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Old 08-18-2008, 04:52 AM
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Jessle Jessle is offline
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Default My dog ignores me when out - please help

Hi, im only new to the forum, this is my first post. Sorry if it is long.

I joined up because im having trouble with my dog and was hoping someone more experienced could give me some advice.

Background:
Rusty is a pound hound, I think he is a mix of kelpie and dalmation. He was purchased from the pound as approximately a 2yo (neutered male). This was about 4 years ago, (approx. 6yo now).

I was warned he would be "difficult" but I wanted to give him a chance. For starters he is extreemly excitable. I have managed over the years to get him to stop jumping, but he will still do it to visitors on the odd occasion, and ALWAYS leaps up at strangers he passes when on the lead.

He also jumps up to lick hands which is really annoying, wee's on peoples legs and anything else (read: everything, cars, walls, people, prams - anything within reach) this problem is so bad, I have HEAPS of trouble walking him, as he suddenly darts off to "mark" the nearest object (every metre) and it hurts my shoulder after a while from the sudden jerking motion, we just dont get anywhere.

He is walked on a choker chain, I have tried using a gentle leader & halti but it seems to make him more aggitated - he throws himself on the ground and rips at it with his claws. He also barks uncontrollably when excited, chases my horses and bites their tails.

I spend 24/7 with him (I work at home), im concious of him being part working dog, so I take him out in the paddock each morning and run him for at least an hour, play fetch and prior to exercise I do about half an hour of obedience.

He lives on 25 acres, and has another dog for company. They play for a lot of the day too so he is getting a lot of exercise.

Its seems the problem is that he takes no notice of me when we are out. He knows how to sit, stay, heel and even do tricks, but as soon as we go for a walk off the property he doesn't listen.

Ive tried using treats, but he's not interested when out.
Today when I took him out on the lead he was aggressive towards passing dogs and I have just about given up hope of ever having a "happy" outing. At dog training school they make me put two collars and leads on him, just in case

These are just a handful of the problems with Rusty, there are just too many more to write.

Please if anyone has suggestions as how to get him to listen to me when out, I am all ears. Thanks for reading.
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:38 AM
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Maxy24 Maxy24 is offline
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First make sure you are not asking him to do anything outside that he cannot do very well inside. If you have to go back inside and improve on some commands. Then you need to find something that motivates him when outside in the yard (not on walk, just in the yard), it could be treats (not just made for dogs treats but real meat like hot dogs, turkey, chicken etc.), toys or attention (although most dogs do not care enough about attention for them to work for it). Also start using the command as a life reward. When you are about to go outside ask him to sit, don't go outside until he sits. Ask him a max. of 2-3 times then take the leash off and walk away. Once he sits say "good!", release him and quickly open the door. You can use it on walks, stopping before he walks to something he likes (bush, pole, hydrant etc.) and asking for a sit. You can wait as long as it takes for him to finally plop down that butt and as soon as he does release him to the object. I also finds it helps to make some sort of high pitched noise or popping noise and wait for a reaction (ear perk, turns of the head etc.) and then quickly command the sit because his ears will likely be focused on me. I always start with sit, if he gets really good you can move to something harder. I would make sure he can do things in the yard before trying to make him do things on walks. Does he like to play with toys? You can ask for him to sit before you throw a ball or resume a game of tug.

As for the choke chain PLEASE don't use that. If you cannot hold him on a no-pull harness than use a prong, chokers can cause quite a bit of damage to the neck/spine where a prong will not. All these tools should be coupled with training in hopes that one day you won't have to use them. When using a prong you should not be collar correcting, you simply let the dog walk as usual and when he hits the end it hurts him. I still don't like them but it's better than a choker. If you can find a no-pull harness that works for you then use that instead, it prevents the dog from being able to pull so you can train without getting your arm ripped out.

When he jumps to lick or jumps for anything else you or the person being jumped on should turn your back on him and cross their arms. Both of you should ignore him completely until he stops and then you give attention. He needs to learn he cannot get any attention when he jumps up and gets it when his paws are on the ground. This is for meeting people.

For strangers you pass you need to teach him a "watch me" command that means to look right at you on command. Then when he approaches people you give the command so he must look at you an not them. The other thing you can do requires practice and help from a friend. You should set up a walk situation and walk the dog towards the person. I am assuming he lunges out of excitement not aggression. If he pulls you should walk BACKWARDS, once he turns to walk with you, walk forward again. Repeat and repeat and repeat...and repeat. Eventually you should be able to approach the person without being dragged. THEN shake hands and tell the person to pet the dog. If at any time the dogs pulls or lunges you need to back up again.

For marking I taught my Aunt's dog a "let's go" command that means okay sniff times up lets move on. I simply would say it and then walk forward and the dog would have to come. Of course the dog wears a harness and I don't think I would be comfortable doing it with a prong or choke because then you are hurting the dog every time you do this. So you might say the command and then entice him instead by running around, making a funny noise or using toys/treats. Once you have his attention run forward (obviously don't hit the end) and he should follow.

The watch me command will be really useful for aggression towards dogs as well. I do want to hear more about that. Is he actually aggressive towards them or excited, does he react the same when off the lead?


To tell you the truth with all your problems I would get a good trainer. PLEASE find someone who uses positive methods or even clicker training and not someone who uses collar corrections, requires the dog where a choke chain or prong or talks about being dominant over the dog, those are all people to avoid. I'm not really fully awake yet so hopefully later I can be of more help. Or maybe someone else will help you out shortly! Sorry I'm scatterbrained this morning
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:03 AM
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I would find a good trainer that is used to high drive herding type dogs. Your description would fit a lot of not so trained border collies I have met.

Agility trainers often see this kind of dog, so if there is an agility club, trainer etc in your area call them and see who they recommend.

(Maxy's post is excellent, but I think you will need in person help too)
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Old 08-18-2008, 03:54 PM
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Jessle Jessle is offline
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Hi Maxy and Dekka, thank you so so much for your replies.

I should have mentioned he is great at home with the "heel", sit and stay commands. But has always licks hands etc.

I really like the "look at me" lesson.

The treats I have been using for him have been things like dried bacon, dried meat etc, he's just not interested in when out. I have also tried his favourite toys, with those he will look but not react the same way he does at home.

I think your suggestions of getting a trainer is on the mark. I just dont think I have the capability to train him on my own.

When he lunges, it can either be out of excitement but can also be agression, which is really scary, its only ever on the lead. I have never heard of a prong but will google it and see what they are.

I did try agility training with him but couldn't control him so stopped going, it was physically too hard for me, but I enjoyed it so much I borrowed my friends terrier. She got really good and we practiced a lot at home but unfortunately eventually they moved house, so I don't go anymore

The place I went and did doggy training school endorses the choker, so i'll try somewhere else as suggested above.

Yesterday when out trying to walk him, I saw people going past happily walking their dogs, I just got home and cried my eyes out. I try so hard with training Rusty, put so much effort into him, and it rarely shows. Its taken me 4 years to get him to drop the ball when playing.
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Old 08-18-2008, 04:03 PM
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I wanted to also mention, but forgot, the choker does not work anyway.
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Old 08-18-2008, 05:03 PM
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^^^^^I think we figured that part.

Have you tried the no pull harness? There's a very recent thread here somewhere about no pull harnesses, I think they're really effective on the right dog. They work very similarly to the head halters, but seem to be much more tolerable for dogs.
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Old 08-18-2008, 05:03 PM
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What's your technique with the choker? They have to be kept slack 99% of the time to be effective. The idea is to pull back quickly and then release, not to let the dog pull steadily. It takes a lot of involvement to use it correctly.
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Old 08-18-2008, 05:23 PM
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Jessle Jessle is offline
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Hi Lizzybeth,
I have just seen the no pull harness while googling the prong. I have pretty big doubts about it as he is such a strong dog, not phased by restraints. He actually even sticks his head out and pulls me along in the halti/gentle leader. Although it looks like a good tool for a smaller or easier to manage type of dog.

Hi Boemy,
I was taught to use the choker in the way you have described at doggy school, so yes it is used correctly, unless they are teaching it wrong!!

Thanks again for your replies, no doubt with your suggestions something will work.
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:03 PM
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I would give the harness a try before using pain through the prong, see if it works, why use pain if you don't have to? Just remember the harness does not TRAIN the dog not to pull it prevents him from pulling because it turns his body. Check out this one: http://www.petexpertise.com/index.ph...=29831#petdesc

The head collar leads the dog by the head, most dogs will stop when the head is turned, some don't. The harness actually turns the body, he can't not stop when his body turns, the only problem I can see is him resisting and not actually turning but I don't know how easy that is to do. All I know is one allowed a 14 year old girl to walk a VERY large, boisterous St. Bernard.

The first thing you do need to do is getting him to walk nicely on walks. From there you can work on his other problems. What do you do when he pulls? What happens if you stop? What about when you walk backwards slowly? if you turn and walk in the other direction how long does he remain at your side before running ahead? I can probably help with getting him to walk on the lead. It's somewhat troublesome that he does not respond to any sort of reward outside but you can use life rewards (continuing the walk in this case). does he respond at all to a praise voice? (high, playful and upbeat voice).
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:07 PM
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Some of the harnesses work by turning a dog when they pull. IE see dog, pull to get dog and end up facing mom. Dogs do what works, so if pulling works it will continue.

The issue Boemy with chokers is that studies are showing that even in 'proper' hands they do damage to the neck.

If your dog is reactive I don't suggest the prong. The prong is uncomfortable enough to stop pulling. It hurts if your dog hits it hard going at another dog. The issue is the dog can associate the pain with the other dog-escalating the aggression.

Are there any other agility people. Call and ask for privates telling them you need basic training first.

DON'T feel bad. LOTS of people, even people on this board have dealt with, or are currently dealing with similar issues. This does not make your dog a bad dog... nor make you a bad owner. All dogs are different.
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