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Ok I need some help. This has all manifested itself in the last week or so.

 

I have a 4 month old Border Collie, Dexter. He has a good obedience foundation and is attentive in the back yard, at the park and even around other dogs. But just recently, I have been loosing control of him. If he sees a squirrel (or a squirrel equivalent) even in the back yard he's gone. When i let him outback in the morning he will run from tree to tree barking. There is nothing I can do. He will not come to me and he couldn't care less about his favorite ball. I live in the city and this is irritating for me and both my neighbors.

 

We where at the park today and there were two guys playing tennis. He ran the fence chasing the ball. I could not catch him and even me running away for quite a distance did not distract him from the ball. I finally had to get the guys to hold the ball so I could get a leash on him.

 

I thought I would try to use this as a training session. We moved away from the courts and started doing obedience with his favorite treats, but as soon as the guys started playing again he was totally focust on the tennis ball. Even a quick snap of the leash did no good.

 

I need a dog I can trust off leash. If I can't take him to the park and throw the frisbee and let him run around I don't know how to exercise him enough.

 

The thought of using heavy correction on a 4 month old dog seems wrong but i am not sure what else to do.

 

this is not a problem of him being bored or under exercised.

 

Thanks for you help

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Try a long line on him so you can physically reel him in when he ignores you. Take him outside in the yard instead of letting him outside to irritate your neighbours. Engage with your dog, and stop letting him make his own fun. Right now other stuff is more rewarding than you are, and every time he is rewarded for the behaviour you don't like, it makes it more attractive. If he can't ever do it, it will lose its appeal.

 

RDM

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I would agree if Snappy, I have 5 dogs who I can take anywhere off leash but that happened through LOTS of training...you need to put the time into training to be reliable off leash.

 

#1 Rule) Coming when called is NOT an option, the more you are setting him up to be un-succesful and run off, do his own thing...the more he is figuring out this is great fun and he doesn't have to listen to you..

 

#2) LONG LINE....this pup needs a reality check and you need to be able to enforce the come if he doesn't listen....if the flat buckle tug on a long line isn't having an effect...use a prong collar..he is young, but coming reliably off leash is a SAFTEY issue and he could get hit by a car while chasing squirells or get in other trouble..

 

Alot of young dogs go through a period where you or yourself or what you have to offer(treats, toy, whatever) just isn't as cool as chasing things, etc...hence consistency, patience, and a "come to jesus meeting" are in order...

 

Remember..you want to set your young guy up to be succesful, so keep him on a long line for longer than you think you need to..working in distractions, etc..

 

Stick with it and you'll have a wonderful, reliable off leash partner...

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I had the same idea. I bought a long rope yesterday but it gets tangled up too easily. I need to get something else.

 

MrSnappy so you are saying that keeping him from chasing squirrels he will eventually loose interest in doing it? That does not seem right. I have seen where keeping a dog from an activity and creating frustration in the dog increases their desire for that activity. Like securing a dog to the fence at a herding trial or putting the frisbee up before the dog gets board with it.

 

Conversely i have been making Dexter sit and look at me every time a car goes by. Now he has no interest in them and if I forget he keeps running in front of me and sitting until I remember, so I guess it worked there. This is so frustrating.

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we have been having "come to jesus meeting" of late :)

 

 

 

 

I would agree if Snappy, I have 5 dogs who I can take anywhere off leash but that happened through LOTS of training...you need to put the time into training to be reliable off leash.

 

#1 Rule) Coming when called is NOT an option, the more you are setting him up to be un-succesful and run off, do his own thing...the more he is figuring out this is great fun and he doesn't have to listen to you..

 

#2) LONG LINE....this pup needs a reality check and you need to be able to enforce the come if he doesn't listen....if the flat buckle tug on a long line isn't having an effect...use a prong collar..he is young, but coming reliably off leash is a SAFTEY issue and he could get hit by a car while chasing squirells or get in other trouble..

 

Alot of young dogs go through a period where you or yourself or what you have to offer(treats, toy, whatever) just isn't as cool as chasing things, etc...hence consistency, patience, and a "come to jesus meeting" are in order...

 

Remember..you want to set your young guy up to be succesful, so keep him on a long line for longer than you think you need to..working in distractions, etc..

 

Stick with it and you'll have a wonderful, reliable off leash partner...

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are saying that keeping him from chasing squirrels he will eventually loose interest in doing it? That does not seem right. I have seen where keeping a dog from an activity and creating frustration in the dog increases their desire for that activity. Like securing a dog to the fence at a herding trial or putting the frisbee up before the dog gets board with it.

 

Your dog may always be interested in chasing squirrels, but if he realizes he is not going to be able to do it, he's less likely to obsess about it. You should never wait for the dog to become bored with an activity for you to decide to stop it. You are letting him make the rules. YOU control all the resourses. YOU decide when game time starts and game time ends. YOU have to be the most interesting thing in this puppy's life. Right now your puppy is finding ways to entertain himself and the more you let him practice/get away with that, the harder it will be for you to break him of it.

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While I am in complete agreement about training a reliable recall, I would just like to point out that he is only 4 months old. I was still working on recall with both my dogs at 4 months old and they were NOT allowed off leash at that age. (And I do live in the city, too.)

 

A long line is your best training tool at this point, IMO.

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While I am in complete agreement about training a reliable recall, I would just like to point out that he is only 4 months old. I was still working on recall with both my dogs at 4 months old and they were NOT allowed off leash at that age. (And I do live in the city, too.)

 

A long line is your best training tool at this point, IMO.

 

My thoughts exactly!

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Yes, I have to agree that 4 months is waayyy to young to have a reliable recall. Keep the long line on. I went to an outdoor store that sells climbing equipment and bought 40 feet of light line (4 or 5 mm diameter) and then tied one end to a snap bought at Lowe's. I have not had a problem with this line snarling up.

 

Not to worry, but a lot of dogs go through the terrible 'teenage years' when they are anywhere from 6 -12 months old. Every dog varies in maturity. Maybe your pup is precocious and is hitting his teenage years early. Or maybe he will go through another phase when he wants to test you as he gets older. :D

 

Maybe someone can chime in on the Premack training principle. I have only read about it, but would it be helpful in this situation?

 

Jovi

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There is A LOT more to exercising dogs than just throwing a frisbee ;)

 

For the rest, remember that you've got a 4 m/o puppy - he's going to be a work in progress for the next year or two! You shouldn't really need to do "come to Jesus" meeting at this point in time.

 

As far as squirrel chasing goes, don't put him in a spot where he can obsess about squirrels. They get obsessed when they see something that they want but can't get. But out of sight = out of mind. So don't let him out in the yard alone. When he goes out, you're with him. Get his attention before you take him out, engage him and keep him busy while you're outside.

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If your rope gets tangled, could it be that it is too light? The absolute best check cord (long line) I've ever had comes from LL Bean. It is thirty feet long and quite sturdy. It's like $18 plus shipping, but it's well worth it.

 

 

I just bought the LL bean Check Cord. I doubt i could make one for $20.00 with free shipping. It looks like a good deal.

 

http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/43023?feat=sr

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Maybe someone can chime in on the Premack training principle. I have only read about it, but would it be helpful in this situation?

 

Jovi

 

I can see Premack's principle being very useful with getting a reliable recall. And probably with squirrels too.

 

The trick is to end coming when called a reinforced activity. Right now, it's a bit punitive. Dexter has to leave the totally cool, awesome, best game around of fence chasing a tennis ball to go back and possibly sit still or, worse, walk away. Well, that's no fun at all, so why in the world should he come? Conversely, what if you told him to come and then chucked a ball for him to chase as soon as he gets within arm length? That would certainly make the game of come a lot more interesting, especially if you mixed up the game a bit and had other reinforcers so he doesn't know which one to expect. Then, once he is coming reliably, add a bit more criteria, such as come and sit.

 

FWIW, I know KZ has a fantastic recall, but I keep her on a long line most places because I would never forgive myself if anything were to happen. Maverick is going to be 5, likewise has a fantastic recall, and, because of where we live, doesn't get off lead privileges either. I trust my dogs, but I'm going to let something stupid happen to them.

 

As for the squirrels, I'm thinking it would be okay to checking the trees or walking up toward them as a type of reinforcer for being calm (almost like you would allow a dog to keep working sheep if it kept it's head and didn't go nuts... pardon the pun). Something like this: put Dexter on a line and go out to the backyard. If he starts bouncing around and getting excited, just let him flop around on the line without saying anything until he calms down. When he finally does (and a sit would be nice) start walking toward the trees again. If he gets excited, stop and wait. He can check the trees as long as he's calm. You might have to take some steps backward to put in some distance when he's flopping. I would also do other things in the backyard to distract him a bit from just searching for squirrels once he starts being calm, and it has to be something that he values more than the squirrels, i.e. calm = squirrels, excited = insert activity).

 

 

BTW, here's Premack's Principle in a nutshell: Make a less probable behavior (something the dog doesn't have much interest in doing) more likely by following it with a more probable behavior (something the dog really wants to do). Conversely, you can also make a more probable behavior diminish if you follow it with a less probable behavior.

 

The advantage to Premack's Principle is that you are using the dog's own natural inclinations to attain your goals, and it can be used to heighten your dog's value of you in situations where the dog may be too excited or stressed to take treats or be distracted with toys.

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Hi Roscoe ~

 

I'm not sure allowing Dexter to obsess on squirrels while on a long line would work, but ... maybe it can. However, I suspect it might be like letting my girl, Gael, stare at cats while on a long line. She would have laid there and do it for 30 minutes or more, because the long line would mean nothing, if it wasn't doing something punitive. But I'm sure the PP works, it's just whether you can implement it.

 

As for me, my monster was our Aussie girl, Ash. By 4 months old, she had turned into a total BRAT about her recall! :unsure: We'd never had a puppy who so completely refused to come! She didn't obsess on things, thank goodness, but she would just look me square in the face and turn and run away from a recall. Why should she abandon all the fun she was having, simply because mean old Mama said to stop?

 

The thing to remember (and I'm sure you know) is that your pup's obsessions are self-gratifying and self-perpetuating, so you need to find a means of breaking the cycle. I'm all for a little tough love, when it comes to something that may save their life, later on.

 

I also used a long line with my Aussie girl. Furthermore, I tied a wooden "handle" on the end of the line, so if I couldn't get hold of it, or if she pulled it from my hand, I could stomp on the trailing end and it wouldn't just zip out from under my shoe as she ran. It took a lot - a lot - of repetitions and a lot of dry work in places where she couldn't escape from me. (Our little fenced orchard was great for that.) But over time, a couple months or so, she finally gave in.

 

Plus I gave her treats, every time she came and every time I physically hauled her in on the end of the long line. Replacing squirrels with a game of ball might be a good suggestion, too. :)

 

This sort of thing is not only annoying, but it is truly a matter of life and death. Four months seems to be an age where pups may start testing their boundaries, as well as your determination, so it's important to break the bad patterns now, before he starts applying that same obsessive behavior to other things. Because he very well might.

 

Best of luck with your little rascal!

 

~ Gloria

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Just to give you an idea of the age/maturity issue, Hannah is 13 months old, and I still will not have her off lead in an unfenced area except a park that is often vacant, is three or four soccer fields big, and is far back from any road. Often her only distraction is deer poop, but don't discount that as a high value lure. She blew off a recall for it once. Usually when someone comes to the park during the day it's either a couple who wants to walk the track, or someone with a dog. Both are good practice distractions, and yes, I still have to get her attention and keep it before she becomes too interested in the newcomers, and I still snap the check cord on her collar or harness once we are not alone.

 

I fully expect to work on and shape Hannah's recall in a myriad of settings with diverse distractions until she is at least two years old. I'm not saying you can't expect a dog to have a solid recall before then, but I am saying that for me personally, it's just too important to trust completely until the dog has some maturity. This is the reason I use a check cord. I drop it and let her drag it while controlling her with my voice, but if she decides to ignore a command, I can save her from herself by reeling her in.

 

I also use "here" to call Hannah closer when she is off lead and getting too far from me. She can still have fun and run circles around me, but she is at a safer distance. It's not quite the rigid command to come, so that way I am not diluting the "come" command. When I want Hannah directly in front of me, the "come" command means get over here to me right now!

 

I hope the check cord works as well for you as it does for me. That LL Bean one was a great find for me.

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DVD, "Really Reliable Recall" - available from www.cleanrun.com

Absolutely the best training video I've watched (and I've seen a few!).

 

Disclaimer: It is NOT an overnight fix!

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

 

I did it with my youngster from 8 weeks on, and TODAY his recall is excellent.

That said....he did go thru a "teenage" period, when I wasn't so sure, though his was at about 9-10 months of age.

 

diane

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DVD, "Really Reliable Recall" - available from www.cleanrun.com

Absolutely the best training video I've watched (and I've seen a few!).

 

Disclaimer: It is NOT an overnight fix!

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

 

I did it with my youngster from 8 weeks on, and TODAY his recall is excellent.

That said....he did go thru a "teenage" period, when I wasn't so sure, though his was at about 9-10 months of age.

 

diane

 

 

This looks like it would be good. I 'wish-listed' it (amazon.com sells it as well).

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It's all about you, the owner, being the center of their world. You should be the most exciting thing in the universe to them. Grady is HIGH drive and super motion sensitive. He can be on a dead run to a squirrel or even running with a pack of dogs and he comes instantly when he hears his name. Lucia....well....not so much....she is a work in progress, but I'm almost there. She is now six (WOW, already?!) and until the age of 5, was let to self reward for chasing squirrels and feral cats from the yard. As long I see the distraction first, I can keep her under control. If she's already in chase, I can only call her off about 70% of the time. Not good enough, but getting there.

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Mary's point bears repeating. You can't let the dog dictate when an activity is done. The frisbee ALWAYS goes out of reach before the dog looses interest. You ALWAYS stop a training session before the dog looses interest. You always stop feeding the dog before it looses interest. Etc., etc.

 

Also, be careful with longlines. My suggestion would be to have the dog wear some kind of harness to which you can attach the long line. The idea is that if you have to step on it while the dog is running, you won't break the dog's neck.

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Also, be careful with longlines. My suggestion would be to have the dog wear some kind of harness to which you can attach the long line. The idea is that if you have to step on it while the dog is running, you won't break the dog's neck.

 

This is an excellent suggestion and bears repeating. I prefer to use a harness myself with the line, rather than a collar. It is much safer for the dog.

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Dexter saw sheep for the first time. From my novice perspective he did great. He was under control and even listen to me, witch I was completely surprised about.

 

Dawn Boyce said Dexter seemed to have some natural ability and instincts but the caveat was that at 4 months she said it was to early to tell for sure.

 

We both had a great time.

 

Thanks for everyones input.

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#1 At 4 months he is a BABY with a still developing brain and changes every day...I would not define bratty behavior at this age as a predictor of his adult behavior. Argos is 20 months old and I am just now comfortable practicing his off leash skills in quiet areas with only minimal distractions. We are still working our way up to the more distracting areas and I expect he will be 2 or 2.5 before we are ready for that. Plus, he is a boy and imho will be slower to mature than a girl.

 

#2 I don't think you will never be more interesting than a squirrel or flying tennis ball, or frisbee. What you can teach him is that engaging with you will get him access to those things (aka Premack or the CU game Give Me A Break which is easy and very useful to do) so that the idea of engaging with you will get him happy and excited as he anticipates the others...this takes time and training and will not happen with a leash check.

 

#3 You need to limit his exposure to the things that drive him batty to a distance until you have worked with him long enough to establish the training you need. Right now the stimuli is overwhelming him and shutting off the thinking area of his brain, start by working far enough away he is aware but not reacting to it. He is a Border Collie and genetically predisposed to be aware of changes in his environment much more intensely than other breeds. Luckily, hes a Border Collie so he can learn quickly and generalize well!

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He is a puppy. It'll be a long time before he's reliable off leash. Patience :) I do have to disagree with some of the other posts. It IS possible for you to be more interesting than a squirrel or a pack of dogs. It takes time, training and most of all trust. Look into Susan garrett's 5 minute recall class and the other training methods beople have suggested.

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