"inappropriate herding behavior" - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2009, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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"inappropriate herding behavior"

Hi all.

I recently got a shepherd X (okay it was April). She's now around 8 months old and I have a concern. When we go to the dog park, she will bark and chase after joggers, bicycles, and running kids. Sometimes she will nip at ankles in the process and an occasional jump.

I realize that this is not only bratty behavior, but potentially dangerous behavior and will be talking to my trainer about it. Right now she gets a timeout for the behavior - ie. she has to sit on a spot for a time while being able to watch everything going on and excluded from the fun.

I understand that chasing with barking and the ankle nipping are actually herding behaviors. While I would like to send her off to be tested for herding instinct, it's not appropriate behavior at the dog park, especially not with the kids.

What have other people done about behaviors like this? I would still like her to herd if its in the right context.

Thanks.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2009, 09:46 PM
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

Is this a regular park that happens to allow dogs to run off-leash, or is this an actual dog park that is primarily for dog use but open to others?

I have never heard of an actual dog park that allows joggers, bicycles, and running children! Most dog parks don't even allow children under 12 and caution parents about letting them run around, due to safety concerns (for dogs and kids).

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2009, 09:47 PM
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

Quite honestly if you want her to herd sheep she should be exposed to sheep and not cut loose at a dog park. I will also be the first to admit I am not a fan of dog parks. There is just too much that can go wrong in a setting where a bunch of dogs with different temperaments, personalities and drives are essentially in a free for all.

I take my guys herding as often as I can which isn't often enough. But I only let them play within their Paq and with a few certain friends dogs. I take them hiking, swimming and ball fields for off leash fun time with ME to play with instead of a park full of people and dogs with varying temperaments.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2009, 09:49 PM
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

Mulder used to lunge at joggers as a puppy... about 6-7 months old... not really aggressively, but it certainly scared the people running!

The instructor of the obedience class he was in at the time suggested a prong collar, and to work with collar corrections. Just a few firm tugs and 'no!' corrections, and the problem was totally licked in a matter of weeks! Now he's perfectly fine around runners/joggers/etc. He still has an issue with some wheels (specifically bike), and he still gets corrects when he goes after them, and he's gotten MUCH better about it.

Others may have more positive methods that also work, but I know the prong collar did the trick for me.

- Also I should add that Mulder has never had herding prospects... so what I did to correct his issue may not work with a dog that does!

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2009, 10:55 PM
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

I DO go to off leash parks regularly, in fact we were at one today. The places I go to are large multi-acre open space areas, and as they are regional parks they are open to the public. This particular park has a path on the other side of a fence, so people who want to ride bikes, go rollerblading, or jog can do so without being pestered by dogs running all over the place. There are also paths along the water inside the park and we sometimes see people running with their dogs. But there are also older people, I've seen many in wheelchairs or with walkers, and also young children - from babies in strollers, to toddlers, and all the way up to teenagers.

If my dogs acted like that I would simply not bring them into that kind of environment. They ARE allowed to chase other dogs that want to be chased, (but must come back when I tell them to), and they must stop chasing immediately if I can see the other dog is not a willing and happy participant in the play. Keefer is very high prey and will run up to small dogs, but will come back to me, and if any other dog gets snarky as he approaches he will turn around and come back on his own. He would not be allowed to chase kids EVER, or nip a dog or a person under any circumstances. Just because it's herding behavior and he's a herding dog doesn't mean he can't learn to control his impulses and where it's appropriate to engage in them.

My advice would be to not take her to the park until you've got better control over her behavior. Sorry, but the risk is just way too high. You might try working on off switch games at home under less distracting environments where you bring out her herding drive and then have her turn it off and down with eye contact for a minute or two and then release her to chase again. There are some great toys for this, here is one that you can buy: http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fu...&ParentCat=273 I would also work on getting a rock solid "leave it".

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2009, 11:10 PM
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

I have had a couple of dogs who were like this. I treat it the same way I do leash reactivity. I teach them the focus command at home with no distractions, using an excellent reward. Then I take them out and we work on the command in a different environment with low stimulus (in this case, things moving off in the distance but not close enough for her to fixate on them) and then gradually move in closer. I reward for focusing on me and redirect with undesirable behaviors (or go in the other direction).

You might also consider adding a job for her. Rafi was very excitable when I adopted him and I taught him to carry his ball. Now when he gets excited I can redirect him to his ball (so if we see a bunny I throw his ball so that he focuses on the ball instead of the bunny). He also chomps on his ball when he gets excited. He also carries the ball in his mouth when playing with other dogs and with people so that his mouth is occupied in case he gets carried away with the herding behavior.

Btw, Kai was a serious herder and I kept him on leash in situations where there were children b/c I knew he would get carried away. It's not worth taking the chance...

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 02:35 AM
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

If there were more responsible people like Cassidy's Mom at the dog park with well trained dogs my opinion of dog parks might change. Unfortunately, I see/hear of too many unruly dogs and, more importantly, owners that ALLOW their dog to be unruly that I prefer to let my dogs play ONLY with the dogs/owners that I find responsible enough to control their dogs.

But I also prefer the solitude of hikes in the woods and fields anyway.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 08:30 PM
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

I'm sorry, but I think to consider this "herding instinct" is to excuse bad behavior.

Don't think there is any excuse for allowing a dog to even approach an unwilling or frightened person.

Our (my dogs and my) space ends where the space of another begins. I bend over backwards to make sure my dogs are no excuse for concern or complaint.

There is enough breed discrimination without initiating trouble.

I believe we should have dogs under control or on a lead.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 08:52 PM
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

Quote:
Originally Posted By: AmaruqIf there were more responsible people like Cassidy's Mom at the dog park with well trained dogs my opinion of dog parks might change.
Well, my dogs aren't perfect. Halo ignored the "wait" command and jumped out of the car while Tom was putting the pack on and led him on a merry chase around the parking lot. She came back to the car a couple of times, but eluded my grasp until I was finally able to step on her leash. I saw one of his friends from eons ago that we only see once or twice a year walking across the lot with two dogs - never even knew he went there before! I said to Tom "isn't that James?", he turned to look, and in that second of diverted attention she was off - bad puppy! Keefer is good about waiting to get out of the car until released, but Halo is still a work in process and we usually have to body block her a couple of times before she settles back and waits.

And Keefer tried to beg treats off a young boy. The kid wanted to know if he could give him one and I told him Keef is a little grabby with food so it was probably not a good idea. He tried to give me one of the treats for me to give him, but I said no thanks I had my own. I handed one to Keefer, who put half my hand in his mouth, and the mom laughed and said "I see what you mean, not a good idea!". Um, yeah, LOL! He also follows people with Chuck-its around, waiting for them to throw a ball for him, even when there's no ball in the Chuck-it. I keep having to tell him "that's not yours, we have your ball".

But he did meet a nice woman who was admiring and asking about what kind of dogs they were. She had a new rescue that was supposed to also be a longcoat shepherd (very large, but could have been a coatie mix) so she was very interested in them. We ran into her again at the dog watering station as we were leaving and she was petting him and leaned down to give him a kiss on his muzzle, and he of course gave her a kiss too. He can be a butthead, but he can also be VERY sweet.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 01:22 AM Thread Starter
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Re: "inappropriate herding behavior"

Well, we went to the dog park tonight - with a few changes. If Chloe is going to the dog park, she will have her leash trailing her. I'm hoping she doesn't get stuck in the rocks by the river.

We worked with a bunch of bikes today. Every time a bike came by, I gave her a "noherd " command. If she stayed put and didn't try to chase the bike or bark at it it, I gave Chloe a treat. I'm hoping that this way, she will associate not chasing with something positive. I will be working with my trainer Pam to see if I should be adding something.

I'd be in a real spot if I didn't take her to the park as this is a way of getting her energy burnt off. The park we use is a designated dog park but is also used by joggers and bicyclists as well. Parents bring their kids ... sometimes I want to scream over some of them - especially parents with kids who scream and get the dog even more agitated and getting more frightened by the dog as we're trying to corral the dog. SIGH! Well, gotta childproof the dog. Can't count on parents to dogproof the kids.

Also, I'm not using this herding behavior as an excuse for bad behavior either. I'm calling it inappropriate behavior and must be corrected. There is a place for the behavior and it is not appropriate for Chloe to be barking and nipping at people at the dog park. She needs to learn this.
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