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How do I stop the herding?

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I seem to keep coming to you guys for my problems but no one else knew the answer. Maverick is so far beyond anything I expected for my next dog. I didnt think I would ever end up with a dog so focused on me and oblivious to people around him and so well behaved with other dogs! He is great and smart. His instinct is amazing and I hope to get him on sheep this spring/summer. My one problem I can never seem to fix is his fixation with herding Rush (my other border collie).

 

Basically he circles her any chance he gets. I dont remember why but I was told to get him to stop this before it gets too bad. Well I only got him two months ago and I have no clue how to stop it! lol.

 

I thought maybe if I get him more transfixed on the toy I am throwing he will stop herding/nipping at Rush when shes running. Well that only worked out kinda well. He only about 45% of the time chases the toy and the other herds Rush. Sometimes its just chasing, other times he makes contacts and she will turn around and bite him. Nothing serious just kind of a leave me alone thing. I do hold him sometimes while I throw the ball for Rush but I feel like that just makes him more intense on her. I have tried going all AH AH and making him sit, and that works, he will stop circling her and sit/lie down, but he is still focused on her and as soon as she runs, hes off herding her again.

 

I feel ready to pull my hair out! lol, he is such a good boy on his recall but still he pretends not to hear me when I call him.

 

Rush was like this at one point, though never this bad. As she aged she got over it though. The only thing she has stalked/herded since she was 6 months has been chickens and tennis balls. I am afraid something happened to maverick in the 6 months I didnt have him and his behavior was allowed to esclate to where it is now, and even was given the opportunity to grow more here because I havent been successful in stopping in.

 

I dont want to use physical correction. I have as of lately been taking all the dogs out separately so Maverick doesnt have a chance to herd, and then I will tie Rush to the tree while Mav stalks her, I will practice calling his name and click/treat to get his attention focused on me.

 

I am at a loss now, but I really really dont want this to go any further.

 

Will starting him on sheep help? what about CU? I dont know a lot about the program, if anyone is willing to explain it to me. I have had it suggested for Rush and I am planning on taking a CU class with her this summer because she has some freak-outs with men who wear hats and she tends to lose self control around children (she is overly happy lol).

 

I would really love to hear what people have to say! I asked a few trainers but they didnt have BCs so they werent sure what to tell me. One did suggest CU, but I wasnt sure if that would help or hinder? I am only familiar with the look at it game (or whatever its called).

 

Diane

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As I understand it, starting him on sheep when he's already not listening whilst in herding mode will only make the problem worse. You need to have him working off lead reliably before increasing to that sort of stimulus. Others here can correct me if I'm wrong?

 

A CU course would be a very good idea. To me, it sounds like he's getting too excited when Rush is playing and is reverting to instinct/default behavior. What you need to do is create an alternative default and put the herding in check/on command.

 

For example, KZ has a fixation with cars. This is just dangerous and I needed to nip it quickly. We started with a solid "leave it," and then we went outside and off the road about 50 feet. From there, I watched KZ and the moment she perked up when she heard a car, I told her to leave it. If her ear even flicked in my direction, I started rifling treats down her throat until the car passed. I should mention I had her on a leash during all of this. If she ignored me, uh-oh, game over and no more outside for a few minutes. The default I wanted was for her to come to me when she heard a car, she modified it to sitting either next to me or behind me. Gradually, we moved closer to the street.

 

I would do something similar with your Maverick (that's my boy's name too!). Have someone play with Rush at a distance and perhaps even behind a barrier. You want it at a point where Maverick won't forget forget himself totally and react. Reinforce him for being calm with a game or treats or a mixture of both. A CU course should help you with this and fine-tune the training to fit your needs.

 

I hope that helps, and I'm sure others will have more ideas for you.

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I only have a moment but one key to stopping a particular behavior is to make you correction before the behavior happens, while it is still a thought. So, when your dog just begins to focus on your other dog, that is the time to correct - not after the behavior has started. You have to be consistent (work on this every time), persistent (be committed to "outlasting" your dog and not letting it slip by just this once), and insistent (requiring the dog to listen to you and not blow you off). It's not easy and I'm not saying any of this because I do it right all the time, every time. But it is a lesson I've learned and am constantly relearning. It's like a dog that chases cars - you don't wait to correct/redirect when the dog takes off after the car - you must correct/redirect when the thought/focus on the car is just about to occur to the dog.

 

I'll leave the discussion of what this behavior is to others. Calling what a "herding breed" dog does with regards to other dogs, cars, children, and so forth "herding" is a misnomer.

 

Best wishes!

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I would really love to hear what people have to say! I asked a few trainers but they didnt have BCs so they werent sure what to tell me. One did suggest CU, but I wasnt sure if that would help or hinder? I am only familiar with the look at it game (or whatever its called).

 

I would recommend taking a CU class, if you can, or at least get and read the book and read it. I think that would give you quite a lot of ideas of how to approach this in some new ways. There are quite a few self control games that you can teach outside of the context of interaction between the dogs that you would be able to apply once Maverick has gotten the idea.

 

If you do get the book, skip Chapter 2 until you have read the rest of the book and tried some of the games with your dog. A class is probably the best way to go if there is one in your area.

 

One thing I would do for right now is continue to take Maverick out separately to build a stronger working relationship between the two of you without the other dog in the picture.

 

If you would like some suggestions for self control games that might help, let me know and I'd be happy to PM some ideas to you.

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One thing I would do for right now is continue to take Maverick out separately to build a stronger working relationship between the two of you without the other dog in the picture.

 

I would take this one step further and just don't give him an opportunity to run circles around your other dog at all. For now this probably means no complete freedom around your other dog. Keep him on a leash/long line when your dogs are together. Anytime he does it it reinforces the behavior.

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Thank you for the replies! I think I am going to start taking maverick outside to play with a leash on and maybe have someone play with Bear and Rush while I am working with maverick. I always walk my dogs separately. It becomes chaos when I walk them together. They all go in different directions and I cant accurately handle them all. Rush and Bear is no problem to walk together but involving Maverick and his in the process of learning leash manners into any mix is asking for trouble lol.

 

It wasnt so bad when I started so I am thinking letting his behavior go on so long is why its gotten so bad. When I say 'herding' I generally mean him and his sheepdog behavior lol.

 

I would love some ideas on self control games! I pretty much had to wing it with Rush, but for some reason Maverick feels so much harder then Rush (even though I clearly remember struggling a lot in the process of training Rush anything). I guess its because the only thing he is ever intense on is animals. He gives me his attention when I have food and sometimes when I have a toy, but never the attention he gives Rush. I do have to say his movement is beautiful and I really REALLY want to get him on stock. I understand if I have to wait until he stops the behavior of herding my other dogs. Its crazy how he acts around Rush, its like he doesnt see her as a dog when we are outside, only in the house, and even then... I am hoping to order the CU book off Cleanrun after I get paid on wednesday. I have until then been asking some people about the concepts in the book.

 

The CU course that is close to me isnt until april/may or over the summer. If I can get in I will do that.

 

What I am curious about though is HOW do I make a correction? Say like I have Maverick on a leash and Rush runs by and I can see the look in mavericks eye and he is about to go after her. Would walking away, then click/treat be a correction, or should I go about it in a different way? like what if that doesnt work? I think thats what I have had the most confusion about.

 

Thankss again everyone. I have a little more faith in getting the behavior to stop. I would really love to just see him run around and play with the dogs instead off constantly circling and nipping Rush.

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There are corrections - these can be verbal ("aht!" or "no!" or a growl) that simply let the dog know that what he/she is doing is wrong or not acceptable. Many dogs will then offer another behavior (maybe stopping looking at the other dog, car, etc.) which you can praise or reward because it is the right choice. Sometimes a dog may make another "incorrect" choice and you would give another verbal correction.

 

Other corrections can be a leash pop or other physical correction. I am not suggesting a physical correction (which some might call a punishment) in this case. I am suggesting a verbal correction as a first step.

 

Giving your dog "something else to do" like walking away or engaging your dog in some other behavior would not be a correction - it would be redirecting his/her attention to something else, and this is a very functional way to deal with some issues for some people and their dogs.

 

I have a youngster who had developed a very bad habit of harassing our little bitch during certain types of play, and I did not deal with it consistently and with enough effort (for want of a better word) to make a change. The result was that our bitch was hurt enough to have to have the end of her tail amputated. I let foolish puppy play evolve into bullying adolescent play. Watching for signs of impending bad behavior before it happened, giving verbal corrections, being willing to give physical corrections (use of body pressure not hitting the dog or any other kind of contact), and being consistent about it made a difference, and the behavior is largely eliminated now. But I still have to be vigilant to avoid it cropping up again because it had become a habit.

 

Be consistent (all the time), insistent (do what it takes to deal with the problem), and persistent (don't give up and don't stop dealing/being aware of the problem).

 

There are people here who can help you way more than I ever could with good advice on dealing with this sort of problem. Best wishes!

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What I am curious about though is HOW do I make a correction? Say like I have Maverick on a leash and Rush runs by and I can see the look in mavericks eye and he is about to go after her. Would walking away, then click/treat be a correction, or should I go about it in a different way? like what if that doesnt work? I think thats what I have had the most confusion about.

What you want to do is interrupt the thought. Some people call this a correction, but I prefer to think of it as simply interrupting the thought. If your timing is good (i.e. it is still just a thought), all you generally need to do is make a noise like "aht!" and then immediately praise Maverick for reacting in any way to that noise. Like this:

 

Maverick: [thinking, "Look, there goes Rush..."]

You: "Aht!"

Maverick: "Huh?"

You; "Good boy! Hey, come over here and get yourself some nice treats or lovin' or whatever it is you like. Yes, me, over here! Look, I have the good stuff...."

...and keep this up, keep his attention on you, walking backwards if need be, until you can actually deliver the reward. Then go do something else with him.

 

Interrupt the thought. Reward to refocus the dog on you. Begin a new activity with the dog whose thought you interrupted.

 

Don't reward and resume as you were, or Maverick will turn his attention back to Rush and you've accomplished nothing.

 

[i think the difference between this and what Sue wrote is timing. After you interrupt the thought, there should be no need to wait to see what behavior the dog offers. Any reaction to "Aht!", a slight movement of the head, anything at all, is rewardable. The key is to [b]reward as quickly as possible after the interruption[/b]. That gets the dog focused on you and you can take it from there.]

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Here is what I did with Bea who was chasing down Colt at every ball or frisbee throw and then jacking the toys from him. She was relentless. He was good about it. Made me crazy.

 

First thing is I had taught her to "chill" as a very young pup, 8-10 wks. when play was getting raucous. I would pick her up in the midst of Tasmanian devildom and say "chill" then stroke her and wait for her to relax and sigh. Took about ten minutes first time and then got shorter and shorter and very soon I didn't have to pick her up she would simply chill. Colt too. So I had this history.

 

So at three and 1/2 mos. when her harassing Colt was getting bigger and more bothersome I put a long line on her. Stepped on the line. Threw Colt a ball across the field. Told Bea to "wait". He bolted she pulled on the line. When she looked at me I threw a second ball for her. Within a couple of days I noticed no more pull on the line so on the third day I took the line off and lo and behold I had a puppy who waited.

 

So I now have a "wait" I can use in the moment just before when I see she has ideas and I have a chill if I miss the moment and she is in the midst of wreaking havoc. So far so good. She is almost five mos. now and has more impulse control than Colt. I am just about to long line him and do the same with him, but for different reasons. He has taken to running off and barking at folks on the trail again. Not in an aggressive manner, but very inappropriate. He is 16 mos. and when I call them back from something like this Bea shoots back like a rocket and Colt takes a stern three or four calls. Not acceptable. In all other instances his recall is excellent. Since he loves the ball I think this same game should work with him as it will take a lot of self control for him to stay with me.

 

Hope this helps.

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Diane:

 

Where are you in Maryland? (I'm just to the N of Baltimore).

 

I've been taking my 1-year-old pup to a CU unleased class; we've just finished our second lesson. The "name of the game" here really is "self-control" - resisting impulses/distractions and learning to focus on their person. It's been great for him. He gets VERY excited when he sees other dogs - whines, loses any interest in doing anything I want him to do. Yeah, I could have simply read the book, but it's very helpful having a class so as to have a "captive audience" of individuals with superficially similar issues working on approaches for resolving them using a common philosophy. The ideal situation is to have ALL the dogs working on (different) things simultaneously - for example, one dog in a fenced-off area, learning to pay attention to its handler and to ignore the distractions, and the other dogs outside this area (on mats or in their crates), learning to ignore the dog in the nearby fenced-in area and to focus on their handler.

 

I did find my pup progressed a lot during last week's lesson. He was in a crate while other dogs took turns playing in the adjacent fenced-off area. At first he wanted to whine "why can't I do this TOO, mom, when's my turn?". I gave him treats whenever he calmed down and stopped whining. Pretty soon the whining tapered to near-cessation.

 

Over the weekend I took him to a local tennis court and worked on their "Give me a break!" game, as well as on his recall. I first brought him into the tennis court on a leash and walked around. Of course he was interested in sniffing all the interesting scents and checking out people walking by. But then he gradually realized I'd click and give him a treat if he focused on me. Pretty soon he learned to ignore the distractions. Then I'd drop the leash and see if he'd keep stuck to my side. I brought out a toy and engaged him in play; then I told him "that's all!" and sent him off to play. Of course at first he thought this was what he wanted to do, but then he realized that playing with me was more fun, so he came back. Whenever he returned, we'd play for a few minutes before I sent him off again. After a while he realized that getting sent off to do whatever he'd thought he wanted wasn't anywhere near as much fun as whatever I had to offer.

 

Today we worked on a "doggie Zen" exercise when I spent half an hour waiting for my older son to emerge from lacrosse practice. Ordinarily my pup would be on edge, waiting for kids to walk by with bouncing balls, or wondering whether each passer-by was going to stop to pet him. I let him know that I had one treat in each hand. If he resisted distractions, and looked at me, he got a treat. Before long he was relaxed in the face of all the distractions - kids, lacrosse balls, geese...

 

For my pup, I think the "Look at that!" game is going to be key. Learn that looking at the "triggers" that get them overexcited is a game, not a state of mind. We've started on some of the pieces, but we aren't at the point yet where we've applied it to other dogs.

 

Hopefully this will get my pup to the point where he doesn't lose his brain when he sees other dogs he wants to befriend. Will it get him to the point where he still retains focus when something REALLY exciting happens (like last Thursday, when I left work only to discover that there were ~ 20 kids bouncing basketballs or throwing footballs right outside my office? Good question! Talk about "over threshold"). Ask me again once lacrosse games start and I'm taking him to DS's games.

 

For now, I'd definitely second what other people have said - try to discourage behavior you don't approve of. Perhaps that means removing your dog from the situation as it arises. Otherwise, bad habits do become all too rapidly entrenched.

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I have a very clear idea of what I am going to try with him tomorrow before 4-H! does anyone think that tying him up would be a good idea, like I have a lung leash about 15 feet tied to the tree, I used it to tie up mav/rush and run around the BY with a toy to build drive. I figure if I hook him up and let rush run around, maverick will never get away from me and I can better intercept his behavior. I just wanted to make sure no one though that would be a bad idea, almost like he might relate the tie up to being allowed to get intense and in turn make his obsession over Rush worse? Gah lol.

 

The problem with maverick is he isnt very straight forward with going for toys if Rush is going after them. It has happened that he will get to the ball before Rush and purposely leave it then turn around and circle her. Honestly I would prefer it if he ran after the ball and tried to take it from her - not that he would be successful. In my opinion you only should focus on training out behaviors that bother you. Taking the toy from Rush or Bear doesnt bother me. If they want it bad enough it will end up in a tug of war session or one of them will go grab another toy. I wish sincerely that that was my problem D:. I should say it did give me some ideas on how to get him to just chill though! I really do wish he was more toy driven. He seems to have his instinct pouring out his ears though.

 

I live in Silver Spring MD, I think I am familiar with the place you are talking about that offers the classes, as its the only one I have heard of that does offer CU classes (in the area). I am hoping to get the book but I am not sure I have enough time this semester to take the courses (my classes end mid-may though). I am really busy with school and homework. If I miss anything they will kick me out of the program I am in and I will lose my scholarship. Plus I have work. I have to be careful about scheduling or I overdo it. I am afraid if I try and take classes in the next two months I will over do it and end up messing something up lol. Please let me know how your course goes though! I am interested to get a perspective about it. I have been thinking about e-mailing the CU instructor and asking her about a private lesson just until I can take group classes. I have done a little of the look at that game with Rush. A friend told me about it. Rush has some reactivity issues. What I thought was fear aggression was actually a low tolerance to 'rudeness' very low lol. Basically my fear of bringing her around dogs has made her uncomfortable around them so she acts like she is about to attack a dog (im sure it has something to do with me being scared when there are dogs around). Anyway it progressed into her freaking out and like acting funky when she sees dogs. Most people sense it as aggression and I want her to not focus on dogs. I just recently started the look at that game and just today I already have results (of course not enough to stop training). I am just really happy so far with what has come from the one CU thing I have heard of and I REALLY want the book lol.

 

One more question. If I am not working with Maverick training on this, should I not have them out together. Like in the house is okay, but outside -unless its a potty break or I am working on training him to stop, should I have them out there separately? I feel like this is a stupid question like oh of course Diane, because if you take them out there together and he herds rush its reinforcing the behavior. But I keep thinking like what if he starts to improve and isnt doing it, can I safely try and up his tolerance and move on?

 

Also should I add a command to it? Like when a dog jumps up, you tell them off, should there be a 'stop herding rush command'?

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Also should I add a command to it? Like when a dog jumps up, you tell them off, should there be a 'stop herding rush command'?

 

Go back to the second post---KelliePup tells you to use "Leave it", a good all-purpose command that will come in handy a million times. Again, it's not "herding".

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Dog/pups will obsess (intensely focus upon, try to chew, etc) on things you think are inappropriate (shoes, furniture, clothes, shadows, patterns in rugs, etc) and you correct them for these actions. Obsession on other dogs is no different and you would use the same techniques: distraction, correction ("leave it" or "that'll do"), reward for complying, etc.

 

Mark

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Sorry I keep saying herding, but I dont really mean it in the same sense. Its just my brain connecting his natural instinct with his stalking and circling of Rush.

 

I will go with leave it then! I am working on a kind of look click/redirect to the point he looks and redirects right away to look back at me. I figure after a few more sessions I can start to add a command and then just work on it. He was offleash today and did pretty well. I didnt intend him to be offleash but he was. I am going to try agility tomorrow but have him on leash! He is catching on so I am glad :rolleyes: I havent seen him circle Rush completely in a whole day!

 

Thanks everyone :D

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I just wanted to add my thanks. Lucky has this same issue with Gunnar. In fact his OCD, circling and nipping, is what landed him with us in the first place. So obviously it is a pretty serious habit at this point. I'll dust off the old clicker and see if I can get that to work for me. Thanks everyone!

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Update:

 

Today I took Maverick and Rush over to my next door neighbors while I house sat for her. Their lab needed some exercise so I brought the chuck it. Every time I have gone outside this week Mav has been on a leash and I have been armed with a clicker and treats. Today was the first day that didnt happen. He was wonderful. He focused on the toy and he once tried to gather Rush, a simple 'leave it' and he stopped. He is catching on great to the command. I had my friend throwing the ball back and forth for Rush Wednesday night so we had a lot of time to really work on that command. I am so proud of him and slowly I see it working.

 

I realize he needs more work on it before I can trust him completely. If I stopped now knowing my skills he'd probably be gathering her again tomorrow. It might have as well been the change in scenery. Either way I am super proud of mah puppy! He did good today :rolleyes:. Sometimes I think he isnt what I wanted or he wont have potential to be this fantastic dog and then he nudges my arm and wiggles his butt and I remember all I need is my clicker. Even that is negotiable :D.

 

Anyway, just wanted to share and again thank everyone for their input!

 

Diane

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