Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Catch-22

  1. #1

    Default Catch-22


    I'm having some problems with my Australian Cattle Dog cross. We got her from the shelter a couple of months ago and she's now about 8 months old.

    Obviously being an active breed we need to make sure she gets plenty of exercise. So we (my wife and I) have been taking her for long (4km+) walks every day. The problem is she has no focus when on the lead. Any slight distraction and she's looking over there, trying to jump at people/motorbikes/cyclists going past, completely ignoring me.

    I've tried the whole stop moving when she's pulling on the lead and wait until she looks at me, but that just results in me standing on the footpath in the same spot for 10 minutes looking like a ********. This doesn't happen all the time though, at times she will happily walk beside me and look up. Like this evening, I attempted to take her out, went about 800m down the road with her on a loose lead, got to the corner, stopped and stood there for 10 minutes without her looking at me once. That usually just results in me getting pissed off, cutting the walk short but I still need to get her home and by that point I can't be bothered so no doubt I'm reinforcing bad behaviours there.

    In the backyard she is pretty good, will sit, stay, bring back a ball and drop it somewhere near me (given enough encouragement). Won't dare to touch her food before I say so.

    The catch-22 part of this is that if we don't take her for a long walk every day she is highly likely to destroy something overnight or in the early morning. Previously it has been washing, the other day it was her bed. Also there is barely a garden any more (although to be honest there wasn't much left after an Adelaide summer anyway).

    What I don't understand is how it is possible to get an 8 month old dog to walk on a loose lead and focus while still getting in a long walk. She clearly can't focus for that amount of time, but if we take her for a longer walk then that to me seems like reinforcing bad behaviours.

    Shorter walks more often might be a way to go, but that becomes more difficult to fit in time wise (since one would have to be before work, where a 10 minute mexican standoff could be an issue). Other than that, any suggestions? I'm not sure I have the patience to put up with this for too much longer.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Dan...

    I think you might need to play some focus games and training games with her.

    These things do not come naturally to most dogs, it's taken me quite a long time to deal with my ACDx frustration ie if we're working on a new trick and she's been getting lots of rewards and suddenly I decide she hasn't done it right (rewarding average or better performance of the task or criteria), she gets really upset and starts yelling her head off so I have to work on that poor choice first.

    My dog is also quite good at just staring off into space for as long as I allow. Or doing really extended sit stays (cos that works for a treat sometimes). The trainers who use "shaping" call that refusal to try new things - "stalling out".

    So what do you do?

    You need a few foundation games - like collar grab - you grab dogs collar say their name and shove a treat in their mouth. The idea is to get the dog super comfy and happy about having their collar grabbed and eventually pulled around by the collar. Ideally gently but they need to be ok about the occasional stress grab (5HIT - a SNAKE grab).

    and "It's yer choice" about making good choices, starting with food but also with pulling and etc.

    And lots of "re-inforcement zone" work ie giving dog treats and praise for being where you want eg next to you or loose lead in front. Ie praise and reward - before the lead goes tight. I have been known to say to my dog at the end of the lead (pulling) - whatya doin? to get her focus back on me and her job, ie I stop "whatyadooeen" and wait or
    change direction ie walk the other way..

    This is also a game to play at home ie keep up with the boss in heel work. You re-inforce heel position with lots of yummy treats delivered as fast as you can and then you make it harder by moving sideways, backwards, circles, tight left and right turns, speed changes etc. Because this game has a lot of reward connected to it, you can get a very focussed dog.

    Tonight I had frosty out and wanted to try training a new trick at the park but all she wanted to do was the heelwork game - didn't matter what I did - she was stuck to my leg like an IPO champion. (note the video is an IPO champion not us)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Gippsland, Victoria


    Agree with Hyacinth above.... and....

    Don't underestimate the value of a training (ie thinking) session for tiring out a dog. Dogs can physically go all day, but they cannot sustain mental exertion for long periods at all. Trick training is excellent for tiring the brain, and thus tiring the dog.

    But also- you can do lots of loose leash walking training in your own backyard, up your driveway and up and down your street. You don't need to go for miles away from the house, you can stay close to home and still achieve everything and more than you do in a long, but uncontrolled walk. The way I teach loose leash walk (LLW) is to walk with your dog, and once the leash goes tight, small pop on the collar (a "pop" is like a tap on the shoulder, not a yank or a drag) and turn 180 degrees and walk the other way encouraging the dog to come with you. Reward and reinforce when the dog comes up to walk with you.... and repeat when the dog goes out in front and makes the leash tight. This is an intense thinking exercise because the dog is problem solving the whole time while the legs are going. AND you achieve the aim of starting at low distraction levels and moving slowly to higher distraction levels.

    In this way, you can do 4 miles up and down your street or round your yard, if you like, but I'll bet you bottom dollar your dog is dropping with exhaustion LOOOOOOOOONG before you get to 4 miles!

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts