Successful Obedience Training For Our Ranch Dog

by Texas Homesteader

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We adopted our sweet mini-Schnauzer Bailey from a local no-kill shelter a year ago and we adore her.  But oh she needed some obedience training! She didn’t sit/come/stay at all, she lunged & growled at the cows & chased the chickens.  And oh my goodness any time the door was opened she skirted around our legs & busted outside, running as fast as she could for the highway with no turning back.

Now these are all bad behaviors that needed to be corrected, but out here on the ranch it’s super important to have immediate obedience from her.  Life can be dangerous for her out here.  For instance in the very recent past we’ve had to call her in from the back yard as a coyote was trotting toward the house. If not for her immediate unquestioning obedience she could have easily gotten nabbed. Or what about her curiosity about a copperhead snake? Or potentially rabid skunk? Immediate obedience from her is non negotiable out here.  It’s a MUST.

Obedience training for our ranch dog has gone very well with persistence, positive reinforcement and yes... a training collar. #TexasHomesteader

 

Multi-Faceted Approach To Training

I’m happy to say she’s a very intelligent dog and her training has gone very, very well.  It’s taken persistence, positive reinforcement and yes… a training collar.

Although we want to provide a high-quality loving environment for her here, RancherMan & I are the type that look at a cow as being a cow, a chicken as being a chicken & a dog as being a dog. I think the master/dog relationship is an important one for harmonious coexistence for all in our household.

But many people think of their pets as people and wouldn’t consider using a training collar on them.  So please understand that I mean to offend no one in the writing of this post.   I’m just sharing the success we’ve had using a combination of methods.

Basic Training

When we first brought Bailey home we realized that of course we were calling her by a different name than she was used to being addressed by her previous owner.  So the first thing we had to do is teach her that when we said “Bailey” we were talking to her.

That was a pretty quick and easy lesson for her and in no time she was responding to her name.

Homemade Treats Are Training Tools

I then made up some homemade dog treats to use with her further obedience training.  Since she’s predisposed to bladder stones we needed to make sure her treats were low in oxalate, so I made mine with carrots which I’ve read is a relatively low-oxalate food.

I cut those treats into ridiculously-small squares so that they could be used often without affecting her appetite.  She absolutely loved them and would sit as long as we wanted for a taste of those treats!

Obedience training for our ranch dog has gone very well with persistence, positive reinforcement and yes... a training collar. #TexasHomesteader

We worked with her heavily from within the confines of the house, teaching her what sit, stay and come meant, rewarding her with praise & treats when she responded correctly.  When we went outside she was always on a leash.  And we made sure we had a pocket full of those treats every time we went out.

We worked with her every day, several times each day and we were consistent with our expectations.  If it took her longer to sit than we wanted, we didn’t give up & say it was ok “this time“, we pressed her until she obeyed.  Of course we praised her mightily when she obeyed, and we used stern unapproving tones when she did not.

Obedience training for our ranch dog has gone very well with persistence, positive reinforcement and yes... a training collar. #TexasHomesteader

Keeping Bailey Close

When we were outside for a longer duration of time we used a screw-in dog stake and made a very long lead.  That way she could wander around outside with us nearby but still stay close.

Each day we’d work on teaching her the command “No” and to come, sit or stay – rewarding her with praise, scratches behind the ear & treats when she complied.  Let me tell ya those puppy treats were flying out of the jar!

Sometimes More Help Is Needed

If we were out in the pasture checking on cows, hanging laundry, gardening or other chores, we wanted her to be with us, to be part of our lives.  But the outside world had so many more distractions than her safe & secure inside world.  That nose hit the ground to trail a rabbit or chase a grasshopper and her ears immediately turned off to our commands.  As I mentioned before, it’s super important for her own safety that she be able to turn that nose off and those ears on when we call her.

So after much discussion & research we decided on this *Dog-Training Collar.  We liked this model for several reasons – it has different types of correction including audible tone, vibration, and shock.  And even within those three categories there were different levels of correction from a tiny 1% to a stronger 100% intensity.

UPDATE: RancherMan likes this newer designed *Dog-Training Collar because it has some improvements, including a smaller unit for the actual collar and rechargeable battery features. Be sure to check the collar size to fit your dog, and search for a linger-pronged unit if your dog has thicker fur. The prongs must touch the skin for the collar to be effective!

We both feel strongly that if you’re going to train an animal successfully and humanely you must stay consistent with your expectations from the animal.  And you start with the lowest most passive level of correction and only move up the ladder if that doesn’t work. 

So our go-to method was using a stern voice command and the word “NO”.  If that didn’t work then we activated the training collar’s audible tone, then vibration.  Only as a last resort would we activate the mildest shock.  (yes, RancherMan tried the vibration and shock methods on his arm to get a feel for its intensity and was satisfied with those options for Bailey) 

She actually reacted well to the audible tone option.  So that’s pretty much the only training collar mode we needed to use.  Each day she got more & more responsive to our commands and we rewarded her heartily for her trust in us.

Obedience training for our ranch dog has gone very well with persistence, positive reinforcement and yes... a training collar. #TexasHomesteader

Is Bailey Ready To Be Off Her Leash??

We knew that it was our desire to ultimately have her with us wherever we were.  But we dared to wonder, “Could it be possible that we can have her out & around with us in the pasture without being on a leash?

How wonderful it would be to stroll to the pond with a fishing pole in our hand and Bailey trotting alongside us.  Could it be that we could actually train her to stay with us when we’re out roaming?  We kept up our consistent training with our eye on making her leash free one day…

Oh my gosh the day we let her off the leash outside for the first time it was so stressful!  There are no boundaries out here, even our back yard has only barbed wire between it and the paddock behind the house.  So on the day we were going to experiment having her off the leash we took her out with us all day, letting her get very tired so she wouldn’t just dash away if our experiment failed.

Then as evening fell RancherMan & I sat on the back porch as we often do to enjoy the end of the day.  We removed her leash and gave her a few reinforcing pats on the head & a scratch behind the ears.  Then we leaned back into our porch rockers and watched her.

She didn’t really seem to understand that she was untethered at first.  She just roamed around sniffing the ground for a bit.  But each time we called her back to us she came running to us for a scratch behind the ears.  WHEW!!

Aaaaaand exhale…

Bailey’s Happy And LOVES It Here!

We’ve taken her out with us every day from that point on.  She usually runs just a little ahead of us and always stops & turns to see where we are and what direction we were going.  Then she’ll change her direction to keep in step with ours.  Oh my goodness I think we finally have a BINGO!

In the year that we’ve had her we’ve never stopped her training .  We require her to respond to us correctly when we give her a command, and she typically does!  Now we’re even able to open the door to let her go outside to do her business without worry of her running away.  She knows her boundaries and she stays within the confines of the backyard even though she could easily slip under the barbed wire fence & run as she pleases.

So now we take her with us almost every time we go outside.  She gets beyond excited when we ask her if she “wants to go”.  It doesn’t matter where – to the mailbox, the chicken coop, or out in the pasture to check cows – she happily trots next to us as we stroll along.  SUCCESS!!

Obedience training for our ranch dog has gone very well with persistence, positive reinforcement and yes... a training collar. #TexasHomesteader

Reinforcing The Training

We still have the training collar and we use it from time to time when we feel she needs a little reinforcement in her training.  We never have to use the vibration or shock.  The tone is all it takes to have her stop what she’s doing & come sit at our feet.

We couldn’t be happier – we have a smart, fun, amazing pet to love and she loves & trusts us in return.  Sweet little Bailey has added much joy to our lives.  And I know that she absolutely loves her life here on the ranch.  What’s not to love?? She gets to romp and play during the day either accompanying RancherMan as he checks the cattle or me as I go about my chores.  And at the end of a fun day at the ranch she’s happiest curled up in my lap.

Obedience training for our ranch dog has gone very well with persistence, positive reinforcement and yes... a training collar. #TexasHomesteader

Yep, this is the life…

~TxH~

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20 thoughts on “Successful Obedience Training For Our Ranch Dog

  1. Laura Lane

    Just recently got a training collar for her. I’m going to start working with her this week.
    Thank you for writing this. I never would have considered it before. My little one is a Dachshund mix. She’s 2 now. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Good for you Laura. There are many who frown upon training collars but if they’re used properly in the hands of a loving pet owner, they can be a win/win all the way around. A beloved pet needs to be trained for many reasons – some for family harmony and some for their own safety. Properly used a training collar can accomplish both and make for a safer, happier pet. It takes persistence and patience but we’re living proof it can be successful. Heck Bailey even goes out with us when the chickens are freeranging now – something I really didn’t think we’d ever be able to do. Good luck, girl – let us know how it works out for you! ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Ken

    Good Morning. I’d like to ask about the unit itself. Battery life, range? We got a Scottie at Christmas time and at seven months Archie is still in training. 12 weeks at Petco in Gville and here at the house. I’ve still not let him “solo” yet. Regards

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      The range on this collar is about 75-100 yards. Battery life depends upon how often you use it, we only use the collar on Bailey when we’re training her out in the pastures and we take it off of her when she’s inside (optional, we just do it for her comfort) This collar’s info recommends that when you’re not using it often to remove the batteries. The collar batteries are just triple AAA and we use rechargeables there. The transmitter batteries are different so we bought extra transmitter batteries on eBay for about $0.50 each so we have them at the ready when needed. Depending upon how often we use it with her find ourselves charging ours about once a month. After her initial more intensive training we still use the collar to reinforce her training from time to time. The key is consistency and patience. We had to remember Bailey was not a human with human emotions & thought processes, but she still wanted desperately to please us. With patience, lots of positive reinforcement and this collar as a reminder to her, we were successful and she enjoys romping with us in the pastures. Good luck with your little guy! ~TMH~

      Reply
      1. Ken

        Well I’ve got the collar from your Amazon link. Of course as you know it’s raining here today so I’ll have to wait to try it outside. BTW, will you be in the walk for life in Gville tomorrow night? Wife Margie will be with the Wesley Medical Clinic group. Regards

        Reply
        1. Texas Homesteader Post author

          How awesome Ken, and thank you for going through our link. I think you’ll be well pleased with the results using this collar, just remember to start at the low end of correction and only work up if it’s not effective. For us, the tone was all that’s needed for her to snap to attention and obey – no need for the shock (even at the lowest level) or even the vibration (even at the lowest level) Good luck! ~TMH~

          Reply
  3. Tina

    Thank you for this! When I first started reading your post, I thought you had our dog :0) We adopted a mini-schnauzer/yorkie mix almost two years ago and her name is Bailey also! We had been working with her on her training and she was getting pretty good, but then 10 months after we got her we almost lost her to kidney failure. We truly thought she was dying so for about 3 months she was spoiled rotten. Since then it’s been a battle to train her. We have contemplated the e-collar because, yup, when those ears turn off, nothing else works. That wasn’t a big deal until we recently moved and bought a house with over 2 acres and no fences. I have looked up training a farm dog, and your post is the first that actually seemed realistic. Did you follow any specific training plan, such as learning sit, then moving on to down, etc? She sits well, but that’s about it. And how specifically did you get her to not chase chickens? We just got our first set of chicks and all our Bailey wants to do is eat them.

    Sorry for all the questions, but I am super excited to know that it’s possible to train our girl to behave and stick around!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Great minds, eh Tina? 😉 Our Bailey would dart out of any door opened and run without turning back – scared us to DEATH! So we got the electronic underground fence that comes with a transmitting collar – it did not work well on her. At. All. So then we got this training collar and it worked great. We started without the collar teaching her what her name was (since she was adopted) and to sit, stay & come. We used the training treats I made for her and they worked well. Then we used the collar – reward when she followed directions, tone when she did not. When she got that down we started training her outside. We were consistent with it and trained her several times a day – taking her out to the pastures often on a long lead. At first she just pulled against it trying to get farther & farther away, but one of the commands we taught her was “NO” and when she didn’t comply we gave her the tone. The tone made her come sit at our feet, when we praised her mightily. Daily training continued but always on a long lead. Then we went to a family member’s house who had a fenced yard, it was her first time off the lead. We gave her the commands to come and sit – when she did we praised her mightily. But could we be brave enough to take her off the lead at the ranch?? (s-s-s-shudder) We took her out with the lead and walked around the entire property for a couple of hours so she’d be good & tired. RancherMan & I typically sit on the back porch to watch the sunset after a long hard day and we always bring her out with us – on a lead of course. This time we took her off the lead and held our breath. She trotted around the yard but as soon as we commanded “come” she obeyed immediately. WHEW! I put a video on our FB page of one of our first successes with her out in the pastures & off the lead reacting to the command “come” – check it out! Regarding the chickens, she’s still a work in progress. She still gets way too excited around the chickens for my comfort. I’ve been told the training collar will also help train her with the chickens so I plan on using the collar to work with her specifically around the chickens to see how she does. Good luck with your Bailey! ~TMH~

      Reply
  4. Beverly

    So glad to hear about your training. I am working on our Dachshunds. Come works most of the time but it is the barking that we really need to work on. I have thought about some kind of collar. I just might give this a try. Thanks,
    Thank you for linking up To Wake Up Wednesday,
    Bev

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      We’ve been pretty pleased with the results using the various methods discussed, including the training collar. Bailey’s not a big barker but man those ears would turn off to our commands before the collar taught her to be attentive. ~TMR~

      Reply
  5. Helene

    Come is the command we are still struggling with. Our puppy is not yet a year old and she is obviously very clever but “come” seems to be suffering from some serious stubbornness!

    Reply
  6. ColleenB.

    Bailey is such a cutie.
    Sounds like you have done a wonderful job in the training. Happy dog, happy family :}
    I hope you survived the storms from Sunday evening.
    Needless to say; it was a bit scary here. Had no sleep at all Sunday evening

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Bailey’s a happy girl indeed Colleen. She’s been quite the addition to our household, that’s for sure. I worried about the storms coming close to y’all, glad you were able to ride them out. After today’s rain we should be out of the wet stuff for a few days. I’m sure ready to see some sunshine! ~TMR~

      Reply
      1. ColleenB.

        We did receive 1 1/2 inches of rain Sunday evening and it has been raining here since about 5 this morning.
        Our yard is really soaked. Like walking on a soaked up sponge.

        Reply

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