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Keeping a 13 year old in line


Nov 27, 2004, 5:39 AM

Post #1 of 8 (2946 views)
Keeping a 13 year old in line Can't Post

I have a 13 year old collie cross who I have owned for less than a year. When we got him he was not socialized properly, so behaved badly when around other dogs and people. He was not really aggressive, just really excited and doesn't listen to a word I say.

He has gotten better over time, he now has a few doggie friends and is slightly more relaxed about people. But he still gets really really excited when he initially sees another dog. He starts off whining and pulling on the leash. If the dog comes up to him (and is really friendly) then they just have a sniff and go on their merry way. But if the dog doesn't approach him (or god forbid, is aggressive) then his bark turns aggressive and he lunges at the dog. He doesn't seem to actually want to hurt the other dog though, but his bark is more aggressive. If the other dog just approaches slowly then he starts barking excitedly and the bark only turns aggressive if the other dog changes his mind and doesn't approach.

What I really would like to know is any tips or techniques to calm him when another dog approaches. I do distract him by waving treats under his nose, but this only has a limited success rate. I really just want him to enjoy meeting other dogs and for him not to frighten them off with his barking and/or aggression. He will NOT listen to commands when another dog is close.

Any hints will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!




Nov 27, 2004, 8:02 AM

Post #2 of 8 (2935 views)
Re: [Wolfie] Keeping a 13 year old in line [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you mean a 13month old collie? ... Because, seriously - if your dog is 13years old - I'd really suggest leaving him be and let him go enjoy life as he desires ...
If I had a 13year old dog as active as yours ... I'd just let him be as active as he wants ... Angelic

Generally ... as a breed Collies can be a little over the top ... they are by nature, friendly, active ... and very smart ... they are working dogs after all ...

So, I guess your Collie mix is just staying true to one part of his lineage ...

Back to your query ...

Your dog doesn't sound aggressive ... just over enthusiastic more likely ... and as you correctly surmised - maybe a little lacking in socialisation ... which accounts for his over the top behaviour around other dogs ... and perhaps rough edged doggie language ...

But therein lies you difficulty ... if he remains uncontrollable, then attempts at socialisation will be difficult and/or stressful, and he remains hyper and requires socialisation - a cycle without an apparent break ...

Check out the thread below ...


The thread sets out a step by step method on how to re-condition a dog a difficult dog ...

Just read & distil the basic methodology & principles - modify and apply according to your circumstances ...

When it comes to treats ... sometimes with a dog who is easily distracted ... you will have to (a) learn to properly time the offering of the treat ... and equally important (ii) ... finding a treat that the dog thinks is irresistible ... freshly cooked or boiled liver (smells horrid) - is a common favourite ... frankfurter is another ... And few dogs can resist a good fatty cheese sausage ...

As for teaching a dog to obey a command ... That is basically an issue of consistency and properly grounding a command until the dog obeys "instinctively" ... If a dog does not obey a command because of distraction, then usually its because the training is either not consistent or regular enough ... and/or the dog has not been trained in sufficiently varied environments & conditions ...

Get a good dog training manual ... and start basic training or re-train ...


(This post was edited by surchinmy on Nov 27, 2004, 8:09 AM)


Nov 27, 2004, 9:26 AM

Post #3 of 8 (2923 views)
Re: [surchinmy] Keeping a 13 year old in line [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, he is 13 YEARS old. Acts like he is 3 though. *laughs*

He is very active and healthy for his age, and for the most part, well-behaved. It is simply him socialising with new dogs that causes the problem. It is like he really wants to make friends, but isn't sure how to do it. I want to make him realize that when he calms down, more dogs will want to say 'hello'. I know he is missing out on a lot of fun by scaring off potential playmates.

When I use the treats to distract him... I make him sit in front of me and only give him the treat when he is quiet and paying attention to me. Is this right? I certainly don't want to be encouraging the wrong behaviour.

I want him to enjoy his senior years as much as possible and I know he loves being with other dogs. I will continue to re-inforce basic training, as a collie he really enjoys having a job to do!

Thanks for all your advice!




Nov 27, 2004, 6:51 PM

Post #4 of 8 (2915 views)
Re: [Wolfie] Keeping a 13 year old in line [In reply to] Can't Post

WOW ... 13yrs old ... wonderful ... !!!

Try the reconditioning if you wish ... but no stressing him or yourselves out ... Just enjoy everyday with him ...

The environment, sequence of training & treating (timing of treating) in basic/normal training ... can be different from that in re-conditioning ...

For example:

For basic/normal training ... ... You will begin training in a quiet environment, where the dog has no distraction & focuses on you ... And the once the dog obeys the command/signal or performs a training sequence - you then immediately praise & treat ...

For reconditioning ... You generally will want to teach/train in the environment that contains the distraction, or the environment that brings out the undesired trait ... AND you will be giving the praise & treat with a different timing ...

Say you are trying to recondition your dog not to be so hyper when other dogs approach him ... You will try and recreate the same situation during training ... for example: by getting a friend to walk a dog and participate in the training ...

(a) As your friend & dog approaches your dog but JUST BEFORE before your friend/dog enters your dog's area of sensitivity & just before your dog starts to gets hyper ... and as long as your dog stays calm ... you start giving praise & treat ...

As the other dog approaches ... you can also command your dog to 'sit' or 'stay' or some such ... and if your dog ignores the stranger/dog in the distance and obeys the command ... you also IMMEDIATELY praise & treat ...

And you take this training in stages ... very slowly ... over days & weeks ... and by that means - you gradually recondition/desensitise your dog to strange dogs ...

Read the suggested thread above - and you will know what I mean.

But reconditioning can be a very slow process ...

And in the case of your Collie - it may also be beneficial/useful to find a friend with a very steady dog with good dog communication skills to play with your Collie ... and in that process teach & help refine your Collie's dog communication skills ... That will help your Collie better communicate his intentions in a more subtle & successful way to other dogs ... thus, avoiding difficult situations ...

All the best ...

(This post was edited by surchinmy on Nov 27, 2004, 6:55 PM)


Nov 28, 2004, 4:34 AM

Post #5 of 8 (2898 views)
Re: [surchinmy] Keeping a 13 year old in line [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks again for your response.

You have some excellent tips and I will give them a go. I really like the idea of slowly reconditioning him as another dog approaches, I have a feeling that will work. As we go for walks often, I will definitely be trying this technique.

I know a few dogs to help him develop communications skills. The good thing is that there are quite a few friendly dogs that just love my dog even though he shouts at them when they approach. It is so lovely to see him enjoying the company of other dogs and playing.

Thanks for all your information, I will enjoy every moment with my Floyd. And hopefully with some gentle re-conditioning he will be able to enjoy lots of fun with other dogs!

Thanks again!




Nov 28, 2004, 4:54 AM

Post #6 of 8 (2892 views)
Re: [Wolfie] Keeping a 13 year old in line [In reply to] Can't Post

You are most welcome ... Smile

Just in case you didn't manage to check out the other thread ... these are the basic steps towards reconditioning/desensitising ...

Summarised from "The Cautious Canine"
by Patricia B. McConnell

... here are the basic steps:

1st Step

Keep your dog safe. Until you start reconditioning - try and avoid all situations that bring about the undesired trait ...

Continually pulling or tugging on leash, using choke chains etc ... doesn't really help ... and might actually increase stres in the dog. When exposed to a fearful situation, even if nothing happens, the tugging and pulling will just teach Hazel to be more fearful.

2nd Step

Find out what triggers your dog? ... Is it all dogs or just some dogs? (this is the bad)

3rd Step

Find out what your dog LOVES (the good) - and is so passionate about, he will do anything for ... whether it's liver treat or a tennis ball ...

4th Step

Then you need to combine the "good" & "bad" together ... Create a situation where a low intensity of bad and met with a high intensity of good.

For example: A piece of liver under your dog's nose (high intensity good) while a strange dog is still far away (low intensity bad).

The key here is to give the high intensity good BEFORE the low intensity bad appears.

So, if you have determined that your dog gets aggitated by another dog at 50ft, then give the treat at 60ft, just BEFORE the strange dog appears. Continue giving treats after the strange dog appears. End the exercise before your dog gets aggitated.

You may need to get a friend with a dog to help recreate the scenario required for the above.

Repeat again and again ...

Carry out sessions in different environments, under differnt conditions, at different times. Err on being conservative. Take it slow. Once you are quite sure Hazel is comfortable with strange dogs at 50ft ... then take the next step.

5th Step

Reverse the trigger ... For step 5, the treat is given AFTER the bad appears and Hazel remains comfortable.

When the strange dog appears at 50ft ... and your dog is comfortable, then give the treat and continue giving treats, and then move away.

This is classical conditioning.

Done consistently, the dog learns to associate the strange dog (the bad) with the high intensity treat (the good) ...

In classical conditioning, the dog is taught to react to the bad in the same way as it reacts to the good.

Repeated often enough - your dog will start seeing the strange dog as a walking piece of liver ... Tongue ...

Repeat again and again in different environments.

6th Step

Increase the intensity of the bad ...

In this final stage, gradually increase the intensity of the bad as the good is given.

For example ... If your dog get anxious with another dog at 50ft, start giving treats when the other dog is at 60ft and continue giving treats as the strange dog gets closer and closer ... But before your dog gets aggitated, move away.

Repeat and repeat, slowly reducing the distance between your dog and the strange dog.

One method is to hold out the treat at 60ft, focus your dog's attention on the treat ... Hold out treat as other dog moves closer and just before your dog gets aggitated at 50ft ... give the treat (and continue giving treats) - distract your dog's attention away from other dog ... Move away before the intensity of the treat wears out ...

General tips:

- The training never ends ... and usually has to be reinforced from time to time ... At sign of any regression, be prepared to back up and repeat.

- Act conservatively ... better to over train and under train.

- Carry out training in different environment with different dogs.

- Don't sweat the small stuff ... don't expect to be perfect all the time.

- Keep the sessions short and up beat.

*** Once you understand the basic principle of reconditioning/desentising ... you can modify the above method to suit your individual circumstances & dog ...

Wishing you many many good days with Floyd ... Smile


(This post was edited by surchinmy on Nov 28, 2004, 5:02 AM)


Dec 2, 2004, 12:52 PM

Post #7 of 8 (2758 views)
Re: [surchinmy] Keeping a 13 year old in line [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the brilliant thread. I will print it out so I can keep it close if I forget a step. It makes a lot of sense and I think it will actually work as Floyd will do anything for treats. *laughs* He is an angel if he thinks you have a treat. Angelic

Thanks for all the help. I will let you know how it goes. Take care!




Dec 2, 2004, 6:55 PM

Post #8 of 8 (2749 views)
Re: [Wolfie] Keeping a 13 year old in line [In reply to] Can't Post

Most welcome - *hugs* to Floyd ... Cheers


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