January 9, 2020
Sophie our Australian Shepherd is one year and six months old. Jake is now four. Old man. Sophie and I have been training for Rally Trials all summer and will be competing in real events beginning January 18th. Jake is still chasing balls. However, if he didn’t have balls . . . I could enter him in trials. AKC won’t allow “mutts” with balls in their competition. I say It’s discrimination. Steve has a thing about removing dogs balls so, Jake is still a stud.
Quite frankly we don’t consider him a mutt and the first time someone referred to him as a mutt I was offended. His mix was planned. His mom is an AKC registered Border Collie and his Dad is an AKC Kelpie. He was bred to herd. He is very good at herding with no training. It’s quite amazing. We didn’t find out that he was bred to herd until we walked away with him in our arms, the cute little furry thing that he was and the breeder happened to mention that they had never sold one of their dogs as a pet. We probably should have turned around and handed him back and asked for a refund but we had no clue what they meant by that and as everyone knows who has ever held a puppy in your arms, once you have them in your harms, you are taking them home.
Jake came from a Horse Farm that breeds dogs to herd cattle. They don’t show their dogs or even compete for herding titles. They are strictly working dogs. Therefore their breeding is intentional and well thought out the same way you would breed a pure bred dog to achieve a certain result.
Jake likes to work. He thinks he is showing his love by pushing us to work him. Without even training, he knew exactly what to do to herd all 15 of our chickens into the hen house. It is remarkable. He has a style. He creeps up on them and stares them down until they move, then creeps up again. If one strays away he will go work it to get it back in line.
He also LOVES to chase balls. He is ball obsessed to the point I’d confidently say he is ball OCD. If Jake doesn’t get his ball throwing in every evening beginning at 4:30 he is a crazy man. His nick name is crazy Jake. He knows when it is 4:30 because it is the same time that Debot disengages from it’s charger and begins vacuuming our house. Sophie chases Debot around while Jake begins to whine and relentlessly nudge my arm until I give in and head for the back yard.
Jake could play outfield for the Diamondbacks. You can pitch a ball to him at 3 feet and he will catch it in his mouth, or send a high flying ball clear across the other side of the acre and he will leap into the air and catch it almost every time. It is pretty impressive.
Jake and Sophie
I have two dogs. A 10 month old Australian Shepherd name Sophie and a 3 year old Border Collie/Kelpie named Jake. Just like with kids, we tend to attempt to make up for the mistakes we made with the first one on the second one. So because we made the mistake of not enrolling Jake in doggie obedience school; when Sophie was 4 months old I enrolled her in puppy school. We went all the way from puppy school to basic II. What I really learned was dogie obedience school doesn’t really train the dog, it trains the dog owner. When I failed, the dog failed. If I didn’t get it, the dog didn’t get it. Well, it’s quite possible the dog got it but took advantage of my stupidity.
What I also learned was, just like kids, you can’t expect one dog to behave like the other dog. Sophie is highly food oriented and would not hesitate to run into a burning building if it meant a treat was at the end of the exercise. She was very easy to train and because of that, I decided to enroll Jake.
Well, Jake doesn’t even like to eat breakfast. We have to bribe him to eat. He lives to have a ball thrown so he can run and catch it or jump high into the air to retrieve it. We have to hide balls, otherwise he will relentlessly chuck a ball at you to get you to throw it. Jake also is very stubborn and very strong. If he doesn’t want to sit, he stares at you and with his eyes says “go ahead, make me”. He is so strong, I can’t even push his butt down to get him to sit. When we go on walks, my husband has to take him because literally he will drag me down the road.
Sophie’s trainer (really mine) said “no problem. He’s not too old we can get him to obey”. The first day at class he got into a scuffle with a German shepherd, and the second day at school, I came home so exhausted from trying to get him to sit, pushing him down, yanking on his lead when he disobeyed It took me two days to recover. After giving it much thought, about mid-week I announced to my husband I was quitting. I didn’t think Jake was obedience trained material and I would learn to live with his stubborn behavior. My husband told me I had to keep going. Easy for him to say, he stays home and plays with the well trained obedient dog while I humiliate myself with the stubborn disobedient dog half my size.
By the end of the week, I decided I better give it a go and try and practice what we learned so as not to be more humiliated when we went to class in the same condition we left the week before. I took him out for a run at sit stay and heal. He sits and stays fine for a couple seconds, then jumps up. He is easily distracted with birds, bugs and anything else flitting by. Then we attempted heal. I discovered peanut butter like Cheetos at the store that nobody liked but Jake and so decided to up the game and chopped them up to use as reward treats. We actually had a good training session and so I tried it again the next day. We had an even better session so I rewarded him with a ball toss.
Again what I really have learned is, it isn’t the dog it’s the owner, me. Also, Jake is not Sophie. I wonder what the outcome would have been had I started Jake in dog obedience school when he was 4 months old like Sophie. I didn’t so I’m suffering the consequences. That’s on me not Jake. Sophie was easy and I barely had to work at it to get her to learn the basics. Jake is much more stubborn, we allowed him to developed annoying bad habits. Now I have to work at it to help him understand that the rules of the game have changed buddy. I’m in charge now. Ok, he’s still in charge but we’re working on it.