Cris And Mini Aussie Named Valentine


Well-Known Member
Hi! I'm Cris (short for Crystal). I live in Denver, Colorado. I'm a grad student at the University of Denver, studying for my master's in Library and Information Science. I also intern at a public library.

I got Valentine (named for the heart-shaped marking on her forehead) because I've wanted a dog for a few years, and I think now is the best time for a puppy, since I'm home except for 4-5 hours a day. She's 4 months old and a real sweetheart. I had 2 dogs growing up, but this is my first dog as an adult where I'm responisble for the training.

I like to take long walks, run, and hike. I think a high-energy dog (miniature Australian Shepherd) will be a great fit. I obviously can't start her on any of that until she's done growing, so while she's a puppy we play a lot of fetch. Now that she's vaccinated we also go to dog parks and puppy kindergarten/socializations to burn off some energy.

I live alone, which means that I can raise her exactly as I want without much outside interference. It also means that I can't do any 2 person training with her. I'll probably need a lot of advice on working with her solo.

So far she's excellent at Sit and Down. She's good at Stand with hand gestures but tilts her head at me in confusion if I just use the word. She's fairly good at Come, but a lot of the time I have to be really animated to get her to come if she's distracted. She knows Off and paws at a string of bells I hung by the door whenever she needs to go out. She's also crate-trained and happily goes into it when I say Crate.

I'm working on getting her to lay on her side by getting her to Down and then enticing her back with a treat. She will snap her head back, but her body only goes back about a second. I've been positioning her, but she doesn't seem to get it. We're also working on Stay mostly at doors and when I'm getting out of the car, that way I can get out before she rushes me (she wears a seatbelt harness). She's 50/50 on Stay right now, but getting better.

I do take her for easy 2o-30 minute walks now, and she gets a little barrier aggressive with the leash. I've tried distracting her with treats when she sees other dogs or people, but that doesn't seem to be working. I pull the leash out of her mouth and say "No Chew!" That hasn't done much either.

Whew. I didn't know I had so much to say! I'm excited about furthering training and finding out about all the different tricks we can learn. I'm sure I will need all the help I can get, so thanks in advance!



Experienced Member
Awww what a cutie!!

For laying on her side, i would try treating her when she gets in that position, positioning her there is almost a 'forced submit' which isn't pleasant for the dog (I know you're not doing that but she doesn't).

For leash chewing....she's excited! Puppies of 4 months are rarely aggressive...A stern NO! may work if you've used it else where. Try giving her something to carry? Standing still and waiting until she stops then treating her could work. Or as she seems quite smart teach her to "drop" or maybe a hand "touch" will distract her from it and give a positive thing for her to do.

* sigh* RECALL every dog owners continued quest!! LOL. Use SUPER lovely treats - not petshop treats - we are talking cheese, ham, hotdogs, boiled chicken. run away from her - she will chase feed when she gets to you. Play tug and use that as a reward. Distractions are the hardest part of recall as you have to be more interesting than whatever else is out there!! check out Susan Garrett for recall. Dog parks are not great places to take your dog - they learn SO many bad habits from other dogs!! There is an article somewhere on the board that explains this ...

Anyway... Welcome!!


Well-Known Member
She always comes for a treat. I'm trying to get her to come just because I asked her to. :D

I've tried waiting until she lies on her side on her own, and she just never does. I think she gets too excited about the treat in my hand. She alternates sitting, laying down, and springing into a stand. (Which I think means she wants to do what I want her to do but she just doesn't know what that is.) But laying on her side never seems to enter the rotation. Is there another way I can get her to go there on her own? Or should I watch for it in her normal activities and treat it when I see it?

I will definitely look for the dog park post.



Experienced Member
Ah! Ideally keep treating for coming - it is the hardest thing to keep consistant i have found. My girl is 18ms and has been onlead for months now because she is just not trustworthy!! Her recall is terrible! :barefoot:

watch for it in her activities. Or treat for getting 1/4 way there, then 1/2 you use a clicker? that would help you be more acurrate, for her to know what you want her to do. The going through the trick list is her thinking and trying to please - quite common and is good :)


Honored Member
cute dog!! Here is kikopup, a free online dog trainer who is positive only. She usually focuses on behaviors, not tricks so much. Here is one for leash-biters. (you are not alone, ha ha)



Honored Member
btw, of course every dog is individual,
and all of us humans have our own ways of doing things,
but i used whole other cue for in/out of cars, is "wait". My dog knows a "wait" is like a pause only, he will soon be allowed to move, but for now, he has to wait.

whereas his "stay", he settles right down, and anticipates a longer thing, until released.

probably only slight difference, and maybe not even important to mention, but i didn't want him to think "stay" meant a brief pause. lol, i do think i am only one who does it that way,:rolleyes: so is probably fine to use "stay" for a pause, or very short wait, anyway.

Like when i open a new door, to a home, or car, for example, he "waits"
he isn't asked to "stay".

but we all do things our own ways! adds to the fun. You sound like you are doing great training your very cute dog!:)


Honored Member
She is cute!! But then I am bias...;) I have two aussies, one normal sized, one oversized:D
She sounds a littel like my Jinx. I want to do this, but what on earth do you mean??? Sit, down, paw, bow...:)
I found that it sometimes takes a while for the penny to drop(if you know what I mean) I will train a certain behaviour(trick) for ever and suddely she gets it. I call this the lightbulb moment...
Something that might help with her lying on her side... Be carefull of your own position. try not to bend over her. This is a very dominant position to a dog and her on her side is very submissive. It might be, that this is the reason she won't do this. She can simply be avoiding your dominant position, as a good dog should.;)


Well-Known Member
Thank you. I'll definitely watch and make sure I'm not looming over her.

I've kept my eye on her all day and I've only noticed her lying on her side once. Maybe it's just not a position she particularly enjoys. (Although, she did have 4 1/2 hours of crate time while I was working.) I wanted to teach Side to her as a middle step before Roll Over. Maybe you're right and it will take some time and patience before it clicks. I'm wondering if I can try to teach her something else at the same time, or if I should just work at Side for awhile? I don't want to overwhelm her.

Do your adorable Aussies have to bark like crazy whenever they go somewhere "not home" for a few minutes until they settle down? A trainer at Petco told me it's totally normal that she does this because she's an Aussie. If so, is it something I should let her do for a bit (a few barks) and then have her hush? The lady made it sound like it was going to be an uphill battle to get her to stop. Not impossible, but definitely not a snap either.


Honored Member
No matter how you decide *you* feel about barking in this situation, or that situation,
I think most dogs can benefit from knowing the cue "shhhh!" It can come in handy now and then.
and you are right, it's not the easiest thing to teach.:ROFLMAO:

It takes practice, for the dog to be able to develop the self control necessary to follow this cue, even after he understands what is wanted. At least, it did for my dog.

There are many ways to teach "shhhh!" or whatever word you will use, to get your dogs to stop barking. Kikopup also has five(5) videos on helping dogs not to bark, for various situations.

Here is how i did, but again, there's other ways to teach "shhhh" too. YOu'd probably have to tweak the method i used to fit your own dog, especially in finding triggers that make *your* dogs bark, so you can set about helping them to understand how if they ARE silent, all kinds of treats arrive.


Honored Member
Another thing you might try,
if you decide you do want to extinguish the barking when they arrive in a new place,
get a pal to volunteer her home for this,
and go over,
walk in.
If dogs bark,
silently, calmly remove dogs back outside of the home.

wait a moment.

Re-enter the home.
Lavishly praise and reward dogs (bring yummy high-value treats) for being silent, when they ever do grasp the concept, "ohhh, if we are silent, we get to STAY in this house...if we bark, we get taken back outdoors.."

I'm guessing you'd probably have to enter/exit any number of times,
and repeat this daily for a while,
til dogs get hang of it.

If you only do this once,
and then dogs don't get another chance to practice their new self control for a week or so, the dogs may very well default back to their habitual barking....and then
it's likely you'd have to start alllllllllll over again.

So, I *think* you might have to do this daily for a while, but i bet, dogs might catch on quickly. Then, you'd also have to practice this entering other homes than the one they trained in, too.

I'd save Petsmart for last, after dogs have mastered this in private homes, as Petsmart is soooooooooooooo super-exciting to dogs, many dogs are way over their threshold just to be even be inside of save that one for last.

*Might* work, worth a try.


Honored Member
Cooper hardly ever barks, but then again, he is not your typicall aussie.
Jinx does bark when she is excited, but I have spend an huge amount of time on selfcontrol.
Because, yes, aussies do bark like crazy when you let them, but I don't think this is a good behaviour. So she is allowed to bark, when we play(especially when we play frisbee or do agility:rolleyes:), but when play is over, no more barking.
She is allowed to bark one or two times, when people come at the door, but not when we go somewhere.
I have gone about this, pretty much how Tigerlily explaines. Only my cue for silence is: thank you or done.
It's not easy and it takes a lot of patience and time:eek::D


Well-Known Member
With loose-leash walking, a trainer told me to do the leash-pop whenever she pulled. After a couple of weeks of that, I saw that she was just getting frustrated and wound up, and the pulling remained the same.

After visiting this site, I switched to doing a U-turn whenever she pulls and treating her when she's walking nicely. It takes about 20-25 minutes to get around our block. She seems less aggravated up until we're at 3/4ths of the walk. Then she starts in on the growling, pouncing, biting, and shaking her head to kill the leash. When she gets to this stage she pulls in all directions, circling around me. I stop completely and wait. When she has the leash in her mouth I make a sound to distract her (Victoria Stilwell style) and tell her she's good once she's dropped it. Granted, I've only walked with her this way for a week now, but it bothers me that she still gets so frustrated with the leash.

I'm wondering if it'll just take time for her to get over the leash-popping thing, which she did not respond well to; or if it's normal for a puppy to get frustrated about the leash until she gets more used to walking. I read the thread where you all had dicussed this in 2007, but I wondering what your thoughts are now. Is it just a matter of time? Am I on the right track?


Honored Member
wow, what an interesting situation,
about the behavior coming at end of the walk............O_o

Does this same thing occur,
say, if you drove to a new neighborhood ,
and walked her there for 20 minutes?

Just to rule out, it's not, "oh no, we are going back! no!:cautious:i'm not ready yet! cuz i wanted to keep walking..."

and just to rule out, "Geez, i hate walking by this house:cautious: with a german shepherd right there."

Does Valentine get many chances to run free, at full speed, off leash?
I take my dog to empty, fenced-in schoolyards, cemetaries, fields, parks, etc, and get him running full speed, around and around. Wow, is HE ever a good boy for the rest of the that day!!!

You have taken home a HIGH ENERGY breed, and you have ensure she is getting plenty of excercise.
"A tired dog is a good dog.":rolleyes:

I'm probably way off base, but, always interesting to rule out all other options, but it would be interesting to see if anything at all changes, if Valentine walks on an entirely new route.

I just reread your first post, and just now realize your dog is only 4 mos old? is that right? How long have you had the puppy?
It sounds like you are on the right track, and doing the right things, to me anyway.
I'd bet time, and patience, and continuing doing what you are doing will solve this.

My particular dog,
is extremely "geography-oriented"....i once stopped randomly, at some corner,
and asked him to "look at me" and then rewarded him heavily,
and for months and months afterward----------
my dog mistakenly thought everytime we went by that exact spot,
he should stop and look up at me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This always surprised me, and it never ceased to crack me up into peals of laughter,:LOL:
that my dog thought he got treats AT THAT SPOT,
that his memory of love + treats happening AT THAT SPOT
was so strong. (of course, my laffing around at him, also fed his idea that something was special at that spot/kept it going, too)

The reason i tell you this story
is i wonder if your Valentine, has memories of the leash-popping occurring at that area where she acts up? I could be 100% full of baloney,:ROFLMAO: (wouldn't be the first time!!:ROFLMAO: )
cuz all dogs are different,
but, it'd be interesting to find out
if on another street that you never ever walked on before,
if Valentine still bit on her leash after walking for 20 minutes or so.

This is a baby dog, and my adult dog took forever to get the hang of loose leash walking, (he has 2 owners, and *somebody* was allowing Buddy to pull...:rolleyes: )
but i'm baffled as you are!! :ROFLMAO: Did anything in the Kikopup video help?


Honored Member
I also noticed,
that you mentioned your baby dog is doing this:

//"I do take her for easy 2o-30 minute walks now, and she gets a little barrier aggressive with the leash. I've tried distracting her with treats when she sees other dogs or people, but that doesn't seem to be working"//.

How is Valentine around strangers? or strange dogs?
What does Valentine do exactly?

Are you talking about excited barking and pulling to get over there and check them out?
are you talking about actual aggressive displays, when Valentine sees unknown dogs or unknown people?

does Valentine get many chances to play with other dogs? or meet new people? How does Valentine do with that?


Honored Member

OH MY, yes, yes, you are doing just fine!
I'm sorry, i'm embarrassed that i missed that point,
oh you are going to be just fine, it takes many dogs way way longer than one week, to drop an unwanted behavior/ learn what it is you DO want her to do/develop self control/etc.
you are doing fine.

I think it takes almost all dogs, more than 1 week to learn how to walk properly on a leash.

Walking loose leash is a thing many, many many dogs struggle with. And being a baby dog, Valentine has even less ability to use self control than adult dogs have.

I feel way way better about your puppy's progress, now that i realize it's only been ONE WEEK since you marvelously decided to stop with the leash popping and try a new method, oh you are on your way now! Good for you!! Yes, getting a dog to undertand how to walk in the way you want them to, takes more than a week,
even for an adult dog.

and this idea is probably stoooopid,
have you tried using an entirely different new leash?
*might* not make any difference, but,
it'd be interesting to know if it helps at all, starting all over with a new leash that Valentine has absolutely no "bad"associations with. Dogs can and do make very strong associations in their lil minds who knows?
worth a shot. i'd try it, no harm either way,...


Honored Member
Here are some Kikopup videos, only about 3 minutes long, she focuses mostly on behavior training--------here's two quickie videos on helping dogs learn loose leash walking/no pulling.

NOT all youtube behavior videos are good advice, nope nope nope,
but kikopup is trustworthy resource for you. she is 100% all positive methods.

HOpe one of these helps: (this first dog might be doing something like Valentine is doing?)



Well-Known Member
Thanks! I feel much better. I thought I was rushing things and expecting too much, but my self-doubt (first time owning a dog as an adult--Oh gawd, am I doing this right???) got the better of me.
She is 4 months as of the 7th. I've had her since she was 9 weeks old.

In case you're still curious, it does happen everywhere we walk. We have a couple of parks around my house, and it happens at both of those too. I decided to cut the walks back to just our block while we're trying the U-turn or stopping method. That way it doesn't take an hour to get home. :) Although she seems happy enough at first, she just gets to a point where she's had enough and the leash has to die. Although, I haven't tried a new leash.

I have a very large yard and we run around that, we play a lot of fetch, and she chases after a wubba that I move around quickly on the ground. I usually try to make sure that she's had some other exercise before we walk, so that she's not bounding ahead with excess energy. I also take her to where her parents live so she can run around with them. The couple of times I've taken her to dog parks she stuck like glue to my side. She would run after a ball, but then stay around me after she'd retrieved it.

When we go to doggy socialization and kindergarten classes she gets along really well with the other puppies. She usually picks one right around her level and spends the whole time with her new buddy. As for the agression during walks, its never about other dogs. She does want to bound toward them, and if they bark she barks back, but it's not aggresive.

About 20 minutes into any walk and she's pipping mad at that darn leash. She bares her teeth at it, growls, pounces it, chews it, and shakes her head to kill it. One time when we were still leash-popping, she got so frustrated that when we got home and I had taken the leash off, she started growling and pawing at the carpet like she was going to dig to China. I think she was just really upset and had all this negative energy to burn. That's when I decided enough was enough with that method. It was clearly stressing her out.

I'll keep at this for a while; I'm sure it'll just take time. I just wanted to make sure I was on the right track. Thanks for the videos! I really do appreciate them. They help a lot.


Honored Member
OH, i'm so glad you take Valentine to puppy classes, and so glad your dog DOES indeed get on well with other dogs and ppl! whew! YAY!! :D big sigh of relief from me for you. yes!

You sound like you are doing a lot of things right! You know, i think there are some good sides to become dog owner all over again, as you are probably very conscientious, approaching it carefully and thoughtfully (like how you observed the leash pop was not working for your dog, some ppl keep doing that for years..), aaaaand you won't have any lifelong bad habits to reconsider!! :ROFLMAO: Valentine is a lucky dog. (btw, Victoria Stillwell, just got HER very first dog ever a year or so ago. Never ever had a dog of her own before!! We all love her around here, and almost all of us dislike dog whisperer:mad: , with a passion, so that's great you are watching her).

Yeah, i'd follow those Kikopup videos above, on leash biting and loose leash. I'm just like you, i always check with others if i feel a concern coming on, or hit a problem, the ppl here are great to help each other. I'm just dog owner member here, by the way, but we've got some super talented ppl around here. I just type @about 100wpm, so i post a lot,:ROFLMAO: but, there are some real talents around this site. I hope some of them come by and put in their two cents, too cuz i have no experience with dogs biting leashes.... other problems, YES, but leash biting, nope. so maybe someone whose dog did this will stop by, too!

one other thing you might want to consider is,
you DO want to help Valentine re-associate walks as pleasant wonderful thing in her mind,
and since V only acts up after 20 minutes,
for now,
just only walk her 10 minutes, end on positive note..(?)

then wait a lil while,
and do it again, keeping her walks short, for now,
stopping BEFORE she builds up tension or whatever,
and then,
maybe that would help V loose her "20 minute bomb going off" habit a lil faster.

ONce she is having good time on 10 minute walk,
the next week, then extend it to 13 minute walk,
slowly slowly extending her walk-time, slowly,
back up to 20 minutes...(?)
worth a shot.

I was thinking, that maybe the less time V spends biting that leash, the less times she solidifies this "walk = bite the leash" thing in her mind,----------> the better off she'd be? and less frustration for the both of you.

Obviously, a high-energy dog like her needs more than 10 minute walk, but, maybe,
for now, maybe is best to just avoid the whole scene, and slowly slowly extend her walk time.

but, keep watching those kikopup videos, can't go wrong with kikopup!! BEST OF LUCK, and keep us posted.:)