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I need some new ideas. I've always trained my dogs to sit-stay and down-stay, and worked diligently on reliable recalls.

 

Katie, my 6-1/2 yo border collie/springer is the only dog I've had problems training. Indoors - even in a large arena with lots of other dogs and noise, she's fine - reliable stays and recalls. But outside in an unfenced area is a different story. Her breaks come when she sees a running cat or small dog (chihuahua, papillion, pom, etc.) - small dogs on leash don't tempt her, it is only small animals that are running. She has lived with cats without any problems (I'm down to one)but we have neighborhood cats that run free and frequently taunt her from the top of the fenceline.

 

Monday evening I had taken her for a 2 mile walk and was only a few houses from home when I stopped to speak with a neighbor. I put Katie on a down stay. Several minutes later, a cat streaked from around the corner of the house and Katie went from 0 to 60 yanking her leash out of my hand so hard as she raced after the cat, I lost my balance and fell, tearing tendons in my ankle. I'm not mad at Katie, I should have been holding the leash tighter but I need to come up with another plan on training her more reliably on stays and recalls. (Incidentally she never hurts the cats or dogs if she catches them, she just wants to play - and if they're small enough, she'll pick them up and bring them to me).

 

I've used positive reinforcement training using treats and praise but I've never found anything she wanted more than going after a running animal. A friend has suggested using a shock collar since it would give me control when she takes off after an animal but I'm reluctant to do so. Although very submissive with other dogs, she is not a "soft" dog - most of my dogs have responded to verbal correction, she doesn't. She shows no aptitude as a sports dog and has no herding instincts - although I think she might have made a good hunting dog!

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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I'm not sure what the shock collar will accomplish regarding a stay. What will you be shocking her for exactly?

 

In your situation, my guess is the temptation of running prey overrides the stay command, rather than working on a stay, per se, I'd work on getting her to redirect to you when she sees small running thing, maybe ask you for permission to chase things.

 

If you were paying attention to her, could you have stopped her from running? Does she come back of you call her? I guess what I am getting at is do you have a stay problem or a self control problem? Has she ever caught a cat or dog?

 

And I'm sorry to hear about your knee, ouch.

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I'm not sure what the shock collar will accomplish regarding a stay. What will you be shocking her for exactly?

 

In your situation, my guess is the temptation of running prey overrides the stay command, rather than working on a stay, per se, I'd work on getting her to redirect to you when she sees small running thing, maybe ask you for permission to chase things.

 

If you were paying attention to her, could you have stopped her from running? Does she come back of you call her? I guess what I am getting at is do you have a stay problem or a self control problem? Has she ever caught a cat or dog?

 

Once she starts after a dog or cat, she doesn't seem to hear anything else - she doesn't respond to a recall, leave it or down, etc. The only way I've been able to stop her is when she's on leash (or a long line) and I can physically manhandle her into a sit but even then her focus is not on me. The training problem for me is this not a situation I can set up time and time again to work her through handling the distraction - it's always a distraction that comes out of nowhere. Even if she's not on leash, she will obey commands when a small dog walks by on leash - it's just when it's a small running animal that her training seems to go out the window! With the exception of this one type of scenario, she's well behaved and follows commands - I just can't consider her to be well-trained when she won't listen 100% of the time.

 

The shock collar suggestion was basically to snap her out of the run and remind her to listen. I don't know if it would work or not.

 

And yes, she's caught half-grown cats and very small dogs - which she brings back to me! She has the soft mouth of a spaniel and she doesn't hurt them. If she chases an adult cat, it will normally run up a tree, fence post, etc. and she's at the bottom "talking" to it. She won't get within scratching reach of an adult cat so she has learned a lesson at some time about that! Larger small dogs, she does play bows to when she catches up with them!

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I put Katie on a down stay. Several minutes later, a cat streaked from around the corner of the house and Katie went from 0 to 60 yanking her leash out of my hand so hard as she raced after the cat, I lost my balance and fell, tearing tendons in my ankle.

When I got Senneca, she was a frenzied cat-chasing monster; now with training (and maybe mellowing a bit) she merely a cat-chasing monster. I never give her enough leash slack to get up to speed -- which means anything beyond a few inches of slack. Cat chasing is the one area where I have had least progress. She *will* hold a down stay or sit as long as I am glaring at her. I work on this most days and there is progress; just terribly slow.

 

I hope your ankle heals up soon. In a related, but non-feline, incident, I slammed my knee into the edge of a concrete path and spent weeks limping around. I was extremely lucky that the impact was on the side and not on the knee cap itself.

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Teaching a truly reliable stay takes some time and patience, building up distractions over time. Including building up to highly stimulating proofing!!! That's different for different dogs :rolleyes: I still remember my one bc who was CRAZY about tennis balls, after all his training his final test was me walking around him bouncing a tennis ball, kicking the tennis ball, throwing the tennis ball....his whole body was shaking, but he understood what stay meant. Because everytime he did break a stay he got a correction. Actually I only had to correct him once and this consisted only repositioning him which was harsh enough for him.

 

Anyway, proofing is a critical part of teaching a stay, I WANT my dogs to make mistakes so they can learn from them and so I can help show thme what I want. So When I am teaching stays and the dogs are ready for proofing I throw tennis balls, bring a cat out, let other dogs play in front of them, whatever gets them going. They break it, you put them right back. TONS of praise/treats whatever after you have given your release for them to break it.

 

With your dog, I would not only work on the stay with higher levels of distraction but I would teach a "watch me" meaning you watch me when I ask you to or "focused attention" meaning when the dog is sitting in heel position he must be paying attention to you. I use both these commands as tools to manage my pack when out and about.

 

I would also keep a long line on your pup, I would recomend a prong for this based on the type of personality you describe. Set the situation up for you dog to make a mistake, don't be afraid for this to happen it will help the dog learn whats expected. Let your pup break the stay, she will go after whatever it is, cat dog hit the end of the collar/prong and I guarentee you she will get the picture. Doing something like this usually only has to be implored once. I would recomnd this over the shock collar for a few reaons #1) there is no telling that in her high level of arousal that she wouldn't blow right through the shock, making it completely ineffective where as the prong/long line she will hit the collar and it will also stop her, break her focus #2) I believe very few peole can use a shock collar properly, to administer the shock at the right time to achieve desired results is something only the most experienced trainers in certain contexts(field application) should be messing around with in my opinion....I don't believe it belongs in a "pet dog" atmosphere.

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I've used positive reinforcement training using treats and praise but I've never found anything she wanted more than going after a running animal.

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

Based on what you describe, I would use a combination of the Look at That game, and Mat Work from Control Unleashed to really change her "gut response" to moving small dogs and cats, and then I might go into some Parallel Games with small dogs - when she got to the point where it is safe to do so.

 

If you want more details, let me know and I can PM some info to you.

 

In the meantime, for safety while walking, I would use a front clip harness.

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This will not improve my street cred with the positive only crowd, but I see this as one of those things like chasing cars that can put your dog, and possibly a motorist, in danger. It's not doing your fingers any good either. I would spend about a week on this. More if needed. To me it's two problems. Breaking a stay can be handled any number of ways, but this procedure is about compulsively chasing animals.

 

Take the dog out with a regular lead and a long line or rope of at least 20', both attached to her collar. Take her to a place where the problem is likely to occur. Put her in a down and tell her to stay. Unsnap the regular lead, get a good firm two-handed grip on the last foot or so of the long line, and wait. If the Gods favor you, a small animal will frolic past. This is your cue to do nothing but pull in your elbows and wait for her to hit the end of the line. She will probably do a flat spin of 180 degrees and end up on her side. Drop the line and walk on it until you reach her, take her by the collar and talk to her. Like you would talk to a good-natured but dim child. Do not yell, act angry or otherwise browbeat the dog.

 

Use a conversational tone. Say things like, "What do you think you're doing? Have you lost your mind? That isn't your (cat, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, squirrel, doormouse, whatever.) Your supposed to leave those alone. Now we're going back over here now." This running dialog should be carried out while you lead her back to her point of departure. Put her in a down. Praise her for complying, and after an interval of two or three minutes, during which you have regained a deathgrip on your end of the longline - just in case - give her a release and go do something fun with her at home, or some other place where you are unlikely to encounter fleeing rodentia, canids or felids.

 

If the dog sees the object of her obsession and holds her stay, she should be rewarded profusely and enthusiastically. Nothing is too good for her.

 

If the temptation appears when the dog is not in a down, and the dog rockets off after it, the procedure is the same. What is being taught here is not "stay." It is not to go rocketing after random small creatures. We simply put the dog in a stay to begin with because then she is doing something for you - something she has been taught she must go on doing until released. It can help her to resist the urge to chase.

 

This is an extreme solution. It is not without danger to the animal. (Although I've never seen an animal seriously hurt by it.) I have used it three times in my life. Once on a cat-killing Rottweiler, once on an Australian Shepherd that was a compulsive chaser, and once on a burro that thought it was cute to bolt when his lead shank was unsnapped. (In this case, the second line was tied to a fence post.) It worked after 1 application with the Australian Shepherd and the burro. The Rottweiler needed two tries to make him a believer. I recommend a wide, flat collar. It helps to avoid whiplash. Do not use a martingale, choke, rolled leather, or any other narrow collar, or a device like a Halti or head-collar.

 

Once more: I do not offer this as a routine method for dogs who break stays. There are plenty of less drastic measures that work fine for that. Only you can say whether your dog is so intransigent a bolter that this sort of treatment is justified. Again, What is being taught here is not "stay." It is not to go rocketing after random small creatures.

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^^^ I would tend to agree with this. Make sure she's on a wide, flat collar.

 

 

For just walks, I'd consider putting a prong on her if you've just got her on a short leash - something that is going to be self correcting if she tries to jump up and go like a shot.

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Take the dog out with a regular lead and a long line or rope of at least 20', both attached to her collar. Take her to a place where the problem is likely to occur. Put her in a down and tell her to stay. Unsnap the regular lead, get a good firm two-handed grip on the last foot or so of the long line, and wait. If the Gods favor you, a small animal will frolic past. This is your cue to do nothing but pull in your elbows and wait for her to hit the end of the line. She will probably do a flat spin of 180 degrees and end up on her side.

The amount of momentum that Sennca can build up with a 6ft leash is enough to knock me flying and possibly tear my arm out of socket. You are suggesting that a dog get 20ft worth? That could be serious damage unless you have a length of bungee to take up the worst of the shock.

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Thank you all for your suggestions - I knew I could count on the Board to give me some ideas to follow up with.

 

JohnLloyd Jones - I have to admit misery loves company - that I was relieved to hear that someone other than me has problems, despite lots of training, in controlling the cat chasing! I also have to agree with your concerns about using a long line considering Katie's instant speed although I certainly have not ruled out using a long line if that's what it takes.

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