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April 1st, 2008, 06:31 PM #1Dogs are amazing
I just posted the below on a dog forum and wanted to tell you all how proud I am of my little guy, and also get your input (if you're big into training.) Enjoy! -Joe
We've struggled with our border collie mix. He's a sweet, sweet boy but the start of his life was rough. (He's around 3.) He was severely car aggressive when we got him. He has really bad legs, so it's tough to work him out and exercise the crap out of him, as it makes him limp the next day.
That being said, basic obedience is pretty good. We know he knows the commands, but getting him to listen is another thing. The main time we have trouble with him is when a glimmer, moving lizard, car, shadow or something crosses his eyes, at which point he darts. He's also constantly frantic, looking around every which way and never really maintaining focus.
Basically, we know he needs to let out his energy but can't figure out a good way to work him without hurting him...until last weekend. Saturday we took him hiking and saw how much he loved it. He truly seemed in his element. Half as a joke, we said "if he's going to be our hiking dog he needs a backpack." We went to REI and tried on a number of them. While placing them gently on his back for sizing, we noticed that he seemed to like them. We bought one, went outside and put it on, praise, take it off, praise. He loved it. Within a few minutes it was on him. At that instant, my dog changed in the following dramatic ways.
1. Complete focus on me, eyes facing forward.
2. PERFECT heel, nose even with my knee, about 4 inches off of me.
3. Stopped when i stopped. when I backed up, he'd walk backwards with me or turn and walk.
4. When stopped, did not sit until told.
5. Once commanded to sit/lay, did so immediately.
It was like a bulb went off in his head!
We immediately thought he was some kind of service animal flunkie or something like that. We don't understand the immediacy of the change. We've also never trained that tight of a heel, never trained walking backwards, etc.
Questions: I've heard that certain breeds need a job but are the dramatic changes just because we gave him a job, or do you think there's more to it? Do dogs really pick up on things that fast once they feel needed?
Also, we're going to need to get him used to being picked up (in case he falls or slips while hiking). Any ideas how I can train him to love the lifting strap?
April 1st, 2008, 07:31 PM #2
Joe, the important issue is to make sure the sling doesn't pinch the skin on his belly when he's lifted.
If pain is associated, you'll have a problem.
As to your other thoughts on giving a dog a task-yes it's true.
April 1st, 2008, 07:32 PM #3
Joe, my daughter is a certified dog trainer (among everything else), a graduate of the San Francisco SPCA Academy (The "Harvard of Dog Schools"). I'm sending her a copy of this and will post her comments.
April 1st, 2008, 07:41 PM #4
Congrats on the revelation. Maybe I'll try that on my Goldens. My very un-educated theory is that you gave him focus (aka, a purpose) by putting the backpack on him and therefore took away his need to react to every little distraction. Once that is done, he minds you (which you're pointed out that he knows how to do).
As far as the lifting straps, I'd say put them (a short piece) in his cage/crate/doghouse just to get him used to the physical strap. You may even let him wear the harness around (which I'm assuming would be part of the lifting mechanism). He'll get used to it just like he did his collar.
I'd be interested in knowing how this turns out. Good luck!
April 1st, 2008, 08:55 PM #5
How cool is that?!! I love dogs! If I ever have a lot of money I would like to open up a huge no kill shelter for them.
I took an animal training class in college. It was a great class. We learned how to "clicker" train our pets. Karen Pryor (I believe that is her name) wrote a book about clicker training that we read. I definitely recommend it![B][SIZE=3][COLOR=Blue]Dina Riccobono[/COLOR][/SIZE][/B]
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April 1st, 2008, 09:07 PM #6
He's been trained. You'll never know (probably) what he was trained for, but that sort of thing doesn't come all by itself.
I was working with a dog I was fostering last week, that would pull on the leash and had no idea what "heel" meant, but I discovered that if I'd use a tug on the leash to put her in the heel position she'd stay there quite a while.
It turns out she was trained to walk with another dog on a coupler. It was just a happy coincidence that we figured that out.
As far as getting him used to being lifted, I'd start by lifting him a half inch, praise and treat, lift him an inch, praise and treat, and go on from there.
Whatever gets them praise and treats will become something they like.Affiliate Marketing - The hardest easy money I ever made.
April 2nd, 2008, 11:30 AM #7
Wow! Thanks for the great feedback, everyone.
Donna, a LOT of people have been saying that it's just giving him a job, but I have to admit that I can't help but agree with you...behaving well is one thing, but perfect obedience when we've not gotten far enough in training to set that sort of an expectation is quite another.
Can't wait to hear what the dog school grad has to say!
April 2nd, 2008, 11:40 AM #8
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Having had a service dog for 10 years, I will agree with the "he's been trained" theory. Patrick, my son Chris' service dog, was a scatter brain, but as soon as his harness went on, he was all business. There was "work time" and "off time" each day and he knew the difference.
That would also explain his frantic-ness. He was trained to help out in some way, and hasn't been able to do it!Deborah Carney
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