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> Frustrating Collie Behaviour At The Beach, One of those have I got this right threads?
juicy500
post 29th Feb 2012, 11:47 pm
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Hello,

This is a bit of a "reassurance" (right word)/ "have I got this right?" threads.
Crazy collie folks, brace yourselves. wacko.gif

Dash is a very strong working dog. Very strong, the strongest working sheepdog I know and I meet quite a lot of collies through agility and training.
Amongst other things we have near enough always had difficulties turning him off.

Over the last year or so though, I discovered sheepballs- which has been a GODSEND. He gets to properly herd now and I know how to control his instincts- many behaviours I now have on verbal cue and am working towards whistle cues.
I've basically used the game alongside David Ryan chase recall stuff (instead of the constant throwing the ball back and forwards- quite frustrating for worky collies) we play sheepballs and I have a specific whistle cue that is a predictor of a second ball dropping at my feet (the one that he switches to balance and work). This effectively means that I can call him off something and have him spin and focus on me (his sheep at my feet) and take further verbal cues.

Upping the distractions and playing the game in busier and busier environments, eventually around previous triggers has meant that I've successfully been able to proof it so that:

-He works around horses and livestock in the next field (fenced)- then when released from work can just turn off and be a dog (he's done his sheepdog bit now)
-Same if there are swallows/birds in the field.
-He can work in the tennis court (fenced) in the middle of a car park with tractors, cars, motors bikes, various dogs etc passing, children and young lads playing a loud game of five a side in the next court with them kicking the ball against the metal and it banging.
etc...


I find once he has played sheepballs it ticks the "need to herd" box for the day and he can go off and be a dog (an off switch ohmy.gif tongue.gif ), is more responsive generally, is happier in dog to dog interactions, more prone to letting his hair down and having a play sometimes etc...

So overall, tons of success and lots to be really positive about smile.gif

Today however I was left a little bit disheartened when I took him out with my friends dogs for a walk near the beach.

We don't go to the beach often(very rarely) reason being; previously when he has done so (used to regularly), we'd throw the ball/toy into the water (as you do). However this soon developed into him running into the water to paddle so that we would throw it (he won't go out of his depth) and him getting quite popped up about having the toy thrown. At one point (couldn't say when)- I decided that he can have several throws but then needed to just switch off and be a dog and in my ignorance didn't really think about I would do this. This would mean that he'd promptly start running alongside and effectively herding the waves rolleyes.gif rolleyes.gif

Noticing this habit and to avoid rehearsal we stopped taking him for ages. But excluding today, there has probably been a couple of times that we have passed through a beach on our walks and he shows the following really quite OTT behaviour.

At the site of the waves he will run down to the waves, run into them and quickly decide (through absence of toy) to run alongside the swelling waves.
He is still responsive and I can get his attention with a toy BUT, if let to continue, he naturally gets more and more aroused.
Pupils dilated, really in a pickle. Certainly obsessive.
Today he ran down a steepish cliff footpath to get the waves (after following one of the other dogs down).
And once he got down there ran up and down/alongside the waves, getting more and more wound up, to the point where I had to climb down the steep footpath so that he could see me. In fairness to him when I called him he did lie down and I was able to clip him onlead and walk back up the footpath.

But I felt a bit like this sad.gif

We later went on to the beach and I played sheepballs with him on the lead (he was able to focus on that which was good at least) but still prior had been OCD about the water.

I think I know what I ought to do with him:

- Firstly at least a week or so away from that environment. Calmative stuff, sheepballs to give him the chance to be a sheepdog and just chill as normal.

- Then longline near the beach (not actually going on it) and working on playing sheepballs in proximity to the beach- closer and closer.

- Sheepballs on a long line actually on the beach (work towards relative proximity to the waves and still having him focussed on me).

AND simultaneously...
- Working with "that'll do" cue (end of working) at a distance from the beach, release to doing normally doggie things (longlined to be sure)-
- then decreasing proximity until he is able to switch off near the waves and be released to just be a dog.

Essentially idea being to give him an alternative controlled herding game to play at the beach and then practising switching off after a while (initially to release to exit the beach, then release to stay there longer whilst not working... until gets to the point where we do some sheepballs, end game, then spend an equal amount of time, just being a dog).

I think putting the work in (lots of it) I should be able to proof sheepballs so he can play, focussed near the waves and choose to play with me BUT

1. Should I try and incorporate the waves as FR. Release to waves as reward for instant downs, stalking etc. Or am I shooting myself in the foot and strengthening the neural connections in his brain between waves + HERD, meaning he'll find it harder to turn off after? You can pen sheep, put sheep balls away, you can't do that with waves.

2. Assuming go with sheepballs on the beach, what I think may be a struggle is releasing him after to go and do normal doggie things?
Ideal theory is that playing herding games there, should tick the need to herd box and reduce intensity of motivation to perform herding on the waves but how should I go about teaching him to just be a dog afterwards.

Am I unrealistic to expect to be able to go on a normal dog walk at the beach, with him NOT being OCD or overaroused?

Would BAT (for arousal) type protocols be a good idea in this case or likely to result in cued hypervigilence?

Opinions appreciated.

Thanks all smile.gif

This post has been edited by juicy500: 29th Feb 2012, 11:54 pm
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Lindsay
post 1st Mar 2012, 10:09 am
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Didn't want to read and run (have to go off in a mo) but wanted to send a hug.gif and also to just say that a friend's BC is also wave herding obsessive.

It is very hard sometimes, but you are doing so well - and have come so far - never forget what you have achieved! flowers.gif


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Pet Buddies
post 1st Mar 2012, 8:28 pm
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Please tell me more about Sheepball unsure.gif . I am curious (and the new mum of a playful collie cross rescue dog)
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juicy500
post 1st Mar 2012, 9:06 pm
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QUOTE(Pet Buddies @ 1st Mar 2012, 8:28 pm) *

Please tell me more about Sheepball unsure.gif . I am curious (and the new mum of a playful collie cross rescue dog)

The following video is a quick intro to the game (lots more theory and practice to actually get started though):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiNrzkCy_4w

It is essentially sheepdog training without sheep.

Makes a brilliant foundation for if you do want to work with livestock too. smile.gif I'm hoping to eventually get my lad some Indian runner x drakes to work (we've always wanted ducks and he can help out= win, win).
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juicy500
post 1st Mar 2012, 9:23 pm
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QUOTE(Lindsay @ 1st Mar 2012, 10:09 am) *

Didn't want to read and run (have to go off in a mo) but wanted to send a hug.gif and also to just say that a friend's BC is also wave herding obsessive.

It is very hard sometimes, but you are doing so well - and have come so far - never forget what you have achieved! flowers.gif
Lindsay
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Thanks Lindsay. That really means alot flowers.gif

As I said earlier, he is by far the strongest drive working dog I know. Never more has there been a case study for a "working dog" who would love to have his own livestock etc to work and just be a working dog. Bless him. wub.gif I do think though that many farmers would have found him too hard work. There is a reason they breed a litter I guess- they get pick of the bunch, a good working dog, but one that will be easiest to train, switch off when needed, not too intense strong eye.

People like muggins, the behaviour, agility, obedience etc enthusiasts that end up with the "harder" dogs (that end up in rescue/rehome because they "won't work" or are too strong for the sheep etc) lol.gif Just as well I luffs him wub.gif

Thank you for the encouragement- I'll keep cracking on smile.gif

This post has been edited by juicy500: 1st Mar 2012, 9:26 pm
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rosiemongrel
post 1st Mar 2012, 11:43 pm
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I think your thoughts about your boy are very interesting, and I think your training protocols sound eminently sound. I have watched some of your youtube clips before - I'm a fan of your work biggrin.gif!

You know more about this than me, but as an onlooker, when I read your post, especially question 1, my thought was that if he were mine, I'd be wanting to work on sheep balls on the beach (ballie as reinforcer which is incompatible with wave chasing), rather than making the waves the reinforcer. The ballie you can control - the waves you cannot.

I also don't know if BAT would be the right approach, as herding = hardwired FAP in your lad, so it may not be possible / fair to ask for relaxation etc in the presence of such a strong trigger for his FAP? dunno.gif I think it might be easier to teach him to channel the herding onto the ballie whilst on the beach, rather than asking for calmness etc with BAT.

Just my entirely inexpert observations though! wave.gif

This post has been edited by rosiemongrel: 1st Mar 2012, 11:44 pm
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walkiesandtalkies
post 2nd Mar 2012, 9:14 am
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QUOTE(Lindsay @ 1st Mar 2012, 10:09 am) *

Didn't want to read and run (have to go off in a mo) but wanted to send a hug.gif and also to just say that a friend's BC is also wave herding obsessive.

It is very hard sometimes, but you are doing so well - and have come so far - never forget what you have achieved! flowers.gif
Lindsay
x


Something I would second and I think your instincts on a way to work through this problem is right. I would give him a week or two away from that situation where he got pumped and high levels of reinforcement from the waves and taht envorimnet which obviously means the same.

I think wat you use as a reinforcer really is very dependant on the dog. One of my Thai guys had a bit of an obsession with bird chasing and part of dealing with this (I literally could not walk her else where as it was in my field and she was too scared to go elsewhere) so kept her on a long line, worked on her responsiveness around the stimuli (so maybe from my garden as it was the field that had become the chase area and field seen from garden) and gradaully built up to using the birds as the reward and her being allowed to chase them as a reward. The difference is immense. However this is not an appropriate reward (the chase item of choice) for my Dobe, with her I have to keep her attaention focussed on another reward.

I think if you can create enough distance and do it regularly enough that the BAT approach could work very well - after all you are looking to deal with the problem rather than just manage and hyp him up more. I think if you need to keep using the ball as a reward every time you go to the beach it limits your length of walks and your enjoyment time on the beach as it has to be working. So I would make sure he has his chase outlet (something both my extreme chasers need) and then work on things with that possibly seperately. I guess it depends on what you want - do you just want to manage it or do you want to try and change his behaviour around the waves, I suspect you probably *want* the latter, however there is no problem with wanting the former, you just need to be careful with it for various reasons. I think whie the calming him down and changg the way he feels about things in presence of those stimuli is possibly a harder root, I think you are more than capable of managing it. Alos if this is something that is going to beanoccasional thing then maybe the managment idea is easier and less stressful all round. Very dependant on the situation.

Also bear in mind that if he was a little worked up or feeling stressed about anything else or maybe a bit under the weather then that could ahve affected his chasey herdy behaviour. Stress is a factor in both my guys need to chase, much more so my Dobe - who actually has been great with it for some time as her life is much less stressful than it used to be but when she gets slightly more antsy, her chasey behaviour ups!

HTH smile.gif

This post has been edited by walkiesandtalkies: 2nd Mar 2012, 9:22 am


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walkiesandtalkies
post 2nd Mar 2012, 9:20 am
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QUOTE(juicy500 @ 1st Mar 2012, 9:06 pm) *

The following video is a quick intro to the game (lots more theory and practice to actually get started though):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiNrzkCy_4w

It is essentially sheepdog training without sheep.

Makes a brilliant foundation for if you do want to work with livestock too. smile.gif I'm hoping to eventually get my lad some Indian runner x drakes to work (we've always wanted ducks and he can help out= win, win).


That's such a lovely clear clip that I am going to send it to my brother, I know he'd love taht idea with his worky collie and be abole to do it from that clip smile.gif

I enjpyed watching it as much for the fact that I wanted to get up and start flinging my legs around to the music lol.gif


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