The rest of the time is a nightmare. I have to be hypervigilant whenever I go in or outdoors for chores and don't completely close the storm door from forgetfulness or just having my brain on overload from trying to train this dog for the last 7 months. Recently, she seemed to be able to "stay" when I asked her to as I was unloading multiple groceries or whatever. However, unpredictably, she will seemingly exploit the smallest gap, push the door open and then run away as much as 2 miles. Once she's escaped, I run out and see her and call, she has no response at all -- doesn't turn towards me, much less return even after several hours of her escape adventure. I'll drive around and recruit neighbors trying to find her but she doesn't stay on our usual walking routes. After 7 months, she doesn't seem to recognize that my house is her source of companionship, food and shelter. Outdoors and off leash, she has no instinctive desire to be with me or come back under any circumstances beyond those 25' feet from my front door (dogparks, fenced acreage of a friend where we practice sometimes.) Only by the kindness of neighbors and strangers has she survived without being hit by a car or just being lost forever. I am at a loss, really. I know this will happen again, I live alone and spend several more hours every day taking care of my other dog, who is slowly fading due to brain tumor. Sometimes my brain is too fried to be hypervigilant 24/7. There is no one else to act as a fail safe if I am forgetful. Maybe it would be better for her to be given up to rescue again and live somewhere rural with fenced acreage. I feel like it may be just a matter of time before she is killed in traffic. I just don't know what to do. Thanks for any and all suggestion, especially on trainers you might know of in my area (DC region/Md suburbs).
  7. Hello Waffles, Thanks so very much for the encouragement. It is hard to find a good trainer, but I will keep searching. I got her through a referal of a friend with a rescue dog that was fearful and dog aggressive. She was great with that dog. To her credit, she was immensely helpful in counter conditioning so that Winnie was able to ignore or "alert" to car motion but stopped the stalking/chasing follow up. I look forward very much to your links and videos!
  8. My 50-lb. rescue female BC Winnie has a lovely temperament and was adopted 7 months ago. She is 5-7 years old. I had one BC in the past (a once in a lifetime dog), and 2 other rescue dogs who were highly trainable and bonded early on. After 6 months of daily training (short bursts, several times a day) she is still pulling me on leash and has no reliable recall. We worked for 3 months with a positive trainer one on one, and Winnie made some progress on leash walking while she could smell that I had food on me. We progressed very slowly from home, to backyard, to driveway, to my street and a nearby park. I continue to rehearse and practice those techniques. The trainer I worked with said I likely should resign myself to the fact that she might never learn loose leash walking, as this is the case with many dogs. We also practice daily an "attention noise" to get her to focus on me while walking, as well as basic recall, and "watch me." Generally, when the food runs out, there is no attention on leash outdoors. I use kibble up to the amount of her meals per day to avoid weight gain, but there is a limit to how much I can give her on a long walk which she needs for exercise due to hip dysplasia and being a bit overweight. I have tried "fading" very gradually and intermittently with no progress. BTW, once outdoors she has no herding behaviors or instinct to round up her people or stay near them, with the exception of stalking and chasing cars. (We have moderated that with lots of counter conditioning). So after being pulled every few steps for 6 months, I developed an ongoing back problem with substantial pain and medical costs. My physical therapist believes the constant relentless pulling has probably caused the problem. I don't know what else to do. Already tried are the following (1) no pull harness with chest and back attachment -- she still pulls but it keeps her from lunging; (2) halti -- she scrapes it off with great dexterity; (3) using 15 ft. and 30 ft leashes -- she accelerates and still manages to pull me every 5 or 6 steps. I' hoping that someone here can recommend something to stop the pulling, either mechanically or training wise. Perhaps there is "fool proof" harness out there that I haven't heard about. Or even a trainer who specializes or has lots of experience with rescue dogs. I live in the DC metro area. Finally, is there hope for this dog improving? I don't know her prior history, except that she was fostered on a farm for several months before I adopted her. They gave her basic attention re: food and shelter but did not interact with her much as both worked away from the farm. I'm very dispirited at the moment. Thanks to all. Gwenn Hibbs Bethesda Maryland
  9. I have a BC rescue that I've had now for 7 months. She is estimated at 5-6 years old, and was in a shelter for an unknown period, then a foster home where they basically gave her food and shelter but not much interaction. I have trained several other rescue dogs and a BC I had from puppyhood -- but they all had a high drive to chase objects/balls innately. I have tried some shaping exercises to get her on the road to fetch/retrieve. I did not start this until recently as I did not want to stress her out. In general her temperament is kind of chill for a BC, and she is affectionate to me and pretty much anyone she meets. I have kind of run into a brick wall and hoping some here could help out. I have read prior posts on the topic here but still hoping for more ideas. I want very badly to teach her because after months of effort, she has no reliable recall for off extended off leash exercise in a nearby forested park. I want her to get more exercise with fetch, so at least at the dog park she can work off some energy. It's especially important to get her some more extended exercise because she has hip dysplasia and the vet has stressed that she really needs to lose weight (I am not over feeding her, got the vet's input on this and actually am feeding her less than the recommended amount for her to lose weight, including treats). Her only innate "herding" interest is to alert to and chase cars, or go out to the backyard and listen to traffic. She will occasionally (but not consistently) try to chase squirrels. Her vision has been checked out and is AOK. In her foster home, a farm, she showed no interest in herding their sheep/chasing/eye-control. She doesn't play chase at the dog park with the other dogs, but instead goes up to all the humans and sits and seeks affection. She does not play with friendly and playful neighborhood dogs on "play dates." She will tolerate play invitations for a while, then leave the area so the other dog will leave her alone. If the dog park is near a street, she will go the perimeter and watch traffic passing by rather than playing or running in the dog park. She will chase ME, but will not play tug or even look at toys when you throw or run with them, or do various things to create excitement around the object. If she does look even briefly at the object and you "click/treat with hand delivery" she then becomes obsessed with the area around the place you treated her looking for crumbs rather than paying attention again to the object. In general, unlike other dogs I've trained, she doesn't even follow your hand motions or look in a direction you are looking --- unless food is in the hand or the direction. She just doesn't seem interested. She has learned "watch me" even without food treats after many many months of positive training with/tapering off treats. She started out when I first got her by actually turning her head AWAY from any toy I put on the floor (just trying to get an idea of what might interest her, no training or encouragement). She seemed averse to the sound of squeaky toys. She doesn't do the head-turning-away anymore, so I guess that's a good sign. She will fetch and run away with food treats, i.e, a long chew toy for example.
  10. MyRuna, Cody and Duchess, and Waffles --tx again so much for the advice, tips, and real life tales of patience=success. Especially the advice re: rotator cuff injury (already had one surgery, don't want to try that again:).
  11. Thanks to all for the advice, management ideas and encouragement!! I will definitely cut back on the training sessions, use her kibble for treats, and BE MORE PATIENT. She is a very sweet natured dog and I want to do my best for her.
  12. Thx very much for your thoughts, and observations. I will try your idea re shorter session, for sure. FYI, I have had 2 other non BC rescues adopted at age 6-7, who were able to be trusted off leash almost immediately and were quick to trust and bond. Little background on either but I guess I was just very lucky. So perhaps I've been spoiled by that. As for the 8 methods, I've been doing them ALL pretty much since day 1, using different methods on alternating days or different daily sessions, "capturing" stuff like watch me and rewarding lavishly, or daily exercise walks, vs. just abandoning them after a 2 wk trial. I had been advised to try combining them by the trainers I've been working with, since they are complementary vs. conflicting. They also recommended up to 20 min. a day of structured training, multiple times a day. I have done way less than that most days but not as short as you suggested. One of the trainers I've been working with. who works a lot with shelter dogs evaluating temperament, told me that she thought my BC was low-to-moderate on sociability. Hope that was too pessimistic. I mentioned the toys because it is hard to reward her work with food only, or give her adequate exercise. She came to me 10 lbs. overweight. I was hoping that she might have some interest so there would be more fun in training/more ways to reward her.I am already counting calories in every treat and her food, of which she gets very little --most days, less than 3/4 cup of kibble, per my vet's recommendation on her recommended weight and caloric needs for her ideal weight. I do get that teaching leash walking is tough, it's a safety issue for me not just a whim (the shoulder injuries + early onset osteoporosis). Especially with snowy weather coming up around the corner. But as you suggest, I will keep reminding myself to give more time for her to trust and settle in. Fingers crossed.
  13. I have a rescue BC, 5-7 years old, who I adopted 4 months ago. She was with a foster family for 3 mos. immediately before adoption. They gave her no training, and did not allow her in the house except for few hours at night. She had a large fenced farm to wander during the days. I knew she had shown no herding instinct and that was OK with me. The foster family believed her temperament was very low key and easy going. She is very sweet with people and dogs, has learned basic obedience (come/sit/down/stay) and can do them all indoors/outdoors, but pulls constantly on leash. She also has a very hard mouth, which seems to have gotten worse as we have done more training. One of my trainers suggested her impulsivity is being redirected this way. I am afraid that she is either obtuse or totally "unbiddable." Or perhaps both. I am an experienced BC owner (had one raised from puppyhood, bred from working stock), so I know what traits she should have at least to some degree, and she seems to have none of them. She has no play or chase instincts for balls, etc. and cannot be rewarded with anything but treats. She has no initiative to offer new behaviors or build on existing ones. She has no retrieval instinct. She has no desire to please for its own sake, or "work" in any sense I can detect. She has no instinct to circle back and "check in" (using a 30 ft lead to test this at various times in the last 4 months). She has no interest in squeaky toys or tugging games. She listens and obeys indoors but cannot walk on a loose leash despite gradually practicing a variety of methods and "proofing" indoors/backyard, quiet driveway, quiet neighborhood streets and parks. Her training treats are all high value like hot dogs, cheese, chicken, and very smelly "pupperoni". I have 2 bad shoulders and cannot really deal with a dog constantly pulling and give the dog enough exercise, as she also has not developed a reliable recall, although it is much,much better than 4 months ago. It will quickly become dangerous for me when winter comes. She can't go off leash anywhere near where I live because of the bad recall issue. She also has severe hip dysplasia and all the treats are making her gain weight, which my vet has already warned against. Nothing has worked. I am feeling pretty desperate, and thinking she may not be able to adapt to suburban life at all if she cannot stop the pulling. She started out pulling massively and hard and zigzagging constantly and unpredictably, and lunging constantly at cars/bikes/ people. I have gotten her past the lunging with massive counter conditioning. She can now sit and "watch me" although she still alerts to moving objects. But she cannot walk on a loose leash, much less follow me versus always going to the end of the leash ahead of me. Here are the failed methods I've tried so far (with 3 positive only trainers), including lots of praise and treats. (1) walking and stopping cold or changing direction at the least leash tension. It feels like I have done this 1000 times without results. (2) walking 5-10-15 steps and unpredictably changing direction sharply BEFORE she gets to the end of the leash. Again, 1000 times it seems like. Varying speeds, going in circles, etc. (3) the traditional Jean Donaldson method -- get the dog to follow you walking backwards with treats every step held at pants seam/then gradually increase to 20 steps backward/then pivot and get dog gradually to walk with you stepping up gradually and fading treats. She only responds until the treats are used up for the day. Maybe one block in my neighborhood. (4) playing chase games and throwing treats behind and to the left at unpredictable intervals on walks. (5) practicing watch me and also treating for watching me on walks when she does it without prompting or luring. (6) no pull harness with chest and back attachments, which doesn't actually stop the pulling, just reduces how hard she can pull. (7) head halter. Did a lot of shaping to get her used to wearing it. But when trying to walk, she scrapes it constantly versus walking. (8) hand feeding to teach "lick" and "easy" while gradually increasing treat value. She immediately reverts to hard mouth and painful mouth with higher value training treats. The longer a training session lasts (only up to 15 minutes, but usually twice a day) the worse the hard mouth.
  14. Thanks to all so much for the advice; I am trying them all out and so much appreciate everyone's shared experiences. So far, she has promptly done better using the Yelp/leave the room at the first sign of toothy roughness. So I am very encouraged. Will go slowly as you all suggested...
  15. Training has become very frustrating because my dog has a "hard mouth." I have made great progress with my rescue BC Winnie (5 yrs old) in training positively (thx to all the suggestions here!) However, after 3 months I am no further along in getting her to take treats "softly". With a very calm environment, indoors, she will take low value stuff like processed dog treats (Zukes, Pupperoni) with little or no tooth on hand. I also feed her by hand and she is able to use a soft mouth on kibble. As the environment becomes more interesting (outdoors) and higher value treats (hot dog, chicken) she escalates to almost breaking the skin. I have tried offering palm only, but there is still way too much tooth. Tried offering closed hand and opening only if feeling no tooth. Again, she escalates to almost-bite as treats get higher value. Tried practicing "lick" with stuff like Kong treat filler and baby food. When doing something that requires rapid treat delivery in position, like teaching "moving watch me" or "heel", the bites just get harder. She has not broken skin yet, but often leaves a red mark at least once per training session. She still needs lot of counter conditioning to stop car chasing, which as often as possible I WANT to use very high value treats. But it is so frustrating on some days, I just give up and stop the training. Also by letting her continually "rehearse" the bad behavior, I feel like I am contributing to the problem and just making it more hard wired in her brain. She always get a good dose of outdoor exercise BEFORE we do any training for the day. Usually only 2 training sessions of no more than 15 minutes, separated in am and pm. So if the treats or environment are too arousing, I don't think its due to lack of exercise in general... Thanks for any and all suggestions!
  16. Hi, Thanks so much to everyone for the encouragement and tips. Here is a pic of Winnie hanging out with my other pup Teddy. https://goo.gl/photos/JAVLzszA9QTqKHJHA A few more Qs and updates... On the follow up Q -- Winnie is much calmer around cars we see on walks but she is extremely aroused if we have to go anywhere by car. She practically hyperventilates as soon as we pull into traffic and stays on high alert. Any thoughts or suggestions to allay this reactivity? Updates and more info: FYI, a couple of folks wondered if Winnie had been checked out for any medical issues re: training/counter conditioning being correlated to some house soiling. She was checked out AOK for UTI etc., full blood panel, etc. No accidents now in 10 days... Counter conditioning. Working with a positive trainer to pick a locale "under threshhold", we chose a location in the neighborhood to practice no more than 10 minutes a day where cars would turn up an intersection 30 feet away and drive slowly up the street where Winnie is allowed to sit/stand/lie down. As soon as she sees the car, the sequence is "click"/Treat-treat-treat until the car passes out of sight. Very high value treats like chicken. It has been so hot we have done little or no counter conditioning recently. Thanks to folks who suggested backing off for a while re: any training pressure. She has gradually been able to calm down a lot in relation to cars we see in the neighborhood on walks. She will still react and try to pull toward them at times, but at other times ignores them. BIG PROGRESS. Unfortunately, my suburb has few places where we can walk and never see a car. There is also quite a lot of traffic noise in my backyard all day, although this does not seem to bother Winnie and she likes to chill on the deck and does not get agitated.
  17. D'Elle -- thanks so much for the encouragement and real life success stories...training has been very limited per day because she has exhibited the problem as well of anxiety from regular training causing (unpredictable) bouts of house soiling. She was perfectly house trained for the first 3 weeks, then as soon as we started working on counter conditioning she had 2 accidents in a week. Cut back drastically on training time per day/car counter conditioning after that. I'm hoping we are past that and will start avoiding the car heavier areas as well.
  18. Hoping for some insight and/or training tips for a car-obsessed BC rescue, neutered female, 3-5 y.o. Any ideas for better bonding/training/behavior conditioning, books, youtube videos, etc., would be tremendously appreciated. I fear that if I cannot make more progress on this, I may have to return her to rescue as she is right now at high risk of being killed or causing a traffic accident --- I just cannot be vigilant enough to guarantee she will never have an opportunity to escape the leash/yard/front door. I previously raised a BC from a working line from puppyhood, who loved anything in motion but had no reactivity to cars. I live in a suburb with a fair amount of traffic and traffic noise from a nearby 4 lane street. My new BC rescue (11 weeks since adoption) is highly reactive to cars moving within 50 feet, and wants to eye/stalk/chase. She also becomes extremely agitated (panting/eye stalking) when traveling in the car. She has lunged hard enough at passing traffic to break the leash clip open on one occasion (she now has a chest harness with a heavy duty clip). She is even highly reactive to traffic noise from a nearby street. She has twice escaped from her lead/the house and made a beeline for this heavily trafficked street although there was no car traffic visible to her at the time -- then sat/lay down on the median and watched as if herding. She has NOT actually tried to chase the traffic, but I live in fear that she could cause a serious accident to drivers on that street. I am also at risk of being pulled off my feet when she lunges, which is dangerous because I have early onset osteoporosis. After working on clicker counter conditioning for this reactivity with a trainer over the last month, she is LESS reactive -- I can break her off the stare/drop down/chase sequence to look at me with treats in hand -- but she will not listen if no food is around. We have also done lots of training for "watch me," which also works only to a very limited degree once the treats are gone and she sees a car moving within 50 feet. She has ZERO interest in toys/tennis balls/tugging or chase games with flying objects, and is generally low energy (for a BC). She will actually turn her head away in avoidance if a toy is presented to her. She previously was in a foster family with a farm for 3 months, where she could ramble daily over 50 acres, but showed zero interest in herding their sheep. Because of their relative isolation from traffic, the foster family did see her car reactions, and did not report any reactivity to cars before I adopted. She has no instinctive recall either, nor any inborn circling pattern, and although I am working on it, I don't anticipate that she will ever have the recall that some BCs have that are raised properly from puppyhood, or just have as a genetically bred for trait so that they can do their job for a farmer.
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