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Rescued border collie

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Laura2207, Oct 19, 2020.


  1. Laura2207

    Laura2207 PetForums Newbie

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    Good morning,

    I hope someone who sees this can offer some advice.

    We have a 15 month old border collie who we have rehomed from a farm as he was a 'failed sheep dog'

    he has a wonderful temperament and is a delight there's just a couple of issues currently.

    he has NEVER used a lead. when we first tried one he just lay flat to the floor and wouldn't budge ( he will run for miles when off lead but we don't know him well enough to have an established recall to make this safe)

    Has anyone got any advice for how to overcome this?
    We have a halti/ collar/ harness, he has worn the collar and now the halti with no issue having it on.
    I have attached a lightweight training lead a couple of times and he has started to take a few steps when it's attached but freezes up as soon as i hold onto it.
    When he has taken a step when we hold it we have praised/treated this behaviour.

    It is still early days but this is an important step for us to crack so that's why we are looking for any advice.

    We know he requires a ton of stimulation and already have a training school we want to take him to but obviously we can't get him there when we can't even walk him on a lead!

    Once the lead walking is cracked i feel like with training he will be the most wonderful companion but as you can all imagine it is stressful, though not his fault as he has not been lead trained.

    I don't want him to be fearful of the lead because obviously it's going to be a huge part of daily life and walks.

    Also since i'm posting we heard about dog whistles being used for recall but have never use one before so if anyone has any thoughts on these please let me know also!

    thank you in advance to anyone who responds with any tips!

    Laura
     
  2. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    Try attaching a ribbon or a piece of string to his collar when in the house and just leave him to it and see what he does. He may freeze at first, but should get over it if you carry on as normal round the house. Once he’s used to that then try string that is heavier in weight and so on until you can attach the light training lead to him. Don’t hold it, just let it trail on the floor
     
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  3. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I'm going to pitch in with the whistle, because I have a piece written already that might help.

    To train a whistle, first you have to teach the dog that it is an awesome thing, then by default coming back to you is an awesome thing. So first, charge the whistle (I recommend an acme whistle, easy to replace with the same tone if it gets lost). Simultaneously - that's important - pip the whistle and feed a piece of roast chicken or frankfurter sausage. Do that five times in succession. Repeat that five times in the day (so 5 x 5). Now your dog knows whistle = sausage.

    Do that over several days. Then take the whistle to another room. When you whistle, your dog should be running for his reward. If not go back to the previous step - which is always what you do if a training response fails. Practice in the house for a couple of days and then take it to the garden. Once he is solid in the garden, use it in a low distraction environment outside.

    There are, in my view, three main reasons why a dog doesn't do as you ask. The first is he doesn't understand - so your work in the house to train to this point eliminates that one. The second is that you are fighting a deeply rooted breed trait - there is a reason why we don't use terriers to herd sheep. It can be trained but it's a lot harder. It's the third one that's potentially an issue and that is that the reward or motivation to do what you ask is not as high as the reward or motivation to keep doing as he is doing. So if he is having a ball, chasing squirrels or playing with other dogs, a piece of sausage may not trump that. So, don't set him up to fail by whistling when you think he us unlikely to come back - practice, practice, practice in low distraction situations until he doesn't even think about it. Very gradually try a whistle with a distraction in the distance and eventually, decreasing the distance, you can build up to recalling being solid no matter what.

    And during training, if you think there is a risk he may not recall, use a long line (only ever attached to a harness, never a collar to prevent neck injury) so he cannot fail.

    After a few weeks you can fade the reward. Sometimes sausage, sometimes normal food, sometimes an ear rub. By mixing it up, you will keep his interest - the ”what will it be” factor. Its apparently the same reason why people play slot machines.
     
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  4. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

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    I'll add to JoanneF's post that I think whistles are a great idea. They have the advantage that whoever uses the whistle (assuming it's the same one - or at least the same tone) makes the 'same noise' - ie, the dog doesn't differentiate between different voices which is particularly good for recall, etc. Plus, of course, a whistle will cary much better than the voice - if you've ever tried bellowing at your dog against the wind, you'll know what I mean!
     
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  5. Laura2207

    Laura2207 PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for the replies so far! I am definitely going to try that method with the 5x5 whistle, i think he'll pick that up quickly and it seems a good place to start.

    After spending the day with him today i'v found in a more rural setting he doesn't mind a long lead so much, but he struggles with coming back into the house. I assume this is due to the fact he has always lived outside but he was a lot more settled with us today. He doesn't like roads/traffic so for now we aren't going to push this until he's confident on a lead without any dropping/pausing as we don't want to overhwhelm him.

    He listens to the word 'No' if in a stern voice he instantly stops what he's been doing and comes to your side which i'm happy with but smaller things like 'come here' or 'sit' he's not so keen on, however as I said before we've both decided on training not only to help with this but as as border collie we feel he will benefit from the mental stimulation.

    Also if any of these ideas seem like an adverse plan please let me know your thoughts!
    As being in a home environment is so new to him we are just trying not to overwhelm him whilst still encouraging good behaviour.
     
  6. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I wouldn't be entirely comfortable with this.

    In the first place, 'no' is only a sound, and it interrupts a behaviour. But overused, it can be confusing because dogs don't understand what the 'no' refers to, and it doesn't tell them what to do instead.

    The other thing (maybe someone will explain it more clearly) you want coming to you to be associated with good things, not 'no' delivered in a stern voice.

    Can you give an example of when you have had to use it and perhaps we can suggest alternatives?
     
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  7. Laura2207

    Laura2207 PetForums Newbie

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    He tried to get up to the kitchen side where there was food being prepped so we said 'no' and he got down for us. If there's a better word/way to go about discouraging unwanted behaviour we'd love to hear any suggestions, we just want to do what will be best for him really and what he will understand the most.

    In the house if we call his name he's started to come over to us if we are sitting on the sofa.
    But if we try and get him to come in from the garden/after we've been out he really doesn't want to come inside.
    That said he does seem settled inside, using his bed etc.
    He was very responsive to an noise at first but now he just turns his ear towards it and settles back down. I imagine some noises are confusing if he's lived on a farm he may not be used to them but we feel like he is relaxing more and getting used to whats 'normal' household noises such as doors being closed and cupboards being closed etc.

    sorry i feel like every post i think of something else to ask about or mention lol
     
  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    Rather than ”no” I'd suggest a specific word like ”off”. I know it sounds like a subtle difference but when you start to apply ”no” to other things you don't want, it gets confusing. And I'd use ”off” rather than ”down” because a down is often used to mean lie down.

    Now, your ”off” needs to be a better option than smooching food. So as he is complying, reward. I know it sounds like he is being rewarded for the unwanted behaviour but he really isn't, he is being rewarded for doing what you asked.

    Better still would be removing the opportunity, maybe using a baby gate to keep him out of the kitchen.

    You could alternatively teach him, over time, to go to a ”place” when you are in the kitchen.




    I imagine that is more to do with being a bit unsure of being in the house and will improve. Maybe have him on a long line in the garden so you can draw him in if necessary.
     
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  9. Laura2207

    Laura2207 PetForums Newbie

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    This makes a ton of sense, we will definitely change the word and not be using no in future to avoid confusion as you're right it would be rather confusing!

    Having a spot to go to when we are in the kitchen also sounds good and something we will try now.

    it's good to be pointed in a better direction as well so thanks so much for the help!
     
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  10. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

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    As @JoanneF, as a farm dog he’s probably fixed in his head that he’s not allowed in the house.

    If you use lots of praise, encouragement and rewards, as soon as he’s near or over the door threshold, then he’ll learn it’s ok.

    It’s always harder for a dog to ‘un-learn‘ a behaviour than to learn a new one.
     
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  11. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    and for a sheep-trained dog lie down will mean stop moving.
    And I'd avoid using a stern voice; collies are so sensitive and he's still finding his feet with you.
     
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  12. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

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    I don’t know if anybody else said this, but I think it would be good to start trying to build some confidence in your dog. It’s very hard for a dog to learn enthusiastically if they don’t know that they can do things that please you, and it makes them unwilling to try anything new, for fear of getting it wrong.

    Just give your dog stuff to do that you know he’ll get right, and go overboard with the praise and rewards. If you teach something new, do it in tiny increments that he’ll be able to do and never show any disappointment ( not even a big sigh) if he gets it wrong.
     
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  13. LittleMow

    LittleMow PetForums Senior

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    No advice but just wanted to say the advice above from @Linda Weasel and @JoanneF is great. Made a world of difference to training my dog.

    Not a Collie, (probably other end of the spectrum energy wise :)) but was he very sensitive and building his confidence around training has been really helpful.

    I never yes the word no now when training him (or ever really), found that even if I said it in a jovial voice he would 'tune out' from the session. If he doesn't do quite what I want I don't react at all, if he does he knows :D. If he gets up on the sofa to bark at someone at door I just tell him 'off' in my happy voice, 9 x out of 10 he gets off 1st time.

    Good luck with him and the lead, be nice to hear how you get on :)
     
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