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jessilee

Aggression

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We acquired a 2yo working bred BC recently. He had not been started by his previous owners but had been kept in a yard where he could see cows. He is out of good working stock and seems to be a great dog in most respects. I've started 2 other BCs for working on our ranch before but they were both pretty quiet workers, no grip unless REALLY needed, etc. This dog is the total opposite and I'd like some input before I just start trying one thing after the other to get him where I want him.

First off, we do have cattle but for the most part, we rarely work them. We also have dairy goats and plan on getting a small flock of sheep (which is why I got him). The goats need brought up for milking and taken back out daily and the sheep will be kept in a paddock at night and turned out to pasture during the day, so again, they will need worked daily.

I started this dog a few weeks ago and while I have made progress, it is still a problem- he is WAY too aggressive with the goats. He is a very confident dog and isn't gripping for lack of confidence. He is like an alligator, takes hold and won't let go. This is a BIG problem. I have tried making it quite clear that's not acceptable behavior, and like I said, we've made some progress, but if I don't stay right in the middle of him, he will attack.

Is this just going to be him? Do I need to be more firm? (I am worried about turning him off completely if I push too much more). Is he just destined to be a cow dog rather than a sheep/goat dog?

Also, he is still trying to always get to the heads rather than balance them. Is this going to take longer with a dog like this or is there more to it?

Thanks!

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As far as the gripping goes, it may be a matter of tension. Dogs that grip a lot often do so because they are anxious (but not necessarily lacking in confidence) and don't know how to release the tension. Training a dog like this can be really hard if you haven't done it before. Being more firm with them can potentially backfire and cause even more gripping. I would suggest getting help from a trainer in person. Where are you located?

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As Liz says, he *may* be gripping from tension, but then again, he may not. It really could just be his breeding. He could just be really strong cattle bred. Some dogs are just as you describe, and for them, it's all about CONTROL. As for hunting heads, some are just that way, to varying degrees. Some will look for the heads, but be willing, more or less, to relinquish control of the heads to you, while others will really fight you for it. It's as if they never really totally trust that the person has control of the heads. Both the gripping and the head control issues are workable, but it takes a trainer who really understands *why* the dog is doing what he's doing at the moment.

 

I have one from my lines (strong cattle bred) who just turned two who has always been known for hanging on to sheep (I'm talking seriously hanging on), as well as having major head control issues. She has turned into totally the best (cattle) dog I have ever had, but she has been challenging. Throughout her training, I had to remember that she was not *trying* to be "bad," but doing what her instinct told her to do--both the hanging on and the head hunting are just her way of trying to control the stock. As for sheep, she is also the best dog I have, as far as moving the whole group (about 75 adults and now 60 lambs) and doing chores, etc. She is not, however, a sheep trial dog and never will be.

 

If there is a good trainer near you who has experience with this type of dog, that would be ideal. That person could help you get the dog going well, finding that balance between letting the dog be who he is, without harming the training stock. Don't know where you live, but this sounds like my kind of dog,

A

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I figured you'd have something very worthwhile to say, Anna! Sounds a bit like a couple of dogs we know, perhaps?

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Anna, I count that strong desire to control as a form of tension because the dog is worried (tense) about losing control. We just used a different way of defining things. ;)

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Well, I typed up a somewhat long response and it apparently disapeared into cyber space.

Thank you all for the insight. I'm glad to have some hope of him coming around and have to say he was a LOT better today! Stayed out wider, listened to me when I told him to go around to get behind. He may not have stayed behind for very long, but at least he listens and tries to be a good boy and would go back again when told. I'm truely amazed at how fast he has picked everything up, much smarter and more willing to please than previous dogs - if we could just get that want to attack attitude under control he'd be perfect!

I am thinking of ordering the video - First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training. It says it has a dog in it that sounds similar to him and shows how they worked through it. Any reviews on this video?

I have contacted 3 or 4 trainers that I could find in my general area but they all seem only interested in taking the dog for 4-6 weeks, training it, then me pick it up and that's not really something I'm interested in. I've read on here in other threads that some of you are able to go with your dog for lessons and I'd definately be open to that! We are in central Oklahoma if you have any suggestions.

Thank you all again!

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

Hard to know without seeing the dog. Being tied up where he can see but can't work stock is a pretty good prescription for "Whoopee! I'm Free OH MY GOD!!!!!" I have trained one dog who was a natural-born-killer who finally understood that sheep weren't prey and spent three years and countless clinics trying to break another from my own breeding from hysterical gripping. (Minimized but not eliminated).

 

That said:9 time out of 10, a young dog grips because he's inside the fight-zone, too close to the sheep, and mindless. His predator genetics/fears take over - he literally loses his mind - and bites whatever's weakest and nearest.

 

Every sheep (or goat) dog has its own proper working distance from the stock. At this distance, he can exert influence on the sheep without panicking them and he can attend to your instructions. Farther off, he loses influence, nearer he becomes mindless.

 

The more powerful dog will need to keep off farther, some sheep kindly dogs can work on their heels.

 

I haven't seen this dog nor his trainer but the conventional first step to reduce gripping is to push the dog further off his sheep.

 

Donald McCaig

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That's exactly what we've been working on - backing him off. I truely think if you turned him lose with a flock of goats or sheep, he wouldn't even try to herd them, I think he'd immediately run out and start attacking one sheep/goat at a time until they were all dead or until he got tired.

It is somewhat hard keeping him off the sheep for the simple fact that if I look away for 1/2 a second, he's running in to attack. I'm not talking dive-bys, I'm talking he methodically runs up, grips and will not release unless I smack him with the pole (I use a lunge whip). I will try to get someone to video tape us this week and post the video. Maybe someone will have some insight.

Does this describe a sheep/goat killer or are some young dogs like this? Will he ever be able to be trusted? Like on an outrun to fetch, will he attack again when he realizes I'm not there on top of him?

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Ms Jessilee wonders,

 

"Does this describe a sheep/goat killer or are some young dogs like this? Will he ever be able to be trusted? Like on an outrun to fetch, will he attack again when he realizes I'm not there on top of him?"

 

Some young dogs are like this. Most can be cured. How long have you been working him? I look forward to the vidco.

 

Donald McCaig

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Only about 2 1/2 weeks. I think he's showing a lot of ability and he's definately willing to learn and listen. I will work on getting someone to video us and maybe that will give you a better idea of his nature.

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Trying to push some dogs out early in training can make things worse. I speak from personal experience having trained a dog who would quite happily shred stock. He left gashes in ewes that needed to be sutured. When I tried to push him out he just cut in harder and faster. Putting him on a line to get his head right and show him that he couldn't get away with it was what ultimately made the difference.

 

If you tell us where you are located we might be able to help you find a trainer. This is really best dealt with in person so that whoever is helping you can find the underlying cause and figure out a solution that works for your dog.

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I thought I gave my location- maybe it was in the response that disappeared? We are in central Oklahoma. I've only found 3 trainers within an hour of me, and like I said, they seem more interested in either selling me a started dog or taking my dog for a month or so and then me picking him up. :-(

Not really what I want. I'd love to find someone let me pay for a lesson or 2 a week until we get a good start on him.

I read through the review section and can't find any reviews here, or anywhere actually which I think is odd, on that DVD - 1st Steps in BC Sheepdog Training. Anyone seen it or know anything about it? It sounds like a nice, well rounded video from what the makers of it describe.

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

When I asked how long she'd been working this dog Ms Jessilee wrote: "Only about 2 1/2 weeks."

 

While I've heard handlers boast: "He came tenth after I'd only had him 2 weeks", I think we ordinary mortals need more time, My newest, trained open dog, took 6 weeks (and clever coaxing) before she'd take a few steps toward sheep at my command.

 

I assume a new dog won't really be working well until I've had him or her six months.

 

From the accounts, this dog may have been poorly nurtured. If so, you should work on bonding. Keeping him in the house is good, taking him to town, maybe an overnight. Bonding may or may not involve schmoozing - you're not seeking love, you're insisting on respec and offering the dog a place in your dog pack that makes sense to him.

 

No, this by itself won't cure a dog that dashes in and bites. But it may help him listen to you..

 

Angie Coker Sills is giving two Oklahoma clinics, one on April 16th. Sign up today. Drive as far as you must. If Angie can't put you on the right track, nobody can http://www.okstockdog.com/

 

Donald McCaig

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Thank you!

I don't think I'm expecting too much too quickly from him, I'm VERY happy with 99% of what he's done in these short weeks BUT if he is always going to be an attacker of stock, then it wasn't going to be worth it to keep training him.

Like I said, I've never had a dog with this attitude before and just needed some input on him.

After reading responses and working the dog the past 2 or 3 days, he has made vast improvement so I'm even more happy with him and hopeful he can get past this.

We did make him a housedog as soon as we brought him home. When we got him, he was scared stiff, didn't know his name or any commands and didn't really listen either.

We started working on all these issues before letting him see the stock. Changed his name, taught him to come, sit, down and stay.

Angie was one of the trainers I contacted. We spoke back and forth a few times, then when I tried to sign up for a lesson (she was having one a month for March and April), never heard back again. I will try emailing her again about the April date.

She is the closest of the trainers I found here so that's nice in a way- if I could get her to answer. :)

 

Thank you all again. Hopefully in a month or two we'll be totally past the attacking and doing well working.

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There is something about goats that light a fire under my pups as well. I blame it on the goats' (Alpine) buggy eyes and their absolute refusal to concede a stare-down whenever we visited the barn at the boys' birth farm. Because I don't have goats, and never plan to, we focused on teaching the pups good manners in the barn (STOP LUNGING AT STALLS! KEEP MOVING UNLESS I ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING!) and after a few months they began to ignore the goats and could walk freely the length of the barn. The goats, however, kept staring at them.

 

Liz

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Thank you!

I don't think I'm expecting too much too quickly from him, I'm VERY happy with 99% of what he's done in these short weeks BUT if he is always going to be an attacker of stock, then it wasn't going to be worth it to keep training him.

Like I said, I've never had a dog with this attitude before and just needed some input on him.

After reading responses and working the dog the past 2 or 3 days, he has made vast improvement so I'm even more happy with him and hopeful he can get past this.

We did make him a housedog as soon as we brought him home. When we got him, he was scared stiff, didn't know his name or any commands and didn't really listen either.

We started working on all these issues before letting him see the stock. Changed his name, taught him to come, sit, down and stay.

Angie was one of the trainers I contacted. We spoke back and forth a few times, then when I tried to sign up for a lesson (she was having one a month for March and April), never heard back again. I will try emailing her again about the April date.

She is the closest of the trainers I found here so that's nice in a way- if I could get her to answer. :)

 

Thank you all again. Hopefully in a month or two we'll be totally past the attacking and doing well working.

 

The secret (not really) to controlling this type of dog is a very good stop. Don't even take him to stock until you know that you have a pretty fair stop on him. Apart from being able to keep him off the stock so he can't grip, the stop is the only other thing that will save you. This type of dog is very valuable around the ranch as he likes to control stock all the time and, as long as you have control of him, he will serve you very well over his lifetime. To get this stop, you must be extremely consistent and never let up in order for him to understand that you are in charge. 2 1/2 weeks is not anywhere near enough time to train this dog to be consistent in his work. Get the stop first and then continue on with his sides and gathers, walk ups etc. To get the stop, work in close with him backed off the sheep so he isn't bumping on them all the time and scaring them. Tell him to lie down when the sheep are approaching you on a gather and get your hands up in the air and make yourself as big as possible. Move towards him if necessary to get what you need. Big voice, big person and you in charge all the time. Don't let up. You must be the king, God, whatever it takes. You're in charge, ALL THE TIME!! When you have an excellent stop then continue on with the rest of your training. You can do small gathers and some short driving if you like but I doubt that you have any sides on this dog yet. Am I right? Don't hesitate to visit the ask an expert section. Amanda has a lot of experience with most kinds of dogs. She may also be able to help you. Bob

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