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Anxious and Strong herding instinct sheltie

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by ClaraC, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. ClaraC

    ClaraC Forums Regular

    May 29, 2018
    Hi everyone,
    Anyone have or have had anxious and strong herding instinct shelties who can share their experiences with me?
    Our Eevee is both, anxious and want to chase cars/bikes/runners. This is our first sheltie and we are still learning how to help her. At times its very challenging but we have trainers to help and we know it takes time.
    If anyone has any experiences with these issues please share :) how did you help your shelties? How did you go with getting them enough exercises? ( its a challenge for us as we have to find quiet park away from the roads and we have to go either really early or really late to avoid cars/runners...etc) And did you end up training them out of it?

    Thank you for sharing :)
  2. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Forums Enthusiast

    Jun 26, 2015
    Winnipeg Mb
    I think it's important to remember that Shelties need mental exercise as much as they need physical exercise. I do a lot of obedience with my boy and I can tell you that is more exhausting that a 2 mile walk. You can also do some obedience exercises while on a walk...just stop occasionally and ask for a sit, down, stay etc. Mix it up and get her brain working...a mentally tired Sheltie is a happy Sheltie lol.
    ghggp and Jams like this.
  3. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    I totally agree with Piper's mom! Obedience training tires them out mentally and physically! At that point, you can gain more control.
  4. Kevin

    Kevin Forums Novice

    Jun 4, 2018
    Hello everyone, I need help. My sheltie will go through spells of having sudden bursts of sprinting in house and lunging forward almost as if he has some kind of brain injury. He gets in this helpless state where he does this for about 20 mins straight and will run into walls and furniture as if he has no control over it. When I try to hold him while it passes, he will lunge while he’s in my arms as if he cannot help it. If someone could shed some light on this it would be great
  5. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    That's called zoomies. It just means he is really, really happy. When dogs are happy they want to run and jump and do crazy fast things. It burns off all that extra energy (and it's better than barking) so is actually a great thing. You'll see it more in younger dogs, but even senior dogs do zoomies. Just sit back and enjoy - it's funny to watch.
    Hanne likes this.
  6. take4roll10

    take4roll10 Moderator

    Aug 31, 2009
    New York
    My sheltie has anxiety, high herding instinct and thinks it is her job to bark and warn me about everything. It is not a quick fix. It takes a lot of counter-conditioning and reinforcing. I highly suggest buying and reading the book Control Unleashed. Not everything in the book will apply to you because it is mainly focused on controlling dogs in agility and dog sports, but there are a lot of useful tips and exercises.

    My dog used to lunge at runners, cars, trucks, motorcycles, other dogs, etc. It has taken a long time, but now when she sees a jogger, she pulls to walk by them, so she can get her treat. When she hears a loud truck, she now looks at me for a treat. Occasionally, she'll have a random set back and will bark at a lunge at something. That is why is important to always train, bring treats on walks and be aware of your surroundings.

    It starts with training your dog to "watch me" or "look", any cue you want to train your dog to look at you. Then figuring out your dog's threshold--- meaning at what distance can your dog see a runner, but not chase yet. That's the point where you start feeding your dog treats and continue feeding until the runner passes. The goal is to change your dog's feelings about the runner. You want your dog to associate the runner with yummy, yummy treats, something positive. I suggest using really high value treats. Treats that your dog loves and is only used for this training.

    Best of luck!
  7. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    Hey ClaraC. I did a long post in your other thread. Tully had a really high herding instinct and was a very difficult puppy. Or maybe it was because I had all laid back boys before so in comparison she was difficult. Anyway, in hind-sight I wonder if it was me that learnt how to manage her rather than her changing. I will forever regret getting this one particular trainer in, who followed alpha methods, who owned Rotties, and was a bit sexist ("women talk to their dogs too much"), because his techniques did make things worse. Luckily, after she was attacked I found a veterinary behaviourist who was experienced with herding breeds and was able to read Tully much better.

    Nowadays she is actually the most beautiful natured, well-mannered little dog, she still barks at cars in the back of the car (when I can't focus on her) and will think about chasing roos, but that's not so bad. Don't lament too much, because you will probably find once Eevie is out of adolescence she is a lovely girl (or you've worked out how to manage it). For me, well I went and became a dog trainer myself, and was running a dog club, so I have to thank Tully for her influence in my life.

    I will say, I did a lot of obedience training and agility with Tully, but it was really doing flyball that hooked her, and got her over the extreme anxiety she developed after 3 dog attacks. The focus and confidence it gave her was amazing.

    The previous posters are right - you need to do some training to give you the tools to manage her, and your job is to build her confidence. If you can't do a dog sport then teach her fetch to get some energy run off her (exercise reduces anxiety and increases confidence) and if you don't have a park nearby you can play fetch at home before you head out so she's run off some of the excess energy. Also, both my dogs can be stupid before heading on a walk, even at 11yrs old (they egg each other on). So I ensure they're calm before we head out. We do some obedience commands or tricks to get their focus, and if they're silly, it's back to the car or home until they calm down.

    Btw - veterinary behaviorists worth checking out are Dr Ian Dunbar (Dogstar Daily) and Dr Patricia McConnell, also Dr Sophia Yin, Dr Karen Overall, Karen Pryor (they are all on the internet). And a book I found useful was Help for your Shy Dog by Deborah Wood https://www.amazon.com/Help-Your-Shy-Dog-Terrified/dp/0876050364. Also, if she's not picking up things using usual techniques the newer Do as I do technique is an amazing alternative.
    Mona Sala and Cara Sandler like this.
  8. Hanne

    Hanne Forums Enthusiast

    Nov 13, 2014
    Good post from Caro - which shows how important it is to understand this little sensitive breed

    ClaraC - I can tell you about my start with Minnie.
    I had read all I could find around Shelties years before it became apparent that the time was for a puppy purchase.

    I had a 30 year background with German shepherd which I trained and have taken many samples with.

    I got little Minnie and I thought I had little sense of dog training :wink2:
    She barked at everything exactly like yours - was insecure to the world she had come to

    But after a week, I realized that it was Minnie - this little sensitive puppy - that had to set the pace :yes:
    We went on many, many tiny short trips the first time

    She slowly became familiar with these "dangerous" things we saw at a distance.
    Every time they triggered praise and a small treat (she got most of her food here)

    At the same time she should have confidence in me (bond) be sure I could handle "the whole world"
    This required me to never be negative, so I should be trustworthy - the slightest mistake on my part looked a step backwards.

    After about ½ years, she was okay with cars, bikes, big trucks and buses we could go to the sidewalk and they drove past without being insecure.

    When she was around 1 -1½ year, I had earned her full confidence

    Since then we have been together as a couple :hugs
    (with my GSD we had been there during the first ½ year)

    (sorry for my unpleasant English, but Danish and English are not a good couple on google translate)
    RikyR, Mona Sala and Cara Sandler like this.
  9. Lexi

    Lexi Forums Enthusiast

    May 1, 2015
    I have this experience with my first dog and he is not a sheltie it is a spitz and on top of this it also writes on all sites that this breed doesn't have a hunting instinct. My dog had/has all that:((. I got him at 13 weeks and he was a professional cat chaser and that continued to chasing cars, bikers, runners practicaly all that moved. When he saw something he started to barking and just behave crazy, he wanted to chase it. And sometimes he escaped before I could stop him. So one day I had enough and I started with the real training. Means he got all food only on our walks if he gave me his attention with people around us. I used a long line. We started to train from big distances where he still had the attention on me and he had to sit. Than we moved on to being able to be more near and after that he could walk by my side and watch me. Now he can be off leash. Sometimes he had to be reminded to not even think about chasing someone but a 'no' word will stop him. It took me some months to retrain him and we trained every day. Last year I got my first sheltie and I was scared she will show same problems as he did as a puppy, so I walked her separately from him to see if she showed any interest in chasing but on my surprise nothing. She is a very obedient dog and even if he will chase the postman at our home(he is allowed that) she will never copy him, but I guess I'm lucky with my first one. So now when we meet someone on our walk I say heel and both have to walk by my side.
    I hope there are no bigget spelling mistakes, I have samo worries as Hanne with my english:o1
    Hanne likes this.
  10. SRW

    SRW Premium Member

    Jul 17, 2018
    My previous Sheltie, Baron (avatar photo), was a chaser and I was never able to break him of that habit. It was just part of who he was. He would obey on most anything else, but if we were outside and he saw an animal or car (he was particularly desirous of deer and the UPS truck), he just had to have it and nothing I could do would stop him from trying. He wriggled out of several collars, and actually snapped the line on a flexi-leash designed for a 50lb dog (he weighed 25lb at the time) and went flying down the street after the UPS truck.

    I ended up buying a flexi-leash for a 175lb dog that had a strap rather than a line, and a harness that had two straps around his body and none around his neck so that he couldn't escape it, and so that he wouldn't choke himself pulling on it when I was holding him back from chasing something. The harness worked great as compared to what I'd had on him before and he was never able to wriggle or back out of it. Here's a link to it: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N10GGKT/ref=twister_B009GGTQ7M?_encoding=UTF8&th=1 .

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