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About topnotchdog

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  1. One thing that can work well, and quickly, for dogs like this is to teach them to nose target the palm of your hand. Once you get that behavior very strong & on cue, you can cue them to target your hand in a calm frame of mind, indoors, with a low-value toy in their mouth. Then transfer to cuing the hand target outside during toy games. It sounds like you have a great "drop it" already, so once she comes in close to target you can vary when she does so and you take off running as a reward, with when she does so and you just cue her to drop it for another throw. Barbara
  2. FWIW I agree with your suspicion that arousal from toy or game anticipation is contributing to his "stickiness." See pages 106-107 of Control Unleashed, "Using a Mat to Unstick the Stuck" which tells how Leslie McDevitt used mat games to get a fast down on her border collie (who up til then would get frozen in the presence of toys). Seems you could just transfer the mat to the table then. B.
  3. Yes, just a head scratcher as to why logic and exposure to reality has far less effect than one might assume. (Makes me wonder what I am blind to, despite reality, at this very moment.) Why do people keep doing the same thing to breeds despite the effect on the animals involved? Perhaps it's one huge dose of nostalgia, plus a tradition of separating ourselves from animals even though (or because?) we are also animals--a separation which keeps us from identifying with them, plus the need to put unpleasant things out of our minds that would otherwise keep us from doing things we enjoy, minus a sense of shame or responsibility. (At least this is what I understand Jonathan Safran Foer to be saying in regards to why people eat animals from factory farms even knowing what goes on there, and it seems like that explanation could be analogous to people repeatedly breeding for structure despite the harm it causes the individuals and the breeds.) It sounds like a good start to me. I hope that education at some point puts a dent in things. There must be a point (geez I hope so) when enough people sharing the information makes the mainstream way of thinking untenable. 'Course that can occur so slowly and it seems it wouldn't take any time at all to wreck the working border collie, which is a sad thought. B.
  4. So in an effort presumably to protect dogs, the breeding of dogs based on physical appearance ends up being the standard. (I wonder if the dogs in the BBC expose' were bred according to FCI regulations (I will check Google so as not to get too far afield from the thread). I'll also be interested to hear if Maja has anything to add. Interesting things to ponder and learn here, as usual. Occurs to me that if there is that much more flexibility in the U.S., then it seems that much stranger to me to breed for arbitrary physical traits rather than function. Maybe it it is like many things we do related to animals...we do what we're used to or what we like, rather than necessarily taking their well-being into account. B.
  5. Maralynn, thank you for your post. I think it is very good food for thought. Maja, forgive me if you have addressed this elsewhere...I may have even asked it of you elsewhere and just can't remember! It sounds like you value the working ability of your dog as well as her appearance. I don't think it's that unusual, from what I've seen on the boards or 'real' life, for working border collie folks to find certain qualities (for eg) of a dog's coat or ear set more like-able---hopefully IMO once a litter is whelped, not as [any significant] part of a breeding decision. I, too, find certain dogs more appealing to look at than others. So...I am genuinely curious, as it seems you may have a foot in both the working and conformation worlds: If you find your dogs to be fit and athletic, and well-built for their work, and you like how they look, can you describe what is appealing about having another person, like a judge, deem your dog to be physically nice looking? Thanks, Barbara
  6. A great "gateway" activity anyone can do with their dog is the Canine Life and Social Skills program (C.L.A.S.S.). You can pick and choose skills, or go for the whole enchilada. For more info visit http://mydoghasclass.com/ Here is a giant list of activities you may want to peruse to see what grabs you: http://mydoghasclass.com/students/activities-with-your-dog/default.aspx Ditto to what Julie said on professionals and volunteers. In either case I find it helpful to get recommendations and to watch first (ask ahead of time) before enrolling. Barbara
  7. Thanks, Diana, I suppose so, it will be interesting to see what they figure out. I just went to the UM BCC link and I noticed they are now describing BCC as an "episodic nervous system disorder." I'm posting the link because it also addresses another question from this thread: "How can I tell BCC from heat exhaustion / heat stroke?" http://www.cvm.umn.edu/vbs/faculty/Mickelson/lab/EIC/bordercollieEIC/home.html B.
  8. P.S. FWIW my understanding is that EIC and BCC are likely *not* interchangeable syndromes. The EIC found in Labradors is evidently a musculo-skeletal issue, whereas the hunch anyway with BCC is that it involves something more anxiety-pathway related. Sorry if this butchers it altogether, maybe someone can correct me/clarify this.
  9. Our dog is suspected of having BCC. At first it was a real trick (not to mention a bit scary) having a young, active dog with this apparent syndrome. But he's two now and, knock wood, we're managing it well while also keeping him fit and active. Given that the combination of exertion and mental over-stimulation seem to be the key (as has been mentioned, ambient temperature is not the most important thing, hotter sure doesn't help, though), we have done the following which have made a huge difference. (We have fiddled with a variable here and there as an experiment---we are done fiddling & it seems he's not growing out of it, but would be great if he did!) No idea how relevant this is for a working dog, but perhaps some of it could be adapted: - alternate states of arousal/over stimulation (ie toy play) with focus and something "more cognitive" (ie a trick, obedience or agility behavior) - rank the dog's toys and play only with those that do not get the dog into that state - choose games that are not over-stimulating (fetch may be too much, but "find it" is just right and gets the dog same amount of exercise--really seems to help that he cannot see the toy fly and land) - alternate toy play and food rewards in training, or use just food (act of eating seems to create a calming feedback loop) - teach and intersperse impulse control exercises like stay, leave it into play (i.e. throw toy while dog in stay, release) -stop for breaks before dog is in trouble (breaks include behaviors we've had to put on cue b/c he wouldn't do them otherwise, including panting, drinking, getting in kiddie pool; with our dog it was important to learn the signs that preceded trouble--for eg he would get very sticky with the toy, especially releasing it) - use Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol (Clinical behavioral Medicine for Small Animals) and Leslie McDevitt's On Off Switch Games among others (Control Unleashed) Hope that helps somebody. I feel for the dogs and the owners whose work is affected by this and I hope we'll know more about this apparent syndrome soon. I know of at least one other breed affected (whippets) so hopefully that will help gather information. Barbara
  10. This was important to me, because my dog didn't like it, but he has heat-related issues and it's not really optional for safety reasons. So I shaped it. Fast, simple and you get strong behavior, even for a dog who would otherwise refuse to go in (took about 5 or 6 five minute training sessions). A tip: be sure to teach the dog to go in all size pools. The first time I cued my dog to do it in a portable pool that was too small for his legs, he didn't have a clue. (So I did pick him up and scoop the water onto his belly by hand, because I don't prefer to force a dog to lie down, especially when it's so easily trained.) I did then work on getting him to smunch himself into smaller pools, just took a couple of sessions extra. B.
  11. Lots of great ideas. (I second the vet check, your regular vet is a fine place to start IMO.) A few more things to try: --be very conscious of how and where you deliver rewards (this matters whether it's a treat, a toy or your voice). Have someone watch you or video a short clip. For eg, if you're quiet when the dog is correct and react when she forges or is non-bendy, that could be enough to give you the opposite of what you want. If you're using food, be sure to deliver it to the *outside* of her mouth (left side of her mouth in this case). Make sure your hand is not out in front of your hip, but rather parallel to your pant seam. Sometimes reward by flipping the treat or toy out to the left and behind you. This creates some reward history for and anticipation of bending to the left plus hanging back a hair. --if your dog spins to the left on cue, you can use that for left hand turns to encourage bending---that may in turn help with left circles. (I got this from Sylvia Bishop.) You're heeling along, you cue your turn (i.e. if you cue with your eyes, you'd look left), then one step into the turn you'd cue "spin." Dog spins (you take another step) and is back in heel position by the time you're taking another step off that leg. Gets the dog tucking and bending. --try spiraling small to large, large to small. B.
  12. I can definitely see that. (It is how I read it the first time through, then I guess I was thinking out loud about it in relation to the other post.) And I didn't see anything sentimental or haphazard about it. It makes total sense to me that what contributed to that day was that you understood him (and border collies), and he understood what was needed right then, and it came together. And it is telling that he worked well from then on. B.
  13. Not a thing (I hope I didn't imply anything was inappropriate about it). I do think you've hit the nail on the head when you say the approach should help the dog learn effectively. In other words, speaking about the 'average' dog, a year seems a bit long to learn to enjoy going through a tunnel reliably. But as you say, you have different skills now and would likely approach it differently. And, naturally, we can find plenty of exceptions to anyone's most favored approach, including if there is some physical, mental, or temperament reason for going a more creative route. To me that is part of the "art" in the art and science of dog training. I am glad you both ended up where you wanted to be, and enjoyed yourselves getting there! Barbara
  14. Using rewards in training does not have to equal bribery. Bribery is not training, it's just bribery. Just (not sure if this is perfectly analogous) as randomly yanking a dog by the collar is not a correction, it's just yanking. And it is a bummer when tv people do it (as in that Stillwell example), because it may give the impression that using food in training is always going to mean bribing the dog. Strategic application of rewards is training. To me there is a big difference. In the example of food, instead of luring a dog into a tunnel with a cookie or waving steak in front of his face to get him to come to me, it would be my preference to reward him with those things after he's done part or all of what I'm looking for. With understanding and learning, not being led around by the nose, comes reliability and the need for fewer, and then no, food rewards. Can dogs learn things they are initially bribed to do? Sure, particularly if someone bribes/lures only one or two times and then switches to rewards, that can work just fine. Sometimes that's a very quick way to grease the skids and then switch over to rewards (the person or the dog may actually make better initial progress this way). I completely agree with you, shysheperdess, that continuing down the path of bribery will only get you so far. And I don't know that I'd even make a distinction for pet dog training, I'll have to think on that. My initial reaction is that in pet dog training it could be incredibly important to get good results that stick. Sometimes there is a lot a stake (no pun intended). Blackdawgs, I think that is very cool that that happened for you and your dog. I was struck by the comparison of that experience to Eileen's story about Spot. I would not have thought these two things were similar at first glance, since I interpreted her showing the dog that she was struggling to move the stock the thing that transfered their already-established partnership to the sheep work. But now I wonder if there was an element in each instance of a combination of seeing some value in the activity (built up over time), trust in the person, combined with lack of social pressure (I read it that Eileen was experimenting in the spur of the moment, and you may have had no particular expectations on Sunday). Interesting. Probably lots of things at work we'll never be privy to. B.
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