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Farm Dog Resolutions- Better Obedience!

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  • Farm Dog Resolutions- Better Obedience!

    Stella, my fabulous dog, will be undertaking the New Year's Resolution of listening better and more rapidly. She is a fairly obedient dog and I take a whole lot of pride in the fact that she really, truly is one of those dogs that can go ANYWHERE and not make a fool of you or herself. She and I have been through basic obedience class and a little agility. She knows all the basics, but we have a little bit of an issue with a "in a minute" type attitude. This is my fault way more than her's (though, she has an independent streak 10 miles wide), as I don't practice with her and don't insist on stuff as much as I should.

    But this needs to change. We've had some delinquency issues and I feel strongly that a lot of them will be fixed if I just get her listening and responding quickly. Here's the issue. Stella is NOT food motivated. She likes toys, but loses interest rapidly (especially when she catches a whiff of something chaseable in the air), and while she likes to be told she's a good dog and get a good loving, she doesn't LIVE for my praise like a lot of dogs do. This makes getting and keeping her attention very, very tough when she is distracted by the things she considers far more interesting (running and sniffing). SO, any tips on making MY ideas seem like great ideas to Stella, too?? Especially taking into consideration that most of the things that work on other dogs don't really work on her?

    My three big things that I want to really work on are COME (this is above and beyond my biggest command and one that has the biggest "yeah, yeah, in a minute" response, STAY (or more specifically, you don't need to sit like a statue, but you need to stay with me, here in the barn or the ring and not sneak away when you think you have an oppurtune moment), and some sort of attention getter command like, what I've been using WATCH ME (to get her mind back on my and not on the deer she sees across the pond). I have found one little treat that she really seems to like and I had her responding better this morning when she knew I had it. I also, in the COME, am trying hard to make it more like a game. When I call her, treat at the ready, I try and get her to chase me, even if it is just me moving a few steps backwards as she approaches. Any other ideas??

  • #2
    If you want your dog to COME, park yourself. Use a long leash, the training type , then when you reel her in, if you must, reward her. Treat, pull toy time, whatever is HER idea of a reward.

    STAY should mean just that. Don't move! Again, it can't be accomplished in one or two sessions.

    HEEL is the "stay with me", word, it takes leash work, and again constant reinforcement. Of course then you may find yourself tripping over her every other stride.

    All of this should involve constant reinforcement. So, if you can, schedule your chores with extra time built in, so that you can pause and get the correct response each time. I know it will seem at first that you are forever stopping what you are doing and instituting a mini-training session, but those are the ones that work best.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


    • #3
      I will probably get flammed for this. But - I have a dog like you described - not food, toy, or praise motivated when it comes to "Come." For every other command he would do flips just to have a smile sent in his direction. He is my other half : )

      Anyway - after doing the long-lease routine (he was smart enough to figure out when he wasn't wearing it) food, toys, chase me - everything - I borrowed a friend's shock collar. She is does field training (ducks) with her dogs. I think Come is a essential, no if-ands-or-buts command. It can be a life-saving command, especially on the farm. So after trying other methods for about a month and a half, the collar was a good option. I used it in the following way: one day I said "Come" twice, and he continued to sniff, dig around, he got the lightest shock. After two shocks (with a "Come" in between) he figured that this was scary - and came running. Repeat three times (once more that day, twice two days later) and that was all that was needed. He has a very strong come - five years later.

      Now I will caution - my boy is very smart, and *clearly understood*what he was supposed to do - it was just more interesting to ignore me. Using the shock collar on a dog that was confused would be abusive and unfair in my opinion. Since they are fairly expensive and you (hopefully) won't have to use it often, it might be worth poking your nose among some local trainers and see if they'd let you borrow it -


      • Original Poster

        In, Stella has a shock collar! I have yet to use it for this type of training (more for bolting after deer). Your dog sounds very, very much like Stella. I'll think about utilizing the collar for this, as it might be what it takes, sadly. We'll play some more first.

        merry, thanks for the suggestions, however this is FAR more basic then where Stella is at. She knows the commands, knows the proper way to respond (she is actually VERY, VERY good at heel, especially off leash), she just really thinks my ideas are a little silly, especially when there is so much to do that is more fun. I can guarantee that if I went back to a long line with her for come, she'd come immediately, 100% of the time....reward or no.


        • #5
          Yellowbritches--you need to watch "It's Me or the Dog"! I've gotten hooked on this show even though I no longer have dogs.... This lady's voice really kind of grates on me but then I don't have to listen to her! Here's info on the show: http://animal.discovery.com/tv/its-me-or-dog/index.html .

          Sign up to have her come out and evaluate your dog! I think the first thing she'd do is throw away that shock collar!

          I can't believe the transformation she has made in the majority of the dogs she works with! I am just astounded! Some of them just look like they're beyond reclaiming to me but she manages to get them (and their owners) under control and keep them that way, even when she leaves them for good!
          "None of us can move forward if half of us are being held back." ~Anonymous~


          • #6
            Have to agree with IN. You need to be able to "reach out and TOUCH her" at ALL TIMES to get the idea thru her head that obedience is not a choice or optional.

            I have done Obedience training for many years, used it on the farm and in many casual settings. I have also trained others in class settings. I am not now trying for titles, ring work, but NEED a dog who responds correctly when told to do something NOW!! No questions, no hesitations because SOMEONE will be hurt if they don't do as told. Distractions from others, animals, people, settings, don't count. Dog MUST obey regardless.

            Most dogs will certainly obey while on the long rope. They will obey in fenced yards. They like the rewards of praise and petting, glad to make you happy. Sometimes breeds are known for being a bit more stubborn or hard headed, independent thinkers, and the praise is just not enough reward. Owners who don't insist on respect EVERY time they give direction, let the dog get away with disrespect, so things go downhill from there. Pack leader would certainly do something about it to a pack member!

            We got into the training collars when my mother's dog gave us the "one finger doggy salute" and kept on going! She had been giving mom a hard time when off leash. On leash, long rope, she would not make a wrong move. When free, it was "so-long, see you whenever!" This could not go on, so she came to visit at the farm, get some behaviour modification.

            I have to say that the electric collar and directions from a friend changed my way of thinking. Being nice, doing the normal training had gotten us no place. No motivation, or not enough to change her thinking. Dog had almost been hit on the road in her escapades a couple times, and I knew her luck was going to run out.

            She was a changed dog almost instantly. Very smart, stubborn but willing to change! Not into pain AT ALL. She knew the words to Come, and was punished if not racing towards me when called. We worked on training, reinforced with the collar. I always kept the hand control behind my back, NEVER reached or pointed at her when using it or giving directions. She then got no bad association with person or hands, in being disciplined. Did use a LOUD, FIRM voice. then punished as she ignored me.

            I felt kind of bad using collar at first, but she had to learn before she got killed running off. Then we added distractions, punished her when she didn't obey instantly, despite the distractions. ALWAYS praised and petted when she arrived at our feet. Took her to various locations, new settings, to enforce the command in her brain. We COULD TOUCH her, any place any time, much BETTER to obey instantly, no matter what else was going on. Her name was first signal to face us, then word COME to head our way at a run. We also practiced STOP and DOWN, in case we had to halt her progress for a danger. She GOT it all down VERY FAST. We couldn't make her do anything wrong, so back to Mom's house.

            I took Mom thru the steps, words, had her use the controller because dog thought that Mom was OK to ignore. "Amazing! Those words work just like at the Farm! Zap if ignored!!" You could read the thinking right on the dog's face and was actually rather funny!

            I left Mom the dog, collar and controller, and she used them for a couple days at home, before mailing them back to me. That dog was totally changed, never had an instance of refusal to Come again. She actually would leap and flip in the air if we called her in later years. Did not matter if she was racing away, playing around, she would hop to change direction and race to us.

            I give the dog a chance to be obedient on their own. Try the easier, softer approach first. Still expect immediate response, whatever the setting. I don't do food treats, might not have one and then they are disappointed. Sure don't need the calories. Mine need to work on praise, always have that in quantity!

            If you do use the collar, set it high, give them a good jolt to start and have them paying attention immediately. Lower settings are often easy to ignore, and dog will start more game playing to see who is REALLY in control here. You may lose.

            I like my dogs a lot, but they MUST be obedient ALL THE TIME. They are big and powerful, don't need them thinking independently in other settings. I don't want them hurt or them to hurt someone or something else while playing around, ignoring directions from me.

            Dog Obedience is NOT OPTIONAL here. They WILL obey because it is the best way to manage them. Prevents them from getting hurt. My dogs go many places, are present in all kinds of odd settings where people meet them. They have to be accepting and obedient in all those places and able to be my good companions.

            Dogs will love you even when you enforce obedience. If you don't take control of a situation, they will. Much as I like dogs, I HATE disobedient ones, and their owners who just shrug about it. Bad Doggy parents!!


            • #7
              Cheers to you, goodhors! Beautifully written, articulate post.
              PS - I suppose my opinion is slightly biased by the fact that i agree with you!


              • #8
                I've had a few hounds (and trained some other people's) and they have that attitude, plus they don't really care if you are happy with them or not. What really worked for me was totally enforcing the Come command. If the dog didn't come I went over, grabbed it and dragged it back to where it was supposed to be by the neck, and plopped it down on the spot I initially called it from and said something emphatic like "now then!". It's kind of undignified to say the least. Then if the dog sat and paid attention to me I told it "good dog!". If they run I go after them- if I have to spend all day walking after some recalcitrant dog I will and I ~will~ catch it and drag it back to the initial spot. They figure this out VERY quickly, like in a day or two, and no more problems. For my commands anyway, hounds are smart and training is not always transferable!


                • #9
                  I agree with both goodhors and Cherry (LOVE watching It's Me or the Dog and have picked up some interesting tips.).

                  I do agree though that come is a command that must be obeyed and obeyed instantly. I never use it in the 'normal' sense unless I can back it up or am willing to do whatever it takes no matter what. And yes, they do have to stay on the exact spot if they are told to stay. :-) I am in the process of training my newest six month old terrier and so far, so good (started working with her at six weeks). But....if down the road her terrier-ness asserts itself and she blows me off I will do whatever it takes.

                  I like the positive training approach first (treats, praise, "hide and seek", run and lay on the ground, long leash, then switched to a fishing line, etc.). But you must make sure that you are setting up training situations in ways where the dog *will* be distracted once you know it knows that you expect it to obey immediately. If you have had times (even once) in the past where you 'let it go' then you have reinforced a bad response and must start over. I think when you are training your dog (and you train them every day, with every body movement and every word just like when you are with your horse) you must make sure that you are very, very clear in all interactions.

                  I guess for me, to make sure I was clear, I would re-do the positive training to make sure the dog *knew* that there was no option, and introduce all sorts of distractions as I upped the ante but eventually after all that, if the dog still ignored when it felt like it, then I think with a big strong or willful dog, the shock collar can be a useful tool. (Kind of like "draw reins" or a "big bit" in the right hands). But like with riding, make sure you know how to use it and set up the situation carefully as goodhors said.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for the tips, again. I don't have TV, so can't watch the show recommended (unless they play it on the website). However, I think I'm convinced that I've got to get the collar out and do it the hard way. Especially after today, where I got big time doggy finger, though thankfully, she was just blowing me off while on a rather controlled walk.

                    Again, treats and praise and play do very little. Humans are dumb in her mind, and so are all their ideas. So, I get blown off. Like I said, this is my fault for not being at all good about keeping up with the training...I got spoiled because she is a rather good, mannerly dog...except....

                    goodhors, thanks so much for your post. I would love more info on what and how you worked with the dog in question. I also loved the STOP and DOWN. Stella, once she gets coming is really hard to stop, which is hard when she is around the horses. Being able to get her DOWN from a distance would come in handy if I need her safe when things are getting out of hand with a horse.

                    Thanks again. She is doing well on her resolution, though we are making it easy for her. When we are in a situation where she could get tempted to bolt, she gets put behind a door, either the cozy tack room or the office.


                    • #11
                      My dog has two recall commands.
                      "come" is 'be closer', make contact, stay near me.
                      "HERE!" means, get your furry butt over to me asap and sit at my feet looking into my face. Instant obedience and attention is required.

                      My trainer told us to never use 'HERE' unless we were 100% the dog would come.
                      Start on a short leash, progress to a long lead, then in contained area. Then in a larger area with no distractions. Don't move up a level unless your dog is 100% in obeying.

                      My dog, for some reason, will obey faster or stop doing something naughty if I snap my fingers and give her a look. I don't know how that language developed, it just is.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by goodhors View Post

                        Dogs will love you even when you enforce obedience. If you don't take control of a situation, they will. Much as I like dogs, I HATE disobedient ones, and their owners who just shrug about it. Bad Doggy parents!!
                        Iam the same way. I am pretty anal when it comes to dog obedience. I have a family member that drives me insane with her lack direction for her very intelligent and hyper labradoodle. She thinks dog-obedience is mean

                        I tried the collar on my mutt, did not change a thing about her. I just had to become the boss and a leader worth of her respect.