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Training reassurance needed please!

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Monkeypuppy, May 9, 2021.


  1. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    I'm pretty new to puppy ownership and have a collie who likes to herd cars so we are working on giving him other herding outlets and training a strong settle / stay whilst keeping him away from cars so he doesn't get any practicing opportunities.

    So we're doing a couple of 4/5 minute settles (not on a mat as he'd just hump it) and he has to stay lying down while we do different distractions around him - walking / running in different directions, playing with toys, throwing food etc. He gets fidgety after about 4/5 mins so we end on a high and then we play a one-on-one game like pop bubbles or simple sheepball type of game for aboit 5 minutes. Then he's usually ready for a sleep.

    Just after a bit of reassurance really that this is the right thing to do.

    Puppy is 8 months.
     
  2. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    I'm not quite sure how the 4/5 minutes settle/stay relates to car chasing? Do you mean in your garden where he can see cars through the fence? IMO 4/5 minutes is rather a long time for an 8 month old and I'm not surprised he gets fidgety to be honest. 2 minutes down stay would be more achievable at that age.
    Can you explain exactly what you do when you are out with him for a walk along a road and a car comes by?
     
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  3. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    Twiggy thanks for the response. That's good to know, he does really well in that case bless him. We are avoiding roads at the moment because he wants to chase every single car and is getting bigger and stronger so it just isn't safe. We're driving to the park or woods for all his walks and in the meantime trying to train a very strong settle stay and building up the distractions around him so that we can at some point move to a place with cars. He has a very strong herding instinct so the engage / disengage we have been trying for about 4 months isn't working.
     
  4. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    @Twiggy, I saw it as the first stage of a process that was teaching a solid stay with distractions at home which would then build up to encounters with traffic.
    @Monkeypuppy it sounds like you're on the right lines and doing really well.
    I had something similar with Ziggy, who learnt to sit when a car came by. She eventually learnt to ignore them altogether, apart from at night with headlights on - must have looked like a manic pair of eyes to her.
     
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  5. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Hmm I'm not sure your approach is going to work. I took on one of my late twin sister's collie bitches several years ago now. She was 6.1/2 years old with quite a number of issues. Before my sister's illness this bitch was competitive obedience trained and had won several classes which included a sit and down stay out of sight with about 40+ other dogs in the designated stay ring. There are many, many distractions at obedience shows but that didn't stop the little madam almost dragging me to the floor and a cyclist off his bike. I'd no idea she was a car/cycle chaser and found out the hard way when giving them a run after competing at an agility show. The following day I took her out on her own down the B road outside our property. The first car that came by she flew to the end of the lead as I expected she would. When I saw another car approaching I got in front of her (basically blocking her view), kept the lead short and told her to sit and watch me. After about 30 minutes and quite a number of cars/vans later there was a big improvement.
    Personally I think you would be better to find a quiet lane, preferably with a footpath and wide grass verge, and do the same. Obviously you would have to teach 'sit and watch me' first using plenty of praise and treats.
     
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  6. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    @Twiggy that sounds like a dream but sadly I've been trying this for about half an hour every day for the past 4 months. He is so focused on the cars if I try to stand in front of him he wouldn't be having any of it and certainly wouldn't sit for me. If I tried to offer him treats he would just bite my hand to get me out of the way - cheese, chicken, liver.

    We've got him to the point with the engage / disengage method where he will sit and watch cars at a distance and look away to take a treat from me, but this became the highlight of his day and after some research I discovered that he was probably still getting the herding outlet via watching the cars. Not to mention it was making no difference when we were actually on the pavement.
     
  7. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    @Burrowzig thank you, that gives me hope. If you have any other tips as to what you did I'd be very interested to hear them.
     
  8. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Sorry Burrowzig I'd posted a reply before reading yours.
    My late sister's bitch was dual registered ISDS/BC. Her father was an International Sheepdog Champion and she had a very strong eye. Having said that she most certainly wouldn't have bitten me.
    Have you had your collie from a puppy? If so at what age would he try to bite you?
     
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  9. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    @Twiggy where do you live? Maybe you can come and sort mine out
     
  10. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    I've owned and trained collies for well over 40 years, plus judged, handled and trained probably 1,000s of others so I know their little foibles very well. Whereabouts are you (assuming UK) as I may be able to suggest a collie savvy trainer in your area?
     
  11. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
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    Teaching him to settle while cars are whizzing by with a dog that has a strong herding drive and has shown that car chasing is rewarding isn't going to give the dog an outlet for his herding drive IMO
    The engage - disengage game is the way to go because you are asking them to disengage FOR an opportunity to chase an flirt pole or food thrown on the floor (or whatever the dog actually finds rewarding) - an 8 month old pup has the attention span of a gnat...this game does work, you just need to stick at it right through his teenage bubble so that when he comes out the other side it all starts to build a nice picture.

    Do you have a trainer? Are they experienced with collies?
    Is your dog working, show or pet lines?
     
  12. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    We were both writing them at the same time - you finished first!
     
  13. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    The way I understood it, the things like Sheepball are there to give them the outlet for herding, and the ultimate goal is for them to be able to ignore cars without needing to herd them.

    How long should the engage disengage game take to work - is 4 months + to be expected?
     
  14. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    If @Twiggy only needed to do it for 30 mins to see an improvement and I've been doing it 4 months with no improvement, I'm thinking either I'm doing it wrong or I need to change tactics
     
  15. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
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    How long is a bit of string? It takes as long as it takes tbh, each dog and handler is different so it is unfair to set a time limit really.

    How are you playing the game? What are you rewarding with when he does disengage?
    Do you have a trainer and if so what do they say?
     
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  16. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    We did some online training with a collie trainer who said that engage disengage would only work if they were fearful of cars, and that if they were doing it for the enjoyment that engage disengage would reinforce the behaviour because they are still getting to eye the cars so still getting the enjoyment.
     
  17. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
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    Umm, that is not how the engage disengage game works.
    How will learning to disengage from a car to focus on you reinforce the behaviour of chasing cars?
    Can you give me a step by step list of how you are implementing the engage/disengage game? What are you rewarding with?

    What training are you doing to help keep him mentally stimulated? Just the sheep ball or do you have other games - Flirt pole maybe?
    How is his engagement with you outside?
    What are your plans with him? What will his "job" be?
     
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  18. Monkeypuppy

    Monkeypuppy PetForums Junior

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    So we sit a distance away from cars where he notices them but doesn't react. He watches he's like a hawk then looks at me for a treat (liver) then looks back to the road.

    We feed all his meals using either puzzle toys, scatter feed, hide in boxes, bottles etc. No bowl.

    Yes we use a flirt pole and he knows all his toys by name so he will go find them. In the process of teaching him to tidy.

    His engagement is generally very good outdoors. We're his main focus and he's much more interested in us than he is anyone else or dogs etc.
     
  19. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    I'm no collie expert at all, but reading through, something that occurred to me is that staying still while choosing not to chase is really hard for some dogs.
    What if instead of asking for two hard things, watch me and don't move, you ask for just one of the two.
    So, you can look at the cars but you can't chase them. Or you can move, but you have to focus on me, not the cars.
    You would still start at a distance he can be successful. So however far you have to be from the road for him to be able to keep moving while still focusing on you, start there and build slowly from there.
     
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  20. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
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    Are you using a marker?
    Can you ask him to disengage and/or walk away at the distance that you are working at?
     
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