Hi there! We just got ourselves a rough collie puppy. We've had him for three weeks, he is 13 weeks. His name is Louie
We're really into training and behavior, we do several short training sessions with him every day. I think that overall we are doing a good job with him, but there is just SO much info about dog training, and we feel very overwhelmed, and unsure of what methods are the best for our dog.
I've read a couple of books on Collies, and looked through many Collie-specific websites. I keep reading that they are very sensitive, and that they respond to a gentler training approach with lots of positive reinforcement.
We take him to a weekly puppy obedience school with other dogs where they socialize, then you walk in a circle, sit the dogs, walk some more, more on recall, work on leave it, etc. They are adamant that I be more firm when trying to get his attention. If he's doing something bad I should say "HEY!". I need to be less gentle.
As you can imagine I have no idea what the heck I should be doing, I'm getting so much conflicting information. I'm going to list what our methods have been with training and obedience. It would be SO awesome if anybody has any criticisms or suggestions.
We worked on sit and potty training right away. He got potty training in about a week. He still has pee accidents sometimes, but we think that it's because he just can't hold it. He either goes to the door or we take him out before he gets a chance.
We try to keep training sessions short. He gets sit, but if I try to make him sit too many times he starts barking, like, "No! I just did that!" This does make it hard to train commands that require the dog to be sitting first. Also, the puppy class has us constantly sit the dog, so eventually he stops wanting to sit, but it's even worse because he's in a crazy, loud, smelly room with other dogs.
He can be lured into a "down" position once he's sitting.
I will hold a treat in hand and command "leave it" as he licks my hand. He'll stop then he gets the treat.
I train "watch me" I say "watch me" and if he looks at me he gets a treat.
For stay I have him sit, then I back away saying stay with my palm out, he can do that for a pretty long time, maybe 6 steps back. The puppy class people say I need to be turning my back for stay and not looking at him, which sounds great but obviously he won't do that. I'm going to try to work on turning my back though.
For recall my girlfriend and we will play "puppy tennis". I'll call him then he gets a treat, then she calls him and he gets a treat, slowly increasing the distance. The puppy class people say I need to have him come when he can't see me, which I agree with. I guess I'm just slowly building towards that.
Outside his recall is pretty poor. After he goes potty he just wants to stay outside and I'm there by the door, "Louie come!" whistling, trying to get him to come back in. I'd say he comes 40% of the time.
I'll hold out my hand and say "touch". If he touches with his nose or licks then he gets a treat. I'll slowly increase the intensity of the stimulation, trying to get him to let me pet him without nipping at me. If he uses his teeth at all (usually he's gentle with his teeth) he doesn't get the treat.
He does get bitey when he gets worked up. The puppy training people say to scream "OUCH!" and act really hurt, then bring the hand back in and see if he bites again. Three times then he gets a time out. I get why they want us to do this, but he really does not seem to respond to this at all. It just doesn't work. We've tried yelling, or stearnly saying "NO BITE" but this can make him defiant. So far we've had the best luck with "No bite", calm, but firm. Also we might use "Off" but I think we've decided that "Off" should be used when he jumps on us. Honestly if he's bitey and we can't get him to settle down most of the time we put him on the other side of a gate, he whines a bit and watches us, calms down. This is one area where I could really use advice, we REALLY REALLY don't want him to be getting bitey and playing to rough onces he's 60-80 pounds!
He's not too good on walking on a leash. I will leash him, he gets a treat. Then we'll walk around the house and I try to lure him with a toy or treats. I'll say "heel" and try to get him into heel position. He gets a treat when he's in heel position. Sometimes I'll try the same thing but but outside where all he wants to do is sniff around.
Sometimes outside I will try to get him to follow me and get into heel position without the leash. I'll use treats to lure him for a bit, then I'll leave him alone, then some more heel and treats.
He does seem to be getting better when he's on the leash, but he still puts the breaks on A LOT when he's on the leash and I doing a lot of "This way!" "Come!" "Heel!" . I am always sure to be the first one out the door, and lately I've been trying to get him to sit before he can go outside.
The puppy class people are very adamant that we issue commands only once. But this does not work! If I issue a command and he does not obey, do I just stand there, defeated? When do I try the command again? Surely there is some leeway here? Sometimes he responds right away, but sometimes there are too many distractions. I'll use watch me to get his attention first, but even "watch me" usually must be repeated before he'll look. Am I training him to ignore me? Or is this normal?
We have two cats and sometimes he'll want to play with them, chase them,bark at them. The cats are getting less afraid of him and they'll take a swipe at him and he'll back off. We're hoping that they just kind of learn to get along together like our pets always did growing up, but should we maybe be doing something specific to facilitate this?
Overall I'd say his biggest problems are coming when we call, and settling down when he starts to play too rough. Also walking on leash without putting on the brakes constantly would be a huge plus. He does start barking at neighbor dogs through the fence, we will socialize him with all of them eventually (except one which is a mean and unfriendly pit bull). I usually use watch me and can get him away from the fence.
Seriously big thanks to anybody who takes to time to read this and has any advice or wisdom. Thanks so much.