|Barked: Sun Aug 26, '12 9:34am PST |
|First off, I really grew up as a cat person. Although I did teach one especially compliant cat to walk on a leash, you generally work out agreements with cats rather than training them
My first dog was an Australian Shepherd who was basically a rescue case. I got him at 9 months old and was told that he had simply never been picked up as a puppy and needed to be socialised. He trusted me from the beginning, but was completely terrified of everyone else (I've always suspected that he was abused by his first owner and then returned to the breeder who didn't tell me about that).
I stated taking him to work with me just to get him around other people. It took years before he would really trust the other employees, and he never completely got over his abuse or developed the confidence that he should have had.
Training the Aussie required extreme gentleness. But he was eager to please and literally half of his many commands were things that he simply figured out on his own. The big hurdle was getting him to feel safe, after that he would instantly follow the slightest hand signal or quietest verbal command.
My second dog is a Rough Collie, who is mostly the opposite of my Aussie. She almost got overly-socialized and will run up up to anyone and beg to be petted (her 'job' is being the office mascot, so she has been taught to do this). Where my Aussie would spend 90% of his time looking at me and trying to figure out what I wanted him to do, the Collie is Little Miss Independent. She's every bit as smart as the Aussie, but wants to decide for herself whether to follow commands. Although I have (mostly) succeeded in teaching her proper manners indoors, many commands outdoors take 2 or 3 tries before she calms down enough to listen. She is 5 1/2 years old, and is just now calming down (my neighbor's Border Collie is less hyper than she is).
I originally tried to treat her like my Aussie, but quickly learned she needs a much firmer leadership. Quietly asking her to do something just gets me ignored. I don't believe she's bring willful or stubborn, it's more that she considers her own ideas every bit as good as my commands. So Stay means stay until she decides it's time to get up. Telling my Aussie Don't Jump meant don't jump on anybody. With the Collie it's "You told me I couldn't jump on that person yesterday, you never said I couldn't jump on this person today."
Partly I think my own quiet personality may have been a better natural match for the Aussie, and I've had to learn to be more forceful with the Collie. Partly it's that Aussies were apparently bred to work closely with their handlers, whereas Collies were bred to work independently. Anyway, I'm wondering if I got an exceptionally trainable Aussie, or if I now have an overly hyper and somewhat ADD Collie?
Edited by author Mon Aug 27, '12 9:31am PST
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