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Urban Borders

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Everything posted by Urban Borders

  1. That is Mer to a T. From the age of 7 weeks, everything was done seriously. "There are others that are happy go lucky and everything is fun, they never have a bad moment. " And that is Obs. I don't think spazzy is the right word. She's just always happy. She is never grumpy or snarky. Sometimes she gets scared, but it always passes like a summer rain shower, there and gone. Neither are busy or hyper dogs, although Obs used to be when younger. They don't even like to get up in the AM, they are so lazy. But either would run 100 miles if you asked, or work til they dropped. She is just not particularly serious, even though she is quick to learn, biddable, and can focus with laser intensity on an agility course. She would be many people's dream dog, and I have had people to whom I would give her offer to buy her. But I still feel like that is giving up. I suppose it can't hurt to try sheep at least, and figured I would anyways; it sounds like that, plus/minus time, does actually help some dogs mature.
  2. Yep. After Mer, it was structure. To have a dog who handled the competition environment like she was born to it, and have to retire that dog at 8 because of bad hips AND bad kness,...that was heartbreaking. Obs is a 20" dog jumping 26" with ease. But we have had to work, and work, and work for 3 solid years to get to a point where she can quietly wait her turn to go in the ring (OK, we're still not there for first-runs-of-the-day). She used to lose her freaking mind just walking into a building or seeing dogs running, and was that way from 8 weeks of age on: screaming, flailing, utterly obvious to me. I have to confess, I have seriously contemplated getting a sporter collie (heresy, I know), just to get a dog from parents that are selected to handle this environment. Because logically, being born on a farm and raised in an outbuilding (like both my dogs were), from parents who never had to deal with an environment that noisy and visually stimulating, does not stack the odds in their favor. I know a lot of dogs in our area now, and there is a difference (more in the behavior outside the ring) between pure herding bred and sporting (or mixed use) bred dogs. I think it might be more in the raising, as dogs from herding lines bred by agility competitors or those who sell more to them do not have these issues. Bit of a quandary, if I want to continue supporting the breed as originally developed.
  3. Have lived in Philadelphia proper for most of the past 8 years, and raised two BCs from herding breeders there. One, who spent the first six months of her life on a farm we temporarily lived on, is sound sensitive outside; she's also sensitive to rural noises like gunshots. But only very loud noises, and not to the point of being non-functional. The other (who I brought to the city at 7 weeks and 1 day) is unphased by trolleys, people, barking dogs, construction work, throngs of passersby, etc. The breeder selected that dog from the litter knowing she would go to live in the city, and she made a very good choice temperamentally. Both dogs have lived in one bedroom apartments, or houseshares with other dogs, most of their lives; rarely have they had a yard. It was tough, no lie, to teach them solidly enough to allow them off-lead in city parks; one still needs to be managed and asked for focus when passing other dogs, the other (the one who was exposed to the city younger) learned long ago to pass people and dogs without paying any attention. Both understand what a road is, and that it should not be crossed without a release, even off-lead. There are several other BCs, rescues and herding bred, in our neighborhood. One has had serious sound issues; the other five or six are brilliant dogs, often walked off lead, very calm and well-behaved. I doubt that it was easy for their owners to attain that...it wasn't for me. But it definitely can work, as long as you have enough time and effort to dedicate to the dog.
  4. Hi all, Haven't been on here in a long time. Have been working with my younger dog, who is from very nice working lines. She turned out to be a very sweet, nice dog, although still kind of spazzy. I've trained my way around it: she has very solid operant behaviors in the agility ring, ringside (getting there), off lead. But she's never well, mentally matured or become more serious, the way many herding bred dogs seem to be (that's why I got a second after all, as I loved this quality in the first). She is intact. It's been really frustrating, and I've continued to entertain the thought of rehoming her, since this was always what I felt prevented us from forming any meaningful relationship. Several folks (some of whom I consider very knowledgeable, in case they are lurking ) have suggested trying her on stock, to see if that helps build a better relationship with her and maybe help her settle in mentally. Does this actually seem to work, in people's experiences? Even if the dog is 3?
  5. Yes, liking = voting. Sadly, it appears to be via FB only :-( But thanks anyways!! :-)
  6. Hi all, Mer and Obs hope they will be the cutest and most creative dogs to celebrate Valentine's Day this year. They are entered in a photo contest through Chewy.com, and would love if you could go on Facebook and vote for them. They worked very hard to learn to "leave" their kibbles alone for this photo, and smile for the camera. Link to vote --> http://bit.ly/1CU1RtQ Feel free to share with friends. Thanks for your help!! :-) (Mods, please, please remove this if it is not allowed, with my sincere apologies. I looked but didn't find any rules prohibiting it, sorry).
  7. LOL, I asked a friend if I could tape her ears last night. We're going to be in CA for a week, so a 300 series kennel would be too small anyways, to have her sleep in for that long. Going to sell her old crate, and a spare wire one. And hopefully pick up a few more hours of work to pay for the difference.
  8. Yeah, I know. She is prick eared, which is why I'm nervous. I don't have the money to fly her if it costs more, so she'll have to stay home. That would be disappointing, although it may have to happen. I was just wondering if anyone has had experience with what size they generally have accepted (no guarantees I know), because I'm trying to decide between taking her and not.
  9. Planning on flying a dog domestically, from Philly to San Francisco. Dog weighs 29 lbs and is about 19.5" at the withers. Going to fly nonstop United, but I'm in a bit of a pickle. She's right at the height cutoff for a 32" crate (24" tall) versus a 36" crate (27" tall). However, the stinker is that the smaller crate weighs 18-19 lbs, and the bigger 23 lbs; these are Petmate Sky Kennels. If the combined weight of crate plus dog is over 50 lbs, I have to pay an extra 110 dollars round trip (628 versus 518). That's a heck of a lot of money, so I'd rather fly her in the smaller crate. But I also don't want to get to the airport and have them turn her away. If you've flown a similarly sized dog, what crate size have you used?
  10. What a beautiful thread, and so resonant. I had shivers run up and down my spine. I can't really describe how I see my dogs, though I think about it now and then. They are mysteries to me; learning how to read their language and shape their behavior is something to which I could happily dedicate my life. I don't understand humans very well, to be honest; sometimes they surprise you with their compassion and insight, and sometimes they astound with their pettiness or spite or intentional obfuscation. But most dogs are honest as the day is long, and yet no less fascinating for that. I love to watch a dog just *being*, and each of its actions unfold with perfect sensibility...yet there are so many factors that come together to influence those actions, that you can still spend all day untangling why a given dog does what he does. And even more, I love to shape and change a dog's actions, until he is intently and willingly performing whatever crazy, harebrained, sometimes downright unnatural manuever the human has dreamed up today; sculpting their emotions, until what was overwhelming or frightening is no longer so, is even more satisfying. They are infinitely simple and infinitely complex, the perfect puzzle. And there is no creature (humans included) with whom I would rather spend my life.
  11. :-( This happened to Mer. She was 5 1/2, and not 9, but still old for big changes in personality to manifest. We went through a million potential causes: the other dog in the house, her tooth (which needed a root canal), supplements that she was on, the house she lived in, blood work and eye exam. Finally, we figured out that part of the problem was a pheromone collar that was being used for her thunderstorm fears. It's like trying to be a detective: what in the dog's environment, your schedule, their medical status has changed? Medical-wise, there could be so many issues: blood work is a good place to start, but that won't catch early kidney issues, endocrine problems (diabetes, thyroid, Cushings, Addions...although most likely there would be other signs), sensory deficits, primary intracranial disease, or GI problems. That last is interesting, because many abnormal oral behaviors (pica, licking of surfaces, and fly biting in dogs, or cribbing in horses) are associated with underlying GI problems.
  12. I have to agree; stubborn seems to carry a rather negative connotation in the English language. Although it may be synonymous with persistence, the emotional response that term creates in humans can be very different (and more likely to view the dog as an opponent). Maybe some people are better than that. I know I'm not, so I avoid it. Even though I have the most determinedly persistent Border Collie I have ever met (and others have said the same). My younger girl, like a foster I once had, loves to be praised. A harsh word can cause her to stop what she is doing completely, unless she is terribly anxious (which definitely occurs). But the older one...she remembers, and if she is prevented from reaching her goal, she will go back and try again later. She also knows that she is faster than me, and if she can beat me to the object that she wants, she will do it. She likes praise, a little, but will only work for rewards she finds valuable (food and toys). She will consciously decide whether to comply with a cue based on whether you tell her (verbally) she will receive a reward or not, even if no rewards are visible. Not stupid, this one...but she's made me a much, much better trainer for it. And the partnership you have with that kind of dog (one that doesn't find praise motivating, or with whom you can't lazily resort to punitive measures, as is often our default) is the most amazing thing.
  13. Hope you find something, truly. Very important to rule a medical issue out. Unfortunately, this is also the "age". Historically, it's been called social maturity. I'm more inclined to believe it's sensitization. But regardless, it is very, very common for fear-related aggression to manifest around 1-2 years of age. There is no data yet, but anecdotally many of those dogs have a history of either very high arousal or of fleeing/freezing behaviors as puppies.
  14. Have a dog that pulled right thru every device I tried: Halti, GL, Easy Walk. And yes, I know how to fit them. Eventually gave up and worked religiously on short training walks, asking for attention (dog is not food motivated due to anxiety, so less of that at first) and stopping when she pulled. Learned to not pull within a few days, albeit only in very low distraction environments. Gave exercise in other ways in meanwhile: fetch, agility, jogs where dog was attached to wait belt and encouraged to pull.
  15. This is not actually uncommon, and probably not due to a brain tumor. Although an underlying medical problem could contribute to the distress of the animal. But GentleLake is right: cortisol, which is one of the stress hormones secreted in response to HPA axis upregulation, can last for a long time, 24 hours plus, in a dog's bloodstream. After each incident, Rudder may have seemed "fine," but was likely nowhere near baseline in terms of his stress level. Actually, considering what you say about Max's concerns over other dogs, and Rudder's concerns over unfamiliar people, they are probably both dogs with a tendency to become stressed and distressed. Even little changes in their environment or schedule can bring them much closer to threshold, and the past few days have been a perfect storm of stressors from which neither dog had a chance to adequately recover. The problem is 1) that you didn't see warning signs and 2) that every negative experience Rudder has with other dogs (but especially that Rudder and Max have with each other) can damage their relationship. Sometimes, dogs have enough negative experiences with each other that they can no longer live safely together. See a vet; then, honestly, go see a veterinary behaviorist. At this stage, recommendations should be pretty simplistic, but this is the time to get some safety rules in place to preserve Max and Rudder's relationship.
  16. USDAA is fun, lots of classes per day, but in our area there are SO many people that compete in USDAA that trials are frequently 10-12 hours per day. Courses are medium difficulty. UKI is even more fun: many trials allow day of entries, trials are frequently only 5-8 hours long, bitches in season can compete (not relevant to you :-), you can declare a "for exhibition only" run at the line and do training in the ring with a toy, and the courses are often incredibly challenging. They will test you and your dog, and will provide many learning opportunities. I won't do AKC (on principle), and have no experience with any other venue. But going to a trial in each venue held in your area might be illuminative. EDIT: Although beginners/novice UKI courses are no more difficult than starters/advanced USDAA courses, pretty flowy.
  17. Second what dogrsqr said. A look at me or watch me cue is invaluable, as is touch. Particularly because it allows you to keep a loose lead; if a dog like that hits the end of the lead, his stress is going to skyrocket. Teaching your dog to channel his energy into something he really enjoys works well, too: playing tug, shaking a toy, playing fetch. You can keep the dog in the car, bring him in and get him focused on his "routine" of playing tug or fetch, and then use watch me to get him to the line. It really, really helps if the dog *loves* agility, which keeps his focus on the course. This is not a dog to take to a beginners class; if you don't know enough about agility to train him yourself, take private lessons until he is fast and focused on course. Then teach him a behavior to perform at the end of the course: for one of my dogs it is a recall, for another it is running to get her lead (this works marvelously, the recall is much harder for the dog to do, as they have to reverse direction and it doesn't give them a target for their arousal like the leash). In other words, your goal is to give the dog alternative coping strategies for being in the building, being in the ring, and exiting the ring, all around other dogs.
  18. Hmm. It really, really might be a good idea to take him to the vet. Large volumes/frequent defecation could be a sign of a medical problem, and he may be pokey because he doesn't feel good. Dogs don't complain if they don't feel well, but it can affect their behavior. Definitely one-on-one time. If your female is very enthusiastic about play, she may inhibit him. And he may be a very, very soft dog. There are dogs that can't be corrected at all, or they will shut down completely. Read this: http://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/ If you don't want to live with a dog that is overwhelmed by any correction, or by living with your female, or by living with an active family, then...the kindest thing may to be rehome him to someone who doesn't mind such a soft dog. That's not a wrong decision, if it makes the dog happier. As for his destruction, it may be due to several different causes: it may be boredom, or lack of stimulation. He might benefit from bones or food toys or toys to destroy, although he might have to separated from your female when given these, if he is a guarder. It may be a reaction to a passing stimulus: a feral cat, the garbage truck, a neighbor's dog. It may be anxiety at the situation he finds himself in: does it happen when you are not present, or when he is confined in some way? It may (although this is less likely) not be him: if you have never seen it happen, it could be your female, who is stressed by the presence of the younger dog.
  19. Hmm. Have seen a lot of dogs do this, transitioning from a canter to a trot. Both of my dogs do it. The older one with mild CHD, psoas injuries, and bilateral CCL tears (although she did it as a pup, long before the CCL tears). But the younger one, too, who hasn't been tested and yet I would highly doubt as CHD, as she has really wonderful extension and posture (no guarentees, obviously, but standing posture tells a lot). I would be more concerned about the fact that she doesn't seem to extend her hind limbs very far, at any of the gaits she shows here. That is much more classic for psoas or hip laxity issues.
  20. He'll revert to leave it with a treat in hand, but what about under a cup or napkin? Start with tossing the treat on the floor, say "find it." Then encourage him to "find it" under the napkin or cup. Jackpot if he uses a paw to get to it. Then hold your hand, cupped but upside down, over the treat, and cue him to find it. Jackpot for any touch of his paw to your hand. Then flip your hand over and do it with your hand on the floor but palm up. Then lift your hand off the floor. ?? He didn't get into anything that would make him ill or sore outside, did he?
  21. Hmm. I think I need to move to Seattle. Have lived in Philly for 6+ years with dogs: my dogs have been attacked multiple times, other owners are incredibly irresponsible with not leashing their out of control dogs, there is almost no public green space, finding pet friendly housing is always difficult and more expensive, dog parks are the place to go if you want your dog to get worms or end up at the vet's with bite wounds, and going for walks means a gauntlet of chicken bones, barking dogs, and cars that never stop for pedestrian traffic. We make it work, but it is very hard on the dogs. As soon as my last two years are up, we are heading out of the city and never looking back.
  22. As my first training mentor used to say, silence is golden, duct tape is silver :-) I had (have) a dog that until she was *eighteen months* would run away when I called her. A huge part of that was because she didn't trust me at all, because I did stupid things like yell at her and roll her on her side. She was smart, she wasn't going to come anywhere near the scary human when she could go run around or play with a toy by herself. I also used words indiscriminately; I would frequently ask her to do something she was not motivated to do. She also was completely disinterested in food. So I did two things: Firstly, I stopped asking her to do things, and started labelling them (i.e., I only called her when I was sure she would come, which at first was only after I had raced away from her and she was chasing me to get her toy. I said the word as she did it, then gradually started using it as a pre-emptive cue only in situations where I thought she would respond). I used the same word every time, did not repeat the cue more than once, and shut up the rest of the time. Secondly, I used whatever was motivating to her in that moment: if she wanted to go outside, then she had to look or sit or touch my hand first. If she wanted a toy, she had to offer a down or eye contact first (we worked on lots of eye contact and recalls). If she wanted her dinner, or to go in with stock, or go greet a person, or to get out of the car, or go into the agility building, she had to sucessfully perform a cue first. She's still an independent dog, and she never outgrew that "what's in it for me" mentality. But she is all the more treasured a working partner for it. She never lets me become sloppy, and she trusts me now. That is the greatest reward ever, because that trust was earned.
  23. Hi guys: Just wanted to give you all an update, in case what we've been going thru helps anyone. We're not in a perfect place by a long shot, but have had some improvement. I realized one other change that had happened in Mer's life in the past year was that I started taking her to the office with me, where she did encounter other dogs in the hallways and spent time in a crate under my desk. She isn't a fan of being crated, and sometimes it seems as though she gets overstimulated when in a busy environment (like a little kid, or an introverted person). So I started leaving her at home most of the time, where she does not need to be kennelled (and where Obi has a very large VariKennel). I also walk the two dogs out separately, as we often encounter other dogs in our apartment building when exiting/entering (all of the other dogs are dog reactive, and Obi would usually give one little woof and set Mer off on a paroxysm of woofing). Things seem to be going better with Mer's anxiety level. She is still nervous about other dogs, but seems to be less likely to react. We've gone to one trial, which admittedly was small, and she did great at coming and getting her leash on before exiting the ring (which we have also worked on rigorously in practice). Our big test will be a much larger trial this weekend, in which she and Obs are entered for only a few runs each. I think it will be very important to not walk them together, as Mer very much feeds off of Obi's arousal and anxiety. Also going to get a root canal done, as her one canine has become discoloured recently (don't want pain to make her less tolerant). And I also recently put Obs on medication, because her hyperness in the house seemed to have plateaued; she is like a different dog on it, still likes to run and play but is not manically searching for something to do all the time. It's early days yet, but I have my fingers crossed that things keep moving in a better direction. Thanks again for all your help.
  24. Definitely use "alternative" means of occupying. Some dogs (mine included) view a long down stay as an obedience exercise; they focus on me, b/c that is what they are trained to do when we are working! And food itself is very arousing for the older one, so she doesn't really relax if it is around (unless I tell her she isn't getting any, and then she takes herself off and lies down, because she knows I will not renig). I give a pup ample opportunity to occupy herself: bones, chewies, antlers everywhere. Toys too, because i want them to learn that toys can be out and that doesn't mean playtime (when I say, "let's play" that means playtime). They have beds to rest on, and are confined or tethered if they are too young or too busy to find inappropriate items to chew. Then they are given a cue that means the human is done engaging them ("all done"), and that is it, on my part. Toys can get shoved in my lap (and at first, they do), I can get nudged or nibbled on, and it all gets ignored (unless it is too annoying, and then they get confined in a kennel). Normal dogs figure out pretty fast that bones are more exciting than the boring human, and most fall asleep after awhile (that comes quicker and quicker as they get older).
  25. "Liking a crate" when someone is home with him, which is what some people mean when they just say a dog likes his crate, does *not* mean he'll like or even tolerate it in their absence. But from their later posts, it sounds like this pup used to be crated and tolerate that in the OP's absence, which is great. 6 months may be too young to graduate for him, but at least 4-5 hours is not too bad for a dog that truly tolerates/enjoy crating in his owner's absence. Especially if he sleeps the entire time (video!). "The OP said the dog likes his crate, but that she or he doesn't like the idea. FWIW, it's going to be your best option for preventing his soiling in the house and eventually having a reliably house trained dog sooner rather than later. The longer he practices going in the house, the harder it will be to break him of the habit, especially when you're not home."
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