Q: Angie, Do you have any training tips that you can share with our foster mom? I pulled her foster from a shelter. He is a beautifully bred young (estimated to be around 18 months old) male collie. He was a stray and my thoughts are that he was set free because he is crypt orchid. He circles a lot and the pads on his feet are sore and cracked…..hence I feel he was a breeder’s dog. What can you advise to Sandy to redirect his circling?
Thanks, Cheryl, Powell, Ohio
A: Hi Cheryl, If I was rehabilitating this dog, I would keep him with me on a leash for a few days. Of course, never leave a tied dog alone. Be with him all the time. Every time he would start to spin, I would say “NO” and kind of poke (no hitting ever!) his hip so that it stopped him or even pushed him a little in the opposite direction of his spin. So, if he was spinning clockwise, I would poke him to push him back counterclockwise a little. There should be no other words associated with this correction. The correction should be done in a firm but respectful way…..no yelling, leash jerking or frustration. She should set aside a weekend (if she works outside the home) to work on this one behavior modification technique. That way, the human doesn’t get frustrated if they are of the mind set to dedicate those two days to giving the dog the guidance and redirection he needs. This is similar to the 3 days taken to implement the techniques used in 3 Dog Days Usually, these types of odd behaviors, habits and obsessions develop because no human has ever decided to extinguish it. The dog must be shown, in a respectful way, that this is simply “not allowed.” This behavior is not allowed. I would not associate any treats or praise when the dog stops after the correction. That can confuse dogs and make it worse. The dogs sometimes think, “well, I get excited, I spin like this, she stops me, then I get a treat. I will repeat this scenario.” Instead, there should just be the guidance and then the parent walks away or, picks up the lead and walks to the next place etc. Just clearly disagree and move on. Also, I suspect that it’s excitement that makes him start into the spin. There is excitement and then to release the excitement or energy, the dog spins. So, lots of other exercise and keeping excitement down (no high voice excited baby talk) is needed. Give him bully bones to chew or a toy filled with peanut butter at different times through the day to help him release some pent up energy. The parent should go out of her way to calmly pet or praise him anytime she catches him being quiet or calm.