Building (or rebuilding?) drive

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Oscar Monster
Barked: Sat Dec 8, '12 8:02am PST 
Oscar, my ACD, and I have been through a lot.
I got him when he was about 8 months-a year old. Looking back, it was probably at the younger end of the spectrum. He was... a challenge to say the least. I wasn't an experienced dog owner, having only had one dog before and never even meeting an aggressive dog. Along came Oscar, an energetic and untrained mess. I got bit by him more times than I'd like to admit.
There were few things that I like about him. But at least he was playful and always loved a training session.
About a year after having him something happened. He just stopped biting, mouthing, destroying things, attacking the cats, etc. It was almost overnight. I'd like to say all the work I put into training paid off but I honestly don't know what happened.

He's approaching four years old now, and while he still has issues, he's a completely different dog than the monster I brought home three years ago.
Which is great.
But he's also slowly lost any drive he had. He's no longer interested in toys, he's hard to motivate, and he's lazy. I mean, he'll run around the yard a bit, chase whatever wildlife comes by... but he's not really interested in using his energy on me. Even when he plays with his toys, he wants to do it by himself. It's not that he's unfriendly. He loves to cuddle and be pet. I just don't know... Is this just him getting older (he's not even four! confused) or would it be possible to get some sort of drive back?

Edited by author Sat Dec 8, '12 8:38am PST


Take That!
Barked: Sat Dec 8, '12 11:05am PST 
I wouldnt contribute it to him getting older. I would work on biulding value for toys, starting at the beginning. have all the toys put away and only take one out when its going to be a fun game with both of you involved. Start with a old favorite toy or something applealing like a squeaky or plush toy thats easily enticing. If he wont play long, have it be very small play sessions, just a minute or two, and gradulally increase play sessions as his interest grows. Talk to him in a happy and excited tone when playing, saying things like "Oooh, whats this toy? "you want to get it?" and that should help. Hard to say why he stopped playing with toys but you can always build on drive and this is what i would do if i was playing with him.

Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 7:40am PST 
I agree with Ninja's suggestion 100%.
4 years isn't an age I would attribute loss of interest to.

Rigby was very much like this in the beginning. Played with toys alone, didn't want to work with me, and when I got her to - she just wasn't enthusiastic about it at all.

So the toys went away. And whenever the toys came out it was to be a happy, fun, interaction with me.
Now, a year later, she still doesn't have the drive I would like, but she's getting there. She runs agility enthusiastically and works well with frisbee.

You mention he chases wildlife in the yard, would you be able to harness that drive? Chase games such as fetch and frisbee (start with rollers) are always a good way to build drive. Or if he's not into that, have you tried a flirt pole? I like the flirt pole because it essentially only exercise the "chase" drive opposed to chase and retrieve.
The retrieval and return can sometimes turn a dog off. I know when Cobain doesn't feel like playing he will chase the ball and then lay down with it, or wander away with it.
Here's a video of Aussies having fun with a flirt pole: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmlGbeIbemw
They're quite easy and inexpensive to make.

Best of luck!


Oscar Monster
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 10:07am PST 
I tried being enthusiastic about the toys. I had... mild success. He did play, but got tired/bored after a few minutes. So it's a start?
Sadly, he's not the least bit interested in fetch (which sucks because I could play fetch for hours). He'll chase the ball, but he won't pick it up laugh out loud.
I've heard of flirt poles before, but never actually considered them. It looks like fun! I'll have to try making one once this horrible rain clears up.

I dig in mud- puddles!
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 12:03pm PST 
I'd keep sessions short and sweet. Stop when he is still wanting more. That might only be a minute right now, but that's okay! smile

Sit on the floor with him and try moving his toys around in erratic, jerky, figure-8 patterns away from him to stimulate his prey drive. I have a tug toy that is made of strips of leather of various lengths, it's a fantastic toy to do this with!

Oscar Monster
Barked: Tue Dec 11, '12 3:42pm PST 
He loves the flirt pole, just thought I'd mention that. Took to it right away. Although... he gets bored after a few minutes of playing with it. It's a start!

Couch Potato
Barked: Tue Dec 11, '12 6:23pm PST 
Since he's an ACD, I would think he would enjoy chasing and herding. Is it possible to interest him in chasing you? Also is it possible to introduce him to herding?

Good luck, sounds as if you are doing things correctly by building up slowly. Good advice from the other posters. smile

Oscar Monster
Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 8:16pm PST 
Or maybe he doesn't love it. Today we couldn't have cared less about it. thinking

I got an ACD thinking he would be fun, I guess I was wrong. He doesn't like chasing me (or much really. He'll chase something out of the yard if he thinks it's not supposed to be there, but that's about it), and has shown no interest in herding. I live on a small farm in a very rural community and he's pretty used to all sorts animals, doesn't even bat an eyelash at sheep.

Edited by author Wed Dec 12, '12 8:17pm PST

Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 11:42pm PST 
Well, I've seen quite a few ACDs 'lose it' around the ages of 4-6 so that really isn't a surprise. Although I don't think Oscar is pure, he looks like an ACD/kelpie mix to me, that could well explain it.

Around here (I'm I'm rural Australia) age 6 is the average retirement age for a cattledog. They slow down and mellow. They settle into a life of laying around and guarding their property.

I would do obedience with him at this stage in his life. Train him in rally, perhaps. You don't have to compete but it is a fun activity you can both share.

My dog has slowed down a lot too, but one thing we both really enjoy is running together. Get yourself a strong back clip harness and give that a go.

I would not put an ACD on sheep. Their style of working is not good for them. They can bite too hard and damage the stock. It doesn't sound like he's got what it takes to work anyway so I would probably abandon that idea.

I'd go the obedience route.

Barked: Thu Dec 13, '12 6:07pm PST 
If you're building drive, you put it away before he gets bored.you play until he's super into it, and then it goes away. The sessions have to be short short short and then you can add time as his intensity increases.

Honestly I doubt he's as boring as he is an understimulated and unchallenged ACD. ACDs are lots of fun generally his idea of fun and yours is likely not the same. Condier him to be a gifted child in regular classroom. Challenge him mentally and I suspect you'll see an attitude change. I also really wouldn't recommend chasing you, not that he seems inclined, unless you want your feet to be a target for teeth.
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