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The Effect of Anticipation

Example: Traffic Chasing Collies

first published July 2018

– outline

Collies are extremely vulnerable to become frustrated when unable to control fast movement, particularly in their peripheral vision, such as when walking down the street with passing traffic.
If exposed to similar, predictable movements; skateboarders, joggers, motor bikes, cycles frustration can escalate quickly when restrained by a lead or result in chasing behaviours.

Success with games and planning

Author: KL

We have employed the protocol of teaching ball-games, particularly sheep-ball, that give the collies many opportunities to prevent movement, by reaction and catching, not chasing. This will induce a sense of control over their environment and we see strong stalking and outrun behaviour emerge. Anticipation of these games can be used to fade-in DE, such as the traffic, joggers etc.

The dogs and owner needs to be taught a safe behaviour of walking together. We teach a protocol known as “Transport”, which requires the dog to walk close to the owner’s side, short but not tight lead, harness or collar, for short 3-4 metres stretch, with food reinforcers delivered in position. Control during the learning phases is given to the dog, who connects with the person after reinforcement delivery as a cue to begin the next short distance cycle of transport, walk 3-4 meters, reinforce.

The combination of a clear, safe behaviour and the ball-games is used very successfully to resolve the frustration and rage issues around uncontrollable movements. The gap between the transport and ball games begins with merely seconds, and when well-practised can extend to several hours. Collies that have learned this with thoughtful owners can walk in very difficult environments and enjoy ball games on other days.

In this scenario I would suggest it is the sense of control along with the anticipation of these games and clear behaviour protocol that leads to success.

Collies working on sheep should not be encourage to or expected to chase sheep. Escaping sheep are contained because the dog does NOT chase, but sets off in an outrun to a position to head, or turn the sheep back. A collie chasing a sheep usually needs to resort to biting to prevent the movement which is not an avenue to be encouraged. Chasing to prevent movement is not their skill set. 

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