Aussie won't listen to me!

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Want to play,- want to run,- want to play?
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 2:24pm PST 
I have a mini Australian Shepherd that is just over a year old, we have had her since she was 10 weeks old. We exercise her daily by walking her outside, biking with her with a Walky Buddy bike attachment, or running her on the treadmill. So she has proper exercise, and we even use toys to stimulate her mind.

We couldn't really socialize her due to her getting car sick by just driving around the block. We would socialize her on walks and outside out house, but otherwise we couldn't go far with her. As she grew she got better with car rides, and I take her to work with me at a Pet Shop. She knows many tricks (sit, stay, lay down, high five, shake, dance, be pretty, roll over, army crawl) but when someone comes in to the, she will not listen to my commands. She isn't a fan of kids, will bark, growl, and pee when she sees one. So I need her to listen to my commands to get her away from a kids, but the adult with the kid she wants to see. She knows that if someone is in the store, that she won't get yelled at or punished. By punished I mean just looking at her and saying NO sort of loud. But with customers in the store, I can't do that because they may say "oh she is fine" or "she didn't do anything wrong". In their eyes she could do no wrong, she weighs about 12 pounds and is very cute, so of course she couldn't do any wrong to them. But to not listen to me, is doing wrong in my eyes. When I tell her to “come” she will look at me and then just stay by the customer, or will just run to them and paw up on them. Then she won't come to me, sit, or even get down from standing on her back legs when I say “off”. Yet when no one is in the store she is really well behaved and listens to all my commands. I have tried the sit and stay, but if someone says “come here”, she will just run past me and ignore my commands. I ask people to ignore her, but they won't do so.

Should I be having her on a leash at all times tied to the counter so people can only see here when she is on leash? Should I yell in front of people even if she is naughty? Should I be more forceful with the people and tell them she can’t say hi until she sits? I have tried that, but they ignore my comments since she is so small they don’t care what she does. Also Rylee will just stand up on their legs to get attention and won’t get “off” when I tell her to. She will cower when I tell her a command and people ask if she was a rescue dog. But we have had her since she was a puppy and have never laid a hand on her in any way. She just acts submissive with new people or when I tell her a command that she doesn’t want to do in front of people.

Please Help!

Edited by author Tue Dec 4, '12 2:41pm PST


The Monster
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 9:46am PST 
You'll have a lot more people see your question if you repost it here: Dogster forum on Behavior and Training

The main problem I see is that you're trying to rely on punishment to react to inappropriate behaviour instead of being proactive and relying on reinforcement for good behaviour.

You should have her on a leash so she's not free to leave you to go seek reinforcement elsewhere. You should give her a spot to sit, and you should have treats rain from the sky (a very, very high rate of reinforcement) to convince her that it's better to stay on her mat with you than charging visitors. If she's too focused on a distraction that you can't get her attention with food she's over threshold and you'll need to increase distance from it. You'll need to be very consistent and reinforcing for a good couple of weeks or months. Too often I see people fade reinforcement too quickly before the dog is ready and the dog reverts back to previous behaviour.

It sounds like she just needs to get a better grasp on basic obedience around distractions. Have you taken any classes? Done any reading on dog training? Consider picking up the book Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt and Focus Not Fear by Ali Brown.

Also, while it's not terribly pertinent, your mini Aussie probably a Aussie - Chihuahua cross. "Proper" mini Aussies are purebred standard Aussies whose size was bred down over several generations. Yours is so tiny (and has some odd features) that it's probably some sort of Aussie x toy breed mix. So you get to deal with all the challenges of a toy breed as well as all the challenges of an Aussie. smile

Want to play,- want to run,- want to play?
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 1:35pm PST 
I have it on there as well, but no reply back on that post as of yet.

I have a bed for her at the store that she sits on when people are here or not. I have tried to give her treats to come to me or stay on the bed, but she wants to see the people and jump up on their legs for attention more than the treat. She isn't really food motivated, she is more for a scratch behind the ears or belly rub. That is what the customers are willing to do, as am I if she is behaving. Then if she sees a kid instead of hiding, she will go towards the kid and growl/bark and submissive pee. So I try to get her to come back to me before all of that happens. I tell her to sit and stay, but she sees the parent and wants to get attention from them. Maybe what I need to do is tie her to the counter so she can’t run when people are here and have them make her sit before petting her. That is something I can work on, the sticking to the reinforcement. It seems I may have stopped too soon.

We couldn't take her to classes because she was afraid of the car and would get car sick by just driving around a city block. Literally would drool non-stop or vomit during and after the car ride. So we had to stay around home with her or deal with vomit all over her and the car. We would drive block after block with her to get her over the car sickness, tried meds, and even tried a car seat. Nothing seemed to work. Then once she was a year she finally stopped drooling, for a 15 minute drive. We have yet to try anything longer since she still sees the car as not a fun place. When we got her we drove 4 hours home and that was her first car ride, so she doesn't have the best of memories from it...taken from her mom and siblings to a new place, long ride, bumpy, and new smells. I grew up with an Aussie and went through the training for that dog, and another dog later in life. So I have the wisdom of the basics to teach. Just didn't stick to it enough it seems. I will look into that book to see what that recommends as well.

We met both of her parents and siblings from the breeder that we got her from. Her Mom is a purebred Mini Aussie and her Dad is a purebred Toy Aussie. So neither of her parents were part Chihuahua. Both are registered with papers as well. What challenges does a toy breed come with?


Barked: Thu Dec 20, '12 2:56am PST 
1. "She knows that if someone is in the store, that she won't get yelled at or punished ... they may say 'oh she is fine' or 'she didn't do anything wrong' "

This is something you need to get over real quick- what others will think about you and your training techniques. Do not be afraid to discipline your dog just because there is someone else in the store. Aussies are a highly intelligent breed and I'm not surprised that she's smart enough to know that she can get away with it. The solution? Don't LET her get away with it. It's better to have someone thinking you're too harsh by scolding your dog a few times before she's trained, than to have a disobedient dog whenever you're in public.

Now what do you scold her for that people say she's not doing anything wrong about? Let me give you an example of something like this that used to happen to me.
When I was teaching Bailey not to jump up on people when meeting them, I would tell her "No. Off" every time she jumped on someone and then pull her off of them. It was a HUGE annoyance to me when people would say "Oh she's okay I love dogs" and then continue to praise her with affection while she continued to jump on them. It completely backfires the training. I got so fed up with it that I started saying something along the lines of "No its not okay" or "No it isn't fine, I'm trying to teach her manners so she doesn't knock over some little kid in the future" A lot of the time this would happen at my work so I had to come up with a very short, blunt way of saying it without sounding disrespectful- after all you can't be rude to customers (I work at a pet store too) when you're the employee.
If someone tells you she's fine or that she's not doing anything wrong, think of a specific, short and to the point sentence that will get your point across without sounding rude.

2. "When I tell her to “come” she will look at me and then just stay by the customer, or will just run to them and paw up on them."

Get a training lead. It is a 20 to 30 ft leash (or you could get a 16 ft retractable leash) and keep it attached to her at all times. Rule #1 of obedience training your dog is never give a command you can't reinforce. Sorry to break it to you but you got a highly intelligent breed- which means she is smart enough to know that you can't REALLY do anything from all the way over there behind the counter when she can probably just outrun you if you started to come over anyways. Keep a lead on her at all times, and when she doesn't want to listen to you when you tell her to "come", give a gentle yank on the leash in your direction. If that's enough OOMPH to get her to continue her way towards you, treat and praise her- and then let her go say hi to that person. If not, then drag her back to you, then reward her for being at your side- even if it is something you had to force her to do. She's smart. She'll learn quickly that she can either run to get the treat, or be dragged to get the treat. Either way shes going to end up at your side when you say "come" and get a treat for it. If she does need to get dragged in the beginning i recommend trying this with a friend or some crazy PETA person who will claim your "abusing" your dog. lol. Eventually you'll notice that you'll have to tug less and less in order for her to respond.

3. "Should I be more forceful with the people and tell them she can’t say hi until she sits? I have tried that, but they ignore my comments since she is so small they don’t care what she does."

Yes be more forceful. This is tricky when you're at work since you do need to be polite to the customers, but figure out a quick sentence that gets your point and seriousness across. Lets use the jumping example. If Bailey were to jump on someone, and I said "Off" and they told me it was okay and continued to let her jump on them, even after I told them "No it isn't i'm trying to teach her manners" I would yank her off (and I say yank as in pull, not decapitate) and turn her right around and walk away from the person. -Not as to offend the person, but to show Bailey that if she jumps, she gets removed from the situation she wants to be a apart of. Is there some sort of wall with a hook on it that you can attach her to where she is restrained enough to not have access to greet people? Like behind the counter perhaps? I would do that, and then return to helping the customer or following up with a "I appreciate you being so friendly with my dog but I would really appreciate if you respected the training I'm trying to do. I can't have her jumping on a toddler in the future and scratching their faces on accident because I didn't teach her jumping was bad from the beginning..." etc etc.

People need to respect owners' training their dogs. Enough said.

Want to play,- want to run,- want to play?
Barked: Thu Dec 27, '12 4:13pm PST 
Bailey...what you said was very helpful!!! I can't thank you enough. I will try all of those ideas when I bring her again. Someone tried to take her, but luckily she listened to my come command and came right to me and looked up at me saying "I didn't like her, I'll stay next to you". So she only comes one night a week, on the slow night.

1.It is hard to walk the line of disclipine and wondering if the customer is going to go tell the owner I was yelling at my dog at work. I am glad you also work at a Pet Store and know the troubles I am going through. I knew Aussie's were a smart breed, and continue to see that each day. She knows what she is doing and will do so until I correct her. I had one lady say I was taking away her spirit by telling her that she couldn't jump on people. But then I would explain some people are here for cat food and don't want to deal with a dog jumping up on them, or a kid could get knocked over. Then she said, well I guess-but you aren't letting her be a dog. Well, lady I am letting her come to work with me, and she NEEDS to behave or she won't come as often.

2. I have been tying her up behind the counter, so she can hear that people came and but can't go greet them. I then let them pet her after telling them I am working on her not jumping and she can only be petted while sitting. Of course I get the, "oh she is fine, she is so small she couldn't hurt a fly" or "she is fine, she is too cute". Well it isn't cute when a kid could get hurt and I would be at fault for it. So I have to train her! I keep her tied up and then the customer can see them with me at her side and controlling her leash to tell her to sit. Then when they leave the store I let her off leash to explore and run some. Then when I see them coming in, I tell her to come and she has been doing so. Then I put her on the leash so she can't go jump up on them. I will try the longer leash and see how that goes. Thanks for the advice!

3. It is hard to be polite to people when you say, "please have her sit before petting her". Then she jumps up on them and they pick her up and cuddle her. Really!!! She isn't a cat, she is a dog, and needs to sit to be petted. Some people get it, and some people could care less what I say and they let her jump. So I grab her leash and pull her off of them. I give them one more chance and if she jumps and they don't stop petting her, behind the counter she goes tied up and can't go see them anymore. It is hard to do, but they have to learn...she knows what to do to not get into trouble. It really is just training the customers and having Rylee respect that as well. I wish they would respect training. I always ask to pet the dogs, just in case they need them to be in a sit or if the dog is dangerous. I just wish everyone else would do that. But it is hard when Rylee is smaller and cute, they just want to hug her. shrug