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Any behaviour people out there?? Need some advice re: bolting

(16 Posts)
silentcatastrophe Thu 07-Jul-11 19:43:20

I have talked on here quite a lot about horror dog and his running off. When he is on his line, he is as good as gold, most of the time. I have used a behaviourist about his behaviour, and he said that we need to train and train and train, using treats and rewards. We have been doing that now for several months, but it would appear that any improvements are illusory. Horror dog ran off earlier this week for nearly 2 hours and I really thought we would never see him again.
I have also had a long conversation with a very good and highly respected behaviourist, who said that I need to beware of trainers who use only treats. He said that with the dog's behaviour, an element of something bad happening is important. When horror dog runs off, there are no consequences. Frankly I don't think that method is working.
I am very hesitant to buy a spray collar. I rather think that if these things work, you need to use them very very carefully and rarely.
So... now I am a tad confused. We could attach the dog to a ball and chain.

hephaestus Thu 07-Jul-11 20:36:12

What breed/type of dog?

I wouldn't let a dog off the line until the recall is 100% for a good long time - every incidence of bolting reinforces the fact that recall is an option and let's face it, running around chasing small furries for two hours is an infinitely more preferable option to coming back for a dog biscuit and being dragged home. Then I would spend a few months more leaving the line attached and trailing ready to stamp on it. grin

What motivates the dog? High-value food? (Cheese, sausages, cooked chicken, tuna cake, every single time, no boring kibble) Toys, can you encourage a toy drive, squeaky tennis ball, ball on a rope?

"an element of something bad happening is important" - One wrong squirt and the dog will forever associate the negative input with coming back to you and that's everything buggered up.

hephaestus Thu 07-Jul-11 20:36:44

That's stamping on the long line, not the dog... grin

fruitshootsandheaves Thu 07-Jul-11 20:58:39

I used a spray collar on my spaniel. However on his first trip out he could be seen running amongst the cows through a haze of spray, shaking his head, tongue lolling out, no doubt thinking 'crikey these big mooing things have a strong smell of citronella'
Spray collars don't work if they are really possessed determined

silentcatastrophe Thu 07-Jul-11 21:18:48

We are using the line. He gets out of the house at times. He crashes through your legs and goes. He has leapt out of our bedroom window and run off. He's an 18 month old border collie kind of dog. Does your spaniel still think cows smell of citronella?grin

I am fully aware of the dangers of squirty collars. Yes we use high value treats! I draw the line at going out with an entire roast chicken for the bloody dog though. He is good at playing, then, he will get the wind up his bum, drop everything, and go.

silentcatastrophe Thu 07-Jul-11 21:21:47

I think his running off is far more rewarding than anything we can offer. This is really why I don't think that treats alone is enough. If I were to use any form of punishment, I would hope to find someone I trusted, and be in a position to ask the right questions. We have been working hard on his behaviour in the house as well as out of it. Apparently a lot of bad behaviour outside starts behind closed walls.

mumblebum Thu 07-Jul-11 21:28:48

Have the behaviour counsellors you've used been members of the APBC? If not then go to one who is. Just remember there are no magic bullets though. With a really ingrained behaviour the only chance of fixing it is lots of hard work over a prolonged period of time. Not everything is fixable either. Some things you have to manage rather than fix. Irrespective you need to find a way to manage until you do have a fix. Physically prevent the dog from being able to run off. Easier said than done by the sounds of it. You may need to get a bit inventive.

hephaestus Thu 07-Jul-11 22:01:35

Does he do anything? Flyball, agility, herding...? That kind of dog at that kind of age really needs a job to do and a side effect of that is often a better bond with the handler, plus being mentally and physically busy a lot of the time will leave him a less inclined to disappear in search of his own stimulation.

With a collie type you could walk them eight hours a day and they would still not be mentally tired, if you see what I mean.

MotherJack Thu 07-Jul-11 23:11:25

I agree with Hephaestus... you need to find the something that pushes the right buttons for the particular dog.

When I got my old lady rescue dog last October, she was very close at heel throughout woods and anywhere we went... but when she started to find her feet again I used to take her to the woods and never see her.... there would be a crashing in the undergrowth parallel to me and it eventually reached the point where she was a fleeting glimpse in the distance. Not good. I started to think I would not be able to let her off lead as the wood is surrounded by farmland and they don't think twice to use a gun around here... not to mention the occasional nuisance to other users of the woods quietly minding their own business with their dogs.

And then I saw her one day.... (approximately 2 fields away from me blush) running around in riotous circles and it suddenly dawned on me that she must have been chasing mice and must have a massively high prey drive.

So now she chases her tennis ball and whenever we see a dog in the distance she gets to play with her ragger and will not leave my side. Will it be the ball, will it be the tuggy-thing? She never knows and I can even keep her off the lead with other dogs in sight as I am more interesting to her. Off the lead without a tennis ball in her mouth she bounces by my side waiting for me to get the "chuckit" and ball out of my bag. And, like today, when she meets and greets other dogs, the chuckit and ball goes back in my bag, but she is often hanging around to see if I will get it out again. It's been an incredibly simple process for me - and I would have never expected a Stafford to have a high prey drive (my previous one and the others I have known tended to stick to paths!) but I would imagine that's nowhere near enough for a collie - yours probably needs loads of mental stimulation (such as agility/flyball etc), whereas mine is frankly rather thick grin (and lovely smile).

silentcatastrophe Fri 08-Jul-11 11:35:07

I am looking into agility classes at the moment. We worked very hard with our older dog to stop him chasing other dogs and to make him less afraid of the world. The behaviourist I consulted is surprised that it is taking so long to see any change in horror dog. He says he has had to work for up to a year with runaway dogs. He is however a dog trainer, it is his life and it's what he gets paid for. I am a mere dog owner. I shall also invest in a squeaky toy and see how he responds.

I am not entirely convinced by this behaviourist. There are many different ways of training and there is always new research. I don't think that it works, simply praising the good and ignoring the bad. It works to a certain extent, but we resort to other things that can be more punishing to the animal than a short squirt of citronella or whatever.

midori1999 Fri 08-Jul-11 19:51:46

I don't think there is any need for punishment or aversives in normal, everyday dog training, if they ever have a place at all, and lets face it, recall is one of the more difficult things to train, but it's still within the realms of 'normal'. I would be very wary of a trainer who thought otherwise.

Rewards work, it is just a case of finding what works for your dog. You also need to make sure that the dog never gets the opportunity to run off again. Not ever, so keep it on the longline or in an enclosed area until you know you can let the dog off and it will come back. You might find you can get a reliable recall in certain places before others.

The ideal situation is to make sure your dog is so focused on you or what you are doing with him (eg. playing 'fetch') in the first place that the rest of the world doesn't exist.

silentcatastrophe Fri 08-Jul-11 20:19:33

I think it's a matter of looking at the whole picture. I don't feel that the behaviourist did that. Horror dog's running off is not quite normal and the normal things one might try DO NOT WORK. He is fine playing fetch and I have loads of treats, then off he will go. His focus is no sign of reliability. Even the behaviourist said he was surprised that horror dog's recall is still not very good. Improvement is illusory. How long till he runs off and gets shot or run over, or stuck in a trap? With the best will in the world, we do not live in a prison, and there will be times that he gets out. There will be times when he gets away with his line in tow. Not many perhaps, but we still have an out of control dog who we may not see alive again.

silentcatastrophe Sun 17-Jul-11 10:46:43

I have been seeking advice from all sorts of trainers. We certainly do have a problem on our hands. It is very difficult when horror dog gets nothing but pleasure from running off. The rewards are too great, and we cannot compete. The running off is sooooo dangerous and I do not think it is responsible or fair on the dog to simply keep on with the bribery route.

We do not have an enclosed area. Even if we did, it would only train the dog in a very context-specific place. I am thinking about a spray collar to take out some of the pleasure of running about, although I am very hesitant and fully aware of the problems they can cause. I would be very interested in peoples experiences.

chickchickchicken Sun 17-Jul-11 11:06:05

i wouldnt use a spray collar to limit dog's enjoyment of running. i think you need to think a tired dog - and in your case mentally and physically tired dog - will be a lot less likely to run off. keep him on long line until recall is better, to keep him safe and to break the habit of running off.

arrange as quickly as possible to start agility and obedience classes. you have a dog that wants to learn and it will improve your bond with the dog. teach him to do tasks round the house? heelwork to music? anything really that will occupy his mind and build the bond between you

Spamspamspam Sun 17-Jul-11 11:09:08

Did you try the squeeky toy or tug it toys? On the 8th July you said that the normal things one might try DO NOT WORK however earlier you said you might invest in a squeeky toy. Which indicates that you haven't tried everything only treats and praise.

To be honest reading through you seem very keen on a spray collar even though you have had lots of experiences/advice and yet haven't updated on your progress with some of the suggestions hmm. Or maybe you have tried and they still not worked? What have you tried between the 8th and the 17th, how have your walks gone? Any serious running off?

silentcatastrophe Sun 17-Jul-11 13:41:47

Squeaky toys are no contest! Yes lots of serious running off. I think it is a very ingrained habit, and something he has always done. We have done quite a lot of obedience classes with him. He behaves as though butter wouldn't melt. On a lead, his behaviour is impeccable and he learns fast, and he does what he's asked. I am trying things you suggest. Believe me, I am. I am simply very concerned that this dog will be dead before he is under control. I would prefer that he stayed alive.

Even when he is a tired dog, he will still run off. The urge to roam I think is very very strong.

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