Need Success Stories of Positive Dog training for sidewalk cafe outings?

We are desperately trying to apply positive training methods to our 6-month old Rough Collie, and am coming up frustrated so I need some positive outcomes coming from difficult dogs, and also how long it took to train. We have been through puppy training, leash walking, recall, etc. and she knows basic commands. I really want this dog to be a companion that I can take with me anywhere, but she has absolutely no impulse control and it's driving me crazy. She reacts to everything from other animals to bikes, trash trucks, etc. Sometimes I can get her to “look at me” and sometimes not, depending on how interesting the distraction is. So we are no strangers to training and have been working on it literally every day since she was 12 weeks old (when we got her.) We've taken her to outdoor cafes and so long as we shovel food or treats her way, she'll kind of behave. We've brought bully sticks and peanut butter filled kongs, balls, toys, etc. as distractions but like I said, that's just basically a few minute distraction and her attention span is very short even for things she loves. I'd love to hear other people's success stories as to how they trained their dog to be a well behaved sidewalk cafe dog. Also, how long it took to get to that point from being badly behaved. She is super sweet and not at all aggressive, just excitable and I'm guessing, or perhaps hoping that her age is a factor here. I feel like everyone I see who has a well behaved dog that they were just born that way and we're the odd ball, so I need some reassurance here.

I forgot to mention, this pup is quite heavily exercised; minimum of 1-1.5 hours at the off leash dog park per day in addition to walks and every few days field recall which is basically 50-yard dash for recall between the two owners. At one point our vet actually told us to slow down on the activity because she was too young to let us know when enough was enough.

Also: our rewards are in reaction to good behavior. Dog barks, gets a sharp “Eh-eh!” she pays attentions to us, I'll tell her “hush!” then after a few seconds of quiet I'll say “good quiet!” and then treat. Problem is, this continues repeatedly. After the treat, she'll bark, get the “eh eh!” and repeat above. The bark was just used as an example, it's that plus lunging at birds, jumping on the table, etc, insert unwanted behavior. That's how we treat and we also use a clicker as a marker of good behavior, since she learned her basic commands with that.

I am a professional dog trainer who uses reward based training. My Aussie, Moose, came to me at a year old, having been through 3 other owners. My Godmother was his last owner, and he drove her crazy and she is the most patient person ever. I got a call one night that she could not deal with him anymore, and would have to re-home him. She was taking him on 5 mile runs every morning and evening, and he was still bouncing off the walls. He barked, ate a metal water spigot, ate 13 pair of shoes in one day, and ruined half the stuff in her house. I needed a demo dog for my training classes, so I took him,

He was definitely a handful. The only real “casualty” in my house was the huge beanbag chair he decided to rip open and spread tiny foam pellets throughout the house. (Which consequently ruined my expensive vacuum.) He also had issues with aggression towards men,large women, and elderly people. I don't think I took my eyes off this dog for a minute for the first year that I had him, besides for when he was in his kennel. Everyone said I was crazy for even taking him, and there were times I thought so too.

Moose is 3 now. Everyone wants my dog. People ask me all the time how I ended up with a dog like this, and why theirs couldn't have his demeanor. It always makes me laugh. Moose and I had our share of ups and downs for sure. I found Moose's key to training was trick training. I don't care if he knows how to play dead or take a bow. But he loved it. We started doing multi-step tricks as he got better at the easier ones. He began to honestly love training, and not just for the treats. He enjoyed the brain stimulation. He is great at obedience too, but when I was initially training him I used fun tricks in between the obedience cues to keep him focused (he has ADD too, lol). Now, he can make my bed, find my missing car keys, and put away his toys when I ask him to, in addition to being well-behaved.

I've found a few things to be true since I've started training professionally. 1 – You can't train maturity, and you can't train genetics. But maturity comes with time (I joke that Moose knows when his birthday is, because he gets more mature around his b-day every year.) 2 – No dog is perfect. Some dogs are born naturally wanting to stick by your side, but they may have behavioral problems or training issues that you might not see during your local trip to the park. It used to frustrate me to see other well behaved dogs, while my dog was going nuts. If the owners knew I was a dog trainer, I would get really embarrassed. I would be ashamed of my dog and get insecure about my skills as a trainer (“…I can train everyone's dog's but mine! Why!?”). After talking to some of these owners, I would hear stories like “…yeah, Brucie is great on walks. He stays right with me, even off leash, and never barks or anything. Oh hey, aren't you a dog trainer? I've seen you! What can I do about Brucie humping my couch cushions and peeing on my rugs?” (True story!) 3 – If you expect too much too fast, it will have disastrous results. I could always count on Moose to make a fool out of me exactly when I needed him to behave. Like in the middle of a seminar or when at a dog park. After each time, I realize I put him in over his head. Even if you think you've practiced with distractions a million times and he should get it, the bottom line is that he hasn't gotten the idea yet. Every time, I would regroup, double my efforts, and have another go at it. I look at everything as a training opportunity, and that's what I told my classes if moose would act up… “this is a great example of a perfect training opportunity…” and work through the problem. Now in my classes he helps the scared dogs come out of their shells, and I can count on him to behave right when I need him to the most, and we are so in sync it's as if he reads my mind. I think it, he does it. It's a great feeling, and I'm glad I stuck out his adolescence. I have been offered money for Moose multiple times, even $5000 once! I wouldn't trade him for the world.

Good luck with your dog, keep up the training. Try a group class at a pet store, if your dog can learn to behave in a pet store with other people and dogs around, and toys and bones as temptations, you'll have a better chance of that training sticking with him in other environments. Also try outings that are specifically for practicing with him, if you're already doing that, great. Or, try something new with him. Maybe agility or flyball? Moose does well at both, most herding breeds do. If nothing else, it will give you a good network with others who are going through the same problems you are. Happy training!