Help me find resources to train my new dog!
July 12, 2014 6:34 PM   Subscribe

I got a dog! He's a Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog mix. He's from a rescue, and 1.5yrs old. Help me continue to train him!

He's already pretty great - can sit, walk on a leash reasonably well, fetches AND retrieves, takes treats gently.

I want to take this great dog beyond basic training and have him be able to come to work with me off-leash (I work outdoors on a large nursery). I want to walk and run with him on trails off-leash and trust he'll stay close and come when called.

What resources would you suggest for training?

posted by pilibeen to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Yay!! Some links to get you started on the journey, recommended by a friend of mine who rescues cattle dogs.


Australian Cattle Dog Club of America
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:49 PM on July 12, 2014

Yay, new doggie!

You could check out an agility training center - cattle dogs love agility training. Memail me if you're in the LA area and want suggestions for specific places.
posted by heisenberg at 7:53 PM on July 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Dammit, where's the pic?
posted by raisingsand at 8:39 PM on July 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

Good Dog 101 is the book I used to train my (collie/shepherd/some other stuff mix) puppy and it worked really well. I also took him to the school run by the woman who wrote it. It focuses on basics, but I think you'll find the philosophy useful - it's all about the positive training method, which I think is good for developing the kind of focus and attention that you want from your dog.

As for encouraging him to stay close, I've been working on that with my dog. I've found the best thing is to ALWAYS have treats with me when we're out of the house. I'll regularly call him to me when he's close, just to give him a treat when he comes. If your dog isn't food motivated, you can use praise, a favorite toy, physical affection, whatever your dog gets SUPER excited about. This has worked really well with my guy.

Another thing I've found is that high-energy, intelligent dogs need a lot more "stimulating" exercise than they can get from leash walks. It's great that you can bring your dog to work; he'll probably really enjoy that. If you can also bring him to a dog park regularly to socialize and run around like a mad-dog, then he'll burn off some of that crazy collie energy and will be easier to train.
posted by lunasol at 8:45 PM on July 12, 2014

But no pics of this dog? He must be such a cutie!
posted by lunasol at 8:47 PM on July 12, 2014

Positive Reinforcement training is the way to go! You can find how to train pretty much anything on this youtube channel, which also will provide with an introduction to positive reinforcement in general:

This other channel is also pretty good for more advanced stuff, I especially like her 4-part series on recall which should help you with the goals you outlined:
(Recall part 1)

I know many dog owners who swear by this book as a guide to training. It provides structured steps that allow you to clearly see and assess progress, from foundations to advanced behaviours. There's a free ebook version, or you can pay a bit to get the updated version which is apparently worth the investment:
Sue Ailsby's Training Levels

I always recommend this blog to dog owners, the author writes really great articles about training philosophy and explains the theory behind the practice, and she's also hugely empathetic with her dogs and is a shining example of humane training. Lots about dog behaviour and body language, too, knowledge of which is very important for successful training. She also shares her slip-ups and failures, which is nice:

DogForum is a great community with lots of knowledgeable members. If you have anything specific you want to ask about, it might be worth posting there instead of ask mefi as you'll have a more specialised group of answerers.
posted by mymbleth at 4:31 AM on July 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the excellent suggestions everyone!

Here's Ollie
posted by pilibeen at 5:32 AM on July 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sorry for the lack of links, but I did want to suggest to see how he does with sudden loud noises- he might be sensitive to them, as my border mix is. This would be good to address before he goes off-leash to prevent bolting into the nethers at the first thunderstorm!
posted by JulesER at 7:29 AM on July 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Congrats! Try to get his recall under control before you let him off leash - I am fostering a 1 year old heeler / collie mix and she gets very fixated on birds/squirrels/rabbits/small dogs. I would never trust her off leash yet.
posted by christiehawk at 11:36 AM on July 13, 2014

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