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Livestock Chasing - How do you manage this?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Cleo38, Apr 14, 2011.


  1. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    Yet another problem I need some help with! Recently some young cattle have been put out to graze along the river bank we used to walk. I took both dogs out the other day (I would NEVER let them off lead around livestock) but wanted to walk past.

    Unfortunately Roxy, as expected started to get OTT again which then in turn set Toby off :rolleyes: The cattle were beginning to panic sorather than risk them start to run & make both dogs excitabel I turned round & walked home :(

    Toby used to be ok but I think he senses Roxy's excitement which hypes him up. Stories last year regarding people being killed by cattle make me realise that it's best not to upset them but I still would like to be able to walk past them without worrying too much.

    Is this another case of practising walking past with Roxy over & over again using treats as we seem to do with everything at the moment? I had seen some courses run using sheep win the training sessions but these all seem to be much too far way from me. If anyone knows of any near(ish) to Norfolk can you let me know?

    I really was fed up after the other day as it seems to be one thing after another at the moment. That walks was the one place where I felt ok about letting her off the lead & now we are having to find somewhere else. Every evening & weekend just seems to be centred around Roxy & her 'issues' - sorry to moan but I am just having one of those days
     
  2. Old Shep

    Old Shep PetForums VIP

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    I don't really know much about behaviour training but are there any lanes or roadside walks which border on fenced in livestock where you could take her to get her used to them? It would mean walking them separatly (a pain, I know) and going back to the treating her for igoring them and concentrating on you.

    I got my own dog used to sheep by taking a ball with me when we walked past them. He was so focused on the ball he ignored the sheep and he is still like that today. We live by a farm, though and have access to cattle and sheep all the time.
     
  3. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    I think you were right to be cautious, bullocks especially are prone to eventually forming lines (like buffalo in wildlife documentaries) and moving forward en masse, if you hang around in "their" field. Having a dog about probably triggers them sooner and I think a person was indeed killed by crush injuries, when they failed to get over fencing in time.

    The kind of things you would do to get cows to move out your path, are unfortunately likely to excite the dogs.

    Commercial cattle farming concentrates the animals together to, so unless there's space and you can get by quickly, without the cows & dogs taking much notice of each other, I wouldn't bother.

    I do have Freddie off lead, around deer herds, but there's more space and we pass by with minimum disturbance to them. He's well used to them and stops if they're in the way, or sits with me watching them till they move off. Actually one danger with the toy approach, is that the dog gets too focussed, and you are surprised by unexpected territorial behaviour from the large herbivore.
     
    #3 RobD-BCactive, Apr 14, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  4. Old Shep

    Old Shep PetForums VIP

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    You must take care with sheep in fields too. A ewe with lambs is very protective and farmers and there dogs are often injured. A couple of years ago a very promising trial collie was killed when a ewe crushed hum against a wall in defence of her lambs. A local shepherd here had 3 broken ribs when a tup (ram) charged him.

    Practicing with a fence between you and the animals is the best solution (I think. But the again, I'm not a trainer :)
     
  5. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    I don't know where there are any in fields nearby, I will have to find out & start this again. I sort of knew that this was the only answer - just another thing to add to our list of 'things to overcome' ..... it's quite a long list :(

    I think with two dogs it probably is a bit much if one is hyped up. I couldn't even risk getting some treats out as I didn't want to lose any control at that moment but maybe if it is just me & Roxy (& there is a fence in between us) this would easier

    I think this area should be a 'no go' then for the moment as I would rather play safe than risk injury to any of us, cows included.

    It's actually a river bank with fields to the other but edged with a barbed wire fencing so not something that could be gotten over quickly if needed.

    I think I'm just more fed up as it was a lovely walk & I feel bad for the dogs as they really enjoyed running up & down there. I know that she loves having a run around but de to her issues with other dogs I can't take the risk in a lot of places.

    It just seems that we take one step forward & 3 back some days ...... bloody cows ruining it for us!!
     
  6. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Good point. A walking stick, might buy some time by waving it in a pinch, if you have made a misjudgement.

    Desensitising behind safety of a fence seems wise. I crossed behind one last week, when there were a few too many eyes on us, so I suspected they may approach.

    Super solid recall would be helped by a better reward than food treat, like play that the dog really loves. It's nice when the dog arrives at about 30 mph, with out a trace of anxiety, and is just eager to see what you have in store.
     
    #6 RobD-BCactive, Apr 14, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  7. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    Unfortunately there is nothing quite so exciting as chasing animals for my two :rolleyes: Toby is much better when I am armed with liver cake!

    Although I managed to recall them from chasing some ducks the other day which I was amazed about :blink: But I think with any large animal the 'fun' is not quite so harmless as the animal can either injure one of the dogs or one of the dogs could cause an injury.

    That's why the courses I have seen (one was run by Angela Stockwell in Somerset) would have been brilliant, they looked ideal. I did find one that was nearer but they used citronella collars which I don't want used on my dogs despite assurances that these were effective
     
  8. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    It's a toughie, when you haven't the advantage of beginning by starting right. I think you must have seen this, but I'll link the URL How do I stop my dog chasing? – David Ryan CCAB

    I know now I've inadvertently punished (in technical sense) some behaviours I had in place, by inappropriate rewarding with food rejected later on, where it would have been loved in puppy stage. But Liver cake is good! :)
    I couldn't use too yummy food early on, as it was just too exciting for him, and he'd be over desperately impatient to earn it, getting frantic and trying stuff so fast I couldn't follow it.

    That is great!! You will get there, and be so proud of it! :)
     
    #8 RobD-BCactive, Apr 14, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  9. Old Shep

    Old Shep PetForums VIP

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    I've heard of this, too, but as a tup is stronger and more pwerful than the dog, I don't think the dog would come away unscathed. Farmer friend told me that a lot of dogs are seriously injured this way.

    I don't know how scientific this is, but a friend of mine who has always had collies, exposes them to any kind of furry creature she can find from 6 weeks. Anything and everything--friends hamsters, rabbits, birds. She holds her dog and when they show too much interest she gives a strong "no" command.

    Now, I don't know if it is because of this, but none of her dogs ever chase any kind of livestock. They are extremely well behaved--walkin for miles off lead, waiting at gateways till all the humans have gone through and not ducking under fences. They are also very exuberanyt and lively and not cowerd at all.
    I'm not sure how she does it, I'm as envious as h*ll!

    I'd also like to add that she has never read a book on dog training in her life (but she does take all her dogs to dog training classes and does agility with them)

    I think some people are just like that!
     
  10. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    How I envy people who have dogs like that!!!!! I don't suppose she fancies a bit more of a challenge? I'll swap with her!!! :D

    I completely agree that exposure like that would probably be best but as my two are rescue dogs & had limited walks in their previous homes (Toby was so fat when he came to us through lack of excercise & Roxy is manic through being shut in all day :rolleyes:) so both see any sort of running animal as brillaint fun to chase :eek:

    My sisters pup is just over a year now & she has taken him to many places with livestock from an early age & he too is great with them. I know it's practise again & am always on the lookout for places I can take them to to try & overcome things ..... I don't have a life any more!!
     
  11. Jasper's Bloke

    Jasper's Bloke PetForums VIP

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    Just a thought but would it be worth approaching a cattle farmer with a view to arranging some exposure in a controlled environment? Obviously the end result would be in his interest as well as your own.

    I am sure my dog would chase livestock but on the other side of the fence he doesn't really give them any more than a passing glance. There was one occasion when he did go through an open gate into a field of cows and started to run up to them but he recalled excellently at the first attempt.
     
  12. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    Yes, I did visit a small place last year before Christmas. They were all in an enclosure & I used to walk Roxy past, I think becuase they were all quite calm then she didn't show any interest. The ones the other day were very young & as she was getting a bit excitable they started to become a bit unsure which then made her react even more.

    I might go back to the place tonight & ask where the cows are out & try again. She did get quite good a one point, they had chickens there & she soon got used to them & is fine with the ones we keep.

    I think, for both dogs, they can be fine until there is an element of chase. I would not be confident in my ability to recall them once they had got going - although for some reason they chose to do this the other day, they must've felt sorry for me!!!

    I would've thought these sort of courses for livestock training would be quite popular seeing as what a common problem this can be.
     
  13. Old Shep

    Old Shep PetForums VIP

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    Definatly a gap in the market, there!
     
  14. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    Exactly - some places I looked at charged around £200 & whilst this is very expensive it would be worth it for peace of mind.

    Maybe I am expecting too much of both dogs. We were quite close to the cows who were starting to get twicthy at us being there so I might be unrealistic in my expectations of both dogs.

    With Roxy I am (slowly) getting used to her OTT behaviour yet I always expect Toby to remain calm which is obviously more difficult for him when walking alongside a hyped up dog.
     
  15. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Oh, well they probably think you're nuts! :D
     
  16. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

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    I assume this is a shock collar.

    Delightful :glare: Sorry for not being bowled over with enthusiasm :)


    In response to the OP's question.
    Yes there are places that can "stock train" your dogs. I know of several places Somerset way. However, if you are going to go on this route I would be very careful who you go with, you want someone with a real understanding of why dogs chase, the real reasons (and chemical changes in the brain) that make chasing so reinforcing for dogs, someone with plenty of experience and a dedication to positive, kind training methods (you want to avoid the "just put an electric collar on it!" brigade).

    If you don't want to go via this route I would highly recommend the following book:

    "STOP! How to control predatory chasing in dogs"- David Ryan

    David Ryan is also holding a seminar dedicated to the subject of chase behaviours in June, which might be worth attending if you can get there:
    How to Change Predatory Chase Behaviour in Dogs – David Ryan CCAB

    I also suggest you work on teaching a chase recall or similar emergency stop behaviour.
    Ideas here:
    How do I stop my dog chasing? – David Ryan CCAB

    If you want to proof a calm reaction walking past cattle with your dog onlead; I would suggest, what you mentioned yourself, reinforcing (clicking too?) a calm, non-reactive response to the cattle onlead at a distance from them to start with (where the dog is under threshold). Only decrease the distance between you and the cattle when you have had several good repetitions and then only do so very gradually, offering tons of reinforcement for the right behaviours. If at any point she regresses and becomes reactive and OTT, then you have pushed it too much and the criteria is too high. So take it back to where you were last successful, heavily reinforce non-reactive responses and then increase criteria more gradually. Remember to always set her up to succeed. It can be a lengthy process of desensitization and CC but IMO it is well worth doing, and is a nice gradual process which avoids flooding and thus overwhelming the dog (counter-productive because they become stressed and over aroused and resort to previously reinforced and instinctive behaviours; chase/reactivity etc- what you are trying to avoid!) I have had lots of sucess with this with my working sheepdog, who used to be really spooked (and over aroused by movement) of horses. Most days our walk leads us through a field of ponies and horses and he will walk through the field on his long lead, barely giving them a glance (I guess they are part of the furniture now! :lol:).

    Anyway hope this helps :)
     
  17. Havn't read the replies so dont know whos said what! But cattle can and will stamped and can kill a dog. I have trid to socialize mine with ALL animals - but I still always put them onto a leash it we are in any unfenced areas with any.
    I do - at every opportunity take mine leashed up to a fence to see cows sheep, horses, pigs or whatever! the only problem I do have when at the farm my youngster will dive into the pigs feeder! she aint interested in the pigs - just their food, and it is real sweet to see them rubbing nioses.
    DT
     
  18. 912142

    912142 PetForums VIP

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    Our dogs on the croft were sent away to be specially trained but it might be worth having a chat with the farmer? He may be happy to advise how he trained his dogs.

    If nothing else he may be able to suggest other walks in the area or keep you up to date when and where he will rotate his cattle/sheep to different fields. At least then you will know when to avoid a certain area - which will give you breathing space to find a solution to the excitement issue.
     
  19. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    Thanks for all the advice. I have read the David Ryan book & has just sent an email to the link regarding the seminar. Liverpool is a bit far but I've asked if other venues may be scheduled.

    I agree that socialising them from an early age is best but unfortunately I don't think anyone bothered doing much with Roxy. We have an ever growing list of 'things Roxy needs to be exposed to' - the latest one is joggers!

    I have actually mailed a local farmer today & have explained my problem & asked if it would be ok to walk past his field a few times with Roxy (I think Toby would be fine if she was calm as he always used to ok) - he's probably going to think I'm nuts!

    It's mainly potatoes & sugar beet round here but there are the odd field with sheep & cattle. I've just bee told that the sheep should be grazing on the opposite side of the river soon which will be handy as we can see them every day but at a safe distance. Roxy will be leashed just in case she decides to jump in & swim across to them .... I wouldn't put it past her :rolleyes:

    NOTE: I chose to ignore the post regarding the shock collar - that's something I defintely WON'T be trying!!
     
    #19 Cleo38, Apr 14, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  20. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

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    livestock, joggers, squirrels up trees....it all boils down to the dog giving in to its natural prey drive - which is what you need to get under control.

    old schoool stock breaking only works if you have a dog who you can get to focus on you! before you try it i would suggest lots of work on "watch me
    " and "leave it".

    another solution would be to have the dogs on longlines when going near the cattle. that way they can still run but you have the ultimate control to reign them in if their recall is not too good when distracted and fixated on what they see as prey.

    the final option is to avoid walking near the cattle all together! remember, farmers still have the legal right in this country to shoot any dog worrying their livestock on their land!!!
     
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