24 Feb Dog Trainer!
“What is the best age to start a Huntaway Sheep Dog training and would you recommend to send him away to someone? If so do you know anyone who can help?”
You can start puppy training straight away, it’s really important to get the basics in before you start working on livestock, so it would be great to get to puppy class if you can. You need a solid recall, so make sure you pay pup with food EVERY TIME he comes back (take a pocket full around the farm) and you also need a great “Stop” or “Down” which you can learn at class. As far as training, there’s a lot to be gained from DVDs on the working sheepdog website (link below). When it comes to training, it depends how fussy you are, you can get some of the work done alone, from following DVDs, books etc. but if you want the dog really good then I suggest you send him to a professional, I’ll attach a link below, the link is a lady who seems to know her stuff, I cant personally recommend her but everything I read about her seems good. If you are local to me (Somerset), I have a Huntaway that works cattle that I trained myself, I can show you some of the basics, but I don’t have time or sheep to train one fully anymore. Good Luck!
“I have a puppy that is 10 months old and she is a nightmare for chewing! I have tried the usual things like telling her off when she does it but praising her when she hasn’t chewed anything, but this still doesn’t seem to be working. She gets walked lots and doesn’t get left that often (normally only when doing school run or food shopping etc.) please help! My skirting boards are nearly all gone.”
Ok, so first of all we must remember that at this age, puppies explore the world with their mouths. It’s totally normal, don’t get me wrong it’s a pain, but its normal puppy stuff. There’s a few things you can do to help manage it, you shouldn’t be thinking about telling the puppy off at the moment, it’s a puppy, it will chew, you need to manage the environment so she can chew things that are appropriate, and not your skirting board!
Kongs and Frozen Kongs – Get yourself 4 or 5 Kongs and get into the routine of stuffing them and possibly freezing them in advance, anytime when puppy is bored, being left alone, tired and nippy etc., give her a Kong. The licking calms them down and almost acts like a bottle to a baby, soothing them and preparing them for sleep. Frozen Kongs are great too as the cold of the food and toy helps soothe the teeth when puppy is teething. Remember, puppy isn’t always trying to be a jerk, either she is bored or her teeth hurt! I’ll post a link to things you can fill them with below, and also the link to the Kong itself (don’t be fooled into buying a puppy one, go straight for the adult one)
Confinement area when you’re not supervising her. When you go out, or if you are at home and cant supervise puppy pretty much 24/7, put her into a confinement area. A play pen is perfect, or maybe a utility/dog room, making sure there isn’t anything she can chew left out for her to access. (Link to pen below)
Re-directing onto appropriate toys. If you catch puppy in the act (which hopefully you won’t if you are supervising) gently remove puppy from inappropriate chew item, and re-engage pup with appropriate item, like Kong, Nylabone, Squeaky toy etc.
If puppy is biting you, try not to give puppy any reactions that could be misconstrued as excitement, remove yourself, and get puppy a toy that is appropriate. If puppy switches onto toy, play with puppy and make that more enjoyable, If puppy insists on wanting to bite you, leave the room, and let puppy have some time alone while she calms down, this way we are teaching her that biting skin removes mum/dad (which is a bit shit) and also results in you being left alone for a couple of minutes (which is boring and ends the “game”)
Good luck, remember you need to be teaching puppy what you want her to do, not just punishing when she does stuff wrong.
“How can I stop my 2 yr Beardy Collie from jumping up on me? Tried ignoring him, shouting…..given up for now!”
Teach her an amazing alternative behaviour, something that’s incompatible with jumping up. A sit is simple but perfect, teach her a sit and practise it loads, make it harder and harder, seeing if she can do it around distractions, people etc. and once she knows it really well start asking her to do it at those times when she is most likely to jump up. If she ignores you and jumps anyway, remove yourself from the room, or if you are outside, pop a lead on her so she can’t jump. When he is jumping on you, he will be getting reinforcement somewhere from that behaviour, it could be by you acknowledging him, saying down, jumping on other people and them fussing him, or sometimes dogs can get reinforcement from the act of the behaviour itself, because of this, you need to manage it and make sure you ask him to do a behaviour he knows REALLY well, then pay him (in food – yummy food!) for making the right choice. If a behaviour is being reinforced, it will get stronger and happen more often. Another really useful thing to do….if he’s always doing it in a particular place, like the doorway for example, make sure you put a pot of food out somewhere (out of reach) and when you come in, put a load of food on the floor, that way he is learning to keep his feet on the ground, and that the food will always be delivered there. Good Luck!
“How do I get puppy to stop yapping for attention, tried ignoring and saying no, only four months will he stop on his own or can anyone help?”
Why is he yapping? Bored? Attention seeking? You need to look at what he’s doing and work out, why he’s doing it, and where he is getting reinforcement from? A little like the jumping up question I received, he is most likely getting reinforcement from somewhere. If there are times where you think he might bark, and he doesn’t, make sure you pay him for making a good choice (with nice yummy food)
If you can’t seem to see why he is doing it, and its constant, I would try teaching a “Quiet” Cue. You need to get some really high value food, wait for him to start carrying on, and then after bark number 4 (for example) Give a short, sharp “Quiet” cue, this will interrupt the behaviour, and most likely cause him to be quiet for a moment…in that moment you need to tell him he is amazing, and pay him with that nice food. Remember, you are not reprimanding him when you tell him quiet, you’re just saying it loud so that it can act as an interrupter. Even reprimanding him in this circumstance will probably most likely reinforce the behaviour a bit like…
DOG: “BARK BARK MUM BARK THERE’S SOMEONE AT THE DOOR BARK”
MUM: “SHUT UP YOU ANNOYING LITTLE BUGGER”
DOG: “BARK OH THANK GOD YOU HEARD ME BARK”
“Last summer we had an addition to our family Skye who is a Papijack (Papillon x Jack Russell) both my husband and I have always had dogs without any problems but never a small dog with such a big attitude! (Both good and bad) In the last month I’ve noticed a change in her she can get quite grumpy, and can snap without warning at the kids. Other times she’s lovely and will relish the chance to play with them, following them around loving a cuddle. I’ve had her checked by the vet and no problems there. Would really like to find a way to help her through her grumpiness as she is a lovely little thing but struggling any suggestions??”
OK so she’s had a vet check which is awesome, if you wanted to be super thorough you could get her seen by a K9 massage practitioner too just to check she hasn’t got anything going on muscular. Just make sure that you have identified she doesn’t have “trigger times” like when she’s super tired, post walk, early morning etc.
Warnings are awesome, and it’s tough when the dog stops warning that they are getting close to their bite point. There is a great little graph called the “Canine Ladder of aggression” (Picture and link below).
On the ladder it shows all the different behaviours the dog may offer before turning round and snapping. These warning signs are really important, as without them we have the situation that you are in where the dog goes from 0-10 in a split second. Usually the dog will have offered those warning signs, but for one reason or another, they will have been ignored. If the dog is offering the warning sign because something is making them uncomfortable, scared, angry etc. and those signs are ignored, and the pressure continues at the dog, the dog will learn that those little signs like lip licking, yawning, looking away etc. don’t work, and that there is no point using them anymore. Effectively we are taking rungs out of the ladder and working our way to the top. A really effective strategy would be to teach the kids what to look out for. Make sure they leave her alone if she is seeking her own space, eating her dinner, or tired etc., and when they are interacting with her, make sure they know what her “signals” look like that effectively mean “Back off, I’m not enjoying this”
When she gives these little signals, the pressure needs to be taken off, kids move away, or stop doing whatever it is that’s annoying her, so she can learn that she doesn’t need to bite, she just needs to let you know she’s not comfortable. Over time (if done well, usually a few months) she will learn to offer warning signs and this should drastically reduce the amount of times she turns around and snaps. There is a great app you can download on your phone called “Dog Decoder” have a go with it and see if you can turn it into a fun game for the kids to use on your phone to learn about warning signs.
Links: Ladder of Aggression link
“I have an almost 5 month old Labrador, she sleeps in a crate at night. She wakes up anytime between 2 and 5 to go outside and do her business. Sometimes she settles back and other times she will just whine and bark. When she does this I do use a water squirter, which works for about 20/30 minutes then she will start again! How can I get her to sleep all night? The water squirter work during the day when she needs reprimanding. Or will she just grow to sleep? Hope that makes sense. Thanks, Debbie.”
You have a five month old puppy, it’s totally normal for them to be needing to go out at night as she is not yet capable of holding her bladder. Toileting in bed is a worst case scenario for dogs (a little like us!) so they will try their very best to let you know when they need to go out. Your puppy isn’t being naughty, she just needs to go out, so I would be very wary of using a water squirter as you are more likely to create an issue with toilet training than fix one.
Ideal fix would be to get a bigger crate, or a pen, section half of it off with newspaper and half with bed. This will make her feel better about being able to toilet away from her bed, and i would absolutely encourage that, at night.
You are going to need to re set your routine for this one.
Get your new crate and make up her bed. The routine is going to change for her so you may get a bit of crying the first few times you do this.
Pop her to bed no earlier than 10pm, with something nice to chew. Prepare a Kong for the morning.
She is going to wake up, as normal, between 2-5am, maybe cry, and i want you to ignore her and hopefully she will toilet on her newspaper.
At 5am I want you to get up and take her out, make sure she toilets, regardless of whether she has been in her crate or not, then when she’s finished, reward her, bring her back in, pop her in her crate with that Kong you prepared the night before.
Repeat this for a week and then make your wake up time 6am, and adjust accordingly to when you want to get up (no later than 9am).
The water spray…She is asking you to go out, she needs the toilet. She is being told off for asking, she learns not to ask, because she gets told off. Then you have a problem with toileting in inappropriate places.
She now has a negative preconditioned emotional response to water…what about when you need her to stand still when you want to wash her off….you get where I’m going.
Water squirters are for kids.
You have a young eager puppy, reward good choices and teach her what you want. Good Luck!
“Jack Russell dog 8 years old, gets very anxious and jumps up, tries to chew lead, squeaks, barks etc. minute it gets lead on, once set off on walk after first few mins he calms down. He’s got progressively worse and doesn’t seem to matter when or where he’s going or who with.”
Ok so it sounds like your dog has an issue with the lead one way or another. A great place to start would be what we call “Collar Grabs”
This is where you gently take the collar, and feed the dog (regardless of what dog is doing)
Repeat like so….
Grab collar, feed dog, grab collar, feed dog, grab collar, feed dog, grab collar, feed dog, grab collar, feed dog, grab collar, feed dog, grab collar, feed dog, grab collar, feed dog, grab collar, feed dog.
Once that has been done ten or so times, grab collar, go to attach lead (don’t actually attach lead), put lead down, feed the dog. Repeat x 10
Once that has been done ten or so times, grab collar, attach lead (actually attach lead), unattach the lead, feed the dog. Repeat x 10
Once you have got to a stage where your dog is happy for you to attach the lead, and it’s all feeling like a fun game, then attach the lead as per last step, and immediately do something with the dog, like scattering food on the floor, playing a find it game or similar. When you do this, drop the lead, so it trails behind the dog and doesn’t cause any unnecessary conflict.
Work up in steps like that slowly, with lots of food (I’m talking good stuff like chicken and ham, not crappy biscuits) and you should find that you can change the dogs emotional response to having the lead put on. Turn it into a fun game!
I’d like to thank our Crazy Dog Trainer so much for taking the time out of her busy day to answer your questions. She has given fab advice and really included some golden content for our wives. Thank you so much!
Next weeks ‘Ask a Crazy’ is a Paediatric Sister – Please send your questions to me by Friday!
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