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Flora & Molly

Puppy training with a child

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A while ago now I met a really nice girl, Indy, of about ten years old when she asked me if she could teach Molly some tricks. Sure she could. Molly never really learned any new tricks from her, but they became firm friends. Now Indy has her own BC puppy, Bobby who is 5 months old. We go on walks together.

On our walk today she told me she thought Bobby wasn't a smart dog and probably would never be a dog who could go off leash. I had to disagree. He is very smart, he's just a baby. Plus, he does listen to her mum and can walk nicely beside her. Of course she sees Molly who is 4 years old and is really focused on me and wants Bobby to listen as well as she does, but that took a lot of training and maturing. 

So I said I would help her out a little with Bobby. As I am saving up to study to become a dog trainer, I thought this would be a nice experience for both of us. (this sounds as if she is paying me - she is not :) ) 
I am scouring the internet for fun training games and I thought I would ask here as well for fun ideas. I want to help them bond and help her teach Bobby some basic manners. But most of all, show her how much fun her pup is (and how smart).

Some of the issues she has are:

- he pulls here everywhere
- recall, she is afraid to let him drag a line
- biting when you touch his harness
- digging: when he finds somewhere nice to dig she has a hard time getting him to walk away with her

I am pretty sure these things don't happen or are more easily resolved when her mother is present. When I held the leash he was much more responsive, so I think she just needs some tips/techniques to become his leader/partner instead of only his playmate.

One of the things I want to do is play a recall game where we sit down opposite each other and call the puppy to us, treats and praise and then the other person calls him over. Rinse and repeat. Fun for the pup, fun for the child and really easy to do together. 

I am looking for things we can do with Bobby, but perhaps also something we can do with Molly to show her how dogs learn - and that rewards are really important. 
I hope you can help me come up with loads of fun stuff ;) 
 

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Short on time so I'll just make 2 comments.

1) It might help her to accept the challenges if she understand that in the puppy's , Indy's also a puppy and just as Indy wouldn't recognize other children's authority over her, the puppy doesn't either. It has to be earned. May be helpful to make some comparisons between the puppy being in kindergarten with his learning and experience while Molly's graduated from college. It might give her a framework for understanding the differences as to where they are in their knowledge base. Maybe ask her how she' like it if someone said she wasn't very smart because they knew a college graduate (or a teacher) who knew more than she does.

2) a fun way to practice recalls is to have the pup going back and forth between 2 people -- in a secure place of course. You could maybe show her how it's done with Molly, letting Molly drag a leash to see it doesn't need to be scary.

Good luck. It should be fun once Indy starts to get the knack of it.

 

 

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the "toss kibble one direction, then when dog's getting it run the other direction and toss/drop kibble there, lather rinse repeat" type game -- Leslie McDevitt's "ping pong" game -- seems to work really well for kids and they enjoy it and are impressed at how much it gets their dogs paying more-constructive attention to them. So maybe that would be a place to start? Dog could be on long line, or just do it over short distances, or something like that, if dog can't be loose.

Good luck, that is cool you are helping here out,

Pat

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I find analogy to be a great tool in explaining dogs to people, and it is very useful with kids, who can easily relate to experiences that they have had. So the suggestion to compare the puppy's learning stage with kindergarten is a good one. Also comparing to sports or playing a musical instrument, learning to read or  whatever that kid does - so that the kid understands learning something a little bit at a time and building upon what has been learned by adding just one more small thing, not expecting the puppy to know it all right away. That if the kid were learning a new things she'd want the teacher to be patient, and would stop wanting to learn if the teacher were impatient......all that kind of thing.

I especially like that recall game when there are more than two people. The more the merrier, as long as everyone gives treats when the puppy comes to them.

digging.....don't let him get to a place where he can dig, would be one solution. Or, if that is impractical then take the yummiest treat along and distract him with that. Most dogs, even who love to dig, would rather eat the treat and then you have distracted him from the dig.

Leash pulling - you probably know how to teach her to handle that. How are you telling her to handle the biting when she touches his harness?  Have you had a chance to observe the interaction and gain any insight as to why/in what attitude he is doing this?

I like to go through the whole protocol (extremely sped up of course) for how I taught my dog to do something, demonstrating in a minute or two what actually took days or weeks to train, but showing the stages so that the person gets the idea of how to break things down into little steps. Everyone breaks things down into chunks much too large at first. It takes a little practice, I found, to break down the stages of learning into tiny enough increments for the dog to continue having success with each step.

I love helping people with their dogs, myself. It is very rewarding. You will have fun and be a big help to this kid and her dog. :-)

 

 

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Thank you all for the great ideas! I will be using all of them. 

So far we haven't been able to do much as it is constantely raining, but with talking and explaining and using Molly as an example we are on the right track.
We've had some nice successes with Bobby (the pup) dragging the leash. Of course a young pup will get distracted, but I was able to show here those moments are great opportunities to teach him to pay attention to us. So we would call him over and play with him when he was distracted by some nice smells.
He did really really well, better than I expected. One smart pup. 

I have used your analogies and that has really helped. Plus joking that I'll take Bobby if she doesn't want him... :) 

About the biting: he has bitten me when I touched his harness to untangle the leash. It's a "don't touch me!" bite/gnawing. He only does this when it takes a little while. I waited for him to calm down before releasing him, but I think that won't be a good idea for a child. Probably practising touching his harness and giving him a treat would solve this pretty quickly.

It is really fun to help her, I am learning how to explain things which helps me understand dogs better. Plus I know my Molly through and through so it is interesting to see another dog and how that dog reacts to things. Bobby has a very different character to Molly. 

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7 hours ago, Flora & Molly said:

About the biting: he has bitten me when I touched his harness to untangle the leash. It's a "don't touch me!" bite/gnawing. He only does this when it takes a little while. I waited for him to calm down before releasing him, but I think that won't be a good idea for a child. Probably practising touching his harness and giving him a treat would solve this pretty quickly.

I have found that making a sharp loud high-pitched yelp whenever the pup bites is often the best approach to curbing this. It's immediately understood by the pup that the bite was too much, because they know what that sound means. I yelp, then move away from the dog and ignore for a minute. Repeat as needed. 

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39 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

I have found that making a sharp loud high-pitched yelp whenever the pup bites is often the best approach to curbing this. It's immediately understood by the pup that the bite was too much, because they know what that sound means. I yelp, then move away from the dog and ignore for a minute. Repeat as needed. 

That's fine for play biting, but in this situation with the harness, wouldn't the puppy just be rewarded by getting what he wants, which is for the person to stop messing with his harness?

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In this case, a person shouldn't stop messing with the harness. I would give the yelp and hold onto the harness for a moment, then continue with putting it on or whatever. If this ends up turning into a little battle of repetition, then I'd crate the pup for 5 minutes or 10, and then go at it again.

Another thought I have is this: is there a reason the OP is using a harness? Maybe your dog doesn't like harnesses. Neither of my dogs do, and will fight them every time, whereas with a collar they are perfectly behaved. Maybe you should just use a collar with the leash and the problem will be solved. Might be worth a try.

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It is not my dog so I don't know why they are using a harness. 

I only go on walks with them and try to help Indy a bit in understanding her puppy and training him. The rest is up to Indy's parents :) 

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Oh, oops ---  forgot!  sorry 'bout that!   Guess I should say - maybe suggest to the dog's owner that she try not using a harness?

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:) that's okay.

Apparently the puppy class they went to wanted them to use it. 

I don't know if he is any trouble when putting the harness on (I'm never there to see it), I feel it has to do with clipping on the leash and all the fun stopping. I'm trying hard to explain making things fun for the dog, especially in recall training. But I only ever see Indy and have only talked to her mum twice and very briefly at that. (I have learned to tone my enthusiasm about dogs down a bit around not-obsessed-dog-owners... don't want to scare people off)

We'll see :) baby steps 

(and I guess if he does put up a fight about the harness at home they'll switch to a flat collar eventually :P)

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If you have learned to tone down your dog-obsessed-enthusiasm, you're better than I!  I am one of those "don't get her started" types when it comes to dogs, especially if it is about training.

I am an introvert; not good at conversation with people I don't know. But I can carry on a conversation with just about anyone willing to talk dogs. (As long as the sub-topic isn't conformation).

 

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41 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

If you have learned to tone down your dog-obsessed-enthusiasm, you're better than I!  I am one of those "don't get her started" types when it comes to dogs, especially if it is about training.

I am an introvert; not good at conversation with people I don't know. But I can carry on a conversation with just about anyone willing to talk dogs. (As long as the sub-topic isn't conformation).

Ahhh, D'Elle, a real dog lover also loves to talk dogs with just about anyone. Just today I had a 15 minute conversation with the  manager of the mobile home park where I live. We were talking dogs, of course, and had to inform each other of every quirk our current dogs have, what medications/treatments we've used for what problems, and at least a brief history of past dogs. I'll have a random conversation about dogs with just about anyone. I do have to restrain myself when conformation comes up, but that's been rare. Most of my conversations are of the 'oooh, can I pet your dog?' type.

Ruth & Gibbs, the Star of Each Discussion

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I don't meet many people who want to hear it :) with the exception of some dog owners I meet on walks.

my friends usually make the mistake of asking about Molly and get a lot more information then they thought they would get :P

My family has a running gag where they quote a book to tell me I am rambling too much. They simply say "interest scale".

The quote is from a book where a sister says it to her baby sister of about four years old: "interest scale, always think about the interest scale. How high do you reckon this would be on the interest scale?"

 

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I'm afraid I have a not so great update on this story.

 

I have a bit of a weird hobby of looking at dogs in animal shelters and on rescue websites even though I can't have a second dog at the moment.
And yesterday I came across a border collie on the animal shelter webite who looked somewhat familiar - turns out it is Bobby, now 9 months old. I was shocked and I just can't stop thinking about it. I didn't see this coming.

I didn't see them a lot, but we sometimes walked together and I answered all the training questions they had. A couple of weeks ago I recommended a really good trainer that has helped me out with Molly. I have a feeling they didn't contact her as I never heard anything after that. I remember I thought he had so much potential when we last walked together. Such a smart dog. Off leash he went a little bit to far away from us and we changed directions and hid so he would pay more attention and he picked it up really quickly. Eager learner.
But I guess the biting had escalated - which started with just the harness as I posted here originally. 

I wish I could do something, I would take him in a heartbeat if I could. Unfortunately my mum, who is my dogsitter, doesn't want to take care of two dogs as she has two of her own already. 
I feel awful having seen this slowly get out of hand. Usually bc's are adopted quite quickly here (or so my unofficial hobby/research suggests)- I just hope he will too, but what are the chances for a dog that bites? 

Sorry, I just had to vent a little. It must have been a very tough decision for them. Poor dog.

 

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Aww poor pup. Hope he falls into a better suited home for him. 

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I am sad to hear this.

Maybe, there's a chance perhaps, that he either won't bite in his new home because circumstances are different, or he will go to someone who can manage that. It sounds to me as if the biting was not aggression towards people so much as it was that as a puppy he had learned that biting was an effective way of getting what he wanted. This could have been trained out of him quickly early on. He's still young enough to learn that, though. I have helped people to retrain their dogs who were behaving that way. I just hope someone finds him who will do that.

I wish there were a BC rescue in your area. If that happened here I could contact the rescue and they would probably take him in.

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Some shelters will work with breed specific rescues. I'd contact the shelter to see if they're open to it and of they are, hook them up with the closes border collie rescue.

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6 hours ago, D'Elle said:

It sounds to me as if the biting was not aggression towards people so much as it was that as a puppy he had learned that biting was an effective way of getting what he wanted. This could have been trained out of him quickly early on. He's still young enough to learn that, though. I have helped people to retrain their dogs who were behaving that way. I just hope someone finds him who will do that.

Yes exactly, I think he learned that people will leave him alone when he bites. The shelter explained it like that on the website so people have all the information. He is great with other dogs and friendly to strangers, so I think he has a good chance to find a nice home. 

If only hey had said something, I would have taken him in until he found a good home, trained him a little. Would have saved them the shelter fee too. But perhaps too difficult to be confronted with your failure when you see me walking him in the neighbourhood. 

@GentleLake We don’t have breed specific rescues here in the Netherlands, or at least not for BC’s. Probably because we are such a small country. 
 

I’d love to start one, who knows, when I can buy a house with a little bit of land... I might :) 

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18 hours ago, Flora & Molly said:

We don’t have breed specific rescues here in the Netherlands, or at least not for BC’s. Probably because we are such a small country. 

I didn't take into consideration that there might not be that kind of rescue option available where you live.

Guess this was an example of what assuming does. (In case it's not readily understood by a non-American , we have a saying here that to assume makes an ass out of you and me.) :P

 

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I didn't know that saying :P I love it though

Can't wait for an opportunity to use it in class ( I'm an English teacher at a high school) I'm sure my students will like it too

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Yay for Bobby!  I hope his new home is the perfect fit.  I wonder if you'll be able to keep us posted?

Thanks!

Amy

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Glad to hear Bobby found a new home. I was coming here to say--and I'll post it in case anyone else needs the advice--that an easy fix for dogs that bite whenever you touch their collar or harness is that you hold a treat in your other hand and treat them immediately after they let you put the lead on. Putting on the lead immediately becomes a positive experience for all, and the pups quickly learn not to be reactive to it. Learned this trick from a veterinary behaviorist. 

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