"herding" Troubles

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by skki, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. skki Well-Known Member

    For a while my friend and I have had an increasingly difficult time walking our dogs together. Her samoyed, Zero, has taken it upon himself to start "herding" (for lack of better description) my dog, Pit, when he lags behind or strays too far from the group.

    Zero is 4 and a half, Pit is a couple months older and they have grown up together from the very beginning and have lived in the same house since they were about 6 months. We've always walked them together and often go on long hikes and as far as I know the behaviour has always been present, it has only become too rough as of last year or so.

    What generally happens is Zero charges towards Pit if he's too far from the group, sometimes he even does it if HE has strayed from the group and Pit is close to us, and basically tackles and grabs his back skin until he falls over or yelps. He didn't used to be so rough about it, but now I'm finding minor cuts and scabs on Pit's body while I groom him, so obviously it's become too much.

    Zero has a phenominal recall if we walk him by himself, but throw Pit in the mix and it's out the window. We'll walk him on leash and it solves the problem, but then let him off and he's right after Pit again.

    How do we practice a solution for this if he only does the behaviour when they're both off leash? It wouldn't be such an issue if he would chase Pit and NOT bite him when he catches him, is there some way to train out the "attack" portion of his herding type behaviour?

    Any advice is much appreciated!
    Dogster and tigerlily46514 like this.

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    WOW, what a unique situation, you did great job describing it, too. Lots of posts, some ppl leave out info, but you did great including the needed info.:)
    New one to me, no idea, but i applaud your efforts to seek a solution. I'm sure, someone here, sooner or later, will spot this post, and know what to do.

    First thing that came to my mind, was THIS: (now this, may or may not help, no idea, but it won't harm or escalate it either.)

    Dlilly and Dogster like this.
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Kikopup is a positive only dog-trainer who specializes more in behavior management than tricks, and mayyybe, if that above idea does not work, maybe looking over her other videos, you will spot one that will.

    ONe thing i can tell you, when you want a dog to do a cue, is easiest to "TEACH" the cue, when he is NOT upset/or doing the unwanted the behavior. I only add this tip in,
    cuz i get the impression,
    that a lot of ppl working with dogs with issues,
    try to TEACH the new cue, while the dog is already upset. (not that this dog has "issues" or is "upset" but instead, is just doing an unwanted behavior)

    No one would dream of trying to teach a dog to rollover, while ppl throw plates on the floor,:ROFLMAO: yet, a lot of ppl seem to expect a dog who is upset to be able to LEARN a cue while he is already focused 100% on something else.:rolleyes: so for whatever that is worth, there you are.
    Dlilly and Dogster like this.
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    One other thing,
    that *might* be worth a try,
    is teaching Zero to "look at me"
    as a way of interrupting his focus on Pit before Zero escalates into the whole tackle scene.

    but, if Zero will NOT come when called off leash if he with Pit, this idea is worthless.

    I wonder, if Pit is offleash,
    and Zero is ON leash, does the sight of Pit running around get Zero tense/ready to herd/ or whatever you want to call this, does Zero still do this behavior?

    IF SO, then, you could begin *trying* to interrupt the behavior, with Zero ON leash
    and Pit offleash.

    With Zero on leash, (MAYBE AN EXTENDA-LEASH) as Zero begins to crouch:cautious: to go chase and tackle the offleash Pit, --------------maybe owner could recall Zero, and reel Zero in if necessary, :ROFLMAO:
    re-direct Zero's att'n off of Pit, and onto owner. Have Zero do a "sit"
    then have Zero do a "look at me". Heavily praise and reward this focus on owner. This is something that Zero should be trained HOW to do, at home, when he is calm. Zero should already know what "look at me" means, and should already be able to do this, before being asked to do it when he IS honked off.

    the extenda leash might be good idea, it might be long enough, that Zero could feel that urge to herd Pit coming on, but you could still reel Zero in to prevent this happening again. Use a stick, NOT your bare hand, to reel in a dog running on an extenda-leash, or her hand could 'burned'

    and at first signs that Zero is beginning to go after Pit, right when you first notice that focus of Zero onto Pit,
    then----right then----owner interrupts Zero's focus back onto herself, call or reel in Zero, does the sit, "look at me" and praise that. (BEFORE Zero tackles Pit) Each and every single time.
    Timing will be crucial, imo, to interrupt the beginning of the "attack".

    this might take some practice. My hope would be, that overtime, Zero could break his whole habit there.

    and this might not even help,:rolleyes:
    but it's worth a try. The more times Zero gains some measure of satisfaction in tackling Pit,
    the longer this goes on,
    the harder it might be to un-do this habit.
    Dlilly and Dogster like this.
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    if that works,
    [the whole recall on an extenda-leash, "sit"/"look at me"/ interrupter]
    if that works,
    one more GREAT thing you might wanna add into the mix is

    If this is new idea to owner, it will strike her as somewhere between silly -to- ridiculous,
    but my gangsta dog, nothing helps him more than my giving him a calming signal.

    LUckily, dog calming signals are not too embarrassing to do in public!!:ROFLMAO:

    All you do, when Zero is now sitting, and looking at owner,
    owner gives slow blink, (i mean like, an exaggerated obvious slow blink of her eyelids)
    followed by a fast, brief, darting lip lick,
    and then a big noisy yawn.
    the dog has to SEE you do the signals, they are useless if dog did not watch owner do them.

    AFTER Zero has observed his owner doing the calming signals,
    Zero no longer has to keep his focus on owner, now Zero is free to look wherever he wants, and walk about, etc.

    this is worth a try, like i said, it can really help a dog get the message, "CALM DOWN". You are telling the dog-------in HIS own language-------to calm down. He WILL know what you said.

    Here is video on it:

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  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    One other idea is, since this is new onset of behavior in an adult dog,
    is Zero having any health problems,
    or more likely,
    has anything in Zero's life changed, is it possible that he is now bored outa his mind, with unspent energy being built up,
    so that any excitement causes him to boil over?

    Like, has Zero's owner taken on new job, new baby, new dating, etc, so mayyyybe Zero no longer getting TWO good long walks a day, some tricks-training lessons, some way to spend energy?

    It's worth looking over, why Zero now boils over when he is excited.........it's a great idea, for owner to increase Zero's walks to at least twice a day, good long walks,
    begin some tricks training to help spend mental energy,
    wear Zero OUT!! :ROFLMAO: Play fetch til he tires, play tuggie-toy, give him tons of attention, etc etc.

    Make sure every day, Zero has "something to do" and gets to exercise.
    worth a try.

    Dlilly and Dogster like this.
  7. skki Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much for replying in such detail and with so many ideas!

    So many of the training mistakes mentioned here do apply to Zero which explains the repeated failures.

    He IS probably bored out of his mind. He no longer gets to go to work with his owner to burn off energy, there is less time to exercise him during the week, when we DO walk together, he is always on leash so he can't get Pit or anyone else's dog we might encounter. It's tough to get him tired - I'm trying to start biking with him as it's quick but he can be running the whole time, whereas his leash walks don't do much for him at all.

    We constantly use "AH AH!" style interruptions which explains why he listens well on leash and blows us off when he's out of our immediate control.

    We'll get started on a positive interrupter - I have a feeling that it might work out well for him. Gradually build it up to a point where we can use it out around Pit. He will display the beginning signs of his "herding" while on leash, so eventually after practicing, that would be ideal to break the habit while still being 100% in control, in case he has a lapse.

    This is fantastic advice, thanks again so much! I'm looking forward to figuring out a solution so we can just walk the dogs together in peace again.
    Pawbla, tigerlily46514 and Anneke like this.
  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"He IS probably bored out of his mind"//

    Well, Skki, you sound like a very devoted dog lover, and you sound like you are very willing to try to help this dog named Zero,
    BUT, if you ARE right, (and i bet you ARE) about Zero is NOT getting enough excercise or attention, all your best efforts will possibley fail,
    or be way way harder, and then it might be a lil discouraging if Zero keeps boiling over, despite your best efforts.

    NOT that you shouldn't go on ahead and try some new approaches, nope, that is not what i am saying at all, but, it's only fair to warn you, if you ARE dealing with a dog who is chockful and boiling over :confused: with energy that he needs to spend,
    it's possible---- no matter how masterfully you attempt to distract off of tackling your Pit..... well, Zero *might* still might boil over.:confused:

    It's like if you had a pan of boiling water, and you have to keep a lid on it, but every time you put the lid on, the boiling increases and spills out. It's kind of the same way with dogs and their energy. Zero still might "spill over"at even the slightest trigger or slightest bit of excitement, even when you are doing a great job of trying to calm him down,
    if he is boiling over with unspent energy.
  9. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"he is always on leash so he can't get Pit or anyone else's dog we might encounter. "//

    ohhhh, does Zero generally not get along well with unknown strange dogs?

    Is Zero turning on Pit when stranger/unknown dogs go by? ARe those times that Zero takes a bite on PIt,
    or only if Pit is running about too far away??
    Pawbla likes this.
  10. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"We constantly use "AH AH!" style interruptions which explains why he listens well on leash and blows us off when he's out of our immediate control."//

    well, main trouble with negative interruptors, is,
    it does not teach the dog what it is that you DO want him to do instead.

    whereas, teaching him to calm down, (come to me, "sit" and look at me and calm down by showing him yawns, slow blinks, daring lip licks) DO teach him, "Zero, i want you to be calm." AND it also helps elicit calmness in him, helps him cope and learn how to be calm--------- even if that little trouble-maker Pit IS a few feet too far away!!!:ROFLMAO:

    Zero can learn how to be calm for Pit not being where Zero thinks he should be!!
  11. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Well, in one odd way, it is an ADVANTAGE, that you can still spot Zero beginning to escalate even if HE is on leash. YAY!!! :D

    this will be great, really, like you say, Pit will be safe, but you can still spot the beginning of Zero beginning to boil over and focus too intently on Pit, to interrupt, and show Zero what you DO want Zero to do, instead.

    i hope it works, and it might take some practice, okay?? so don't give up. Keep practicing, it might take a lil while and it might get easier for both the owner, and for Zero,
    to get the hang of doing this.

    and do teach ZEro how to "look at me" inside his house, then advance to practicing this out in his yard, and then randomly on walks, slowly raising the bar of distraction for Zero to become great at still focusing on his owners face, on cue...............

    After Zero can master being able to do that, so even when he is freaked out, there is a better chance of getting him to do this on cue, after he sits, even when he is bonkers.:ROFLMAO:
    Zero can be the "Look at Me" KING! lol

    Let us know if you need help teaching "look at me" or some ppl call it "watch" or whatever word so dog looks at your face, on cue. Many many ppl try to TEACH this while the dog IS upset, but, it's harder, way harder.

    Teach this cue at home, same you taught "sit" or any other trick, and slowly advance along, so Zero can look at you on cue, around slightly increasing distractions, slowly increasing the challenge for Zero. No scolding, just reward when he does look at you. Ignore wrong moves.

    Or, maybe you are using the kissy sound like Kikopup does, either positive interrupter will do!!!

    //"I'm looking forward to figuring out a solution so we can just walk the dogs together in peace again"//
    I have high hopes for you, very much, i think you can solve this.:D
    It might take a bit of tweaking now and then, til you find just the right method to help Zero, cuz all dogs are unique, so keep us posted if something is going wrong.

    BUT, i kind suspect, Skki, that you might be right about Zero needs daily excercise.
    some dogs DO get a little nutty:mad:
    If they do NOT get to spend off their energy,
    and it might be easier by miles
    to just help that dog get plenty and plenty of exercise every day,
    and after a week, or two of this,
    of keeping Zero worn out,
    see if he isn't quite a bit better.
    my dog goes nutz too, if he does not get enough exercise. oh wow, does he ever!!:rolleyes:

    i think keeping ZEro worn OUT!!! might help your efforts quite a bit, i think you are probably on to something with that...GOOD LUCK!!! KEEP US POSTED how it goes!!!
    and don't give up.:)
  12. skki Well-Known Member

    I agree, we will have a lot more success with a tired Zero as opposed to a wound up Zero who is on the verge of boiling over!

    He is hit or miss with strange dogs, depending on how they behave. Zero seems to struggle with lack of control and order and tends to take matters into his own paws, so to speak, if dogs don't behave like he thinks they should (usually overly submissive dogs, dogs that are too exuberant and rowdy, or ones that greet him with stiff and erect posture) by pinning them or starting scraps. Come to think of it, I guess that applies to what he's doing to Pit in that he pins or tackles him when he wanders "too far" from the group. In any case, in order to prevent mishaps in public, unless we're sure there won't be other dogs, he's on leash at the present time.

    In the past when we encounter other dogs and they're all off leash, his attention immediately switches from Pit to dealing with the strange dog.

    I will let you know how our progress goes with this more positive approach to disrupting his bad behaviour!
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  13. Pawbla Experienced Member

    He is a control freak :ROFLMAO:. No, talking seriously, there is nothing wrong with a dog "teaching manners" to an out of control dog. If a person tackled you, you wouldn't be very happy.

    Well, I have nothing else to add, Tigerlily has already filled the thread with a bunch of very useful information. Good luck!
  14. Amateur Experienced Member

    Maybe the pit needs boxing lessons :whistle:
  15. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"No, talking seriously, there is nothing wrong with a dog "teaching manners" to an out of control dog."//

    True, but that is not what is going on here. Zero attacks Pit, for being a few steps out too far away, which is hardly something anyone would call "out of control". So far as we know, Pit is innocent here, not starting anything, PIt is just walking around exploring the area.

    Some dogs ARE higher energy, and need to be exercised regularly, and it sounds like Zero IS one of those dogs, and Skki has mentioned, that Skki believes Zero does not get exercise. It's possible Zero is not a "control freak" at all, but just another dog gone crazy from lack of exercise. IF Zero WAS given regular daily exercise and some tricks or cue training (for mental exercise) he might act completely differently, who knows. worth a try.

    This is another example, of why humans should research the breed and choose dogs who energy requirements fit their lifestyle. (if this is even possible, sometimes the breed is unknown, and some of us do inherit dogs we did not really pick out, or raise up "mystery" puppies, etc, )

    Still, every dog, no matter what breed, needs two good walks a day,and some training and play sessions every day, imo.
    but i have high hopes for Zero and Pit, i bet Skki does find a way to solve this problem, with some persistence, i bet Skki can conquer this issue.
  16. Pawbla Experienced Member

    No, I don't mean with Pit, I mean when Zero meets strange dogs:

  17. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    oh, gotcha. Guess you are right. Still, not sure how much better Zero might be able to handle some trigger, though,
    if he was not full of unspent energy...who knows? cuz many to most dogs can handle walking past submissive dogs, or exhuberant dogs, out on a walk, without attacking them.:rolleyes:

    even times where my gangsta dog is acting a fool,
    lots of times, the other dogs just walk by him, calmly ignoring my silly dog, maybe the other dogs are even rolling their eyes at how silly my dog is:rolleyes::ROFLMAO: .
  18. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Yup, you're right. It is part of the problem! But I understood the problem was not when walking past, I thought she meant that this happened when Zero met other dogs. :p Sorry!
  19. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    maybe she does mean that!!
  20. skki Well-Known Member

    Zero has already picked up on the sound cue we've picked for this exercise and now we're on route to practicing at higher distractions! Smart cookie.

    To clarify a bit, he is capable of walking by all types of dogs without incident, his problem lies in when he is face to face with one of them. While I agree it is acceptable for a dog to tell off another dog for rude behaviour, Zero's reaction is still hardly appropriate in my opinion. The dog's aren't jumping on him the majority of the time, he just isn't comfortable with their energy or body language and decides to very forcefully put them in their place. This behaviour is very different than that of the one he displays around Pit. With Pit, while he does end up hurting him, he's not picking a fight like he does with the dogs he hasn't met before. He flattens and grabs Pit then takes off on his merry way until Pit strays "too far" again.

    This is another reason he is on leash now. He's much nicer on leash when we encounter dogs on walks for some reason and it's just safer for everyone involved.

    I can guarantee his behaviour around new dogs improves dramatically when he's tired. We hike on weekends a lot, if we were to encounter a dog at the beginning of a 4 hour endeavor , he would probably start a fight if he were off leash. On the way back after he has been running for a good long while, he will avoid all new dogs if at all possible. If they run up to him, he usually lets off a low growl and tries to slip away or starts sniffing the ground and walking away.

    The more I think about it all, the more it becomes obvious to me that he needs much more stimulation.
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