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Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question

Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18792
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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When we take our collie out for a walk she throws herself at

Customer Question

When we take our collie out for a walk she throws herself at the cars and howls and yowls (she sounds like she is really hurt) We have tried various tactics but nothing will distract her,ie.. calling her name,or treats, or squeaking her ball, or a tug to the lead and stopping and standing every time she pulls and making her sit,or I have even tried getting down to her level taking her face in my hand to try to gain eye contact,or ignoring her behavior and keep walking briskly, or we try taking her to the roadside park and using the extending lead throwing the ball for her to distract her when a car passes to distract her. Sometimes she ignores the car as she is playing but other times she veers off the course after the ball and moves to chase the car . When she can hear a car coming in the distance, and sees the headlights, she focuses on the car and gets herself ready to throw herself at it.Its getting worse!! We live fairly close to the beach(a 10 min walk past some fairly busy roads) and once we are there we use a long extending lead to give her plenty room to run and also throw balls for her.We can walk her for 5 miles ( she walks further as shes running about) but on the way back home she is still throwing herself at the cars (even though she is exhausted). Walking there and back is not a pleasure and very stressful for all of us(including the dog). I live in a built up area close to large parks,the beach, golf courses and a small roadside park, but to get to any of these we have to walk.(I don't drive). What is the best way to approach this worsening problem?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 2 years ago.

I'm Shantal and I'm a moderator for this topic.

I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I was checking to see if you had already found your answer or if you still need assistance from one of the Professionals.

Please let me know if you wish to continue waiting or if you would like for us to close your question?

Thank you,

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I just assumed it would be the same person who would deal with me since I replied to her advice but I am happy to wait... anne

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.

I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier. I thought you were looking for another opinion since this came in as a new question.

You pup is still only about 16 weeks old which is just under 4 months of age. She is very much a puppy and displaying a lot of puppy behavior. I did suggest you work on the leash training in the garden first until you had her walking by your side consistently before exposing her to distractions like the cars. You really need to do that before taking her where she is exposed to the cars.

I know it is going to be hard as you want to take your girl with you to the various places close by, but as long as she feels she can act that way, she will continue to do so. So don't take her with you until she is walking by your side all the time and not moving away from you. That is probably going to take weeks to accomplish though some catch on quicker than other. Use the treats in your hand to keep her at your side. Remember high value treats like raw chicken livers or vienna sausage slivers. Then slowly add distractions as I mentioned. Perhaps a cat or another dog to start before moving up to a slow moving car. It is a long process.

She is a herding breed and the natural instinct is to chase things. She is obviously a high drive dog and would have likely been suitable as a work dog. I would take the opportunity while you are not taking her to the beach to work on her obedience training extensively. Instead of just one or two sessions a day, start working her on standard obedience training 2 times and then some agility training a couple of times a day. Set up some jumps, slides and tunnels in the garden for her to run through. This will keep her mind occupied.

If you ride a bike, you might get one of the devices that allow you to leash your dog to an extended arm attached to the bike which would help solve her desire to run and give her a lot of exercise at the same time. One such device is listed here:

You would likely have to get her used to it before taking her around the cars. But if she is already running with you and the bike then she won't be as likely to veer off to chase the car.

You might also see if there are any sheep farms in your area that might let her come out and train with them and their dogs. With her drive, that might be an activity that would channel her drive in the right direction which would be toward the herd and away from vehicles. Most working dogs are very happy.

I know you don't drive but perhaps they will come to you or there is public transportation that might allow her to have this type of interaction. I don't know if you have located a playmate for her, but that will also help redirect some of her energy to a better outlet which is running and chasing the other pup.

There has to be reprimands for the lunging at the cars. Normally a small tug to break their concentration and a firm NO help them understand you do not like the behavior. She doesn't seem to be getting the message though. The important thing is to not let her fixate on the car. You state you can see her getting ready to launch herself. Give the correction then. You won't be able to distract her once she starts, you want to distract her before it happens. That is why if she is already playing often she will ignore it. Also reward her extensively when she ignores the cars. Plenty of calm praise and treats.

If she isn't spayed, you might want to go ahead and do that. She won't be able to go anywhere for a week or so, but that might help slow her down a bit and will definitely help prevent mammory cancer later on.

About the only thing I don't think I've suggested is a remote training device. I usually only recommend them for long distance recall work. A dog that is at a distance from the owner may not immediately respond to an owners voice or be too far off to hear the command, but with a remote training collar, they would still here the tone the collar produces when the remote is pressed.

These remote trainers provide either a citronella spray or a static shock to the dog after first giving a warning tone. The correction usually causes a dog to return to the owner or home. After a couple of corrections, most dogs will then respond to the tone in the same manner they would if they were to receive the correction. In this case, you would want to give the correction as soon as you saw her reacting to the car noise even before the car was in sight and of course if she lunges. Using the remote trainer, I would expect improvement pretty quickly if you are consistent in its use. Some owners are against the shock type of remote trainers and thus they have developed the citronella spray type as an alternative.

As I mentioned, I've used it for long distance recall and found they are pretty effective as a training aid in the right hands. Other trainers use them for a variety of commands. So this is another option you might consider.

If all of this fails, then you might have to bring in an in person behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.

They might be able to better point out where training is failing since they would be present and see what cues the dog is sending and possibly what actions work with her or which ones are not effective.

Again, I apologize for not responding earlier

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