Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Getting Dragged To Australia

by Sherman Langer
(West Palm Beach, Florida, USA)

Oliver with a baby bird.

Oliver with a baby bird.

Our Aussie, Oliver, is simply wonderful... in the house, playing frisbee, at the end of a walk, and if the Site published our picture of him with a baby bird, you can see how gentle he is but...

Much of the time, when we walk, he is pulling me. If I tell him to heel, he waits for me to pull out a mini-Milk-Bone. He sits down, and I give him the treat. I continue to tell him to heel, and as long as my hand is in the pocket where the treats are, he is right at my side. If I say, "with me," that works too (as long as there is a treat on the way, but...

I can hear him "saying," Hey Dad, when you're ready to give me another Milk-Bone, I'm ready to heel again!"

Seriously, I've had to get two cortisone shots in my hands because of torn ligaments and I'm desperate to learn what I'm doing wrong.

I have tried the Gentle Leader, and it works great. The reason I don't use it is because Oliver cowers in the corner when he sees me take it out. I just can't use it when I know he hates it so much. Same with a harness I bought.

H E L P!!!

Comments for Getting Dragged To Australia

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Inexpert opinion - be the leader.
by: Rob

As we learned in first obedience class / school, if your dog leads you when walking, then he thinks s/he is the boss/leader. And there are usually other signs of this tendency. But in respect of the walking, we were given a lead walking routine to break this tendency in our Aussie. We've not been consistent so we get mixed results.

Every time they lead, tug on the leash, make a specific noise (you choose) and change direction. As they come to the left side of you and level with the heel position, bend down to reward with treat or praise. Be consistent. If they come to the right, praise the empty air to your left. They eventually work out that out front isn't liked by you and if they stay beside you they get rewards.

With our aussie, it works better when some of the play energy has been taken out of her first, or she gets tired of the lead yanks and direction changes in the early part of the walk. It takes a lot of discipline from us. My partner isn't very disciplined though. sigh.

The other thing that we had to do was break some of the other leadership tendencies.

= We make sure WE walk through the door first, by getting her to wait, or dragging her back on the lead, or even pulling her back through behind us if she steps through first. Leader go through doorways first.

= We make sure she never gets up on the couch without our permission. Every time she does it's a massive verbal correction and I will go to the level of physically removing her if she plays obstinate to my command to get off the couch. They will test their boundaries. Then I call her, get her to sit, reward her calmness and invite her up. Leaders get to sit on things at their own whim... she is learning that she needs to be given permission.

= We also make sure that we get our food first and she sees this. In the wild, pack leaders get first choice of food and spoils. When we do feed her, she is made to run through some commands (sit, stay, shake, high five, drop, roll, etc) then sits and waits till we tell her to eat. Food is her reward.

= We ONLY play fetch when it suits us. We start and stop the games. We NEVER pick up a game that she initiates - if she nuzzles us with a toy or barks at us demanding we play, she gets a clear "No". A few minutes later, when we're ready, we'll initiate a fetch game or some other play. Leaders choose when it's play time.

Our Aussie is 9mths old so is still a bit of a cheeky handful at times and is going through a willful phase, but with us taking much clearer leadership roles, we've seen some steady improvement.

Good luck!

Thanks so much
by: Anonymous

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer me. I'm going to read what you wrote about four or five more times.

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