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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a lovely Belgium Shepherd girl who is a little over four years old. She is a very bright dog, and I tried to train her ever since she was little. I managed to teach her to come on command, sit, lay down, leave the food until I point it or tell her it's ok to eat it, etc. She stays outside most the time, as my dad doesn't really like her to come into the house.

Now, as she grew older, I've had a few problems with her keeping up with some things she already knew, and have other problems training her on some new things because well, she is my first dog, and I admit has been a little spoiled by the family. :p

So, let me explain what's been going on, see if anyone can give me a few tips and help me out with her training. I would really like her to be well behaved.


1. She "forgot" to come to me on command.
Right, saying that she forgot it is a little misleading. When I call her, she looks over, and you can tell in her gaze she gets it, but she ignores my call. What am I supposed to do to get her to come again? Treats no longer work for this trick...

2. Walking on a leash.
We never had any need to use a leash with her because our back yard is huge and she runs a lot on it. The vet is a block away so walking a block with her every so often isn't an issue, and she socializes with the neighbor and my cousins' dogs.
I did try to train her to walk on a leash, but I can't seem to distract her/get her to obey me. She pulls to the point where she chokes herself at first, then pulls less but keeps doing so, she barks at every single dog, and a new one: she doesn't even let me put on the leash now. I grab the leash, she hears the sound and dashes to the door to go out. When I get to the door to try to put on the leash, she runs off to play. :confused:
It's become quite a task to get her to come out with me.

3. Afraid of weather.
She was never afraid of rain. When it rained, she loved to go out in the rain and run around in it. Then one day, all of a sudden, rain started and she came to our window and whined and cried to be let inside. (If we tell her to go to her kennel, she whines some more, tries to squeeze in no matter what the minute we open the door, and/or runs right out into the rain she was so afraid of to then come back and whine some more).
She does this whenever there's a storm and I don't know what to do about it anymore.

4. It's impossible to get her to obey when there's more than one person with her.
Yeah.... :rolleyes: she just goes wild and wants to play. She doesn't listen to me.

5. Hates grooming!
I find it just impossible to have her stay relatively still while I try to brush her hair.


The only other problem with her is that on playing fetch she never lets go of the toy afterward. :p Other than that, she can be very well behaved when it's just me with her. I tell her no and she obeys, I tell her sit or calm or down and she obeys.


It's a little hard to train her on my own, because when my dad goes out with her, he has a different way of treating her, and when my sister goes play with her, she's overly permissive and thus screws up any command I taught her. (Sit? What's sit? You mean nibble on her hand and jump all over her?).

Does anyone have advice or tips to help me with these? I would really appreciate them!
 

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That's a huge list! You're asking how to train in the face of distraction, how to build confidence, how to train basic commands, how to get and keep her attention and how to improve her socialization issues (barking at every single dog).
I highly recommend obedience classes as even a few tips won't fix the overall issues...you need a structured training outline.
 

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The first thing I would recommend is teaching watch me. I would do this inside where there aren't so many distractions and your dog can focus more on you. Take a high value treat (A small piece of hot dog, steak or something else nice and smelly) and show it to her, so her attention is on the treat, Then bring the treat up to your eyes and give the command Watch, watch me, look, whatever you want it to be and give her the treat as soon as she looks at you. This will let your dog know that she has to pay attention to you because if she doesn't she won't be rewarded. Once the behavior is good start fading away treats. Ask her to watch randomly and don't use treats to get her to watch, simply give her treats randomly not all the time and eventually no treats just a lot of praise or a game of fetch.

This will give you a dog who pays attention to you and that will help you a lot with other commands, such as come. She knows she must pay attention to you, watch you for the next command. Now if she won't come I recommend putting her on a long leash, sitting her in a stay and making a bit of a game of it, get her ball or whatever she loves to chase Get her to come to you to get it. Wave it around drop it at your feet and when she heads for it give her the command come.

Walking on the leash, this may be something you've heard a million times but, be a tree as soon as she pulls stand completely still and don't even let her pull your arms around. As soon as the leash is loose again continue to walk, she pulls again be a tree. Another one is to constantly change directions when the dog pulls which, works for some but not me.

I'm not sure what to say about the weather but you may want to read up on desensitizing at the top of the training board.

Have a friend come over and walk around her, sit in the room with her and such. Have her on a leash and have again some nice stinky treats, give her a command, have the friends treat her when she listens. Cricket was the same way and this helped me.

I would recommend getting her used to the Stand command and teach her to stand and stay. That is the best way to be able to groom her without incident.

As far as fetching I would teach, leave it, take it, and give it. If you need some help with these feel free to send me a private message.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Heeh, I didn't think it would be such a complicated list. lol

TooneyDogs, unfortunately obedience classes are out of my league. They are way (and I do mean WAY) too expensive over here, I did look into that possibility though.

angel_baby, thank you very much for all those tips! I'd never really heard of the watch me command, sounds like a pretty obvious thing though :p Not sure why I hadn't considered it before. Maybe it will help with her attention issues. Thank you very much again!
 

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This is a really long laundry list of issues... they're ALL fixable, but it's going to need a lot of work and patience.

The first thing I would look at is whether this girl is getting enough exercise, which it doesn't sound like she is. Running around a backyard might work her muscles, but she sounds bored. The wild behaviour and dashing are all symptomatic of this. Belgian Shepherds are very, very drivey dogs; they are bred to work all day and if their minds aren't kept busy, they end up with a lot of pent-up energy. Dogs need to get out, socialize so as not to develop fear or reactiveness, and interact with their environment. A walk down your street might just be a walk down the street to you, but to her it's full of new sights, sounds and smells that she can perceive in a far more acute fashion than you can. Imagine if instead of going for a jog in the park, you were asked to jog around your living room for 45 minutes. You might feel tired at the end of it, but you'd be bored out of your skull. Many Shepherd owners here walk their dogs for up to an hour, twice a day, and do training sessions a couple of times throughout the day to keep their dogs' minds occupied.

Regarding the recall, this thread might be of help:
http://www.dogforums.com/3-dog-training-forum/48024-problems-off-lead.html
The thread lists some of the "ground rules" for teaching a good recall. Read all the tips. Remember, dog training is all about taking baby steps and working upwards. Practice!

As for the leash issues, there are two things to deal with here. The first is the freaking out every time she sees the leash. Basically, you want to teach her that the leash doesn't always mean she's going to get to go on a lovely walk. Several times throughout the day, get the leash out. The minute she starts going nuts, put the leash back. This might mean you have to put the leash back almost immediately...doesn't matter. Just put the leash back. There is no need to correct her, touch her or even look at her. Just put it back and go back to whatever you were doing before. Keep doing this. Remember, baby steps, and practice, practice, practice. If you do this consistently enough, you will reach a point where she doesn't much care if she hears the leash being unhooked. This is when you start walking towards her with the leash. Once again, if she starts acting up, put the leash back and ignore her. Practice, practice, practice. You will then reach a point where you can go right up to her with the leash without her freaking out. Ask for a sit. Your voice and body language should be calm, but not fierce -- you don't want to rile her up. If she doesn't sit, turn and put the leash back, and keep working at it. If she sits, praise her. Again, nothing too excitable... just a "good girl" and deliver one treat. Then put the leash on. You're now ready to go outdoors and...

...work on the pulling. This is fairly easy to address, though it will take some time and a lot of brute strength. When you get her out on a leash and she hits the end of it, immediately turn and walk in the opposite direction. (She is likely a rather strong dog and this will take some effort. Just a tip: it helps to keep your hands clenched in front of your stomach when you turn. It will counter her pulling a little.) Walk in the opposite direction till she is forced to turn and walk with you. The instant she passes your leg -- the spot where you want her to be, right beside you -- give her a treat. Stinkier, higher-value treats might be needed to get her attention. She will probably keep going after that and hit the end of the leash again. Repeat what you just did. You might be walking in figure 8s for a little while, but BE CONSISTENT. Don't let her pull sometimes, and then start the training at other times. Dogs pull because they've learned it works. If she figures out that pulling no longer gets her where she wants to go -- but walking beside you is rewarding -- she will pull less.

After some time -- depending on her training level, your consistency and her intelligence -- the distance you have to walk before she starts pulling again will start to increase. You may be able to take ten steps with her walking by your side instead of having to turn back around after two steps. When she is walking beside you -- on a loose leash -- break out the praise and treats. When I train for a loose leash and I get to this stage, I effectively spam treats, just stuffing them into the dog's mouth one after another as long as the dog is by my side. Lots of happy-sounding verbal praise, too. A walk with a loose leash isn't going to happen in a day. It's not even likely to happen in weeks. But be consistent. It will work.

As for her fear of weather... is it not possible for her to be inside when it rains? The key thing here is to teach her there's nothing to be afraid of... there's no need to cuddle her and tell her everything will be alright. Often, excessive coddling can reinforce the knowledge that there's something to be afraid of. Just stay with her, and go about your own business. You can occasionally give her a pat, but don't baby her because she's afraid. Act normal. She needs to realise that life goes on, even when it's raining, and that the storm can't hurt her.

Her behaviour with strangers around is part hyperactivity, part attention work. Look for the Doggy Zen sticky in the Training section of this forum -- it will help immensely in teaching self-control. (While you're reading stickies, check out the Nothing In Life Is Free one, too.) Besides that, start practicing training with distractions. If she obeys you 100% of the time when you're alone in the house, then that's great. Of course you want her to obey you all time, anywhere, but it's a place to start. Invite someone over. She will likely be clamouring your friend for attention and wanting to play. Your friend should be instructed not to give her ANY attention (not even eye contact). You can talk to your friend, but neither of you should pay any attention to the dog. Eventually -- and it may take awhile initially -- she will become disinterested. She may walk away, or lie down. This is when you can call her over to you and your friend, and both of you can give her some petting, treats and praise. Eventually you want to get to a stage when you can practice her commands with a stranger around... and then finally, a stage where she will perform commands reliably with a stranger around. But first you need to get her to a stage where she will actually listen and pay attention to you. This will help with that... so will "watch me".

What does she do when you try to groom her? Does she fidget? Is she fearful, or just uncomfortable? Does she try to run away? Does she get aggressive? Try to play with the brush?

By the way, this is probably my longest post on DF... EVER... and my post count isn't particularly low... I did say it was a long list of issues! Good luck, and please keep us updated. She looks like a beautiful girl and it would be a shame for her never to fully enjoy a nice romp in the park because her training isn't up to par. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
rosemaryninja, thanks a lot for your reply!

I had thought if perhaps she was bored... I guess it would really be most of the problem of her lack of attention if she is.
I had also started to do the exact same thing you suggested with the leash, I never did "finish" that training though, I wasn't really sure it was working at all. I guess I too need to work on my patience. ;)

Regarding the storm, no, not really; my dad won't let her in. The times we have let her in was usually for very strong storms, but actually she will not want to get out once she is inside, even if the storm passes. XD (And she definitely doesn't mind at all about the storm once she's inside).

As for the grooming, she tries to play with the brush. She tries to nibble it (or my hand) now and again, turns around, bounces, and is just generally wriggly. She only seems uncomfortable when I'm brushing closer to her hind legs (which causes her to move more, me to be unable to brush her, knots to form, and make it even more uncomfortable for her- and finally for her to require a trip to get her hair done somewhere since she won't let me do it).

I was really hoping I could fix the leash issue, it would help the two of us, because I wanted to start jogging, and bringing her along (but obviously, I can't do this while she pulls... ) So I will be working both on getting her attention and on the leash pulling first, and work from there.

I will read the stickies you told me, thank you once again!
 
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