Su Ba wrote:Is he neutered? Intact males have a tendency to explore their boundaries, to see how far they can go. I'm assuming that he was never trained to his perimeter as a youngster. So in his mind, he doesn't have a property line.
Neutering him now may or may not make training him easier. It all depends upon his personality and your ability to communicate with him. When I've had a problem dog given to me, first thing I did was neuter. Next thing I did was confine securely while I was training so that the dog didn't have the option to take control of the situation by ignoring me and running off. Next step was to start training......
.....I'd go all the way back to basic obedience. Sit. Come. Wait. Stay. No. Ok. I'd use a command for just about everything including when the dog was taken out for potty relief (even an outdoor penned dog was taken on leash for potty break training). Even feeding a bowl of food had a verbal and body language command.
.....I'd take the dog for fun walks on the property.....never off the property during initial training. When we came to the property boundary I'd startle and take rapid baby steps in reverse while saying no, then continue on in a different direction. It was trick that worked for most dogs. But it must be used in conjunction with basic obedience training. The dog MUST be already looking to me for directions and communication cues.
.....It's far easier to prevent a bad habit than to retrain a dog. So it may be a long process. Depending upon the dog, a strong reward system may help in addition to consistency. Police, search , military dogs are trained using a strong reward that the dog has been conditioned to fixate on.
Depending upon your ability, you may need to seek help from a professional trainer or join up with a canine activity club such as agility, schutzhund, etc. successful training also depends upon the time invested and how consistent every other member of the family is. I have a hubby that breaks the training rules all the time, so I ended up fencing our property line to prevent one of the dogs wandering off.
You mention that you have other dogs who also are not perimeter trained either. Training just one dog will not work if any of the others are allowed to do the forbidden behavior.
Other choices include keeping the dogs confined constantly, allowed loose only when on leash or 100% supervised. Or putting up a dog proof perimeter fence.
Su Ba wrote:Sounds like you've analyzed the situation right on. He's come the conclusion that the neighbors' cows are part of his job description. And it sounds like you're a responsible dog owning neighbor. So I wish I had some magic formula for you, but I don't. Now that he's made up his mind about the cows, it will be very difficult to change it if he's anything like my own stock-working dogs. Him being loose under supervision may be your best option for now.
If he should start ignoring your "commands", then a refresher course on basic obedience once in a while may help. I have an old retired hunting dog that responds well to a three day basic refresher once every 6 months or so. Without this reminder about manners, he'd not only try to run off but he'd chase the chickens.
Perhaps some other of owners can give you info about their own dogs. If you have a family, having free time to join a canine activity club may not be feasible. But you could attend a trial, say for agility or heading, and get some ideas.
I hope things work out.