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Before I begin, the only obedience classes in the area don't start until January. This is one smart dog so we need your help!!!

My husband and I adopted a collie/Australian cattle dog mix from a shelter two weeks ago. She was a stray and had been with them just one week. She was fixed the day before we adopted her.

She's a very nice dog although we're having major problems with her on the leash.


  • Sometimes she'll walk just fine and do her "hurry-ups" in the yard or across the street.
  • Typically when we walk out of the yard she'll pull very hard on her leash as she tries to smell everything in sight.
  • Quite often she'll start twirling around like crazy. We can't think of any word or motion that we've used to set her off but the only thing that will get her to stop is to tell her to sit. (She does know that command.) She'll get a treat but as soon as we want to start walking again, she'll resume the twirling.
  • Every day we have a challenge where she will just sit or lie down and won't budge to walk. She'll pull her head back on the leash and we're afraid she'll slip out of the collar. Most often this happens when we're wrapping up our walk but not always.
Now that she's recovered from her surgery and knows this is her home, we're letting her off the leash in our woods. She loves to run with her tug toy in her mouth and I'm always out with her, calling and clapping and she stays within distance.

Everyone tells us to give her treats when she responds positively. But we're afraid that this dog is SMARTER than us simply because she gets a treat and instantly repeat the action, i.e., sit down again and not budge or twirl again. This morning it took us about 15 minutes to get her back to the house because she just didn't want to budge.

She also will not go into the car (small SUV). She'll pull back against her collar and for the one trip to/from the vet and separate trip to the dog park my husband has to pick her up and put her in the vehicle. Not an easy task with a squirming 44+ lb. dog.

We don't know what her training was prior to going to the shelter. She's well-behaved in all other respects, especially around our cats. But it's getting more and more difficult to walk with her and we're feeling so, so stupid right now.

Any suggestions you can give will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

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She wants MORE exercise, which is why she lays down and does not want to go back to the house.

You just need to be very smart about what you reward her for. If you want her to come with you, only reward when she gets up and moves. Don't use the treat as a bribe. Use it as a reward when she does what you want.

The good thing about such a smart dog, is you'll find out right away if you are doing the right thing. She will teach you!

Good luck! and have fun!

Oh, and the spinning things... some dogs have a propensity for this, especially when they need to run. You are going to have to keep this very smart dog, very busy. I'd recommend getting some books on clicker training and go for it! You are going to have a blast with this pup! There is probably no limit to what you can teach her... obedience, agility, etc. Look for books by Karen Pryor. Check out the book list on this forum sub section.
 

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About the car thing... some dogs have had bad experiences in cars, so you can do some counter conditioning on that pretty easily. Do this when you have no need to go anywhere. This dog would do great with "clicker training" so find out about that. Its really easy to do. You get a clicker (or even a snapple cap works) and teach the dog to associate the click with a treat. That takes about 10 or 20 repetitions of "click" then toss a treat (bit of kibble or tiny sliver of hot dog.) While "priming the clicker" you are not asking for any behavior.

Once the dog understands that "click" means "treat" then you can start to "mark" behaviors you want with a "click" (then give a treat). The beauty of this is that the dog knows the INSTANT she did the right thing.

So for the car thing. Take her near the car on a leash and click/treat for her looking at the car. Then click treat if she takes a step towards the car. Then click treat if she puts her nose in the car, then for putting a paw in the car, etc etc.

Once you get her to go in the car (could take 5 minutes, or it could take several sessions) give her a big "jack-pot" of handful of treats. Then taker her out again and play fetch or something she enjoys.

These clicker sessions can be just a few minutes at a time... better not to over tire her and have her lose interest.

If she's highly food motivated, you can give her as much of her daily food ration this way as you want.

A dog like yours will love this sort of training, and before you know it, she'll be a super start.

As I said, get some books, watch a few You tube videos on clicker training, try it out and you'll get the hang of it in no time.

Welcome to the forum, and please let us know how things go. Oh, and post some pics!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you so much Tess! More play time for her! We'll definitely check out the videos and books.

(I would love to post a couple of pics but not quite sure how to do it.)
 

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(I would love to post a couple of pics but not quite sure how to do it.)
go to "advanced" in your post.
Then scroll down to "manage attachments"
then you can "browse" your computer for a photo
then click "upload"
you can test it with "preview this post"

;)
 

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Tess is spot on with her advice. More exercise and interaction is what your pup needs. In addition to more exercise, you can also give her food puzzle toys while at home. These are things like the Buster Cube, Tug-a-Jug, and Kong Wobblers that the dog has to interact with a certain way to get the treats or food out of it. Smart dogs like yours often have a blast with them and will be distracted for upwards of several hours depending on the puzzle difficulty and how food-motivated they are.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Tess and Luananeko! We do fill her Kong with treats but have never tried the puzzles. The ones I found online were made of wood and I think she would destroy that in minutes. Do you know of some really sturdy puzzles toys?

I just watched a couple of YouTube videos on clicker training and then took her outside. I don't have a clicker yet but I made the sound with my tongue. She did respond when I asked her to come although when she runs with her ball it takes her awhile to return. But she did seem to get the clicking/treat.

I let her rest just a bit and then tossed the ball again. She ran around a bit and then it was the attempt to get her to walk home on the leash. I rewarded her with treats when she would start walking rather than bribe her. It did seem to work so we're on the right path.

Here's a photo - hope it works!

Thanks again!!
 

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Fabulous! It does sound like you are on a good path!
She is adorable, and has that super smart look in her eyes! :)
 

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Awww, such a happy puppy face :) Buster Cubes seem to be the most indestructible of the food-puzzles. They're made of hard plastic, so they're more likely to stand up to the test of strong chewers. The dog usually makes a few attempts to chew it apart to get to the food and then decides its faster just to roll the thing like they're supposed to. The Buster Cubes are quite noisy because of the plastic though, so I'd avoid giving it to her if you're looking for some quiet time ;)

Edit for a link to it on Amazon: Amazon.com: Buster Food Cube Large Size (Colors May Vary): Kitchen & Dining
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks so much. Who knew there were so many dog toys?! We'll be sure to check them all out and add to her ever-growing collection.:rockon:
 

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I got this one for my Shelties. Only the Alpha plays with it. It's HIS toy. lol
Aikiou

And I got a big red "egg" at Walmart. By Dogzzz or some such. Was about $6. It comes apart in the middle, I fill it with cheerios cereal, and open the little side doors for the cereal to fall out when the dogs play with it and roll it around.

Everyone gets some "egg" time and they all love it.

Jo
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you Sheltiemomma. That looks like a lot of fun! This brings up another question . . .

How many treats are enough/too much? We give her treats while we're training her outside. Once a day she gets a kong filled with treats, plus a Milkbone once in awhile.

And, she has outsmarted us yet again! When we get close to the house we tell her "Home" and once we get to the porch she's been getting a treat. She knows it's coming and sits right on the porch waiting patiently. Here's the new trick - now she refuses to go in the house after she gets her treat! So we're making her wait until she gets in the house before she gets the treat - very slow progress.

Ideas on how we can outsmart her?

Thanks!
 

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A great book on clicker training is Dont shoot the dog by Karen Pryor. She is a great teacher and makes it very easy to teach your dog. Also getting of track your dog looks more like a husky/ shepherd mix. Two very smart breeds.
 

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Your dog looks like it some Husky in it to me. These dogs need a LOT of excercise. Grand Pa's Husky would run for hours non-stop and never seemed to get exhausted no matter what.
 

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She is super adorable :)

My three love their flirt pole (an old caterpillar toy tied with string to a curtain track , lol) , they could chase round and round after it for ages and not get bored , it was really useful when I hurt my leg and they werent getting their normal 3 walks a day

My Daughter did it wrong to start with in this clip , I prefer to keep the toy low so they end up chasing it rather than jumping for it :)
This was taken before we got Teddy , thats why he isnt there , lol
(click to watch)

 

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Hi Sid - She is a real Heinz! There are days when she really looks like a collie and others when she looks more like a shepherd. The shelter indicated Australian cattle dog mix because she has white speckles on her lower legs and feet.

Thank you Mese! I've been thinking about getting one of these and will have my husband take a look at your post. We won't let her off the leash now since she ran off on me last Thursday, (supervised) toy in mouth. I eventually got her back but it's time for something new. I think we'll have to put up a fence, even a temporary one, for the winter.

This dog is too smart! I've been working with her trying to get her in the car using treats. She finally crawled in the back seat of our smaller Saturn which was huge. But now she only wants the treats - she knows she'll get treats even if she only comes in halfway so she won't try to come in all the way. I hate/love that this dog is smarter than we are!!!!!

Help!!!!!
 

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Clicker training her sounds like a good idea especially since she loves treats. It is a positive reinforcement training method that uses rewards instead of punishments. Oh how she would love this method. Every time she climbs up the suv, click and give her a treat. Lead her back down, ask her to jump back in - click,treat.
 

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Thanks, Paul. The clicker idea sounds very good and we're going to be ordering one online along with some puzzle games for her.

My only regret at this point is that she needs a large area to run which we can't provide. We can't take her to the dog park since she won't go in the car. We can put up fencing on a portion of our property but that's not going to be enough for her in the long run.

More training is needed, of course, and I'm hoping that we can get over the car issue soon.

Thanks again.
 

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She sounds a lot like my Huxley! And she is adorable!!

Now that I have a really smart dog, I don't want to go back to having a...erm...less-than-smart dog.

He was also very afraid of the car, and we have been giving him treats every time he seems interested. It definitely works! And like Tess said, make sure you don't use the food as a bribe, because she will immediately learn that she doesn't have to do what you say if you don't have something in hand for her. Instead hide the fact that you have something and then reward when she does what you want.

You might look into loose-leash walking too, there are a few great videos on YouTube. It has been helping us with walking better (but we are still working on this one).

Good luck! She sounds super fun. :)
 
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