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I'm a new BC owner and Addy is just now 5 months. She has begun stalking moving objects and although her favorite is our other dog, she loves to stalk cars while out on walks especially in the evenings with headlights coming at her. AHHHHH!! Not good. From what I've read I think I want to train her to drop, stay, then come. But what should I do and how do you teach all of that when her attention span is the length of my little finger when she is in "work" mode right now?

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She must be kept on leash for her safety and to ensure that you can enforce your requests. Training a behavior that interferes with the unacceptable behavior is a very good way to go with this. Make sure you mean it - commands are commands - don't get into the habit of nagging.


Watch her and the second you see her notice a car, ask for a "down". Do what you need to, to make it happen. Don't confuse the issue with additional commands - down in this instance means wait for another command. If you do or will do formal obedience and want to reserve "down" for lying flat, distinct from staying until released, then use another command for this - like WAIT or LIE DOWN or NO CAR.


Don't let her lie down and continue to "eye" the car as it goes by - make it clear that her job is to lie down and pay no attention to the car. It's ok to correct her for looking at the car, or reward her for paying attention to you instead, or preferably both.


So, DOWN (or whatever) means, in the context of the car coming, lie down without paying attention to the car. Don't worry that you're making it too complex - border collies are capable of understanding much more complex instructions conveyed in a single whistle note.


Then when the car is gone, tell her she's a good girl (but don't let her up yet) and give her another command (heel or come or whatever).


Eventually she may be so conditioned to this sequence that she will respond to a car coming, by lying herself down. That's just fine - obviously that's a good thing to encourage. Don't let her decide when to get up however. Otherwise there might come a time when she downs herself at a distance for one car, then gets up to return to you and runs in front of another car. :eek:

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i did this with my molly, too, when she was a

pup, because she showed an interest in

passing cars. it worked, too, and pretty

quickly. it was a command i was very

consistent with, and eventually molly began

offering the behavior. today, i don't make

her do this with cars, and she shows no interest

in chasing them, either. i also make her sit

before we cross a street and she has to offer

eye contact before we move. this was something

we learned in obedience class, and it's really

useful. if we hike off-leash in the woods and come

across a "road" (gravel, or a bigger trail,

even) she will stop and wait for me-- mostly.

good luck with your dog.

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I too have had much luck with teaching my Maddie to ignore cars. She was eyeing them at 12 weeks. So EVERY SINGLE car that went by I'd hold a treat to her nose to catch her attention and ask for a sit. I'd hold the treat at her nose until the car was past and then tell her how good she was. It does slow things down considerably especially on a busy street but it's worth the effort. Only a month later I had hurt myself and a friend took Maddie out on her long walk without prior knowledge of how to handle her around cars (very stupid of me to have forgotten to mention that :rolleyes: ) but anyways the first car that went by, Maddie sat and waited without being asked and without a reward. This continued throughout the walk. At about 5 months I started ignoring her when a car would drive by, she'd try to sit but since I kept going so did she. Now at 7 months we can walk easily past traffic. The only time Maddie will concentrate on cars now is if one making a lot of noise goes by. The practice with sit is great too,I have actually dropped her leash when I wasn't paying attention and a car was coming, I just said sit in a firm tone and she waited while I ran at her to grab the leash. Jeez I make my self sound like some kind of bad dog walker!!! I too have her stop at each street and sit before crossing and she does it on her own now when she's on a flexi lead and out ahead of me. One thing I didn't have to use but could be useful to you in case the sit/down doesn't work is trying a 'watch me' command. I read that to do this you hold a treat infront of your pup, snap your fingers at their nose and immediately draw your fingers to your face and maintain eye contact for a few moments. Practice at home until your pup understands completely then when a car passes snap your finger and command 'watch me'. I don't know how useful this would be, I think the sit/down is probably a much easier way but maybe watch me could be used when trying to shift between always sitting and just ignoring the cars. The only other thing I read about BC's and cars was that if you have a really car crazy pup, it's best just to avoid traffic completely until you have the dog firmly under control. This sounds like it could be difficult though unless your walking your dog at 3am or live out in the middle of nowhere! Anyways good luck, I hope things work out very well.

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  • 3 weeks later...

You have to give her a reason to want to look at you. You have to be more interesting than a CAR. Handing out really, really tasty treats (like bits of cooked chicken), in rapid succession if necessary, is a good way to get the upper hand over your CAR opponents. As others have pointed out, over time you can use less and less valuable treats, and eventually fade them completely. But for now, the onus is on you to top the attraction that CARS provide for your high prey drive dog, who naturally orients to fast moving things. You're asking her to go against her instincts, so you have to make it worthwhile.


Don't ask for too much at once. You say that when a car comes along, you want her to: (1) give you her attention; (2) drop; (3); stay; (4) come; and presumably (5) not return her attention to the car afterwards. Start at the beginning of this list and don't ask for the next step until the one you are working on is solid.


Also, many people find that their dog has a certain speed above which moving objects become interesting (I'm guessing your dog ignores stationary cars...what about 5 mph?). If you can identify that speed, start by working around cars moving below that speed, then gradually around faster and faster cars. I remember reading about one person who sought out streets with low speed limits to work on this skill with their dog, then gradually moved to streets with higher and higher speed limits as the dog got more reliable. Slick, eh?


The idea is that you shouldn't really ask your dog for more than she can do at any given point. Set her up for success, and the training will proceed more rapidly.


Have fun. It's really quite satisfying when you get the hang of how to gradually reshape your dog's behavior without the dog really noticing what's happened (because you just let the dog do what made most sense at each step of the way).

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