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Canine Behavior/training question



I recently bought a red heeler pup, his name Angus. I have been training him but he only knows limited number of commands. He is 5 months old. He knows sit, roll over, load up, stay, lay, and "go to bed" which is getting into his kennel. His Kennel is HUGE. It is for a 100 plus pound dog. when i am at work 8 hours a day 5 days a week this is where he is. I am having trouble teaching him "no" or "leave it". he chases my ducks,he chases my 14 Year old weenie dog, he chases my cats, and this is not okay.! I understand his nature as a heeler but i want him to stop doing these things.He don't just chase them he is biting them to. I am feeling hopeless.. Any ideas on what i can do?

I usually just yell NO when he is miss-behaving. He does respond stops ears tucked and comes to me. But two seconds later he is at it again. :( I have NEVER hit him or physically disoplined him for anything. Just yell NO or firmly say NO.

STOP using the word "NO".  The dog is recalling to you based on that word and your anger, you now have lost recall.

At five months old, he should be totally housetrained.  Even a "HUGE" kennel for 8 hours is far too long.  You must find an area in your house where he can be safely contained with baby gate, interesting toy (like the Buster Cube which dispenses a portion of his food when he rolls it around, water, soft bed.

OF COURSE he's chasing your cats: THEY RUN. He is a CATTLE DOG; he is not "biting" he is "nipping at heel", NORMAL.

He has no idea what your "NO" means.  He is following a strong genetic urge: eye (see), chase (which includes heel biting), control ("round 'em up").

You have done insufficient training.  This "puppy" (emerging into adolescence) needs a great deal of exercise, physical and mental.  I STRONGLY suggest you go to Dr. Ian Dunbar's site and follow instructions on using positive reinforcement to train anything:

You will start all over again using different words with this new technique.  Do one behavior at a time.  Those he already knows should transfer easily.  "Take it/leave it":

Encouraging "attention":

You need to find a good training venue, your dog is still available for a puppy kindergarten ONLY with dogs around his age.  Here is one looks like:

You need to learn a lot more about your breed.  Start with his breeder!  The way to *stop* a hard wired behavior (such as you describe) is to "capture" it: this means, teach the dog to perform on cue (command) and stop on cue (command).  If you got this puppy from a LEGITIMATE BREEDER, all his/her breeding stock should have field trial titles/herding titles, and such a breeder will have suggestions about joining a "herding dog" group in your area.  If your breeder is not so "legitimate", then you may have an inherited behavior problem.  I can't see anything from here. BUT, this dog is following his instinct and being "disciplined" by your anger, showing total submission when you shout "NO" and none of this is good.

Start with Dunbar but look around for a positive reinforcement training venue and sit in (without the dog) two weeks in a row to be certain you are comfortable with what you see.  Ask for credentials of trainer(s), also.  Then have your puppy evaluated, one to one, and enroll him in a six week "kindergarten/pre-training" session.  This is not a casual companion; this is a smart, tough breed intended to be independent, work tirelessly for long hours, and will "answer" to JUST YOU.  Do more research, start over, and never, ever use the word "NO".  The adult dog you WANT will be the result of cooperation, not coercion; reward, not confusing "correction".

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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