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Jerre
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Hello all,

This is my first forumpost, so hi everyone. I'm Jerry, I own a male BC whos nearly one year old. The reason I decided to register here is because i'm having a few issues with my dog at the moment which I'd like to ask opninons on. I can look up older topics but since my problem is rather big, I prefer to tell my story. I'm sorry for the long text, but it's better when I tell the whole load. Thanks to those who take the time reading it !

It's the first dog that I train myself, after having a French Shepherd (Beauceron) that my father trained with, when I was a child. I decided to go with a BC because I love the race. I know what I got myself into, trust me :rolleyes: My goal is to succeed in agility & flyball with him in the future. Right now, I'm training him in obedience because he isn't really 'under command' yet (sorry for any language mistakes, I'm not native English).

My BC has always been a dominant type, from within the litter. He showed hyperactive behaviour from puppyclass til now. I know a BC's mentality, but my problem goes a bit beyond that. During the summer, when he was around 6-7 months old, I had a work-related accident which caused me to stop my training activities. I recently picked things up again, in a new dogschool because of the good agility & flyball facilities, for the future of my dog. Even tho my dog has always shown this 'dominant' behaviour ( at least I think its that), things like barking at other dogs, barking and pulling whenever he spots other toys and fetch toys at dogschool, also when other trainers are running away to practice the 'calling'.

This might be normal behaviour, I just need to train to get him to pay more attention to me, but at the moment, he's uncontrolable. He hasn't been in social contact with other dogs alot the last few months, and neither at busy places, like dog schools. Its all new to him again. Whenever a dog passes, even when that dog is not intrested in my dog, he starts barking and pulling. Serious pulling... I dont know if its out of fear, protection, anger, aggression... It goes this far that alreayd after 1 initation lesson at the new dogschool, various instructors, who understood my situation, advised me to have him castrated/neutered. I'm not really keen on doing this, unless its medically needed or really unavoidable regarding his behaviour. I also fear the disadvantages like a bad curly coat, gaining weight, different smell towards other male dogs... and ofcourse the fear of him losing his passion to work (specially for agility & flyball). I might be wrong in some things but it still keeps me away from considering castration.

At the moment I'm trying to go out with him alot, to the dog school in specific, even when we're not having class over there. I just go there, 'try' to take him for a walk, and have many dogs pass by and trying to keep his attention focused to me, with alot of tasty treats like cheese, meats etc... But its not working as I hoped. I cant even take him for a walk in a normal way. I obey the alfa rules as much as i can, but still he looks too dominant. I do know he's in the middle of his puberty, his testosteron peaks, which might be the cause, But Im getting a bit lost in motivation to continue working with him. Ofcourse I will continue, but its hard at the moment to go train with him when I know on forehand how it's gonna be in the dog class... pulling, barking, whining,... and 5 minutes of attention to me. I'm trying everything i can, reward him constantly when I get his attention, when he doesnt bark or pulls to other dogs, when he's focused on me when other dogs pass... play with him constantly... and trying to be the alfa ofcourse. Normally around this age i should be doing the social test with him.. impossible.

If anyone is having the same problems, or anyone who has experience with dog behaviour analysis, or just people who have tips/ideas on how to train to get rid of these problems, any help is welcome ! Also people who have knowledge & experience with male dog castration/neutering, and can explain me why I should or should not do it, all advice is welcome.

Thank you for listening and reading.

Regards,

Jerry

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Ok Here's what I think.

I see this all the time at pre agility classes and obedience classes so it is very very common. In order to work in agility your dog not need be particularly social but he needs to focus on you. Whether his problem stems from aggression, fear or excitement it doesn't really matter unless you want to fix that. So to get him to work with you say at class you need to start somewhere simple.

 

He is iverwhelmed, like i said i do not know why, but he is overwhelmed. A dog that is like that cannot focus, it's not that he won't it's that he cant' You need to perhaps take a break from class for say 2 weeks and see how you go. Start with just working with him at home. Shaping tricks, shadow handling or circle work is a good one or just tugging with him. You want to build a relationship with him so he will rather work for you than focus on anything else. Teach him to nose touch to your hand it is a good way to get their focus. Then move it to a park where there are perhaps no people or dogs, or maybe just people if he is ok with that, but NO dogs. If he focuses on you fine and ignores the people then maybe go somewhere where there is 1 dog that will ignore you. If he can't focus keep moving away till you find a point where he will. Perhaps it may be where the other dog is out of sight. Slowly move closer, if he keeps working with you (sit,drop, stand, nose touch anything really) then move closer but SLOWLY. If he doesn't move back out and try again further away. Once he can focus on you with multiple dogs at a distance try taking him to class. But you must work up in very small increments. Dogs will generally always get distracted at some point. My dog is a seasoned class participant and works extremely close to me but will occassionally get distracted and sniff (which is a displacement behaviour i have since found out) and very rarely she will walk off to greet another dog, but that is generally when she is tired. It may take a while, but it will work eventually.

 

Keep in mind whatever you have (game or food) must be of way way higher value than focusing on distractions. Maybe try with a dog he knows or is comfortable with in close proximity off lead and see if he can focus. Just work your way through it slowly. Meanwhile work on socialising him teaching him dominant is okay but aggressive isn't. Some dogs are naturally dominant some aren't

 

If you don't understand anything, just let me know. Hope it helps.

And good luck!!!

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I've become a real advocate of clicker training -- there are folks on this board who have wonderful advice. In addition to communicating in a mutually understood language (the click), it has the advantage of focusing the handler on what the dog is doing right, not what the dog is doing wrong.

 

I have 7 month old pups and I have noticed a difference in attitude - like most teen-agers, sometimes they pay attention, sometimes they don't. But they still want to please me and do things to make me happy. Very short lessons help a great deal. I've come to realize that I ask too much of them in many cases and if I scale down my expectations I am pleasantly surprised to find that they meet and exceed my training goal, then we can move on to something new, while continuing to practice the learned behaviors.

 

Also, the lack of exposure to new things over the summer may have had an effect on your pup. Going out in public areas and slow exposure to new things may help a great deal.

 

It is hard to take a "puller" out in public and also one that lunges and barks at everything. I was most successful when I decided to just work on modifying one behavior at a time. With Robin, it was a fight to get him to heel in public because everything was new and so darned exciting and he charges into everything with admirable gusto. So I worked on exposing him to everything I could think of at every opportunity to get him used to new things. I used the easy walker on my world class puller and quietly asked him to heel while he was wearing it, and he has now learned to lead well on the short leash. I followed the suggestion of this board and started to work with him off lead as well. Once the leash is gone, his urge to pull is gone and he magically comes to my side and stays there.

 

He's also one of those freewheeling dogs that just doesn't "check back" when he's excited about something new so lately I've been working a lot on capturing his attention with the clicker and calling him away from very interesting things when we're out in the field.

 

Brodie, Robin's brother, is something of an alarmist when it comes to other dogs. He too barked and lunged at the beginning of his classes. He's learned, as Marji suggested, to tolerate other dogs at a reasonable distance - we're working at about the four foot distance now, which is as close as I'd care to have him near a strange dog anyway. We did this through training at the obedience classes. He learned to focus on what I was asking him to do and stop worrying about the other dogs. We live in the country so dog parks aren't a part of our lifestyle but I do hope to take him to some herding trials. He doesn't seem to mind other Border Collies -- it's the other breeds that alarm him.

 

As Marji said, dominance isn't a big issue as long as the dog recognizes you as HIS leader and is not aggressive. Robin is a naturally dominant dog and it gives him an air of great confidence. Even in puppy classes he just sat and watched all the foolishness and when he meets up with something new he doesn't duck behind the nearest bush. But he knows who makes his world turn - me :rolleyes:. I've never had to come down hard on him to make him understand this. He's just learned through the pattern of our lives that I control all the good stuff -- food, games, exciting places to go, and whether or not he gets on the furniture :D.

 

Liz

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I said this in another topic, but I'll say it here too. I don't buy into dominance theory. Neither do most veterinary behaviorists anymore from what I've heard (from a veterinary behaviorist I consulted) and read. Lots of things dogs do that were previously tried to be explained by "dominance" are no longer explained as such, by the real experts, despite what you might hear on TV. Yes it is true, as a handler, you have to stay firm and control your dog. You can't spoil him or let him get away with not obeying, because if you do you establish a pattern that what you say isn't what goes. But that doesn't mean you have to have an adversarial relationship with him. For me I think it helps to know that when your dog paws you, your dog is not trying to conquer the world. Yes he wants to try to control his environment - because he's smart. Really smart. But the truth is he is just an unsocialized animal - and a really smart unsocialized animal at that, who isn't scared of much - and it's your job to socialize him, teach him how to settle, use his brain. Clicking and capturing and shaping really helps with this. Hide and seek games, quiet games. You want it to be positive anytime he focuses on and listens to you. Rewards-based training. I think there's a book, Click to Calm, that might help you understand how to do that. Your dog sounds pretty normal, but you seem to be struggling how to understand him and communicate with him on your own, so it might be worth it to take him to a one time session with a vet behaviorist or a certified behaviorist - someone who isn't talking about dominance - and can teach you how to communicate with your dog, and appreciate that he's just a hyper teenager who needs to be thought how to calm down and think things through, not operate over threshold so much.

 

Are you waiting to have him neutered, or are you thinking about never doing it? A lot of people on here wait to have their dogs neutered for various health reasons, but most people do neuter (unless they're working breeders). And it helps control the pet overpopulation problem, which is huge.

 

Top Ten Behavior Myths About Dogs (published in an issue of Veterinary Medicine)

 

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position Statement on Dominance

 

"Using Dominance Theory to Explain Dog Behavior is 'Old Hat'" (Article in Science Daily)

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Jerry,

 

Are you in the US? If so, perhaps someone could give you some referrals to trainers in your area. If not, maybe we still could. We do have members in Great Britian, Australia, Germany/Austria, and New Zealand.

 

Anyway, the previous posters have given you great advice. Castration will NOT turn your dog lazy, change his coat texture or his interest in training. As far as making him easier to handle, I agree w/the others, he's in the middle of adolescence, after a lay off due to your injury. Of course he's crazed!

 

Marijj suggested working with him at home, and that's just what I'd do, too. Taking him out into public is way too much stimulation for this boy right now. Work in very short sessions, 3-4 minutes tops. Do several sessions a day. Feed him by scattering his food around so that he has to look for it. Once he's gotten the idea that he has to look for it, start to hide it a little bit - behind a chair, in another room. Fun exercises like this will tire his little brain out.

 

If you can, try a Halti or Gentle Leader collar or a no pull harness. If you have access to those where you live, they can be a life saver. You'll need a little help making sure the fit of whatever you buy is correct.

 

Does he like people? My Buzz loved having visitors to our home. If your dog is people friendly, you can invite dog loving friends to your home and work with him on his people manners. Do this AFTER your initial 2-3 weeks of just working at home with him.

 

Good luck, good for you for not giving up! Please let us know how you get on.

 

Ruth

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Thanks for all the replies.

 

I'm located in Belgium, I have knowledge of a few experienced trainers that focus mainly on behaviour, but I initially prefered to ask advice on fora like these. But like some said, he's pubering, ofcourse he acts like this. The long break will surely have had its influence. I just couldnt understand why the instructors at my new school advised a castration after a first lesson... without knowing my dog.

 

Thanks for all the tips, I'll make use of them.

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Marijj suggested working with him at home, and that's just what I'd do, too. Taking him out into public is way too much stimulation for this boy right now.

 

Me too.

Training classes are often far too overstimulating, particularly for a breed that is so sensitive to movement.

 

If you think you need help with how to train him, 1-1 sessions with a trainer would be better than the artificial environment of an obedience class.

 

if you do agility or flyball there is usually more room so you will be able to retreat to a distance where your dog is not going to be reactive. It often isn't possible in an obedience class where dogs are worked closer together.

 

Pam

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