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ElizaRose

Chasing Bikes!!! Help

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Hi All,

This is my beautiful 10 month old boy, Winston. He is my first collie & I have posted on here a few times for help and always gain so much knowledge from all the experienced owners!

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Winston is a very friendly and gentle pup. He is however, quite aloof? LOVES other dogs, but isn't overly affectionate toward me. I know border collies love to please, but that doesn't seem very evident with our boy as he really doesn't like praise or pats that much, just food. This makes it a little difficult to train him without food - or get him to listen to any commands without food.

We have been working on all sorts of commands and tricks since he was a puppy, and he learns very quickly, but lately he seems to be going backwards. He can't sit still for training and he seems to get stressed when we ask him to do something and darts off barking or whining. Things that he used to know how to do (down, roll, stay, paw etc). We can continue to work on this but my main issue is, chasing bikes!!! He is obsessed with bikes & people running. He lunges and barks & would probably nip if he got the chance. We have tried to teach a "leave it" command with treats and praise and all the rest, but it keeps getting worse. I would say he prioritises bikes over everything else in this world.

Today, my worst fear came true. Winston's lead didn't attach properly and half way through our morning walk he saw a bicycle, lunged, and broke off his lead. He took off down a major road of traffic chasing bikes, people and completely unaware of surrounding cars. He wouldn't come back when I called and he ran from everyone who tried to get his attention. It was awful. We did catch him, and he is completely fine, but I realised how incredibly important his off-lead control is and breaking this habit.

Looking for any advice on training please! Or success stories... I haven't spoken to anyone who has had a dog with a bike obsession before.

Thanks

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Backsliding at this age is pretty normal. Compare it to human adolescence. :blink: Just be consistent with his training and don't let him get away w/ blowing you off and you should be able to ride this through and come out the other side with a more biddable adult.

As for the car/bike/joggers, you won't be able to accomplish any training for impulse control or anything else when he's over threshold. Once he's gotten to that point he simply can't engage his brain for any kind of training to sink in. So you'll have to work with him at a distance far enough from his triggers so you can desensitize and counter-condition while he's still receptive to training. (You can do searches here and on the internet for more detailed discussions of this kind of training, in particular Look at That (LAT) and similar approaches.) The crucial thing is that you have to keep him from going over threshold all the time until you've accomplished the training because each and every time he reacts like this it's self rewarding and ingrains the behavior even more firmly, making it that much harder to extinguish the behavior.

Good luck.

And, yes, your boy is gorgeous!

 

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Yep, it's a lot like adolescence. Think about the sweet and helpful  11 or 12 yr old child who seemingly overnight becomes rude/antisocial/sullen. Even if he's neutered, he'll still hit some road bumps.

If there's anything he LOVES to do that you approve of, like playing tug or getting his belly rubbed, make sure you keep doing that. Consistently and calmly remind him of his basic manners and don't let him skate from those. A 'stay' might be shortened a bit to accommodate him, but he does need to obey you.

Good luck!

Ruth & Gibbs

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13 minutes ago, urge to herd said:

Yep, it's a lot like adolescence. Think about the sweet and helpful  11 or 12 yr old child who seemingly overnight becomes rude/antisocial/sullen. Even if he's neutered, he'll still hit some road bumps.

I assume you're referring to the dog and not the 12 year old child . . . :lol:

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6 hours ago, ElizaRose said:

 He is obsessed with bikes & people running. He lunges and barks & would probably nip if he got the chance. We have tried to teach a "leave it" command with treats and praise and all the rest, but it keeps getting worse. I would say he prioritises bikes over everything else in this world.

Today, my worst fear came true. Winston's lead didn't attach properly and half way through our morning walk he saw a bicycle, lunged, and broke off his lead. He took off down a major road of traffic chasing bikes, people and completely unaware of surrounding cars. He wouldn't come back when I called and he ran from everyone who tried to get his attention. It was awful. We did catch him, and he is completely fine, but I realised how incredibly important his off-lead control is and breaking this habit.

Your boy is beautiful!

You completely have my sympathies with the chasing and lunging bikes/runners. We have very luckily not had an incident quite like yours, although did have one when he was much younger where he chased some kids across a field on bikes. And totally would go after runners if given the chance. Lunging and barking, yes.

I tried desensitizing with what I thought was some success (some days excellent, some days worse than ever), but realise now that I was still going too fast and was trying to creep forward towards the offending distractions once he was managing not to react, rather than waiting until he is completely comfortable at that distance. Someone very recently advised me that movement (ie running around playing ball) was stimulating and food (training treats and chews) were calming so since then we've been visiting places where we can watch people/cars/bikes from a very safe distance while eating treats and I've given myself more realistic expectations (I'm thinking he'll be a nice calm dog able to ignore bikes when he's five :) and have stopped thinking we'll go jogging next to the cycle lane this summer). His response to the food treats are a good indication of whether we are at a safe enough distance he can relax (will eat treats normally) or whether he's close to threshold (snatches the treats or ignores them completely).

For safety, because I'm nervous of him getting loose when he goes over-threshold, I have one of those lead splitters that people use when they walk two dogs with one part clipped to his collar and one part clipped to his harness. If a clip breaks or isn't attached properly or if the collar or harness breaks or comes off I'll still have him.

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3 hours ago, GentleLake said:

I assume you're referring to the dog and not the 12 year old child . . . :lol:

Oops ~ yes, the dog not the child. Sorry I didn't catch that one . . . 

Ruth & Gibbs

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9 hours ago, GentleLake said:

So you'll have to work with him at a distance far enough from his triggers so you can desensitize and counter-condition while he's still receptive to training. (You can do searches here and on the internet for more detailed discussions of this kind of training, in particular Look at That (LAT) and similar approaches.) 

Thank you! This is probably our biggest problem - we live in an area surrounded by bike paths - so we are walking around bikes all the time. Might have to find some alternative tracks while this is an issue!

Maybe we can find a spot to sit and train with bikes in the (far) distant view.

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5 hours ago, jami74 said:

(I'm thinking he'll be a nice calm dog able to ignore bikes when he's five :) and have stopped thinking we'll go jogging next to the cycle lane this summer). His response to the food treats are a good indication of whether we are at a safe enough distance he can relax (will eat treats normally) or whether he's close to threshold (snatches the treats or ignores them completely).

Nice to know I'm not the only one struggling here :lol: The cycle lane has definitely become a no go for us too. Sounds like we need to more WAYYY further away from the threshold right now.

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On 3/29/2019 at 4:41 AM, ElizaRose said:

This makes it a little difficult to train him without food - or get him to listen to any commands without food.

Then train with food! Nothing wrong with that. I always train, at least at the beginning, with food. Just make the treats something you can cut up into very tiny pieces (maybe 1/4" square) so that you can give him a lot without spoiling his appetite for his dinner. Or, use his kibble both morning and evening to train him, one piece at a time. A food-motivated dog is easier to train than one who is not, so make use of it.

As for the bikes, it is imperative as others have said to train away from the bikes. Every time he gets to lunge at or chase a bike it rewards him and will make it harder to train him away from that. Find another place to walk/train, even if you have to drive somewhere else to do so. And take it very, very slowly. First, train him to pay attention to you with no distractions, then with those which are less inviting to him than bikes, then with the bikes so far away he doesn't react to them, then with then just a little closer, and so on. Be patient, as this will take some time and rushing the process will only backfire.

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Hello!

Search for Pivo, and your can read my story and what others recommended. We still have this issue in very specific, discreet circumstances. Always remember: Dogs, especially Border Collies, do not generalize. Pivo basically ignores bicycles now EXCEPT when we cross ONE corner in the city.  

Grisha Stewarts BAT training has been great for us, and I like how she explains and breaks down tasks. It's basically taken care of this issue. I should note: it took years and we still have a skateboard issue that I have not had the time to address is a systematic way (and we don't see that many of them). 

10 months is when we first had this issue, and I wish I had addressed it more vigorously then.

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3 hours ago, WaveProfesora said:

...Dogs, especially Border Collies, do not generalize...

I don't agree that that's strictly true.

Dogs don't always generalize, but sometimes they do, especially once they start to get the concept that the cue means whatever it means in different circumstances, they begins to generalize more easily, at least in my experience.

And I definitely disagree that border collies are less proficient at generalizing. I think they're probably more likely to generalize with fewer repetitions than many dogs, again, at least in my experience.

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18 hours ago, GentleLake said:

I don't agree that that's strictly true.

Dogs don't always generalize, but sometimes they do, especially once they start to get the concept that the cue means whatever it means in different circumstances, they begins to generalize more easily, at least in my experience.

And I definitely disagree that border collies are less proficient at generalizing. I think they're probably more likely to generalize with fewer repetitions than many dogs, again, at least in my experience.

^  agree 

 

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