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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any advice? Long post, but pretty descriptive issues, hopefully to rule out some questions needed prior to answering.
I'm a new member and I've looked through 100's of threads on here already, although I've read some excellent advice, I haven't found answers to all my questions, so I'm hoping to consolidate them in one place. 馃槉 I also hope I'm posting in the right place.

Anyways... a little background 1st:
I previously had 2 other Aussies, so I have some experience with them/know what to expect, but I'm not an expert with the breed. They were both males though. Currently, I have an 11 month old female Aussie named Lily. At 6 months old, I adopted her from a family during the height of Covid, who were over whelmed by her & didn't know what to do. They (mom/dad) had 2 children & I believe 2 other dogs. Right away I noticed some issues with her, & it was clear they barely worked with her. When I got her she was very anxious (to be expected from re-homing) but overly anxious, overly alert (still is, but has calmed down a lot), had horrible manners, & HATES to be left alone to this day. I can not even leave her in the fenced in part of my yard, or she looses her mind, & tries to escape. I have worked with her a lot & broke a lot of bad behavior, but she still has much more work to do...

She still barks at noises all the time, more frequently when my son is here. Like when she hears a door being opened, a laugh or movement from his room, little things. My other dogs generally only barked, or freaked out, when there was a reason to, like someone knocking on the door, really loud noises etc. Not her, she barks at everything! She sometimes will bark if he farts loud enough or at a car that passes by the house. It can be exhausting, especially when your frightfully woken out of a dead sleep for something so minor. How will I ever know the difference between real danger and a fart, giggle, or door opening etc? Additionally, she barks at the neighbors or any other movement when we're outside. Car rides suck, because she is bonkers the whole time, and barks at other vehicles driving by. She is OVERLY ALERT 脳1000, but I've never seen her aggressive, or really growl much. I haven't taken her away from the house that much, because I'm afraid of how she will behave, and I don't want to set her or me for that matter up for failure. Plus I'm afraid of dogs I don't know and she will 100% sense that, since she is so bonded to me, and perceptive. I want to socialize her though. My other dogs went with us everywhere, even kayaking, and I would love to get there with her.
When people come over she barks for a moment, but jumps all over them. In fact, she jumps on everyone, except me because it I don't put up with that crap. She is never aggressive or mean towards anyone so far, but she is aggressively hyper wanting attention: jumping, forcing attention, in their faces, won't leave them alone etc. I try to encourage people to not reinforce the bad behavior, but often times I will just put her in her kennel for a short drop by to avoid the bombarding.

Additionally, she sheds more than I've ever experienced with my other two. More than shedding her winter coat, it's insane, and I'm wondering if something is wrong? She hates being brushed, won't sit still, and tries to go after the tons of hair that comes out of the brush/my hand from petting her. It's almost like the amount of hair she sees coming off her freaks her out.. and then she tries to eat it, it's very odd. When I try bathing her, she looses her mind. She doesn't even like the water from a hose. She smells weird when she gets wet from being out side, and sometimes just smells foul in general, but it generally goes away quickly. Another thing is her tail is quite long to be docked & I wonder if that is creating or making her smell worse. Her hair is growing longer on her docked, but longer docked tail, and she won't let me trim it. She licks her lady parts a lot, or when she sits down, she then jumps up smelling the area where she sat. I have no idea what to do for this either.
I was petting/rubbing on her lower back today and noticed a silver white film all over my hand. When I rubbed it, it was chalky and crumbled (I'll attach a picture of it). I'm trying to get her to a groomer, but I don't know how she will act. Her nails are long and need to be cut, because the jumping scratches the crap out of everyone, sometimes making it bleed, but she won't let me touch her feet for long. Only for a quick shake. If I try to cut the nail, she pulls, tugs, jumps away from me... just like brushing her, but worse.
When I leave, I put her in her kennel, but she barks and whines incessantly and very loudly. My neighbors probably think I beat her!

Also, she generally stayes within eyeshot of me, but a few times and more recent lately, something catches her attention and she takes off. She looses all sense of training and won't listen. To make matters worse, she will turn around & look at me, then keep going.馃槨 Therefore, basically giving me the middle finger. And by taking off I mean, 5 houses down (in a country setting) & for quite some time. When she comes back, she knows she was wrong, & goes straight to her kennel.

I know this is an information dump, but does anyone have any advice for any of this? By the way, she generally (minus the few things) is a good dog. She listens to most commands and does what she is told, except when there are too many distractions. She is generally a sweet/well behaved dog when in her normal setting.
 

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I think you have a dog that is genetically anxious and lacking confidence. You can work on this and also you can talk to your vet about medication. A dog that has that much separation anxiety may need medication to live a normal life.

Has she been spayed? All that licking coupled with foul odors could indicate an infection (even if she has been spayed). Since you cannot check her longer tail.. if it was docked improperly it could also be infected. You need to take her to the vet and get that checked out. IF she has an infection it could effect her hair coat.

The behavioral issues sound more like nerve issues (lack of confidence). Nervous dogs will often jump on people incessantly. I suggest when anyone comes over to put her up in a crate where she can see you all but cannot get to anyone. It is VERY important that people who come to your house IGNORE THE DOG. Do not look at her. Do not talk to her. Just ignore her. It will help her a lot.

As to the recall issue you need to keep her on a lead or a line so she cannot take off. EVERY TIME you give a dog a recall command and the dog does not come you are teaching the dog to not respond to a recall command. Give NO opportunity for her to take off. That is important.

Clipping nails is a trust thing. You need to make touching her feet a rewarding game. I can tell you that many animals are not thrilled with giving up their feet.. because when they do they are a bit helpless. I don't care if it is a dog or a cat or a horse. You need to incrementally train this in short sessions with really good rewards (steak if need be). The same with brushing and any handling. She has to associate your hands touching her with good things. She may never seek your affection.. pushing to be petted.. or she may if you take your time and make it rewarding. I would be inclined to hand feed this dog all her meals for a good bit so she associates you with food. It may help your relationship.

Remember that you have a working breed. This means quite a lot of energy and a need for a job which was genetically built in. That said, when all that energy is coupled with anxiety and nerve issues, it can come out in ways that are less than pleasant for you and for the animal.

You need to get her sorted out medically first. This may take medication. Then you can start to address the training issues in small increments making every thing rewarding at this point.

As to her "knowing she was wrong" when she comes back after taking off.. don't believe that too much. She may come back and need to go the safest place she knows which is her kennel. YOU need to be the safest thing too.. and that is going to take patience and work and maybe medication.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for taking the time to read all this and offering advice. A few answers:

Yes, she is spayed. I spayed her just a couple months ago. At that time, everything with her checked out to be good. I did mention how I thought she might have anxiety or something else going on, but they just suggested more time with her, which was reasonable then, since I only had her a short time. It would probably be a good idea to bring her back in again though.

Originally, I had her crate in the living room and she barked even more than she does now. I can only describe it as if it might have intensified her over alertness. Like when someone would get up and use the bathroom, she started barking, once they finished and opened the door, she barked.

As for the recall, I completely understand what your saying. I've probably made many mistakes, but it is a little confusing, because I did start her out on a leash until I trusted her. Or so I thought, since she never took off for months before the habit of doing so started.. She is never out alone. I do not smoke in my house, so we go out often, and she is generally excellent with commands and comes right away. I call her randomly now just to make sure she is still In her ok zone, and she comes straight to me. It's the 1% of the time that she gets a wild hair up her butt and takes off.. mostly smelling everything in sight. It's just odd because almost all of the time when we go out, she stops & looks at me waiting for me to point to the grass for her to "go poddy," before she will even leave the porch. Maybe it's from boredom...

I will also try treats and rewards more for all grooming. This is also hard for me to understand because she will shake, although short lived, but she also loves for me to pet her. She is definitely not afraid for me to touch her. She ALWAYS wants my attention and wants petting. It's almost like the tools and the amount of hair that comes out freaks her out. I have tried slowly introducing them, let her smell the tools each time, but when I use them... it's a NO GO! I have even tried gently massaging her paws when she is calm, submissive, laying by me and petting her, so I could get her used to the feeling. I did this with my other dogs and it worked, but after a minute or so, she pulls away. I suppose some of this is because I didn't have her before 6 months old, and I don't know exactly what she experienced.

For the hand feeding meals, I will try this also. I'm wondering if it will even work though, because when I feed her, she won't eat right away. The only time she will eat, for one example, is if/when she follows me to my room, watches me sit down, and then it's like she decides it's ok to go eat, sometimes hours later.

Lastly, I will post a current picture of her tail. I personally think it is long for a docked tail, plus the added hair that is now growing from it, therefore, it seems to cover more than it should. I could be wrong, but my only theory is that this might be causing some kind of issues "down under."

*1st pic is when her tail is down/tucked
*2nd is obviously when she has it up and pointing, but notice how long the hair is that hangs.
 

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Hi there,

I saw your post and had to respond! We recently adopted an Aussie Shepherd/Cattledog mix, also known as a Texas Heeler, and she has been a handful! We got her at 6 months and she is now about to turn 10 months on the 20th.

(We also have a 4 year old Shiba Inu who is probably the most chill, well-mannered dog I have ever had so the comparison is a bit comical at times. Not only in terms of temperament but appearance and size. He is a large Shiba at 45 lbs and everyone comments how handsome he is. She is 30 lbs, lanky and has odd fur lengths because of her mix so she gets a bit overlooked in comparison to her big bro... I'll post a pic of them.)

Our lady also happens to be named Lilly (one extra "L" for us haha). We got her from a shelter where the people told us they think she was neglected and potentially hit or otherwise abused. We're not too sure on her timeline as all we have are previous shelter records. It seems as though from what the shelter people said she came from a family with small kids and she would habitually jump on them or nip at them. We definitely notice her having issues with kids as she goes nuts and barks and growls at them. We don't have kids and don't plan on them so that's ok but we have issues with her and our neighbor's kids unfortunately. We live in the suburbs of Chicago so all of our neighbors except one beside us has kids. She has definitely improved in the past month but still needs work.

What has helped us a ton is taking her to dog training. We have been doing it for two months now and she excels in class. Aussies are so quick to learn and want to please so that has helped with her learning all of the different skills we have gone over in class, but I will list out the issues we still have with her (sounds like some of these things you struggle with as well) and what we're doing to fix this:

1. She unfortunately still struggles with potty training. The main setback there was that the vet noticed she had a UTI. Although we've seen an improvement since she completed her antibiotics, we still have problems. We have her on a cranberry supplement that has improved things as well. We keep her in a pen pretty much all day because we don't trust her to roam the house and not pee in a random spot. She has accepted the pen as her safe zone though as she goes back in after walks and play time in the backyard so that's good. But, there are times when we're about to let her out and she just goes inside by the back door. This has happened probably about 3-5 times in the past few weeks which isn't bad. She has gotten better but we have to continue spraying the Nature's Miracle in that one spot on the hardwoods and rugs and I'm getting a little annoyed to be honest. One thing I was going to say is that she would lick her area a lot as well before we found out she had the UTI, so you may want to take your Lily to the vet for a urinalysis. That might be an issue for her as well.

2. Separation anxiety! Boy was she anxious when she came to us! Still has some of it but it has improved. The first few nights she cried and cried and CRIED! No one got sleep that first week hah. All of our other pets (we have another dog and two cats) just glared at her for that first week haha. But, what helped us was just getting her on a routine. We have her crate that she sleeps in every night. During the day, we would give her some high value treats and toys in her crate so she would get used to that being her little house essentially. She thankfully no longer cries or whines at night and hasn't woken us through the night in a while. She does still get upset when we leave her in her pen and she sees one or both of us leave through one of the doors. I usually give her a treat right before I'm about to leave her like a peanut butter stuffed kong or a puzzle. She is super into puzzles! This might be something your Lily would like as well. But, we have several puzzles by Outward Hound. She's on level 3 now. This one is probably her favorite at the moment: https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/outward-hound-challenge-slider-puzzle-dog-toy. She gets into it a lot and it wears her out.

3. Barking at people and other dogs. When we're on walks she goes nuts at other dogs. What we've been doing (still work in progress) is having treats on us and when a dog comes we have her sit and look at us. Giving her treats so she understands that it's rewarding to look at us vs barking at the other dog. I'm pretty consistent with this when I walk her but my husband is a softy and let's her do whatever she wants on walks a lot of times... The main reason we still struggle with her still barking otherwise I think she would have nipped that behavior in the bud by now. When we let her and our other dog in the backyard and if our neighbor's kids are out playing on their playset, she barks a lot at them. I call her to me and have her sit by me or distract her with her frisbee or ball. She has definitely improved recently but if she gets out of control and won't listen then I put her in a time out. We have a tie-out outside and I just put her there or because it's been so hot here I just bring her in.

4. Grooming. We too have noticed she is weird with brushing. I'm not sure what the deal is. Luckily she has more of a cattledog coat with just some whispy areas on her legs and tail that are shepherd. But, still it would be nice to brush her from time to time as she is going through a shed. We're trying though and just doing treats while brushing a little at a time. About the chalky weird residue you mentioned. Apparently this is a common thing that happens when dogs are put under stress. Our Shiba Inu had this problem when we first got him. He was a puppy mill daddy for the first 2 years of his life so he had absolutely no experience being a doggie out in the world. The first year, he was extremely skiddish and scared at all times. His shedding was intense and he had that weird chalky almost oily residue that would come off on our hands. He no longer has that and just has his normal shedding periods. So for your Lily it should pass once she settles in more to your home. The nails thing though, we leave that to professionals. Lilly's nails are black in color so that scares both myself and my husband so we take her to the vet groomer for that. Our Shiba though has light nails so we worked up to it with him with treats as well. Just a little at a time and now he's ok. It's definitely not his favorite activity but it's just a thing we have to do.

5. Pulling on leash and wanting to chase wildlife. I'm not sure if you guys leash walk her much as it sounds like you let her off lead maybe. So, this may not apply to you. But, we live in the burbs in a somewhat high trafficky area so we don't want her to get hit by a car on the busy roads or even get attacked by the coyotes that roam our area. But, because she is a high energy dog, she pulls on the leash! Especially in the morning when we haven't run her and she's fresh out of her crate. I try keeping her in a heel walk position as it almost makes her concentrate hard to keep by my side and actually burns off some energy in that way. We have a normal 6 foot lead right now but we're getting a small handle type lead that is 1.5 feet that would allow for more control. She's a small girl at 30 lbs so it's easy to control her when she does pull and want to run after those squirrels or birds or what have you. But, I would rather her not obviously. That is something we're currently going over in class so hopefully it will get better.

6. Exercise and excess energy. Our Lilly has so much energy all the time! I know this is a mixture of her being an Aussie and also being a puppy so I'm hoping in a year it will be more manageable but boy oh boy can this lady run! We run her at least 3 times a day for 20-30 minutes with a frisbee and a ball. She also plays with our Shiba and they wrestle it out which helps our Shiba stay in shape too. He has about an 1/8th of her energy haha so it's nice to have this little girl to keep him going. He has a tendency to gain weight. But, we definitely notice that she is less anxious after running. There are times though when it will be an hour after we ran her and she is already whining at us to go play. I'm not sure why as she comes in winded and ready to collapse especially with the heat we've been having. I can only account that to puppyhood. So, we give her one of those puzzles or a kong and that holds her over for at least another hour or two. We do notice on days that she goes to training she is more tired. My husband also helps out at his parents ranch twice a week so he takes her with him on those days to make her feel like she's doing a job. Since these Aussies need their jobs. My husband's nephew lives on the ranch as well... he is unfortunately dealing with some depression issues so Lilly plays with him and sits with him and that has also become a job for her as an emotional support dog. We definitely have found that giving her these types of tasks has made her more relaxed in that she is feeling useful and helpful to her people.

I think that is all I wanted to say for now. Sorry for the book but I feel like Aussies can be pretty complicated so it's nice to find someone else who has one who can relate at least. I hope some or all of this is helpful!
 

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I have an Aussie/Collie mix that is a little like yours (the one in my avatar). The anxiousness and reactivity are probably genetic. Many poorly bred herding dogs end up like that because the breeder was not paying attention to temperament. Herders are supposed to be alert and a bit aloof with strangers, but it often tips into the "reactive and afraid of strange things/people" department when temperament is not taken into consideration.

I would speak to your vet about medication, at least to take the edge off while you train. Barking at every little thing is not normal (unless this dog is bored out of its mind, which I'm assuming its not), and separation anxiety can also be helped with medication. Young "teenage" dogs, especially the herders, can be more reactive to simple, everyday things than their adult counterparts, but I feel like reacting to flatulence and giggles is a bit much.

My dog is a jumper as well, and the single thing that worked for me best was refusing to acknowledge him until all four were on the floor. I would keep turning away from him until he sat calmly, and then I would give attention. If he started to jump again, I would rinse and repeat the turning away from him routine until he was calm. Once he understood it with our household, I instructed visitors to do the same unless they wanted a paw in their face. Now, he won't jump up unless invited too, and those people can deal with the fallout (muddy clothes and scratches) themselves.

It also should be noted that your dog is less than a year old and not fully mature, and based on her current behavior she may not react kindly to strangers once her personality is set. My dog was fine with strangers in the house until around 1.5 - 2 years old, and then he wasn't. No real reason to it other than he was maturing and he wasn't tolerant of strangers anymore. In those cases, he gets put away.

Sounds like your dog may need to stay on a long line. That age range in general for any dog is not a great age for having that much freedom! The herders are generally quite good at maintaining an orbit, but at less than a year old she is most definitely not mature, and she has shown you this multiple times! My 6 year old has difficulty coming off deer or rabbits, and expecting a 1 year old to is too much! Keep her on a long line with a harness and continue to practice, making sure to jackpot with the best of the best treats for successful recalls. Coming off something awesome like rabbits or deer earns an extra special treat! I always carry the regular treats, a mid-range treat, and a little hunk of something awesome like deli meat or hot dogs when we go walking in "wildlife territory".

Has she every had her anal glands expressed? Dogs express their anal glands naturally when they poop, but sometimes they get blocked and they need help. A vet or a groomer can show you how to do this. I would certainly discuss this with my vet, and discuss allergies while you're at it and bring a stool sample. I would at least give my vet a call to see if they want to see her, as foul smells and butt issues can be indicative of a larger problem.

My dog was also not a fan of getting nails trimmed. I would put a treat in front of him on the floor, tell him "wait", clip a nail, and then release him to eat the treat. I did this for every nail. It took forever, but we got there. It was easier when he thought it was a game. I still use the same method, mostly, but now I can clip a whole paw before he gets his reward.

Coat problems are often due to stress or diet. Like I said previously, a vet check is probably in order to make sure she's not suffering from any medical problems. Being allergic to something in her food could cause coat problems. A food that simply doesn't agree with her can cause coat problems. Whatever the case, I do think a vet check is the best first step just to make sure the butt issue isn't something serious and causing the coat and stink problems.
 
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