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Possessive Australian cattle dog puppy

This is a discussion on Possessive Australian cattle dog puppy within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; AT - thank you that makes so much sense! You're probably right. After she did it, and I was yelling at her (which was probably ...

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Old 08-15-2017, 01:46 PM
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AT - thank you that makes so much sense! You're probably right. After she did it, and I was yelling at her (which was probably not what I should have done but I was stuck in a tree and my friend was terrified), she kinda sauntered over to me, sat down, not remotely sorry. She picked up a stick and started gnawing on it. She wasn't in a reactive or nervous state, she was just doing her job.

She has outlets for her energy, like sometimes chasing the leash around and tugging - but controlled, her "drop it" and "get it" is wonderful. I wasn't aware that was also an outlet for her herding drive but that's convenient since I don't have any cows or sheep for her

Her leave it is fairly reliable, especially if I tell her before she gets after something, but once she's in motion after something (like a ball, or the cat... Or a person) it's a lot less reliable. I guess I should try to find ways to strengthen that command?
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Old 08-15-2017, 01:53 PM
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OH ALSO - she play/herds her big brother German shepherd. Should I try to discourage her whenever she bites his heels? Even though it's just her way to play?

She generally doesn't play that way with other dogs, but that could be because the other dogs she plays with are smaller than her and their heels may not be as tempting.
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Old 08-15-2017, 02:23 PM
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She has outlets for her energy, like sometimes chasing the leash around and tugging - but controlled, her "drop it" and "get it" is wonderful. I wasn't aware that was also an outlet for her herding drive but that's convenient since I don't have any cows or sheep for her

Her leave it is fairly reliable, especially if I tell her before she gets after something, but once she's in motion after something (like a ball, or the cat... Or a person) it's a lot less reliable. I guess I should try to find ways to strengthen that command?
If she's a high drive herding breed, she may need a lot of physical exertion. A working border collie, for example, can run 75-100 miles each day. I'm not sure Australian cattle dogs have the same level of endurance, but it's something to keep in mind. A bit of tug of war and some walks each day may not be enough. Exercising her brain, getting her to think, might help. I know there are plenty of days where I come home from work exhausted when all I did was stare at a computer all day, but it was mentally exhausting so it wore me out physically, too. Maybe scent work? Also making sure she waits for your "get it" command after you throw a ball before she chases it or before you start a game of tug of war. That kind of impulse control is good.

What about teaching her to carry a backpack, even if empty? That might add a bit more oomph and get her to exert herself a little more than just play or walking. I'm trying to think of things I have on my own mental list of activities for my dog since she's potentially a high energy breed and I'm not a high energy person.

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OH ALSO - she play/herds her big brother German shepherd. Should I try to discourage her whenever she bites his heels? Even though it's just her way to play?
I'm way out of my element here. I have no first hand experience with high drive herding dogs or multi dog households. It may depend on your German Shepherd's temperament and tolerance and how severely he'll correct Ava when he's had enough and she's out of line. My gut feeling is to not let her nip the German Shepherd in play, but I've been told I'm a nervous Nellie and worry too much about things that are normal dog/dog interactions. Sorry. Hopefully someone else can help.
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Old 08-15-2017, 02:40 PM
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She really isn't too high energy - at least so far, I've been able to keep up with her, knock on wood. Yesterday, my friend's 4 month shih tzu mix completely wore her out playing in like 5 minutes (but that was after a long day, she almost fell asleep on the short car ride to the park). One of the reasons I didn't go with an Australian shepherd and instead went with ACD is because I read a couple of people mentioning that ACD's were a tad less driven in their experience. And also, from watching her and her brother a little bit when we got her, it seemed she'd have a little less drive when she was older. I think I lucked out, at least in terms of energy requirements. Anyway, I don't think that excessive energy is too much of a factor as she is relatively easy to wear out.

That's not to say that she doesn't need mental work. She's a pain in the neck when she's bored, even if she is exhausted
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Old 08-15-2017, 05:35 PM
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Talking No dog ever got in trouble for "NOT Biting", LOL

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Also - she play/herds her big-bro German shepherd. Should I try to discourage her whenever she bites his heels? Even though it's just her way to play?

She generally doesn't play that way with other dogs, but that could be because the other dogs she plays with are smaller than her and their heels may not be as tempting.
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... I have no first hand experience with high drive herding dogs or multi dog households. It may depend on your German Shepherd's temperament & tolerance, & how severely he'll correct Ava when he's had enough and she's out of line.
My gut feeling is to not let her nip the GSD in play, but I've been told I'm a nervous Nellie and worry too much about things that are normal dog/dog interactions.
...
I'm going with yer gut feeling.

I'd also vote on the side of caution, & since the GSD isn't turning around to snarl in her face, i'd stop play when she starts nipping - mouthing during wrestling isn't the same sort of button-pushing as grabbing at my Achilles tendon would be, were i a dog.
If she grabs him at the wrong moment in his gait, she can hurt him pretty badly - pulling as he brings his leg forward, or strain on his leg WHILE it's load-bearing that pushes it to one side or the other, can injure ligaments & pull structures out of alignment.
It's not that she means to do that - it's just happenstance, which moment she grabs during his stride.

Other dogs may be extremely-intolerant of this behavior, so it's just as well that she doesn't seem to try it on with any dog but the family GSD, but i wish he'd put his own big foot down, & say clearly, "Knock it off, why doncha!?!"

The other potentially-dangerous behavior for other dogs is shoulder-slams or hip-checks as she runs by them - again, it depends on where in their stride the other dog is, when she hits 'em.
I've seen some nasty wrenches & sprains, & even on one occasion, an ACL tear, caused by such rough horseplay. [A M Aussie hip-checked an ex-racing Greyhound in full flight, during a double-suspension gallop - the left-rear leg he hit was wt-bearing; knocked the Greyhound into an uncontrolled fall, just a crashing tangle of limbs & body, rolling.]

If she were mine, I'd put a drag-line on her clipped to the chest of a Y-harness, & i'd reel her in hand-over-hand when she started grabbing at his heels for a time-out.
No recall, no nuthin', maybe a quiet 'Oops', & just haul her in - then stand on the drag-line with my feet shoulder-width apart, & give her just enough line to stand or lie down, keeping her there for 30 seconds or so - then let her loose to re-offend.

If she doesn't promptly get the chance to sin again, she won't connect her own prior action with the "end of play" - for the penny to drop, & her to understand it's a consequence, she needs immediate feedback, repeatedly; every time she gets grabby with her teeth, play instantly ends, just briefly.

Does the GSD take it in his turn to chase her? - Good play always includes taking turns, so one dog isn't ALWAYS the one on the ground, being pinned; both should be chaser & chasee, biter & bitee, both should initiate games, both should end games & collapse for a mutual breather.
If she's always the chaser, that's a tip-off: she's not playing nicely. And he's being TOO nice.

- terry
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Old 09-02-2017, 09:57 AM
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Hi I'm back. Thanks for the help. I have another question though - say we walk into the house, someone she doesn't like is there, and she literally pays no attention to them. Like she's just sniffing around doing her thing and only glances at them when they have food. Do I still need to give her food whenever she looks at them? I feel like that wouldn't help her make the association at all. We ordered Help for your shy dog and I'm sure that would tell me everything but I don't have it with me.
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Old 09-02-2017, 12:19 PM
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As far as the comment about good play between dogs always having to be equal, that's not necessarily true. It depends on the individual dogs and their petsonality. My male dog can be fairly dominant when playing and interacting with other dogs, especially males, but he never fights with female dogs and most of his favorite best friends are females. He doesn't get possessive about treats, food, me or toys but will drop a toy or ball and walk away if another dog growls. He'll still try to steal a squeaky though. One of his best friends is a female gsd. She outweighs him by at least 20 or 30 pounds and they're both very fit. He loves wrestling with her and races over to greet her whenever he sees her. She's very dominant in her interactions and very possessive of her owner, toys, balls, treats, even the water bowls in the park. My dog is the only dog she'll allow to go to her owner and get pats and treats from and also the only dog she'll let drink first before she drinks. Any other dog she'll charge and chase away from her owner, the water. Etc. They will wrestle for literally hours. She never let's him tackle her. He's always on the ground, occasionally he's able to get her on the ground but it's very rare. I used to worry he was frustrated by this but he seems happy to see her and play with her. He's also pretty assertive with her about his particular preferences. He hates anyone touching his tail, and will snap at any dog who tries. She'll try to play bite his tail to get him to play and he always let's her know that's not ok. She also is very possession him so when he tries to play with other dogs she'll chase off the other dog and growl at him and seem to try to redirect him to only play with her, he'll just snap back at her and run off after the other dog. I've also seen her mount male dogs when she plays with other male dogs. She's never once tried that with him. If any dog tries that with him he quickly stops it with a growl and snap. He'll try that with new dogs occasionally but if they tell him to get lost he listens and he's never tried that with her either. I should add that however scary or violent all this may sound, these 2 dogs are the same age, not quite 3, and have played in the dog park together and gone on some excursions together in a car and other places together for countless hours over the past year, and neither has ever had even a scratch or mark from all their roughhousing. Neither of them want to leave when us owners call them to go home and it takes several attempts to call them and usually at least one escape for another play session. They truly seem to love each other and all their crazy roughhousing. All wrestling and chewing on each other's faces. His favorite trick is grabbing her collar and holding it for a few seconds, then play bouncing away and zooming top speed around a lap then back for more.
As far as busy places like restaurants being overstimulating, what do you do when your dog likes going to places like that and actively goes to most people seeking to meet and make friends with strangers, but still has specific triggers where he may bark? I take him everywhere and he loves meeting new people and dogs, he pulls on the leash and just goes to sniff people with his tail wagging and starts giving people. Occasionally someone will see that and go to him and stare too much or hover over him, or blow on his face which freaks him out then he starts barking if I don't get them away fast enough. It's the specific things of don't stare or hover. Let him go to you. Do I tell every stranger I meet not to blow on his face? That seems weird lol. Who does that anyway? I can do it with no problem by the way. I tried it out of curiosity after he freaked. So I don't see how to desensitize if he let's me do anything already. Or of people start yelling he gets worried and protective and starts barking. Not always things I can predict in public and he's relaxed, happy and friendly most of the time. I give him treats and praise and pat him and keep him close if I hear loud yelling or noises that could scare him. Seems to help. And the worst thing he does is bark, never bites people.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:22 AM
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Hi I'm back. Thanks for the help. I have another question though - say we walk into the house, someone she doesn't like is there, and she literally pays no attention to them. Like she's just sniffing around doing her thing and only glances at them when they have food. Do I still need to give her food whenever she looks at them? I feel like that wouldn't help her make the association at all. We ordered Help for your shy dog and I'm sure that would tell me everything but I don't have it with me.
Walk me through the scenario a bit more. What does the dog do to let you know she doesn't like a person?

If you are working on a counter conditioning behavior modification protocol, you need to set aside specific time to work on counter conditioning in a controlled environment so that you can actively work to keep your dog below threshold. The more your dog has a chance to practice reacting to her triggers, the more those reactions will become ingrained behaviors.

Unless you're able to set up a controlled situation, don't take your dog somewhere where there might be a trigger.

That said, if you are in a controlled environment, counter conditioning is straight up classical conditioning. Dog sees trigger, dog gets treat whether the dog is reacting or not. If dog is looking at trigger without reacting, rock on. That tells me the counter conditioning is working! Counter conditioning isn't about training the dog to do something, it's about changing the dog's state of mind regarding the trigger.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:41 AM
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As far as busy places like restaurants being overstimulating, what do you do when your dog likes going to places like that and actively goes to most people seeking to meet and make friends with strangers, but still has specific triggers where he may bark? I take him everywhere and he loves meeting new people and dogs, he pulls on the leash and just goes to sniff people with his tail wagging and starts giving people. Occasionally someone will see that and go to him and stare too much or hover over him, or blow on his face which freaks him out then he starts barking if I don't get them away fast enough. It's the specific things of don't stare or hover. Let him go to you. Do I tell every stranger I meet not to blow on his face? That seems weird lol. Who does that anyway? I can do it with no problem by the way. I tried it out of curiosity after he freaked. So I don't see how to desensitize if he let's me do anything already. Or of people start yelling he gets worried and protective and starts barking. Not always things I can predict in public and he's relaxed, happy and friendly most of the time. I give him treats and praise and pat him and keep him close if I hear loud yelling or noises that could scare him. Seems to help. And the worst thing he does is bark, never bites people.
You might want to move this to your own thread to get better replies, but short answer is that, yes, I think you need to be on the alert and advocate for your dog which means spotting the people who look like they're going to approach you and tell them before they get too close how to approach safely or else not to approach at all.

I had to do that last weekend at Petsmart. A man with several kids saw me with Mira and said, "Look at the puppy! Go pet the puppy." My dog is not a puppy, she's a 60 lb German Shepherd mix, and she's generally okay with kids, but she doesn't like loud noises or sudden movements and she's only just starting to get used to the Petsmart environment, so the last thing I wanted was several kids running at her all excited and loud and scaring her into reacting, so I held up my hand and said, STOP! And when they did, I said that they could come over and pet her if they're calm and quiet because she's a little uncomfortable and I don't want her to get more scared. I think the man realized his mistake and called the kids back, but yeah, not every dog is comfy with unsolicited attention and I see it as my place to speak up on her behalf and lay down the ground rules, as you say you've done, which is awesome.

Might be worth muzzle training him even though he doesn't bite just because people seem less inclined to randomly approach a dog with a muzzle. There are also vests and other accessories that say things like, "Ask to pet" that might let people know to be cautious and considerate when approaching. Teaching him not to pull on leash so that you get to any potential triggers ahead of him may help. Also teaching him that he must sit calmly before he's allowed to greet anyone might help set some boundaries so that he's not overly excited and overly stimulated when he does meet people.

As for desensitizing to people other than you, recruit friends and family and provide very clear instructions as to what's required? Or a behaviorist who may be able to set up controlled situations with dog knowledgeable people to help him generalize not reacting regardless of who is blowing in his face.
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Old 09-16-2017, 08:00 PM
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Walk me through the scenario a bit more. What does the dog do to let you know she doesn't like a person?

If you are working on a counter conditioning behavior modification protocol, you need to set aside specific time to work on counter conditioning in a controlled environment so that you can actively work to keep your dog below threshold. The more your dog has a chance to practice reacting to her triggers, the more those reactions will become ingrained behaviors.

Unless you're able to set up a controlled situation, don't take your dog somewhere where there might be a trigger.

That said, if you are in a controlled environment, counter conditioning is straight up classical conditioning. Dog sees trigger, dog gets treat whether the dog is reacting or not. If dog is looking at trigger without reacting, rock on. That tells me the counter conditioning is working! Counter conditioning isn't about training the dog to do something, it's about changing the dog's state of mind regarding the trigger.
In the past she's barked and growled at my cousin. That's what I meant by "doesn't like." Now she's gotten to the point where she pays her no attention (unless my cousin has food. Then attention is definitely paid). I meant to ask if I could stop constantly rewarding her every time she looks at my cousin because I felt like that might confuse her. Are you saying that I shouldn't and I should keep doing what I was doing?
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