UPDATE 8/14: Dog training - Hope for an untrained country bumpkin?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Jenski, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    8/14 - Holly update on p.3 - -

    I would love to hear from experienced dog folk/trainers on this.

    I have two dogs, a Border Collie and a Husky/Shepherd mix. Both are mature, "civilized" dogs who have been with me for several years, and they know how to behave as part of a household. Our dogs live "with" us, and sleep indoors at night so they are part of the family. They have a fenced yard for daytime play, and a temperature-controlled shed with pop door and doggie beds for daytime use as well.

    We have never really held formal training sessions for our dogs. I guess teaching them what we want was just sort of integrated into the daily activities, and they both learned quickly how to behave. Both walk well on leashes, and both know basic commands - - sit, come here, down, go out, no, etc. - - and even visual commands since my older dog is now somewhat deaf. I have also taught the BC some directional commands since she tends to swing farther out from me when we are off-leash.

    Enter the country cousin. It would appear I have somehow inherited a beagle-chow-lab (?) mix female. She is 2 1/2 years old, 40 pounds, and has spent most of her life in a 10 x 16 kennel with small dog house. She knows NOTHING, and I mean nothing!! I have never had a dog this old who knew so little about how to behave with people. She is the canine equivalent of a child who was raised by apes. She climbs all over us, doesn't know a single command (or even her name), has no idea what the leash is for, shreds every new object she comes across, and has no clue how to behave in the house.

    Holly has been with us for about a month now. My dogs seem to accept her, and her spay incision is healed, so I am ready to help her learn how to live with humans. I am no dog trainer, but I reasoned that the first thing I should do is to teach her to quiet her body so she is prepared to pay attention to me.

    Dog trainers!!! Help!!! Is this a good place to start? Do we need dedicated training time every day? Is there any hope for a dog this age learning anything? How can we help our little country bumpkin??

    Thanks in advance! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  2. oesdog

    oesdog Songster

    Jun 7, 2010
    Yes there is hope - if the dog is not aggressive in anyway yeah sure there is!
    Sadly Dogs that have not been socialised from a young age are often aggressive so you need to be mindful of that. Food aggression and agression toward other dogs.

    Your Dog has missed out on a great deal but she is now in a loving home that cares for her needs. Dogs live for the now! Don;t feel sorry for her because of her past. You can;t change that but you can change the future. - I think probably the most important comands are the COME because it is important to retrieve your dog if you need to in a hurry. Like if they are heading toward a road. If you can;t get that one - the DOWN comand is the next best thing! MAke sure you set aside training each day for this dog. You will need to go right back to basics. If she cannot be trusted with a toy - don;t give her one yet. She has to earn the right to play! And you have to teach her how! You can put out treats on plates at intervals and each time she goes near pull her back and firmly say Leave!!!!! Once she leaves call her to you and make her sit - you can teach the sit by using a nose hulter and gently lifting it upward and say SIT she should go back onto her bottom the ask fro her paw you may need to lift it a few times until she gets the message. Then give her a treat. You can move on to use toys and this way it is fun and not distructive behaviour. If she is distructive in the house Don;t keep her in the house restrict her to small areas she can cope with and if you have to go back to a dog cage with nothing in it do that! - Let her earn the right to roam the house!

    Do give her extra time every day - remember excersize! Walk her twice a day and this will get her attention to you.

    Any questions PM me!
    Oesdog - [​IMG] My Avatar is a dog who was locked in a shed for 18 months - he is lovely but missed out the same as your dog - THERE IS HOPE!
  3. rcentner

    rcentner Songster

    Sep 6, 2009
    Le Roy, NY
    the only thing I have to say about training dogs or horses is........positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement can create some results but in bad ways. Praise for good decisions by the dog, ignore the dog if it makes bad choices. most dogs crave human attention and many will try to get attention whether they are being yelled at or praised. This is why positive reinforcement works better. Ignoring them is hurtful to a dog that wants attention, therefore being a punishment. If they jump on you, turn away and ignore them. When they don't jump on you be very excited and loving towards the dog. That is all the help I can really give, good luck!
  4. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    oesdog and rcenter, thanks for the advice! Luckily Holly is bright, friendly and wants to please. It's good to hear that there may be hope for our little wild country cousin. [​IMG]
  5. peachick

    peachick Songster

    Aug 8, 2007
    Maryland 21787
    if she is food motivated you can teach her almost anything.. But keep in mind the breeds she is mixed with are nothing like your border collie or shepard mix.
    The best way to train is give her limited and highly supervised amounts of freedom.... reward anything close to desired behavior.... prevent all unwanted behavior. Keeping in mind that YOU are responsible for any unwanted behavior. It is unfair to blame the dog.... hence no "negative reinforcement"
  6. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Songster

    Jul 26, 2010
    Positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement are terms that are usually used incorrectly. 'Positive' does not mean 'good' and 'negative' does not mean 'bad'. 'Positive' does not mean 'treats' and 'negative' does not mean 'beating'.

    Either can be 'punitive'. Either can be 'harsh'.

    What people USUALLY mean is giving treats to get or reward the desired behavior, vs punishment of the undesired behavior. 'Positive', they take to mean treats, 'negative', they take to mean hitting and yelling. That's not what either of those mean.

    If 'positive' means 'cheerful and encouraging', yes. If 'negative' means beating the dog over the head, then no. Don't do that. But one can still be very CLEAR and FIRM and CONSISTENT and still be 'cheerful'.

    I'm going to disagree with most people - and say that no dog has ever been trained to be 100% reliable and to do everything a person wants, and very little of what they don't want, entirely by being nice-nice with treats and praise.

    No one single behavioral approach or theory, will EVER be totally successful creating a completely reliable dog. NO SINGLE METHOD ALONE WILL EVER PRODUCE A 100% TRAINED DOG.

    There is going to have to be some of training that is not about treats - punishment, correction, what ever is the most 'politically correct' term in your neck of the woods. A dog does have to RESPECT you and you do have to be a LEADER, to have him be reliable.

    My friend had sighthounds. Her play area was not fenced all the way to her house. She led dogs by the collar into the house, and it was a little bit of distance. Her national champion saw a rabbit across the road, and took after it. She lost her grip. She called. He did not come right away, finally he CAME just at the moment when a car was going down the road. He was hit and killed instantly.

    He was an OBEDIENCE champion at a high level. He was a very kind dog. He was very smart.

    And he was not 100% trained. There were at least 4 times in a row, that he was disobedient in that situation. And that killed him. If a dog is trained to be consistent no matter what the distractions, it does not keep going when you tell it to stop. Whether there is a rabbit to chase or not.

    You'll say, that can happen to anyone. That is an accident. You're being unfair. I've lost dogs that way. You're being unreasonable and unrealistic.

    I'm going to say yes, an accident and a tragedy and anyone can have an accident but many of these tragedies can be avoided. By going the extra mile in the training.

    Treats and being cheerful are good. But the dog also has to have a sense that the owner is the leader, and that the owner can reach out and touch him where ever he is.

    Successful training is praise, correction, punishment, a very light hand at times, at other times very firm. Start light, try to KEEP it light, and if that isn't working, don't be a chicken. Do what you have to do, but also forgive and forget and go back to a very light touch asap, and always imagine that maybe, just maybe the dog is not doing something because it just cannot understand what you want. Get help from a pro if it seems it's not working. Aggression is responded to swiftly, surely and forcefully. You are the leader. The dog is not. But you are a fair, predictable, logical, and forgiving leader, who bears no grudges and never just loses the temper.

    A lot of training is about making the right steps in the right order. Say, stays done first on lead, and only after many successes and distractions, off lead. Most people take off the lead too soon. Having the right technique, and having alternatives that one is willing to use if that one doesn't work. Like my friend who teaches sit by holding a treat over the dog's head. 'That's the only way to do it', she says, when it doesn't work, instead of using something else.

    It is quite doubtful in my mind, though, that any use of the old fashioned just plain old harsh, mean, vindictive, 'this-is-fer-nuthin'-now-do-something-and-i'll-smack-ya-again' type treatment is NECESSARY to produce a reliable dog. Even if it produces a dog that obeys orders, is it the only or the best way? And would it obey all the time? No, there does indeed have to be some sort of reward in it for the dog or when he can, he'll just evade the trainer. It is also not so very good for the human being, who learns to be brutish, and teaches his children to be brutish.


    So what about you? You need a trainer. Sign up for a training class with a very good local trainer. Going to the class, being with other dogs, this dog is like a brainless little sponge. It has never been socialized, and it is bred from breeds that are generally active, hard headed, stubborn, and with a strong drive to hunt and keep trying to get its way.

    You trained your other dogs by just being around them. They were easy dogs. VERY easy, from the sound of it. Any dog you train from just being around it is an easy dog.

    This dog is going to be different.

    I would not recommend a fixed training time for an hour each day. Train it for a minute, 60 times a day, instead. Ask me if I'm kidding....LOL!

    Repetition is the key to training. So is consistency. So is picking something the dog is able to do. So is beiing able to get the dog to do it!

    Use of the training collar. The key with the chain training collar, is to always have as your goal, that the clip on the leash hangs DOWN. I don't mean how the collar is put on (though that's important too). I mean you TRY to have the lead loose, and snap, with a quick motion of your arm, to get the dog's attention, rather than to HOLD it in position with the leash(meaning, the clip on the lead is hanging pointed UP, not DOWN). You can't just let go if the dog runs straight out ahead of you, but you can actually still try to keep snapping it and not keeping up a completely steady pull, in almost any situation.

    First, it may need to spend part of its day in a crate in order to get trained. When you can't supervise it, rather than let it be doing things that are not allowed, put it in a crate. It is not going to be 'jealous' that the other dogs are not. It will just get used to the crate and that willl be its routine. A wire cage may be easier to get it into than a more closed plastic crate. Put on a training collar, a leash, and put a treat in the crate. Say 'treat', and quickly and determinedly guide it into the crate with the collar and leash. Close the door. Feed more treats. Let it out. Rinse, wash and repeat. Many times. Each time, leave it in for a little longer.

    Second it may need a real exercise period each day to settle down. You might be AMAZED at how a real exercise period changes this dog. It can be tailgated, or it can jog for 30 min (work up to it gradually) a day on your home treadmill, be led on a bicycle, turned loose in a large secure area and played with, or if you're lucky, you can longe him like a horse, in a big circle(put a bag on the end of the longe whip and teach him to chase it). Friend of mine rigged up a little mini lure course, (bag on a string) his jack russels chased it just about all day. Another had a retriever that would chase and retrieve a ball ALL DAY, lol. Another friend had a hose, and he would spray it and his jack russel would jump up and down and grab the water with its mouth. We had a hound that would chase a flashlight beam, the possibilities are endless.

    Third, it may not react to what methods worked with the other dogs. Its breeding is a little like, 'Hm, let me see, if I wanted to breed a tough to train dog, what breeds would I cross???? Hmm....I KNOW!' And then, 'Hm..how can I make him harder than that even..Hm! I know, I'll put him in a kennel and teach him nothing for years!'

    You may have to be more dramatic, firmer, more consistent than with your other dogs. I'm not saying mean. That little tap on the butt to teach sit? He may look at you like, 'Duh?' You might be pulling up on the collar and pushing on the butt and doing a lot more to get the same results at first. It is a more physical dog, it needs more physical cues for training.

    I don't mean this is the green light for floggings and beatings, I never mean that. Try drama, using a tone of voice, and physical CORRECTION instead of physical punishment.

    It's very, very hard to find the middle with some dogs. The middle is where you train. Not indulgent, not begging the dog to do something, but not harsh, overly loud or dramatic.

    It's harder if the dog is tied out in a buckle collar. He has been taught, basically, to ignore the collar. Takes some very handy use of the training collar and lots of patience. Try not to tie this type out, put him in a pen or cage instead,

    Example. My friend had a lab. He'd stand there and say sit! and pull up on the collar, press down on the butt, you name it, he tried it. Give a treat? Dog is looking all over so it doesn't even realize he HAS a treat. CLICKER? Never worked. Never got the dog to pay attention to the clicker! So Sit! SIT!!! And jerk on the collar, and FINALLY, when he practically had jerked his arm off and screamed his head off, he'd finally just yell SIT **** ****** * ***!!!! and the dog would pee on his foot and cower, and still not sit. This is a hard dog to train. Distractable, thick headed, not sensitive to the person's every move.

    What to do? Put away the other dogs, it's their nap time. Take him in a room by himself, with treats. Get him to look at you for a treat (cue 'Watch me!' and every time he looks, give a atreat, and if it is going nowhere, use the training collar). You're going to very gradually build up to where he obeys you when the kids, dogs and chickens are all running around him.

    Another real old sneaky trick I learned from a VERY wiley old trainer that had to redo some kenneled dogs, is just throw treats at them. Yup Even when they're in the kennel. As he said, 'Gets 'em thinkin' about ya. Otherwise, they ain't thinkin' about NOTHIN' when you take 'em out.' (lol).
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010
  7. KingSpeck

    KingSpeck In the Brooder

    Nov 10, 2009
    Others have already said it but I want to reiterate exercise, exercise, exercise. A dog that is a little worn out and calm is waaaay easier to train then a hyper one that's been cooped up in a kennel all day.
  8. noahsgeese

    noahsgeese Border Collie

    Nov 30, 2009
    I am no dog trainer but I think that if you tell her what you want and then make her do it for a while then she might get used to what she is supposed to do! Maybe?
  9. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    You guys are awesome! Thanks for all the insight.

    Keep those thoughts coming! It is a great help to read what others think about this. [​IMG]
  10. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Songster

    Jul 26, 2010
    I think I didn't word my post right - I didn't mean you get a trainer to work the dog in a class, I meant a group class where YOU work the dog.

    I think you're going to have a whole heck of a lot of fun with this dog. He just needs a little extra work for a little while. It's so satisfying to look back and be proud of how much you accomplished with a dog. When you train a dog well, you really are saving a life. There is always a place in the world for a happy, well trained dog.

    There ARE other advantages too! Friend of mine told me he read a story in a book about a guy who did advanced training. One of the exercises is to pick up objects with the owner's scent on them rather than any other scent. The author taught his dog to pick up a dollar bill with his scent on it. Then whenever he met someone he'd bet his dog could tell the difference between a one and a twenty. Of course the other person would not believe it and he'd put down his own one and the non-believer's twenty. The dog would pick up his one with his scent on it.

    Friend of mine thought this sounded cool, so taught his dog first to retrieve and then to retrieve only things with his scent. He swears he made a fair amount of cash at the dog park!!!
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010

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