Among dogs none are more sensitive, quicker to take offense, easier to spoil, more susceptible to training than the Scotch Collie. In the famous Gentry dog show, the dogs that do their tricks with most enthusiasm and are most eager for the master’s praise are Collies. The fine dog “Ellis,” so well known to the little folks, for his swift running, mounting the horse at full speed, and riding like a Texas cowboy, and after it all forgetting the applause of the crowds and seeking his master for one look of praise or a friendly pat to tell him “well done,” was a Collie. Mr. Gentry told me than no dog ever entered into the spirit of the performance like Ellis, none ever was as quick trained, none so sensitive. He dared not use a harsh word in his presence. Like most Collies, he was ambitious to rule and asserted himself as “king of all.” He was a tireless and unconquerable fighter, but the other dogs tired of his tyranny, sailed into him in a body one day, and literally tore him to pieces. So, little folks you will never again see that agile, snow-white Collie flash about the ring doing his wonderful stunts. Poor Ellis! I will always think of him, when I take the children to see Gentry’s dogs, and miss him.
Mr. Gentry might say that Ellis was easy to train, but there are few Gentrys. The very thing that made him easy to train for Gentry, will make him very difficult for most of my readers. Yet he was a typical Collie and you must be just a bit like Gentry, if you ever train a Collie dog successfully. As I go about the country, I see so many fine Collies with intelligent eyes, affectionate dispositions and sensitive natures utterly spoiled and useless, that I desire to help some man make his dog a good one.
I sometimes think it will make a man better to train a Collie dog. Three qualities he must constantly cultivate, patience, perseverance, gentleness. If you lose your temper, give up, or get rough, you must stop training your dog.
Collies differ much in disposition and each dog must be studied. You can’t treat all alike. They are much like children. You dare not punish some, while others demand it constantly. A few things you may consider as general rules in the training of all Collies:
I.—Never punish with a stick; always use your hand, either to pull ears, or slap.
2.—Never fail to pet a dog after punishment.
3.—Never ask a dog to do anything without compelling him to do it before you stop.
4.—Never speak in loud or harsh tones to your dog, when at work. Call him to you to scold him or punish him.
5.—Never throw at your dog. You must observe these rules in training all Collies.
Now, there are three rules at the foundation of all training. First, teach the dog to love you; second, make the dog obey you; third, always pet the dog when he does what you ask him.
These rules sound simple and easy, but after you try them, you will agree with me in saying few men are equal to the task.
How can you observe these rules? The first one is seemingly simple, for a dog naturally loves his master. Yes, but he won’t own you as his master sometimes for months and then your punishment may cause him to bestow his affection on your wife, or some other member of the family. Secure a promise from every member of the family not to pet the dog or do anything to show sympathy for him while you have him in training. Every one must support you in your discipline.
You should begin feeding him while quite a puppy and pet him frequently. When two months old, teach him to follow you, and always use one whistle to bring him to you. Let him know that you like him and when he gets scared, pet him and try to show him you are his protector. He will soon love you, but in about two weeks you must start on your second lesson. As he comes to you, say “Come to me,” as you whistle and call his name. He will learn his name, and the meaning of the order, in a few days. It seems so simple. He has the devil in him, as all puppies have, so some day, when you tell him to “Come to you,” he will go romping off. Now is your time, and it is often a serious time. He must obey you. Go after him persistently and bring him to you, petting him each time. He is apt to be stubborn and insist on his way. Continue to bring him to you, as you call him, and if you see he is playing off, pull his ears a little to show him he must do what you say. This may make him mad. He may try to bite you. If so, slap him good and then pet him for a long time, waiting for his temper to cool. If he has much spirit, he will still resist. Now, you must study your dog. If pulling ears won’t work, try shutting him up in a dark closet every time he refuses. If this won’t work, try him with a chain, at first gently, and finally using force, pulling him over ground hard and swift, till he is terrified; every time he comes to you or you bring him to you, talk to him gentle and caress him. Let the chain be the last resort. I have taught more rebellious puppies to obey me through fear than in any other way, but you must strive to keep their affections, so constant petting is necessary. You must make them understand that they must obey and that it pleases you for them to obey. Once get this lesson instilled and the rest is easy. You will henceforth be the master.
At three months you can start teaching them tricks that will be useful. Teach them to “lie down,” by pressing them down as you order it. Make them stay down till you signal them. It will take several weeks to teach a puppy to lie down in the field and stay till you come back. It can be done. Next, teach him to come to heel, by motioning, and saying, “to heel.” Make him stay behind, till ordered forward. Next, teach him to stand by stopping him with a forked stick, as you order “hold.” This is a very useful lesson. You may teach him to jump a stick, or fence. You should teach him to bark by ordering him to “speak,” which may often be done by holding a bit of meat just out of reach. Next teach him to “go around” a chair by walking around with him and motioning. Then teach him “to left” or “to right,” by motions.
When he knows all these things you can at six months try teaching him to drive, but you should let him go with you while with the stock, from the very beginning, trying to keep him from getting frightened by cows or sheep. If you intend to make a combination dog of him, try him on sheep first. Bring a bunch of lambs into a lane and place dog on one side, making him lie down till you are ready. Now, go to front of lambs and call to dog, “to drive.” If he comes too fast, motion back with hand, calling, “steady,” or “slow.” You can walk backwards and motion him to right or left. Practice will soon teach him driving.
Next, take him into a field with sheep. Better into a small lot. Call the sheep, then say, “Go around,” and you must go around with him. He will soon learn and once get him to go clear around and you can teach him by motions to direct them after you. It will take time and patience, but he will learn if he has it in him.
When you try cattle, be sure to keep him at the heels, by ordering him “behind.” Go yourself to the heels and show him. Call him back from head, and force him to stay behind. Thus one by one the lessons can be given that will make your dog worth two men in handling stock and he will become indispensable on the farm.
We would feel like quitting the stock business, if it were not for our Collies.
Then you can teach them many amusing and useful things about the house. My dog will stand up, roll over, shut the door, open the gate, get my hat, and so forth. The Scotch Collie is the handsomest of dogs, is most faithful to his master and most intelligent. No man on a farm should be without such a faithful friend.
H. B. Arbuckle.
Maxwelton, W. Va.
From Southern Planter October 1905