Home > Dog Behavior, Jasper, Pet Ponderings > My dog has “shiny penny” syndrome

My dog has “shiny penny” syndrome

For anyone who has read my blog for any period of time, you now know that my Sheltie, Jasper, has an obsession with two things: sticks and balls. If we are at the dog park he will demand I throw a stick for him over and over and over again. At home, it’s his tennis ball he wants thrown or kicked or tossed – many, many, many times.

But there is also something else Jasper has an obsession with – things that move. This includes people, dogs, bikes, skateboarders, bunnies, ducks, etc.  He can be in the middle of bringing his ball back to me when he spots someone walking by the house and has to run to the fence to bark at them. He can also be barking at someone walking by and I can say “I’m gonna get your ball!” and he will run to get his ball. I like to call it the “shiny penny” syndrome or ADD.

Sometimes I laugh at how easily he can be distracted but most of the time I wonder how I can get him to be more focused. We have worked together on a wide variety of training areas, but this is one area we have yet to master. I wonder if any of you have or have had a dog that is easily distracted and what you do about it in your own home.

Do you have a dog easily distracted or who suffers from the “shiny penny” syndrome? How do you work through it? Or, how have you mastered it with your dog? I would love any ideas you have to help me with this issue.

Chasing my ball

Chasing my ball

Is that someone walking by?

Is that someone walking by?

Playing ball

Playing ball

Is that the neighbor coming outside?

Is that the neighbor coming outside?

Playing ball (again)

Playing ball (again)





  1. FletchsMom
    January 28, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    SQUIRREL!! I call it Doggy ADD.

  2. January 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Eko’s shiny penny is food! He doesn’t care what kind of treat or morsel it is or what else he might be doing, he will drop everything just for the opportunity to sit and stare at the food. This works really nicely for training, but not so much if we are anywhere outside where lots of people are eating. Maybe keep an extra ball in your pocket to get Jasper’s attention back when something else distracts him?

  3. January 28, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    The barking at strangers thing is tricky. While some people, like me, love to be greeted by a dog and am familiar with a pleasant bark vs an aggressive bark, others are just fearful. It’s also not too pleasant for neighbours who may not have pets for various reasons. We were diligent about not allowing it. Maybe it’s a personality thing? Buddy generally would woof once if someone was walking by….he’d look at us and we’d say “good boy, thanks Bud” and touch him on the head….that was his Que. that he’d done his job well. I’m sure you’ve already done the positive verbal re-informance though.

  4. January 28, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Wish I could help you, but my dogs are just the opposite. If they are playing ball, they are totally focused on playing ball, and I can’t get them to pay attention to anything else. The little beagle won’t even let me switch balls on her…..if one bounces out of the fenced in yard, she has to have THAT ONE back, and she won’t stop running the fence until we get it. She is almost too focused….there must be a happy medium in there somewhere! I think alot of that is just part of their personality, and hard to change.

  5. To Shea
    January 28, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Actually we like the fact that Penny tell us that there is someone walking by.
    She is always on the look-out wanting to keep us informed of any changes or anyone walking by. We kind of like it.
    EXCEPT when she decides to chase a bicycle. We tried all kinds of things, but there is something about someone else (not us) riding a bicycle that Penny feels she has to chase….OOOOh… WELLLLL

    • Mel
      January 28, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      I think I wouldn’t mind it so much of he didn’t let me know every time something moved. Jasper also likes bikes, but his favorite are joggers. Penny seems so good most of the time!

      • To Shea
        January 30, 2013 at 6:55 AM

        Thank You Mel, Yes penny IS well behaved except when it comes to bicycles. Other than that, she is a really good girl…;-)

  6. Amy
    January 28, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    I don’t have any training ideas (we are in learn as we go mode!), but I just want to say that these are great photos!

    • Mel
      January 28, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      Thanks Amy! We had a snow day yesterday, so it made for great scenery for pictures. 🙂

  7. January 28, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Funny! I like the phrase ‘shiny penny’syndrome. At our house we say ‘there’s a bird!’ and at a friends house, they say ‘a squirrel!’ I should mention, this is with our hubs and kids. Our dogs are fine!! BOL!

    • Mel
      January 28, 2013 at 9:51 PM

      LOL! I have used “Squirrel” to describe it too. He is so like that dog too!

  8. January 28, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    You may find this article on fence-running and “fence-fighting” dogs useful. It helped me tremendously while trying to work through Cinema’s “shiny penny” syndrome. http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/7_4/features/Best-Dog-Fences_5620-1.html
    Many herders (Shelties and in my case Aussies) need a job, it sounds like both of our kids took it upon themselves to guard the property. It got significantly better for me the more jobs I gave her that didn’t involve fending off the neighbors. Best of luck!

    • Mel
      January 28, 2013 at 9:50 PM

      Thank you! I will definitely check it out! Yes. Jasper does need a job. He is happiest when he is herding sheep (or rabbits). Now to get him a job. Hmmm…

  9. January 28, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    I love your storytelling and photographs, plus “shiny penny” syndrome has got to be one of our pet bloggers new crazy.

    In training for dog agility, we were taught to have our dogs heel off the leash, by training “come with” or “with me.” At first, you work on this with a food lure in a hallway, then in rooms (minus distractions)… Give it a try and let me know.

    • Mel
      January 28, 2013 at 9:49 PM

      Thank you! I will try the “with me” idea. I have thought about teaching him to heel, but I thought perhaps it would all go to hell as soon as the first jogger went by. Practicing in the house in the hallway first is a good idea though. Thank you!

  10. January 28, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    LOL! What a great name for this. Hailey use to be more like that, now she is too focused when she gets on to something. I hope you find something to help.

    • Mel
      January 28, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      How did Hailey get to be more focused?

  11. January 28, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    You had me at “shiny penny” syndrome! That is so Leroy! He has the attention span of a pea, probably less. Sherman however, has great focus. It really wasn’t anything I worked on him with, he just came that way!

    Oh, I can’t wait to tease Leroy with this:))

    • Mel
      January 28, 2013 at 9:47 PM

      LOL! Poor Leroy. It appears Jasper is the only one that has this syndrome in my house. Goofy dog. 🙂

  12. January 28, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Gracie is like that. In the house I have her undivided attention, unless Henri takes a flying leap off the sofa onto her back, but once we go outside forget it. One thing she hasn’t shown any interest in doing, thank goodness, is chasing after moving bikers or cars. She just stops and watches them go by.

  13. January 29, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Sounds like you have yourself a … Sheltie!

  14. January 29, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Dexter *loves* birds, but he is a bird dog 😀 He likes birds so much that when we are watching Game Of Trones on TV he will watch the ravens. Another favorite of his is squirrels

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: