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“Your dog ALMOST knows more tricks than any other dog I’ve met.”
That is what my dad said when he was playing with Ely one night. Ely is my one-year-old Border Collie/Lab mix.  What my dad was implying was that Ely knows how to do a lot tricks, but doesn’t always listen, obey or complete the tricks consistently.  Here is Ely’s problem:
Ely is a social dog.  He loves people.  He loves other dogs. He loves to please people. When Ely is very eager to please or is overstimulated, his hearing shuts off.*  For example, when Ely sees his very favorite toy and I tell him to roll over for it, he stands up, sits down, shuffles backwards in a circle, lays down, moves his head around, stands up and proudly wags his tail as if to say, “Nailed it.” The same thing happens if there is a new person in the room, if there is a new treat, if we just got off of play time or if he doesn’t feel like doing it. When Ely is focused, he will easily sit, lay down, speak, play dead, roll-over, shake, high-five, and stay.  Unfortunately Ely is only focused when we are in my house with no distractions around.
On every other level Ely is a GREAT dog.  He doesn’t bark, he rarely jumps on people, he doesn’t lick, he is easily redirected, and he thankfully knows and obeys the words “Kennel”** and “Off” more than any other command. I, however, want my dog to be consistently good and obedient.  I want him to listen to a command like “sit” and see him respond just as quickly as he does with “Kennel.”  The difference between sit and kennel is that when we taught him to go to his kennel, he had no choice but the kennel; Either he walked to the kennel or we brought him to it and locked him in. I don’t know how to train him out of being distracted. How do I get my dog to listen to me even when he eagerly wants to meet others, play, sniff that thing on the ground, etc?
Any suggestions? Also, if your suggestions include “go to petsmart” or “go to the park” please include how I am supposed to clue strangers in that I am trying to train my dog because how they respond seems to make a difference.
*This sounds like I’m describing a child. From my experiences, I have found a lot of similarities between children and my dog, but no one wants their cherub compared to a dog.
 **”Kennel” is his cue that he needs a time out so he promptly goes to his Kennel.  This even works in environments where he doesn’t have a kennel.  If we show him a room or even just a blanket and have him stay there, he will go to that spot upon hearing the Kennel command.  Sometimes, because he is a drama-queen, he will limp over to the kennel as if to say “Woe is me.”