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Aed ran on to the road

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OK, how's this for a stupid mess . . .

 

Three years ago, we were removing a window air conditioner and my husband wanted me to pass a dog out the window to him. Of course I grabbed Sammie (who was 12 at the time) and handed him to my husband out the window.

 

Well, he put Sammie down and Sammie immediately took off - my husband had left the gate open and Sammie flew right out the gate!!!

 

Of course, he went to look for Sammie down the road and they were gone for . . . a while.

 

I finally decided to join in the search, but as I started down the driveway, Sammie suddenly appeared, looking rather dazed and confused. I called him and he seemed to recognize me and came and let me put him in the house.

 

Well, it turned out he got ran over by a horse and buggy!!! He got excited as he was running down the road (back when he could still run!!) and as the buggy came by, he ran right up to it, the horse's back legs ran into him, and under the buggy he went.

 

We were lucky he was perfectly fine and, except being a little disoriented for a while, he was perfectly fine!!!

 

Yeah . . . stuff happens.

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I have generally the same concerns about a head halter as Roxanne posted. But they do tend to subdue behavior a bit simply by wearing it so it may be useful here if used in conjunction with the rest of training. Another idea *very short* walks where you walk to just before where he might start having issues. Calmly praise him and take him back inside for a treat. Maybe try lots of those instead of longer walks for a couple weeks

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Before the headhalter I'd honestly use a prong - but I don't think even that's really necessary or a good idea if he's flat out lunging and going nuts. My suggestion for management there/the ability to keep him from practicing is a traffic leash/training tab/shortest leash you can get away with having that keeps all four of his feet on the ground.

 

No. It's not fun. No, it's not much exercise for your dog, but not having an end of the leash to hit/being able to gain momentum can gain control for you and it keeps him close enough that it might reduce his ability to 'check out'.

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Yeah, but the problem still exists even when he's on a 6 foot leash and you're not working on it, right?

 

I know it's incredibly hard to manage, but you have to be aware of it and working on it at any and all times when there's even a remote possibility that a car could come near. "Near" meaning closer that what his threshold distance is. When you say things like "he could not care less about the jerk when he gets to the end of the line..." it sounds to me like you've had enough instances where this has happened that it's what I would call repeated opportunities.

 

I'm not criticizing you. I know how hard it can be. I have a dog who's reactive to other dogs even when she sees them on TV. I have to be alert and ready to respond in an instant because there are tons of TV commercials with dogs in them. You have o be like that with cars.

 

Mara responded while I was typing. My concern with a head halter is that if the car's going in the other direction or that he pulls to the end of the leash you might cause some damage to his neck if he lunges like you say he does in a leash. If you decide to try one, please be very careful, and work with him at the under-the-threshold distances that you know are safe for a good long while until both you and he know all about the head halter and its effects.

 

Please read this article before making a decision about trying a head halter: http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/problem-head-halters

 

We have had experience with him lunging and hitting the end of the leash often simply while walking. Not because of cars. Not while we're training. Just because he is so excited that he runs and hits the end.

 

We begin asking for his attention the moment we can hear a car coming, continue to ask for behaviour or treat when we have his attention the whole time the car is passing and leaving. We stand in between him and the car, keep the leash incredibly tight so he can't even lunge, just rear up on his hind legs. We use high value treats and take any opportunity we can to stay back from the road. If we "wait him out" with cars passing and continuing to pass he will work himself into a frenzy, barking, scrambling, and will not stop as long as cars keep coming.

 

Most of the time, cars are passing constantly and it's impossible to keep his attention. Even when cars are not passing constantly the sidewalk is too close to the road when we're actually trying to walk somewhere. We use the quieter streets but downtown nowhere is quiet enough. We don't ever take long walks unless we drive somewhere quiet enough. The minute we get outside we hit a busy street.

 

I'll look in to the head halter. I've thought about it before, but always decided against it. If it's necessary, though, I'll make it work.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms. Chene was concerned that a Victoria trainer wasn't "certified". She should know that if "certification" has any meaning at all it's that the Certified One subscribes to a particular set of beliefs about dog training. "Certified" in this instance is analogous to"Southern Baptist" or "Unitarian". If she restricts herself to "Certified" trainers, she will exclude many trainers who are very good at solving the problems she describes.

 

Donald McCaig

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It seems like every post there is more information. Gotta admit that it's confusing me a bit. Last night when you first posted it sounded like he was taking off after cars and now it sounds like a walk on a sidewalk is a major deal. So can you lay out - What exactly is the problem? When does it start? (at the apartment entrance? when you step onto the sidewalk?) What exactly do you do to build focus and engagement with you away from the road? (in the apartment? in the apartment hall? as you get to the door to head outside?) How do you correct/redirect/calm him down outside of the sidewalk/car setting? FWIW, He really doesn't sound hard headed from what I've read. He sounds over threshold and not able to think. Which means he needs to be redirected or corrected *before* you get to the sidewalk. And that the goal of calm sidewalk behavior needs to addressed/worked on in every context of life right now.

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^^This. It's impossible to give meaningful suggestions without sufficient information to base it on.

 

Agreed that in general you need to work on the over stimulation and self control. Suzanne Clothier has articles about self control training on the same website as the head halter article. There are numerous others online as well. I'd recommend M. Shirley Chong also to see what she might have written.

 

If cars are a specific trigger, then you have to take him somewhere where you can reach a distance from them where Aed can be under threshold -- at least if you want to use desensitization and counter-conditioning and you want it to have any hope of working. Not what you want to hear, but there it is. Disregard it and you're guaranteed frustration and, most likely, failure.

 

Another thing you may want to consider is that because border collies are so sensitive to sound and motion, some few (certainly not all or even the vast majority) are just entirely too sensitive and are constantly too overstimulated in urban environments to live in them successfully. I'm not saying this is the case with Aed. I think he's too young and hasn't yet had the proper desensitization and counter-conditioning yet to determine this, but it would be a good idea to at least be aware of the possibility. Do you have opportunities to take him out of the city into less stimulating environments (the kinds of places you'll need to take him to work on cars)? How does he act then? Can you get his attention well enough there to do some training? This could tell you a lot about how environmental stimulation affects him.

 

And also, because he's still so young it may be too early to consider this, but it might be worth asking your vet about the possibility of medication. For some dogs it's the life saving difference that allows them to calm down enough so that the brain can actually engage enough so that training measures can be effective. I've known many border collies in rescue who's lives were dramatically benefited by medications that enabled them to focus and actually be helped by DS/CC. Most were eventually weaned off the meds or at least had them drastically reduced. Nearly all have led better, happier lives as a result. ETA: Natural substances such as melatonin, L-theanine, etc. may also be useful.. Pet Naturals makes a Calming Treat that I use frequently with an OCD boarder border collie, and melatonin is a staple here for thunderstorms. I wouldn't hesitate to use either -- or to double the dose -- for a training situation like this. You may have to try more than one of these to see what works best for him; not all dogs react in the same way.)

 

Lots of things to consider before deciding on more physically drastic measures.

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I'll add my support to the information/advice you're getting here. Aed is not under threshold, and in order to work with effectively with him, you need to find a way to get him calmer.

 

Please consider medication, even if for the short term.

 

It's frustrating and even frightening, but it's the only way to get where you want to go. It sounds very challenging, I know, but it is in service of making all your lives easier and better.

 

Good luck,

 

Ruth and SuperGibbs

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CptJack's suggestion of a much shorter leash can make a big difference as well! I tend to loop ours over my thumb at the length I want her to have when walking in busier areas.

 

All of the advice to take Aed to a much quieter area to work on this, as well as self control training, is very very good as well. It's not impossible to work through this, but it can take a long time and a lot of work and it's best to make it easier on yourself and Aed to start achieving small successes.

 

Before the headhalter I'd honestly use a prong - but I don't think even that's really necessary or a good idea if he's flat out lunging and going nuts. My suggestion for management there/the ability to keep him from practicing is a traffic leash/training tab/shortest leash you can get away with having that keeps all four of his feet on the ground.

 

No. It's not fun. No, it's not much exercise for your dog, but not having an end of the leash to hit/being able to gain momentum can gain control for you and it keeps him close enough that it might reduce his ability to 'check out'.

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He sounds very similar to my pup. Taz has a very strong desire to chase anything that moves. He was lunging like a crazy dog at cars while on leash and this is the only time I felt I had to use a physical correction.

 

I always believe in giving a dog the chance to do the right thing, so at first I used “Leave It” and tried some desensitizing. I think desensitizing works great for a fearful dog, but for Taz, it was like trying to desensitize him to a delicious steak dinner...Not going to happen. I escalated to some leash corrections and firmer “Leave It's”, but he was unimpressed.

 

So it was time for a zero tolerance policy. Next time he lunged, I gave him a hard leash correction, grabbed him by the scruff, pinned him down and verbally gave him hell. Enough that someone who was walking with me was shocked and thought I'd lost my mind. But it only took a few times for him to get the message that this behavior was simply not going to be tolerated. He's not stupid and he knew exactly what this was all about.

 

Now at seven months, he still has an interest in cars and his favorite part of our walk is when we go along a busy street where he can eyeball them. But he wouldn't even think about lunging at them. In fact, his leash manners are at their very best along busy roads. I wouldn't trust him off-leash around cars for sure. But like you, I don't have much need for that and think it can wait until he's more mature before working on it.

 

As for a trainer, I would not allow anyone to administer this type of correction to my dog. I think it's best coming from someone he trusts and has a relationship with. In fact, I'd consider it a betrayal of trust to hand him over to a stranger for this.

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How about a drag line and a very snug prong collar. Chasing cars is life and death. I'd do one correction and really make it count.

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I just wanted to update this thread as it's over a year later. Warning: It will be long. So here's a timeline of events for anyone else that happens to be reading with the same problems with their dogs. For anyone who doesn't know, Aed was 5 months old when I posted this thread.

 

December (5 months): This thread was posted in December. A few days after the posts we went back to my parents' house for Christmas. Their backyard is open to a fenced off ravine/hill/field type area with trails and that was where Aed had his walks, he barely saw a road for the month that we were there, so we took a break from the car training. Not the best thinking ahead, but we were exhausted and exasperated and needed the break.

 

January/February/March (6-8 months): After we got back in January, we did some LAT work but it never really caught on, he just didn't value the food enough compared to the world around him. We found out that our apartment building had a small fenced area we didn't know about, so we brought him there to go to the bathroom and drove anywhere we were going with him. At the dog park we used a long line (well away from the road) or more often stayed on the beach below. I have no idea if there was much improvement since he never got a chance to show it one way or another.

 

April (9 months): A couple of months later we happened to move away from the busy part of the city and into an area where he had a backyard instead of leashed potty breaks, and where there were few cars when we did go on walks. Now, when I say he had no chance to show us if he'd improved, that's not entirely true. The parking for the dog park is on the street, so he's leashed when he's let out of the car and previously, we had to really make an effort to keep his attention away from the road and on the dog park, even for those few seconds. But after a little while we started to notice that he wasn't even paying attention to the road when we got out of the car, he was focused on the park. At that point, we started letting him play just a little closer to the road (still on the long line) to see how he reacted. Again he didn't notice the cars. Note: He was still really bad on leashed walks.

May/June (10-11 months): He still had a threshold distance where he would notice car, but we kept him under that and tested the distance every so often, and it was decreasing. By June he could be within ten feet of the road and as long as he was on the long line (as opposed to the leash) he didn't care about the cars. He was also just slightly less crazy on leashed walks. The normal sidewalks were horrible, but if the sidewalk had some grass and trees between it and the road then he wouldn't lunge, he would just stare and getting really amped up. At that point we decided to try letting him off leash again at the dog park. His recall was great and we kept a tennis ball on hand just in case (it's the highest value thing we have for him). We started with him dragging the long line but after a couple of weeks took it off entirely.

 

July/August (12-13 months): At that point I went back to my parents' house for the summer. They live in the suburbs where virtually ever sidewalk has grass and trees between it and the road. Again Aed didn't go on a lot of leashed walks in that area but overall he had pretty much no chance to see cars while on leash, and there were no dog parks near the road.

 

September (14 months): When we came back I did a longish walk with him on a sidewalk right beside the road (my only option to get to the lake I was going to) and he was amped up but that was it. He noticed cars but I could draw his attention away pretty easily.

October (15 months): By the end of October or so he got used to walking beside the road and stopped showing the slightest interest in cars.

 

So all in all it took about 11 months for him to grow out of it, but he did, with very little intervention on our part aside from managing. I know that we could have done more, worked really hard with the LAT or even tried an intense correction, and those may have fixed the problem faster. Or maybe they wouldn't have. This is just how it worked out for us.

End story.

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We are blessed with this problem at the moment. Being a dog trainer myself doesn't help much with the progression really. My pup is 5 months old now. At 3 months he wanted to chase but was also nervous when cars went by. I started long line work to get him focused on me on walks. (Not car related but helps with off leash and engagement training). He started to be able to handle cars at a distance. I walked him on the road and when a car was coming I would pull him aside and down him. He learned this quickly and would walk off the road and down on his own. (Impressive but not an end goal). We did some flooding type training where we found a field near a busy road. We did a nice walk on the long line (working on our bubble of space to stay in) and then went 15 ft from the road and played tug etc. I downed him and we sat in the grass 10 ft from the busy (constant traffic) road for 45 mins. Yes he's a super smart little pup and didn't try to get up once but watched them. Then I released him and he walked around sniffing things with free liberty to chase if he wanted to but didn't. He is now 5 months and we are doing leashed walks next to a car going 5mpr etc and then that same car doing 5mph past us. I think with Herding type dogs there is a little of the "it got away!" Or " I pushed it away" working. So the constant exposure to a slow moving car helps. I'm not against a firm correction and we may go that way as he gets older but a few things we are doing now that have helped if anyone is interested.

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