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I rescued an Australian Shepherd in January. I'm looking for any exercises I can do to help get this very independent boy to be more dependent of me and my commands. He has had a good two years of running his own life before he came to me.
And if you have any tips for heeling training that would be wonderful. When we're at obedience class Jet is focused on the dogs in front and behind him and I feel like I'm practically doing somersaults to get his attention but he doesn't care. I also feel bad constantly correcting his forging and lagging , his poor neck(though it doesn't seem to bother him). He has a very good watch when he is doing stationary commands, sit, down, but once were moving his focus is on everything else. Would a head halter be good?
Any help, tips would be greatly appreciated!
 

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One of the common mistakes while doing obedience work is trying to do too many things all at once....heeling....paying attention....staying in position.....polishing our footwork...working on turns, sits, etc.

If you want attention, just work on that. Frankly, that's the easy one. At home just toss a treat everytime he makes eye contact with you. Don't put it on command. This is important: in obedience, it's the dogs responsibility to always pay attention...not your's to constantly remind of him of what his job is.

Toss a treat when you're sitting down, walking across the room, watching TV. Two things will happen...he'll start watching you more closely and then, he'll move closer to you. Use your bridge word to tell him that's what you wanted (eye contact).
When he's mastered this 'game' under low distractions start adding medium ones like another person around...wait for the eye contact.

For the forging and lagging, you've got too much leash out. Take up all the slack...taut but, not tight. He has no choice but to stay in heel position (which you praise and treat).
 

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I think what your missing is 'bonding'. Bonding time with your dog is usually done when they are a puppy, so nobody really thinks about it. When you adopt an adult dog though, especially an Aussie, you really do have to set aside bonding events. What works for me is to do stuff you do with a puppy. Hang out! Lol.. What I mean..is to just be with the dog and do stuff. If it's been this long and he's still not bonding you may need to 'up the ante' so to speak.

Do you keep him indoors? If not, bring him in as much as possible. Keep him at your side. Take him everywhere you can with you. Try to find the irresistable treats and always have them handy for easy treats. Teach him basic tricks like' Gimme Five!..and stuff that requires a direct one-on-one with him. Play games with him. Games like "Find it" and "Hide and Seek" are pretty simple and gets them interested in what your doing.

When your doing things like brushing your teeth..talk to your dog as if he understands you.
In the quiet hours for me it's usually before bed or early in the morning..sit down and have some special grooming time. A super soft cat brush feels sooooo good on their face. A nice good rub down with a gentle rubber brush (I have one of these that I LOVE it even feels good on MY head.. http://www.simplygoodstuff.com/rubber_brush.htm ) to get rid of those loose itchy hairs...a nice wipe down of the feet and face with a nice warm cloth..

Massaging is a really great bonding event for people and for dogs..lol Whenever your sitting next to him take his head between your two hands, and gently massage all that neck skin/muscles and ears. Gently rub his feet and legs and finish off with a good hindquarter rubdown.

Basically you need to make sure you dog sees YOU as his buddy..his "pack". When your dog sees you this way, he is going to be more worried about you and what your doing and not doing. He will attach to you like glue and listen to what your saying.

I also recommend getting his 'doggie' juices out before going to class. If you live near dog parks thats an easy fix. If not, maybe you could arrange for a 'playtime' with some of his classmates during the week or before class?

In addition, never take your dog straight to class without burning some serious calories first. Maybe a bike ride? Maybe some fetch? Whatever it is that works for him that will let him get rid any extra 'happy feet' energy so he can focus without his body going nuts.

Are you practicing at home? Are you practicing in public places? Are you doing it daily for 10-20 minutes? If not, then that's your problem right there.

There are so many elements that go into dog training and you are only a couple months in and expecting an awful lot of him. Even a dog raised from puppyhood is expected to take a year or so..and that's with serious work.

You may want to consider dropping the formal class and spending more time on training until you've gotten a stronger bond. Of course, being patient and hanging in there also works...lol
 

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Good posts everyone.

I also think clicker training is a great way to bond with your dog and to use his considerable energy and intelligence. These things take time and effort and depending on his previous history, bonding may take longer than you expected. But believe me, it will happen, on it's own time. One day he'll look at you and you will know that it's there, then, of course, he will see a squirrel or a herding opportunity and it will be like you never saw it, but it's still there...lol.

Good luck!
 

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it sounds to me as if the dog's being corrected while still in the learning phase. Corrections, and I do believe in appropriate corrections, come later in the proofing stage. I'm not going to add to the excellent previous posts except for one little suggestion (well, maybe two). When the dog lags do right about turns, and when he forges ahead do left about turns.
 

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IMO a lot of dogs are just normally independent. I don't know much about Aussies, but I know that some dogs are bred to work separately from humans or independent of humans and thus don't take direction very well. Zero is a cocker spaniel. He's a gun dog by birth. He's bred to work with humans and follow their directions. Consequently, he's easy to train. Brutus is a hound. He's bred to have humans follow him. Consequently he's hard headed and listens only when he chooses. Zero is more dependent while Brutus is very independent.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Awesome advice from everyone, thank you! I'm definitely going to try everything suggested.

I do feel we have moved a little fast and think I'll cut out of the heeling part of our class lesson, he's really great for everything else. I also think going to class is great for him if for nothing else than being around more dogs and people. He does the forging thing when heeling at home as well, but I think I need to work slower here. My first dog I got as a pup and yes there is a difference in the relationship when you get an adult.

We have bonding time, but I think we could have more, I love that idea of having treats for whenever he looks at me without being told to "watch" and such, thanks!

I like the concept of clicker training but I'm not ready to try it yet(even though it would probably be very effective).

lol, so time, practice, phases, and lots of treats!

Aussies are a breed that are supposed to work very closely with humans and be very obedient to commands, yet still independent and able to think on their own. Part of the survival of being a herding breed I think.:)
 
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