Jump to content
BC Boards

Chasing bikes, joggers (long, kind of specific)

Recommended Posts

Hello all,


First, I would like to thank everyone for their contributions to this site. I've lurked for a long time, learned how to find a pup, and solved just about every puppy issue I could think of from reading these forums.



Second, my dog is Pivo--a 19 month old male who is living large in the city that care forgot (New Orleans). He is from working parents, and is pretty much a wonderful ideal pet for our family. He is actually pretty laid back in personality, very sweet and loving and has learned lots of things in terms of house manners, city manners and safety, and silly dog tricks that are just fun.


Our only "issue" (and it's not a terrible one per se just getting more annoying and worsening) is walks. Initially, Pivo pulled on the leash. An easy-walk harness and a loose leash command solved that mostly (the loose leash command isn't super strong and the harness solved our problem and I didn't press the issue, i.e. Mistake #1). He also, as a little puppy jumped at certain points in the walk (the same points oddly). A firm "Let's walk" command and maturity solved that issue.


Now, the walk: Our walk is about 4 miles (sometimes as much as 6) in the Garden District in New Orleans, so a touristy area with lots of people, distractions, traffic and such--especially right now as we are entering the high season. We have always walked this route (before Pivo), and while I never assumed that simply "walking" Pivo would be enough mental stimulation for him, he seems to really enjoy seeing all the different "sights" and smells of the city. Plus, it's great exercise for all of us.


Around a year old, we noticed Pivo crouching and lunging at joggers, but ONLY when they were coming toward us (coming with us was fine). He also got agitated at bikes on the sidewalk (like his owners for what it's worth). Then, bikes on the street, then mopeds and the most hated of all: skateboards. Mostly, it occurred when people were coming at us, but it's now extended beyond that. He also now hears the streetcar on St. Charles Ave. and gets agitated. He anticipates certain streetcorners as well and lies down in advance of bikes, joggers.


Now, I realize this is NOT new Border Collie behavior, and I've read lots of forum posts on herding instinct/prey drive. So, in the last several months to a year, we have tried lots of things.


1. Putting him in a sit/stay, which sometimes works. Give lots of treats when it does. Problem is that something that is a really BIG trigger, I feel like he'll actually make the mental decision of what is more "worth" it.


2.The "Look at that Game"--Pivo is really food motivated, which is helpful. But, I had trouble finding a target "look" that was either a trigger but not TOO much of a trigger to train the command. I thought I had found one in the vacuum cleaner, but it's slow going. Not to mention, LAT only works when I have treats (he knows when I have them, too!). If I don't then he makes the decision that it's not worth listening. I should note he has a good recall and good self control. I got him to drop a found piece of funnel cake at 6 months old!


3. The "let's walk" command kind of works with treats, but again, with this and the LAT game, I feel like I'm "bribing" him constantly. It doesn't feel like positive reinforcement. Also, I feel like he's running the cost-benefit analysis in his head. A lower trigger means he'll take the treat (jogger). A higher one, forget it (skateboard, moped).


Here's the real kicker in ALL of this:


He ONLY (more or less) chases on the walk. If these things pass in front of our house, we get no response. We often stop at a bar during our walks (the longer one's) and when Pivo's in "bar" mode (we live in New Orleans, so, yes, our BC has a "bar" mode), he doesn't lunge either. We often praise him then as well and he looks at us like "What's the big deal?"


Is it possible that he sees the walk as "work"? I realize we've made some mistakes here, and I thought this was improving (it wasn't--it was just winter and there were no tourists). This isn't a huge issue as when my husband accidentally let go of the leash on a busy street with triggers, he stopped and looked at us immediately. And, he doesn't chase cars (thank goodness). But, I am open to any suggestions--minus a prick collar. I am sure I would do something wrong there.


Thank you in advance, and I apologize for this being so long!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't personally use the LAT method for this problem because he is fixating on the moving objects. It's prey drive, part of being a Border Collie. I would actually correct him for looking at those things. (Correction can range anywhere from a verbal "Ah!" to removing him from the situation.) He needs to learn to ignore them ("leave it" command). It's no different than a young Border Collie wanting to work sheep and completely ignoring the commands of their owner. It's not acceptable. Period.


I don't often jump to a head halter, but in a situation like this I think it would be a good idea. The head halter would allow you to physically direct his eyes away from the objects he is obsessing about.


For a leave it command I start with food. I hold a yummy treat in my hand and tell the dog to "take it," then hand them the treat. Next I will say "leave it" and not allow them to have the treat. As soon as the dog stops trying to get it I will say "take it" and let them have it. I practice this until the second I say "leave it" the dog turns it head away and ignores the treat. Once you are at this stage, start to generalize it. Practice with toys and other desired objects. Once he is reliable with a variety of food, toys and objects, use the command when you see him looking at something he wants to chase.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2.The "Look at that Game"--Pivo is really food motivated, which is helpful. But, I had trouble finding a target "look" that was either a trigger but not TOO much of a trigger to train the command. I thought I had found one in the vacuum cleaner, but it's slow going. Not to mention, LAT only works when I have treats (he knows when I have them, too!). If I don't then he makes the decision that it's not worth listening. I should note he has a good recall and good self control. I got him to drop a found piece of funnel cake at 6 months old!


In order for LAT to help you out with this - and I have successfully used LAT to work through this very issue with a dog who was highly motion triggered - you do need to find something to work the game on that will catch the dog's attention, but not put the dog so far over threshold that he or she fixates. This will give your dog the opportunity to really get the feel for what "I see it, but I need not concern myself with it" is like. When this concept clicks, the rate of progress can really skyrocket.


You say this only happens on walks. Can you play LAT if joggers/bikers (edited) are going by and you are sitting in a parked car together? Or as dogs play near your dog at a park or something? Sometimes it takes a little planning, but something that will catch the dog's attention but not throw the dog into fixation can almost always be found.


Once that happens, you will need to practice until you don't need treats for LAT. If you always need treats, then he doesn't fully know the game yet, and it needs more work.


If you are interested in getting some more tips on using LAT to address this, you might want to check out the CU Dogs Yahoo group. There are tons of archives, and you could probably quite a bit of information to round out your LAT skills.


Finally, in order to round out a CU approach to this, make sure your whiplash turns are rock solid. If your dog won't reorient to you when you speak his name in a normal tone, then solidifying that skill will also go a long way to helping your dog really get the LAT concept.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pivo has a "leave it" command. I don't have to use it much because he knows (in just about every other context) what to not get into to. The one exception is Mardi Gras when I'm constantly telling him to "leave" all the random junk on the ground. I'll try that on the walk today (leaving soon), but I'm sure the command could be reinforced. I'm also worried our specific application for leave it might not register in this walking context (Piv is funny about those types of things--we have various commands for the same basic behavior in slightly different circumstances).


As for finding a trigger that kind of gets him going, that is why I thought the work the vacuum cleaner would be a breakthrough. But, the vacuum isn't on the walk (it's made vacuuming WAY easier, though). As for being in a parked car, no dice. If we're in a car, he could care less what goes by. Now, I MAY try the "look" command with the streetcar. Lately, he's been following them because they sound like mopeds. Also, he wants to make friends with dogs, but it's not the same things for him, so going to a dog park wouldn't work. Also, I thought of circling him with our bikes while one person holds him and play LAT. But, again, if we not "on the walk," he doesn't really care. Thus, the search for a "kind-of" trigger on the walk.


I've tried also hiding his eyes from triggers, but he can hear them.


I'm willing to consider a head halter, but I'd like to leave that as a last resort for now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As for being in a parked car, no dice. If we're in a car, he could care less what goes by. Now, I MAY try the "look" command with the streetcar. Lately, he's been following them because they sound like mopeds.


OK, so he doesn't care when he's in the car. What if you are in the car with him on leash with the window all the way open? If he doesn't care about that, what if you are standing next to the car with him on leash?


At some point between "in the car" and "on the walk" there is going to be a point where he starts to notice the joggers/bikes/etc. That's the place you want to work your LAT. Short sessions at first, high rate of reinforcement. Then you can raise criteria, alternately, by paring down on the reinforcer (after you transfer to verbal marker) and/or moving closer to being on an actual walk. When you are able to see, by the expression in his eyes, that his attitude toward the moving bikers/joggers/etc. is changing, then you can raise criteria.


Edited: I had mentally flipped "bikers and joggers" with "cars" in my response, and have fixed it to reflect the actual situation. Sorry about that! I pretty much have mashed brains by Friday afternoon!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could be completely off base here, but I'm not sure I would use cars as the LAT "pseudo trigger." If he ignores them, doesn't fixate on them, or chase them, I might not want to be drawing his attention to them, since car chasing can be such a huge problem for some BCs. What about something like a person pushing a grocery cart?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could be completely off base here, but I'm not sure I would use cars as the LAT "pseudo trigger." If he ignores them, doesn't fixate on them, or chase them, I might not want to be drawing his attention to them, since car chasing can be such a huge problem for some BCs. What about something like a person pushing a grocery cart?




That was brain fade on my part. You're right - I wouldn't generally use cars to build on the game, either, unless cars were part of the actual issue at hand.


I have edited my response to reflect the actual scenario. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope I am able to say this correctly. LOL


Which did you try first the LAT or the sit stay?


By doing LAT could you have by accident taught him to be even more focus/excited by the trigger?


When you did sit stay was his focus on you or his triggers?


You mention having a bike... have you ever taken him biking? Did he have the same type of reactions?


I know there are way more experience people who have dealt with this type of problem.


With my girl. I made her break focus and lay down till the stimulus had passed. Or depending on what was happening I just picked her up. If she was already fixated I used my SCARY GROWLY voice and explained a down means down. No question asked and no excuses. But she is soft and that generally would break her focus since her person just turn scary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello all!


OK, post-walk report. Did a 7 mile one today (did I mention we like to walk?). Since there is French Quarter Fest AND nice weather, lots of triggers and a frustrating walk. "Leave it" did not work well. I can work on this specific command more and try again. His "Whiplash turn" is also something we could work on.


I should note that the "on the walk" element is a BIG deal. Pivo knows the difference between all these things. A "walk" means specific clothes and our baby being carried on my back or in the stroller (why someone pushing a cart is not a good pseudo-trigger, btw--too similar).


We tried sit, stay first, which means we may have worsened the problem after all (his focus was still on triggers, though we tried to MAKE him look at us, cover his eyes, etc), but we have been trying LAT for about 7 months in total. All of these triggers are just too over his threshold. Again, though tonight, we stopped at the bar. A motorcycle AND a bike passed at the same time (as well as a bike outfitted with a motor!). He saw them and watched them. He didn't even get up. In "bar mode," none of this matters (or not much).


Feel like I'm failing BIG TIME at BC owner here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does he like toys?


If you see or hear a trigger coming can you start playing with him or get his focusing on a toy?


I mean there are a billion methods out there.


I know if we are off leash and a person come pass all the dogs get put in a down and we grab a toy and start playing. Most time they never see the person since the toy is out.


This last time we were at a park by ourselves so all the dogs and my pup was off leash. A jogger came running in. I saw her coming. Generally I have my toys with me but I left my toys at the park entrance. She caught my puppy attention since he loves all people. When he started to run over I took off running the other direction acting like I was having a blast. Lol my pup did a whiplash turn to come back to me. The adults never left my side but they realized I was gonna do something.


PS my dogs would love to be taken on a 4-7mile hike daily.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You may find you need a head halter to reinforce the leave it command when he fixates. Commands must be enforced or the dog will realizing that obeying is optional. A head halter is not the end of the world. You should not be yanking his neck with it. The point is to simply prevent him from turning and fixating on objects.


PS, a family member used to live in the area. One of my BCs used to go stay with him for visits from time to time. He always got more beads than the ladies during Mardi Gras. :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You realize a problem exists, and are looking for a solution. I don't see that as being a failure. You're already on the road to success.


I felt like a very fortunate dog owner when my Border Collie, as a puppy, bolted out the front door as a car was passing on the residential street in front of our home, and literally brought it to a stop, standing boldly in the headlights. I called her back to the house, and she returned to me easily with a big smile on her face, as if to say, "Look what I did; it was easy." I tend to agree that Pivo may be seeing the misbehavior as a job, as I'm certain that's what I was seeing with my Josie. Pivo evidently has learned to be off-duty at the bar.


I took Josie on long-leash (10-15 ft) walks in places where I expected to find cars and other triggers (bikes, joggers, skateboards, etc) passing by. Tried to find areas where the triggers were present, but not constant. The routes you walk sound over-stimulating to me. Far too much for a reactive dog to deal with. Would it be possible to alter your walk during training to find areas where you will see occasional triggers, but not a steady stream?


I gave my dog "lie down" commands when we heard or saw a car or other trigger. She was expected to down off the roadway or path. At the beginning, the leash was kept short, and as I began to trust her, I let her roam a little further on the leash. If you are able during counter-conditioning, probably best to not have babies/children/other dogs with you, so that you are not distracted, and have both hands free. I gradually changed the command to "car" for any trigger. The issue about lunging at joggers, is worrisome, so you may want to stay away from areas where joggers/skatboarders are frequent, and use short leash, until you have things more under control.


Should something come as a surprise, and there's no time for a down-off-the-sidewalk command, would a "look-at-me" command together with food reward work ? So that my dog would not confuse the "look-at-me" with another stockwork cue, we decided on "regardez", shortened from regarde-moi -- that should go well in N'Orleans.


Another type of desensitization involves having your dog on leash in a sit-stay as a qualified trainer who knows this exercise approaches in a very controlled environment from quite a distance and accompanied by a trigger (could be a dog, jogger or somebody on a skateboard) . I can't recall the terminology for this exercise. Perhaps a BC Board member knows. The moment your dog offers any little sign of calming itself as the scary things approach (looks to the side, mouth relaxes, looks at you, etc), you offer food, and magically the bad things turn and go the opposite direction. It helped us. Don't try this on your own, as it has to be done correctly.


For many reasons, not necessarily associated with misbehavior on walks, I obtained herding instruction. I can't express how important a part of both our lives stockwork has become. It's for both Josie and me, equally. I believe, as a side-benefit, that it helped suppress Josie's urge-to-herd inappropriate things/animals/people. It's not for everybody, but something to consider. Agility and other dog sports would no doubt serve the same purpose.


In event you are in fact seeing instinctive herding behavior coming to the surface in Pivo, it won't be quick or easy to fix. But keep at it. If you don't see improvement soon, I would recommend locating a qualified behavioral trainer. As you know, Pivo is worth it. -- Best wishes, TEC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pivo sounds a lot like Tucker, who is 13 months. We live in the country, and when I take him into the city, he gets way over stimulated. As far as barking and lunging, his triggers are other dogs and squirrels, not joggers and bikers. He gets very aroused in general and pulls on the leash like crazy, trying to sniff and get to EVERYTHING all at once. He also has a "bar mode," although we don't get to use it at bars. :) I finally realized that walking him down busy city streets, with all the traffic, noise, people etc. is just too much for him right now. So I started walking him on quiet streets, in parks during the work day etc. Sometimes we'll just spend a half an hour in the same corner of a park, walking and sniffing and working on loose leash walking, until he seems less aroused. I know this may not be an option for you, living in the city.


Have you tried Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol? You can find it on line. Basically, it's a series of "stay" exercises where you are focusing on relaxation, not obedience. You start by doing it in the house, then gradually move it outside, to more and more stimulating and distracting environments. A woman on a list I'm on used this very successfully in what sounds like a similar situation to yours. She lived in a big city, where there were always 500 things happening at once and her dog was reacting to things. She started by doing the protocol during times of the day and in places where there was not much going on. Because she lived in such a big city, she had to do this during the wee hours to start. But gradually she was able to increase distractions and now her dog can walk through the city with 500 things going on and be relaxed and not react. The protocol has been great for Tucker. If he starts to get over aroused, I just launch into the protocol and he relaxes. Since Pivo has a "bar mode" and is capable of relaxing, this might work really well for him too. If he started to get over aroused and you went into the protocol, maybe that would lower his arousal on walks.


Another thing you might try is Grisha Stewart's B.A.T. training. She has a book and several videos. Basically, it's kind of the opposite of what TEC mentioned -- the dog approaches the trigger to a distance where they are under threshold but noticing the trigger, and then you stop, and then when they offer some type of calming behavior, you turn and walk away. This has worked really well for Tucker's triggers too. I was just doing it with horses yesterday.


Although I think it's a great technique and use it with my other reactive dog, I have not had huge success with LAT with Tucker because he gets SO over aroused by his triggers. When I was using a cue for LAT, as soon as i said the cue he would go into a high arousal barking and lunging fit, in anticipation of seeing his trigger! So now I do not use a cue. He's getting to be calm enough to do LAT sometimes now, but before he was just too over threshold when he saw a trigger.


Don't be discouraged. Getting past this reacting to triggers takes time, but I am definitely seeing progress with Tucker. I think just lowering arousal level on the walk really helps.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

post-15012-0-77329300-1365864552_thumb.jpgGood morning all!


Thank you all for your detailed responses!! You all have no idea how much I appreciate the help and ideas.


I think, for the moment at least, LAT is not for us in this context. Pivo is just too overwhelmed. Like Howling Farmer's Tucker, Pivo actually anticipates certain streetcorners on the walk and "gets ready" to be triggered. It HAS really helped the vacuum cleaner hatred, however, and I will continue to use it in those contexts.


We're going to try some of our relaxation techniques and I may try to squeeze in some early morning walks (which sounds daunting considering how much we already walk!). Part of the reason I realized we needed to do something is the re-appearance after a major absence of triggers. Not only is it Spring, but HIGH tourist season. French Quarter Fest is this weekend and Jazz Fest is coming too, meaning there are people EVERYWHERE (and there is a moped rental placer about a mile from us). We live about a half-mile from the Garden District, so you see the issue. The head halter may be necessary until summer comes and the triggers subside.


Pivo's first interaction with toursits was actually pretty funny. He saw a tour group in front of the Benjamin Button movie-mansion and was SO confused! He couldn't get why they were just standing in a big group. We also had a scare in the French Quarter over Christmas. We didn't realize someone had opened a Segway tour company, and there was a huge group coming straight toward us once. We all panicked and started to turn when they did. Can you imagine? This has, however, started MANY a joke in my household about the city of New Orleans hiring Pivo to herd unruly tourists! The funny thing is, tourists lately have been the worst about petting and touching him without asking (all the while saying what a handsome Australian Shepherd he is) :angry: .


If all else fails, does someone know a trainer in this area? I am also open to him training on stock. His breeder trains and I'm sure would be happy to do so. She's in Mississippi, but it's not too far from us. There just is, like always, the issue of time. We're dedicated to working on this issue, though, and I'll come back and report as things progress.


Thank you all agan!



P.S. I've attached a photo of Pivo in "bar mode"--from yesterday's walk!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have advice to offer you beyond what's been covered here already, but I just wanted to say that if stopping at a bar during my dogs' walks was a possibility, we'd probably get out a whole lot more . . . :lol:

Laura, you're a woman after my heart. Glad I'd already swallowed my tea when I read this.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

There has been a lot of great advice so far and I can only add what has worked for us.


We had the same problem with our Ollie. We rescued Ollie at 7.5 months and he had never been trained or walked. He has a very high prey drive and displayed very intense lunging etc (as you describe) around cars, bikes etc.


TEC mentioned the "Lie down" method to control / calm the dog. This was recommended to us by a professional trainer who works with Kelpies and without doubt this has proven the most effective for us. A head halter (Gentle leader) was seen as too dangerous as he would literally try and twist his own head off when excited.


Like you the problem was worse for approaching traffic so Ollie would be walking on our left with oncoming traffic (the road) on our right - so we were between the dog and the road.

Although Ollie was very reliable in complying with the down command under minimal distraction, we often had to stand on the lead to enforce it when he was in a heightened state. So if he was not instantly dropping, we would stand on the lead as close to the clip as possible, effectively "pinning" him close to the ground. This enforced the command (As Liz P says is crucial) but also restricted his movement so that any self rewarding behavior (attempting to lunge etc) was removed.


If Ollie was not struggling we would be reinforcing the good behavior with lots of praise (goooood boy, gooood dog) and he would be rewarded with a treat after the car/bike passed and the walk would continue. If he struggled he was held down and made to stay until he calmed (after the car/bike had passed) - no treat obviously.


We worked on this 3 or 4 times a day walking around our streets for a month solid and before too long Ollie was dropping of his own accord the minute he saw approaching traffic - needless to say we were thrilled with the outcome.


A couple of things to add:


- the down command needs to be assertive, yet calm.

- be careful not to stand on the clip (we were warned that this has happened to people who accidentally un-clipped the leash with their foot!)




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...