Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Obedience And Respect

by jcrply

I have a really important question that I cannot seem to find anyone to answer. Or else I am just too dumb to understand the answer. Maybe I am not asking it correctly. I will try to explain. My pup is currently in her FIFTH pup obedience class (she is now 11 months old). These have been at four different organizations that offer basic obedience classes in my area. I practice with her several times daily. She is perfect at the obedience commands while inside the house, she is great in the fenced backyard. She is good on a quiet street. She totally ignores me around other people and especially around other dogs... I mean she pulls, barks, whines, acts nutty. In the classes, once I drag her past other dogs and people and into the actual classroom, she is Super Obedient Dog most of the time but barks or lunges toward the other dogs the rest of the time. (She's not aggressive - just wants to play).

I know that the problem is that she does not really respect me nor see me as her leader. So my question is HOW do I actually train her to see me this way? She knows all the basic commands and quite a few tricks. She's quite happy to do them for me at home, in fact she is very impressive, but she is disobedient in public. The "watch me" command – which she immediately obeys at home and in class, is totally ignored whenever there is a distraction. I have been to watch the members of the Dog Obedience Club work with their dogs on their practice night. The dogs watch only the owner. They are very happy and enjoy the work. They ignore the other dogs and the other people. What did their owners do differently? I cannot find a class that addresses just how one gets to that point. At this rate, my dog could never pass the Canine Good Citizen Test.

One of the classes we took was called "MEET AND GREET", so I thought we would concentrate on MEETing and GREETing people and people with dogs. But it was the same old SIT, DOWN, follow the yummy treat... with just a little bit of walking by other people... with meat in front of the dog's nose. The really frustrating thing is that she is getting WORSE!! in public.

The only advice I have received so far is MORE EXERCISE. She gets plenty of exercise; that's not the solution. Is there anything that I can do? The Aussie that I had from 1995 to 2008 was not like this around dogs and people. I cannot help but wonder if the training method is the reason. I didn't take classes with my first Aussie. On my own I used the Monks of New Skete method with her. That was the old "jerk the leash" correction, no treats method. With my new Aussie, all the classes and my at-home work are positive reinforcement with treats method. I prefer this clicker and positive reinforcement method, but I am on the verge of considering reverting to the old method. I really hate to do that, but I've got to find something that works. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Comments for Obedience And Respect

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Obedience and Respect
by: Anne

Okay I will try to help. I teach a local obedience class and have trained and showed dogs for 21 plus years.
1st what kind of Collar are you using? Your dog will always do better at home than in public, but having said that have you tried to distract her with a toy maybe, when you are around other people or dogs?
Remember too that your dog is only 11 months old and still "puppish" in its behavior. Attention span, etc.
For respect... at home sit on the floor, while you are watching TV or whatever. Spread your legs and get your dog to lay on its back, preferably with your dog's head closest to your body. Your dog may wiggle and struggle to get up, DO NOT let your dog get up. The dog can only get up when you say it is okay to get up. While your dog is on its back don't talk too much , but give it a massage, belly rub or whatever. Make sure the Key to this exercise is NOT to let the dog up until YOU say it can get up. This will help with establishing you as the alpha dog.
Hope that helps, but feel free to e-mail me about any other questions you may have.

Anne Calmes
Gold Ring Aussies
Louisiana, USA

by: Ontario, Canada

I do not believe your puppy being disrespectful but rather that she is easily distracted; my Aussie is also easily distracted, she is 18-months. With help of our trainers, handling techniques, and working with her daily it is getting better. My dog did really well in controlled quiet environments, we needed to move her out of this comfort zone into one that gradually increases distractions; doing this gradually is the key. It is not always easy but we want to set our dogs up for success! I don’t want to give advice preferring to give information from my experiences.

I am a believer in positive reinforcement but you have to mean what you say and say what you mean; she knows her commands now you need to reinforce them outside the home with distractions. The leave it command is valuable, use when you see her first starting to get distracted if she does not listen immediately pop the leash a couple of times (not a full force knock them off their feet jerk), start moving away from the distraction getting her attention focused on you as you move away. Use your voice; don’t let her get into trouble before you start the correction. Don’t give her too much leash when you are at parks, keep her close until she earns the privilege for increased latitude. If she is ignoring you give your ‘look at me’ command if she does not respond pop the leash to get her attention focused on you letting her know you are in charge. Reward her successes, not always with food though. Use verbal praises, favorite toy play, if out walking it could be a reward such as stopping and sniffing (when you say so though not when she decides she wants to). Set higher expectations for her, she is a smart dog (albeit they are stubborn), make her work and always end a training session on a high note.

We also need to look at the 'tools' we are using; have you tried using a gentle leader on her? I continue to use this on my Aussie as the situation calls for as it calms her down. When fitted properly they are comfortable for the dog and they are not very expensive. Clicker training may be OK for some dogs but what happens when the dog cannot hear it outside. Training I attend teaches voice and hand commands, we are now working with our dogs using these commands when we are sitting and lying down with distractions. Our training taught obedience in first grade and after that the focus was on us becoming better dog handlers as the majority of challenges are not the dogs it is actually the handler giving wrong or mixed up signals. Is there training like this in your area?

Best of luck, remember we invite these dogs into our lives so we need to set them up for success which I believe you are attempting to do and let us know how you are making out.

Obedience around other dogs/people
by: Marie

I certainly hope someone out there has suggestions as to this problem. I have two Aussies that are very bright and have learned many commands, but when the see another animal... makes no difference what animal... or people coming to the door, all the commands in the world are ignored.

It would be great to get some help, with suggestions for this behavior.

My naughty Aussie
by: Anonymous

I had the same problem with my male aussie, I placed 1st in every obedience class we attended but when we were outside or around others he wouldnt listen. I continued to exercise him daily and used a pinch collar to gently correct the behavior I disagreed with. I also concentrated on the stay, heal, and come command. The come command took us months to perfect.
My main point is that my aussie learned easily and quickly but didnt mature very fast and only after he hit a year and a half did he start calming down and behaving continuously.

I hope this helps, dont give up and just be patient.

by: Denise

My 8 months old aussie acts like that too. He's quiet obedient when we are alone but as soon he sees other people and dogs all obedience goes to the ditch. He barks , jumps and go crazy wanting to play with other dogs and people. I think this a trait of aussies. We had trainer , did obedience classes gee was traumatic he only whines and barks to other dogs to play I thought he has ADD, all puppies doing everything and he just want to play . He's doing agility now classes, but his "too social" to concentrate. Also, I think they are too immature. With age they will respond better to commands. I used to have a sheltie and her first years were hard then she became so good and responsive to every command.

Don't get frustrated, just continue doing your training daily and for sure your dog will be very good when she's more mature.

Mine still up to his tricks, but we are patient.

by: yusaf

I love your question an have the exact same problem with my aussie i thought my dog was just crazy about other dogs too. she is only 8 months old but if i have the right toy even at the dog park she will play with me instead of other dogs, took a long time to find a toy that she just loved more than dogs. still gets distracted often its just a challenge to find things that are better than the distractions.

Distracted Aussie
by: rich

We have had three Aussies past 40 years and they each had a different temperament and were trained with different approaches. Our current Aussie Ziva is a rejected confirmation dog and was kenneled for 3 years. She is sweet but willful as most bright aussies are. Have attended clicker and reward obedience classes where she excels, but when out on a walk she charges a squirrel or small "prey" dog. To get her attention a few sharp jerks of her leader helps. But there are times that this 4 year old reverts to her "primal" instinct and requires a choker collar. It all takes patience and repetition. For Training, raw or cooked hot dog bits seems best to keep her focused.

Feel your pain!
by: Jean

I have a 5 year old male Aussie named Tucker that I got as a puppy from a breeder. We almost had to find him a new home before he was a year old because of what I thought was behavioral issues and aggression. After 4 different obedience classes/trainers, I realized that they were all using the wrong approach and making our situation worse so I had to develop my own.

I found a behaviorist who came to my house and he confirmed that Tucker was not aggressive but was extremely reactive and intelligent. It took a lot of training and patience but we now have a wonderful relationship... I adore and respect him for who he is. There are certain things that I will most likely never be able to do with him like let him off leash around other dogs or keep him from chasing cats!

by: Anonymous

Try going to can't say i agree with every word, but he certainly knows how to control high drive dogs. Most of this seems to be proofing problems. There may also be leadership issues. My dog did this initially for a month or so after i got him, but after bonding, establishing leadership, and solid obedience and started distraction training too he is now able to go anywhere and pass anyone without acting the fool.

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care