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MeMeow

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  1. Another thing you can try with the crate is to remove the door (depending on the crate you have). I got my dog from the shelter and she was verrrry hesitant to go anywhere near the crate, and didn't trust bathrooms or closets either. Taking the door off meant it freaked her out a lot less. I started feeding her all her meals near the crate but far enough away she was relaxed, moved her food closer and closer each meal as she got more comfortable, then fed her first at the front of the crate and then moved the bowl towards the back. I only put the door back on when she was totally happy hanging out inside. Then fed with the door propped open, then with me moving it, then with me hitting it against the frame but not actually latching it, then opening and closing it a couple times while she ate. The last step was to actually shut it the whole time she was eating, and then start giving her more and more time before I opened it again. This sounds like a lot but I think the whole progression only took 2-3 weeks, and by the time I'd started feeding her in the crate she'd go running in while I walked over with the bowl. I always escalated a little slower than necessary so that she was really enthusiastic about the whole process, and by the time I was playing around with the door she was completely unconcerned with it. You want your dog to be relaxed and happy to eat, not freaked out the whole time. Mine is a total food hound so that probably helped...
  2. Nala was like this when we got her. She bonded with me and my husband very quickly, and from then on, no one else in the world mattered much to her (although once she got to know our families she greeted them affectionately as well). Then she learned the other owners at agility class have treats, and that the man behind the counter at the pet supply shop has treats, and so does the lady at the hardware store....and now she will often approach strangers with a wagging tail and sit at their feet. I'm glad she's comfortable enough to approach them (she used to be quite shy). But now I do have to keep a closer eye on her since not everyone likes dogs.
  3. I agree with GentleLake--aggressive lunge biting and "something more serious" (?) is a bit beyond the pale, and way beyond what's acceptable from an off-leash dog. I only walk my dog in places where leashes are required because I've worked very hard with her to overcome her dog reactivity. She sometimes doesn't do well even with very friendly off-leash dogs. If I ran into your dog in a city park and she started aggressively biting mine, I would be terrified and furious. Some laws are there for a reason, you know? As far as being able to take your dog places, you should think about what your goals are. Free play at the dog park? That's going to take a lot of work and may be impossible. Hanging out on leash at the local brewery? You might just need to get comfortable saying "my dog isn't friendly". As long as all dogs are on leash and the owners are paying attention, it shouldn't be an issue if you never let the dogs meet.
  4. So glad to hear things are easier now. It's often a long road but getting started in the right direction can be the hardest part! Hope things keep getting better and better
  5. I am probably more risk adverse than most people here, but I would never let my dog off-leash near a busy road, no matter how good her recall was. I never want to be in a situation where overconfidence in my training could cost her her life. All it takes is a moment of inattention from either the dog or a handler, or a scenario you haven't proofed thoroughly enough and there are no second chances. I would keep him on a long line near the road, and look for parks or trails away from streets to give him his off-leash time.
  6. You're on the right track, but expect it to take some time for him to figure it out. I also got an adult rescue who came house trained and "polite" (from day one she would leave food alone if you asked her to) but I don't think she had ever learned sit/stay/come etc. It took a long time to get "sit" consistently--maybe 3 or 4 weeks. Looking back, this was partially my own incompetence, but I also think it was the first time in her life she was asked to do something in response to a command. Once she got that it was off to the races, now she does all the basic stuff plus a bunch of tricks. There is so much stuff a new dog has to figure out that we take for granted--what all the different sounds mean, the layout of a new space, daily routines, how to interact with all the new people, which spots I should/should not sit or lie down in (like deciding that under the desk is a good place to nap but behind the rolling chair is not so good!). If your new dog's getting anything you say to him in the first week he's a rockstar. Right now, management is going to be your friend. Have him drag a leash in the house and figure out spots you can tether him so he's out of harm's way, go ahead and use the crate when he needs to settle down, and maybe get baby gates or one of those x-pens for when you want to give him a little more freedom but still keep him off of furniture. These practices will help him learn the boundaries and help avoid developing bad habits you'll need to fix later. Start training with "sit" and "down", keeping sessions really short and sweet, then build up "stay" and "place". Don't try to use these for actual behavioral stuff until he's really solid on them as fun games.
  7. I never like to tell people they can't have a certain type of dog, and I think if your heart is completely set on a border collie you could figure out a way to make it work. But, if you have reservations, there are other breeds in the herding family that would be a bit more adaptable and probably make your life a lot easier. I live in the suburbs with a BC/ACD mix who isn't really dog-aggressive but is also not social enough to enjoy a dog park unless it's nearly empty. It comes with some challenges but we've figured out our groove. For us, that involves frequent runs, hikes on local trails about once a week, weekly agility class, and bringing her just about everywhere we go (including work because I'm ridiculously lucky). We do some trick training but honestly, I think talking to her and including her in what we do is more important. I've also become a connoisseur of all the local dog parks, know when the regulars go, know when the dogs my dog hates are usually there, etc. so that she does get some opportunity to safely run loose. Most of the concerns I have for you have already been outlined, but I'll re-emphasize the ones that hit me hardest when I read your post: -What's your normal activity level like? How's your social life? What do you do most Saturdays? Are you someone who gets out of the city once the work week is over to hike, or do you tend towards more of a movies/shopping/bars routine? Are you interested in getting involved in dog sports? -Do you have a good "walking route" for your prospective dog? A walk that has spaces she can sniff, a bit of grass, not-too-heavy traffic, and that feels safe for you to walk early in the morning or late at night? -How much local green space is there? Are you within walking distance of a park, or a baseball diamond? It doesn't have to be a park especially for dogs. -Do you have a plan for the heat? I run with my dog but anything over about 23 C makes me nervous, and it's generally not humid here. When it's over 30 C we limit walks. She's a fluffy black dog and just touching her when she's been out in the sun lets you know how much heat that fur can absorb. I'm assuming that if your summer highs are 38 and humid, it's regularly over 33 for days at a time. How are you going to handle that? Finally, if you do decide to get a border collie, consider where you're getting one carefully. An adult rescue who's lived in either city or dense suburbs and is already well-socialized could be a really good fit for you. Getting a puppy is a bit of a mixed bag, because you'll be raising it in a very different environment than what they were bred for. Sometimes that works out just fine, but there are lots of examples in this thread of behavior that would be very hard to handle in an urban environment that only surfaced post-adolecense. Another option is to look at rescuing a mix--there are no guarantees, but a border collie x lab (or Golden, or generic mutt) will generally be mellower than a purebred.
  8. It depends on the region. Some places actually import rescued dogs from other areas. Our local shelter is moving to "no-kill" simply because they haven't needed to euthanize a dog for lack of space in years. There are huge swaths of the country where this isn't the case, but I really like to think that as spay/neuter and adoption become more and more widely accepted by pet owners, pet overpopulation will be a thing of the past.
  9. Wow, I love the idea of a rescue being so low on dogs they are referring customers to responsible breeders! I hope this is a first taste of the future....
  10. I massage my dog. I don't follow any particular protocol, just start at her head with little circles and stroking and work my way down her body. Rubbing around her ears, chest, and belly really relaxes her. Her back, butt, and legs are a bit hit or miss--I like to spend some time on them to relax her muscles and keep her comfortable being handled all over, but she can be more sensitive about them. I only give her paws and tail the most cursory of touches. She likes it and if I do a good job she looks like she's melting into the floor about halfway through. Sometimes she dozes off. If she's in a fidgety mood to start with, I do long strokes down her side until she settles into it.
  11. As far as designer crosses go, poodles x collies are far from the worst I've seen--both intelligent, active breeds, not an obvious health disaster. Of course it blows my mind that people pay thousands of dollars for dogs they should be getting for a $70 adoption fee at the town shelter. Unfortunately, as long as the market exists, people will pop up like mushrooms to fill it
  12. I don't agree with this at all! Being able to touch your dog while he's eating without stressing him out is a great goal, and if he's ever going to be around kids I think this is especially important. Kids drop food all the time, and if your dog resource guards a kid reaching down to pick up food he thought had become "his" is a perfect setup for a bite. I would just consider that there's some space between desired behavior and normal behavior. You want a dog who's going to accept gentle touching while he eats, but it's normal for a dog to feel insecure in that situation if he hasn't been taught it's okay. Your role isn't really to correct his "bad" behavior (it is normal after all!), but to teach him that you approaching his food is fun, not scary. You can get the desired outcome without punishing him for behavior that's developmentally appropriate.
  13. When we got Nala she was dog-reactive in a kind of similar way, where sometimes she completely ignored other dogs, sometimes she greeted them politely, and sometimes she started barking and lunging. I think in some ways it would have been easier if her behavior was consistent, because I definitely spent too long letting her "try" saying hello and trying to work out a pattern (Was it that she had an issue with big dogs? White fluffy dogs? Was it better if she'd gotten more exercise that day or worse? etc.) Once I stopped trying to analyze the behavior so much and started preventing it (by keeping her far enough away from ALL dogs that she wasn't reacting to ANY of them, and rewarding appropriate responses) we made much faster progress. Since Cricket is so young and since he generally likes people, I think you're going to have really good success if you consistently reward the behavior you want to see. When he has a stretch of days where a car drives by or a jogger comes past and he just looks at it, reward the HECK out of that every time you can! You ideally want him to get to the point where when he sees something startling (like a car, or a person walking swiftly by, etc) his natural response is to look at you for a treat. That's the response the "Look at That!" game is trying to invoke. Somewhat counter-intuitively, once you've gotten to that point the presence of the trigger often becomes way less interesting and Cricket may decide he doesn't even need to check it out. On "bad" days, just do what you can to keep him as calm as possible--no big deal if he has a little outburst, but once it's happened try to get him someplace quiet so he's not getting too worked up. Remember you're looking for improvement, not perfection Good luck. I remember when I was working on this stuff with Nala it was super stressful and scary, and I worried about her getting in fights, someone getting hurt, etc. I think these issues are pretty common, especially with herding breeds that are more or less designed to be sensitive to their environments and react quickly, and once you know what to do it's not so hard to change the behavior. And good on you for being on top of this when Cricket's young and still making his mind up about things! The other thing I'll say is that if you're feeling overwhelmed, hiring a professional for a session or two might be really helpful. I did a lot of reading and found a lot of useful advice on these and other boards, but doing just one session with a very good trainer outside a dog park got everything into my muscle memory. And I totally love the trainer we found, so now I have another contact in case any other "oh my gosh, what now??" issues ever come up
  14. When we got Nala we thought she was just super cuddly, but now that I know her better it's clear that some of that "cuddly" behavior was nervous appeasement. I wish we ignored it but we didn't know any better, so she got lots of attention and cuddles. She's mostly moved on from it as she gained confidence, or some of it has gotten ritualized in a way where I don't think it's a problem (e.g., every morning she wriggles around on her back at the top of the stairs, and I give her belly rubs and if I stop she wriggles for more). She's still a super cuddly lap dog who lives for belly rubs, but the behavior doesn't seem to have that needy anxious edge to it anymore. She used to flinch if we moved too fast, moved things (shoes, boxes, etc) around her, bent over her, etc., sometimes doing a full "play dead" submissive posture. We never worked with her specifically on that either but it disappeared on its own. A month ago she knocked something off a shelf walking by and gave us an "oh no am I in trouble??" look and I realized we hadn't seen that in about a year. And on walks, she used to walk behind us with her head down and her tail between her legs. It felt like such a breakthrough when she finally started sniffing around like a normal dog. Now she pulls like crazy when she see rabbits and I wish she'd heel as well as she used to, but it's way better to see her confident and happy. I think we got lucky--we knew very little about dog behavior, but getting her on a normal routine with play, exercise, training, and affection got her about 95% of the way there. We got some outside help on the last 5% of freaking out about other dogs. I hope your journey goes as smoothly, it sounds like you're off to a great start
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