Severe Dog Herding Issue...

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by tx_cowgirl, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Recently I agreed to train an 8-month old Border Collie for a woman who has been in and out of the hospital. Her basics have been going fabulously. I'm almost done training her already. She's very smart but easily distracted, and if you completely lose her focus then it is VERY difficult to get it back. She's getting better and I'm not worried about that....but.....

    She has a very, very, very severe dog herding issue. She lives with an Aussie, another female. When the two of them get excited and playful, she bites at the Aussie's rump, just above the much so that her rump is permenately soggy and almost matted. The Aussie has so much hair that she doesn't feel it, and she does nothing about it. I can't work with these two together because the Aussie had a terrible trainer and is extremely protective of her owners. The first time I went over I was very concerned with my own safety. I could get her to calm down and sit on command a few times, but she was still very agitated and aggressive. Outside of the home she is an entirely different dog, very friendly and calm. The husband of the household stood by while she was almost attacking me and did nothing. This bothers me for very obvious reasons....

    The severity of her issue doesn't come out as much with her Aussie roommate, because they know each other and know their limits....but with dogs in general, she's an uncontrolled stock dog. I know that this is quite common in Border Collies and many other herding breeds, but I've never had one as bad as she is.

    But as for Misty, the one with the herding problem, I can't even keep her with my own dogs because I'm still working on Rusty's dog aggression and Zeke and Mudflap would definitely put her in her place if she attacked their rears...I know that all I have to do to get them to calm down and ignore her is a sharp, "Ah!" but Misty isn't near as controlled. She's never had any training so she's not familiar with this, and the "Ah!"s do nothing for her. I worry that the time between the loss of her focus and regaining it back could be enough to reinforce the bad behavior. I've worked with dog herders before but she is by far the worst. If she did this to my dogs, and they defended themselves...and she did the same, I don't know what to expect from her. And I can't call her off. Rusty loved her initially and he's been doing great, but I don't want her herding behavior to set his progress back because he feels he needs to defend himself.

    Tonight we had a near incident. Mud was in the backyard and Misty slipped out, and since Mud was running and playing...she immediately went into herd mode. Mud growled a little at the unexpected sneak attack and I called her in right then, so she came running in with Misty right at her side nipping. I caught Misty and let Mud slip in, but if Mud hadn't had such good recall and self control, we would've had a situation on our hands.

    She enjoys the company of other dogs, so it's not an aggression problem. She loves having playmates, but her manners are ridiculous and the herding will get her in BIG trouble someday.
    Any suggestions are very appreciated.

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Lately she has been a bit calmer....but still a herder.

    If I put her on a 50-foot lead with one of my dogs loose, would it help if I called her to me each time she tried to herd? It's the only thing I've thought of... This would be good for practicing her recall, and would curb the herding at least for a while I think....
  3. stormi Well-Known Member

    Personally I would work on her recalls with increasing distractions (like if the dog was a puppy) with lots of play and reward when they come to you. I'd also build up a 'leave' command e.g. leave that little treat on the floor and I'll give you a better one. I wouldnt be letting her run loose with other dogs atm so that she cant get herself into these situations and she cant disobey. If she was out with other dogs I would keep her on lead so that you can physically remove her before she nips? You could also try a noise distraction to interupt her behaviour (i.e. use it just as she holds a dog with her eyes, before she nips)
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Oh no I'm not letting her run loose with them. That would only make the problem worse. Her recall was terrible when I got her and that is of couse the first thing I worked on. We've been working on her recall outside of the backyard with one of the dogs loose in the backyard. It's going slowly, but I suppose she's improving. We just started leave it today, and it went fairly well. She is extremely distracted by squeakers even though she doesn't play with them....I suppose I could give this a shot to take her attention off of the dogs. Thanks for the tips Stormi!!
  5. stormi Well-Known Member

    You're most welcome.

    Glad she seems to be improving :dogsmile: A squeaker sounds ideal to break her focus and enable you to get her attention. In my experience if you are able to get her to play with the squeaker it will make her responses to it even sharper.

    Good Luck...I am sure you will be able to bring her round :dogsmile:

    p.s. apologies for misinterpreting your message re: running the dogs loose together.
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Yes I'm pretty sure I'm either going to have to teach her to enjoy toys or let her watch the other pups having an ENORMOUS amount of fun with them. I've heard this a good way to build up their excitement and interest. Not sure...we'll see which proves best for her.

    No apologies needed, it's okay. ^^ I don't think I was entirely clear. :) Wish me luck...let's see how everything goes.
  7. snooks Experienced Member

    have you read control unleashed by leslie mcdevitt? this is a very similar situation to one in the book where a herder was eating horse poop ocd style. impossible to stop living on a farm. but this book i consider a bible for reactive dogs-which this one certainly sounds like. it's a great help to me and a favorite of a number of other dog/owner friends.
  8. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    No, haven't read that one. Misty's gone back to her family now, but when she left me her herding issue was definitely on the mend. I ended up using a small food bowl which I would shake when she started showing the first signs, and call her. The sound of the food was a distraction, plus the food itself was her reward. If she didn't immediately come I would bring it to her nose and lure her back to me. She was doing marvelously for the first few weeks, but the owner's daughter recently told me she's back to it because they aren't sticking with it. Can't win for losing I suppose, but at least they know how to correct it if they ever decide to. :dogdry:
  9. snooks Experienced Member

    i do hear that. here's the fix now will they do it... frustrating but a fact of life. it seems much more troublesome to me to have an OCD dog than to take a few daily steps to prevent it. but that's me. check out the book some time if you get a chance. it's very interesting and it really works for reactive dogs like my girl. just simple positive changes with slow desensitization. it sounds like something you would dig in to.
  10. lonewolfblue New Member

    Control Unleashed is a very good book. It's definitely worth getting. As for her herding, might try and redirect it by giving her something else to do. When you see her try to herd, don't do anything negative like saying No, or anything else. Instead, try calling her and then maybe play a little ball. Or maybe call her over to do some work, like practicing a new trick, or a little Obedience or Rally or Agility, or some free-shaping. Anything to get her mind off herding. Eventually she will come around, but may take a little time. My BC's fav thing is Frisbee. Anytime I'm carrying a frisbee, she's like velcro, lol.

    And as stated above, keep the training sessions short. Don't want the dog to get bored of it because you are trying to do it for too long of periods. That would be a bad thing.
  11. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Misty wasn't the least bit interested in toys, and they didn't ask me to work on that at all. So I didn't. When I was working with her, I would call her to me and give a huge reward, and then work on some tricks. She was almost completely over it when she went back to her owners, but they aren't sticking to she's back to her old self.

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