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Dear Doggers,

 

Interesting question: what dog do we want? A trained dog or a well behaved dog? I prefer to aspire to mannerly which adjective describes the dog I can take with me anywhere.

I have found that well behaved comes from well trained. I have a puppy (not a Border Collie) who just turned 3 and he was a challenging puppy to raise. Very independent, very prey driven, very sweet but very pushy. He was cuddly and affectionate but on his terms ("I'm tired now, I shall sit on your lap and cuddle"). He seldom seemed to care where I was or what I was thinking. I would not have described him in any way as being well behaved or mannerly for most of his life.

 

He is a Papillon, and he is exactly the kind of dog that would end up in rescue had he ended up with a family who wanted a quiet affectionate companion dog. He was WORK.

 

Thus I trained him, a lot. I trained several things, traditional training and also taking him places and hanging out. He didn't learn things super quickly. He was a very poor generalizer.

 

Suddenly, at age 3, I have seen a shift with him. He checks in, on leash and off. When he does, he smiles at me. He is willing to try things he previously refused to (swimming for example). He asks before he does things and is inclined to bring me things he finds instead of running off with them.

 

Last week we went to swim in the place I found to teach him and were horrified to find the place packed with people whereas its usually thinly populated. As we had driven there I decided to go anyways, and he walked calmly at the waters edge through kids and boats and jet skis and other dogs barking at him. When we found a less busy place he worked at his swimming and even let a kid who wanted to help float his toy for him. He relaxed and let me rinse the sand from his fur at the outdoor shower and when a large family group passed us on the path back to the parking lot with many excited kids and a remote controlled car, he perked his ears up and watched but stood quietly on the path edge while they passed.

 

My heart was bursting watching him, knowing that we created this together and that we are set for a long life of fun adventures together.

 

You can't train for every circumstance.

 

No, but you can train a lot, and over time your dog will learn what you expect and that being calm, thoughtful and paying attention to you really works.

 

Some dogs make it easy, some make it hard, but it is something you can create.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Yes, training leads to mannerliness but not because the dog has a box of skills (heel, sit, etc) which it employs as needed but because training creates a two species team able to manage novel, unexpected circumstances. Although I don't train for mannerliness, I do train for sheepwork and - counter intuitively perhaps - teaching a dog to come into a sheepwall to split them and immediately turn on the sheep I am indicating makes for a mannerly dog in hotel lobbies.

 

Some years ago a radio producer asked me what she should do with her anxious, home alone Border Collie.

 

"Train her."

 

"But she's trained. She sits, comes when called . . ."

 

"Train her ten minutes every morning before you leave for work."

 

A couple months later I returned and yes it worked.

 

"She's so much happier now."

 

I didn't say so but thought that producer seemed happier too.

 

Donald McCaig

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I think that many pet owners have never established a real bond with their pets. (Dons flame-retardant suit) :ph34r:

 

When Mr. McCaig trains with his sheep dogs, something happens that is mutually satisfying. That is, something happens that is satisfying to each of them - the work, and the working relationship.

 

The OTCH that is a counter-surfing, urine-marking, recall-disregarding, barking-at-nothing, PIA-at-home has been trained, yes, but is he working for treats? For Praise? To avoid a correction? Does he find that the work itself is satisfying? I think the answer is that the work is satisfying to the dog if it is satisfying to the owner.

 

If your only goal in training is to teach you dog not to do something - don't pee in the house, don't counter-surf, don't jump up - then there is nothing going on that is satisfying to the dog. You may end up with a dog that doesn't do those things, but you will have done nothing to establish a relationship of respect and mutual intention.

 

It is disheartening how many pet dogs live this kind of life. The dog is taught - sometimes skillfully, sometimes with a blunt instrument - to "behave", ie. "Don't do that!" If the dog is quiescent, the "training" stops. I see them at the dog park. Dog running all over, uninterested in owner. Owner is jabbering on a cell-phone, only pausing to yell, "Cut that out!" at dog. There is no connection between them.

 

So many times a dog like this was brought to me for "problem solving." He chases the cat, he barks at my husband, he chews up the furniture. Training commences. I work with the dog, training basic stuff. Sit, down, heel. I work with the owner and try to impart a pale shadow of dog-handling skill to them. After the lesson the dog doesn't want to go home with his owner. He comes to me. He sits. He smiles - "Let's work!" He ignores the owner. Owner waxes petulant. "He likes you better than me!" Owner sulks. "Why won't he do that for me!?"

 

I would tell them, but they rarely got it. It's why I quit training. (for other people) Maybe I'm a crap trainer. But my dogs work for me, with me. And we both get joy of it.

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One of my dogs never did beyond the most basic tricks because she gets Indignant about them. She takes a long while to learn things, she doesn't particularly appear to enjoy it or engage in the process, she tends to get fed up and give up quickly. She works for treats and out of a grudging knowledge that I will make her do the thing. With the exception of walking on-leash she's naturally mostly well-mannered.

 

So I didn't train her. The other dog LOVES any kind of training, any kind of trick, I'm not a great trainer but she's not the fastest learner so it works. She's a forgiving dog to train. She can create serious mischief if bored or if not kept constantly socialized with a variety of other dogs, and she invents new things and habits that she has to be trained out of.

 

So we did a load of different tricks, most of which would be forgotten next week by both of us. Tricks were badly trained- she learned to shred tissues when I sneezed, much more fun than bringing them. It didn't matter. The process was the fun. She was my velcro-dog, the other one was just 'independent.'

 

Then the well-mannered dog got sick and couldn't go for her big off-lead walks any more, or go to her daytime minders with their dog to play with. I had to do more training with her just to keep her from being bored, and work seriously on self-control around food and such. Now I have a dog who picks herself up from the most comfortable spot to follow me around the house, with her aching joints. The relationship is 100 times better. I wish I'd discovered this twelve years ago before I decided that because she was well-mannered and happy she was better off as she was.

 

The difference in affection etc. wasn't a difference in their personalities, it was a difference in the amount of training I had to do to keep them sane and thus the relationship I had with each. Geonni Banner, I wish I had known you a decade ago to learn this.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ethel Conrad used to host Jack Knox sheepdog clinics where many students/dogs came from the DC suburbs and saw sheep only at clinics.

 

Jack is too much of a gentleman to do this but I'd bet that if, post clinic, he'd called a dog as its owner/master/packleader called the dog would have happily gone to Jack.

 

Donald McCaig

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Ha! You bet they would have, Donald.

 

My ex and I sent our dog to Jack to train for a month. Several months later we were at a sheepdog trial. We'd rolled in late the night before so slept past the first few handlers going to the post. All of a sudden Mirk went crazy, trying to get out the camper window. We looked out and saw that Jack was the current handler running. Mirk had recognized his whistles (he wasn't at all concerned by the others) and wanted to get out there to work with him. :lol:

 

Jack has a way with dogs that most of us can only envy. Offering them satisfying work is a big part of it.

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Geonni, I left for a road trip the day before you started this thread, was out of internet range for several days, and came back home and promptly became too ill to get online or do much of anything, and only just now am reading this thread and the story. HA HA!! To go from thinking you have to give up your dog to having two dogs in such a short period of time is amazing and incredible. I wish I had been here to offer you support through the dark days, but I am so delighted to hear of the happy beginnings that have come out of all of this. You have my best wishes and I will be following the continuing story from now on!

Congratulations on your new dog and your new lease on life!!

D'Elle

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I think that many pet owners have never established a real bond with their pets. (Dons flame-retardant suit) :ph34r:

 

If your only goal in training is to teach you dog not to do something - don't pee in the house, don't counter-surf, don't jump up - then there is nothing going on that is satisfying to the dog. You may end up with a dog that doesn't do those things, but you will have done nothing to establish a relationship of respect and mutual intention.

 

Truth.

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I love the update puppies are a handful, but I've always been a puppy person. I love training, watching all my hardwork pay off as they grow, and finally that relief when they hit their adult years and it all becomes so easy. I'm glad you're in it for the long haul

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:lol: I am not a puppy person either. I like a dog that is already well-rounded.

 

I think that not creating a bond is a trap waiting for those who take border collies seriously. I often meet people with their bc puppies so serious about socializing, training, fetching, bla-blaing the dickens out of them that they forget about just letting the puppy grow and bond with them.

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Sounds like some very good progress.

 

And how are you doing?

 

Who knows? Ask me when my sleep schedule normalizes... =) Naw, I'm doing good. I'm so stoked about people stepping up for Tea. Restores your faith in human nature. Now if it will just keep coming in, and the fire will go somewhere else... Or it will rain like crazy and put it out.

 

I get freaked out when I think of all the people animals and places threatened by the fire. It's too much. I have to focus on the one person I know (well, sort of) and her family of people & critters. Shigataganai, neh?

 

Thanks for asking!

post-10533-0-78660500-1440728484_thumb.jpg

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and the fire will go somewhere else...

 

The problem with that is that then it will affect someone else. I wouldn't want to wish it on anyone . . . :(

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The problem with that is that then it will affect someone else. I wouldn't want to wish it on anyone . . . :(

 

Well, yeah, sorta. But maybe it would go somewhere there were no farms or houses or people... I understand that forests are sort of "engineered" to burn periodically. It clears out the understory and stuff like that. But with people living in more or less permanent dwellings and whatnot, they can't just pick up and go to a different, unburnt part of the forest without losing a lot. What with property ownership and fences and what-have-you, it makes it hard to roll with the punches that Mother Nature is bound to throw from time to time. Don't get me started on MT. Rainier... I lived under Kiluea for awhile. Pele never took our house, but a tidal wave did. Everywhere it's something...

 

ETA, Funny thing, if I could afford it, I'd pack up my tansu and go back to Hawai'i. Right where I was. I never felt home, like I felt it in the islands. They don't got no more quarantine there. My dogs would love that black sand beach. If the haoles didn't cover it up with hotels... <_<

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