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Everything posted by deadlywarbler

  1. Our BC was a biter too. Don't mistake this for aggression. I was terrified about having an aggressive dog when I first got my BC, but all those behaviors (biting, nipping, growling as a puppy) faded with consistent training. What I did (and I tried everything) was to play the "OUCH!" game. If she bit too hard or too much, I would yell out "OUCH!" and then dramatically ignore her. There wasn't an immediate change, but the pup now (14 months old) has no issues with biting and if we wrestle or rough-house she will only mouth my hands or body (many trainers will discourage that, but I allow my BC to mouth me when we play, but I still enforce the limits with the ouch game, or just stop playing if she gets too excited, which she rarely does) The other issue I faced was her constantly biting at my pant legs. This drove me crazy. Growling, biting and not stopping made me think I had a terrorist dog on my hands. The best thing that worked in this case was to calmly push her away and redirect that biting energy to a stick, ball or tug rope. By 4 months the behavior was gone. Whew! I also agree with everyone about not letting the pup get to a frenzied state. Make sure she's tired from appropriate play and then give her crated "chill out" time. I think it's really good for their psyche to learn to be calm like that.
  2. If it turns out this behavior doesn't change, I'd wonder if he developed a different impression of his house...maybe developed a different, or more mature anxiety about his surroundings and his role. Does he have a crate to go to at night? Do you suspect he feels "on duty" at night? Are there comforting activities he has around the house during the day. I'm sure the word "crate" has been suggested a million times here, but you might consider training him to have a crate space at night. That pseudo den has an invisible barrier for our pup and when she's in there, she's a blob of sleeping border collie. I can tell she's relaxed in there. I put her in our office with the crate door open, but the office door closed. This keeps her from getting up and patrolling if she feels inclined. I hope this helps! Dr. Ian Dunbar has written some great books and goes into great lengths about how suddenly adolescent dog's behavior can change. His writing helped me to keep calmly vigilant of those changes and not get too wrapped up in worry.
  3. I made a game out of the crate when I brought my pup home. She cried like crazy the first three nights, but that was it. Lucky! During the day, however, I would sit by the crate with the door open and reward ( I used a clicker and treats for this ) even a glance toward the crate. Gradually she would sniff around the door and I would do the same reinforcement. In a couple days I was able to toss a treat in and she'd follow. Soon the crate was a lovely place to be. Even if I put her in there as punishment (always calmly and quietly) she would just stare out for a few minutes and fall asleep. Each dog is different, I think, but you might try this approach. The barking sounds like anxiety about being in the crate and you definitely don't want to reward that behavior!
  4. You are the second person to tell me to ditch the flag, so I will be doing so immediately! I think I'll just use a light stick for extension of my arms. Thank you for the help here. I will be putting this to use this week and will stay consistent and not sweat the setbacks. Thank you!
  5. This is great advice, thank you! I love the idea of doing little "that'll do" exercises but just repositioning her for more work. That makes perfect sense. I appreciate your advice on the frustration end of things. I was livid at her this morning, but i know that doesn't do any good, so I'll keep my attitude positive and starting making this recall thing fun. I'll need to change my approach though because I've been working at this for the better part of a year and she's still completely unreliable. Frustrating!
  6. Thank you! She does heel and does so really well. With the ball, she heels directly in front of me and I admit I've been slack about this. My question with the "correct position" game is: do you ask her to get in position or sit and wait for her to figure it out? I would be waiting a LONG time if it's the latter because she is the queen of staring.
  7. Thanks Maxi, I have tried a few of those things, but I might have to make my reaction calmer. The only problem is that she is so fast its hard to calmly move to block her. I use a flag to block her now, but I'm afraid that is causing too much excitement. I may have to go back to having the long line on her...
  8. Thank you both! I can see the path to starting over with her and re-reinforcing the new command, starting small in the house and gradually moving outward. The part that I have a hard time with is correcting her for not coming. I can't have her on a long line all the time, and sometimes I need her to come to me but she's so far away and if I try to walk her down, away she goes. I've tried more firm wording but she doesn't respond. The ironic (and completely frustrating thing) is that I can put her in a down most of the time in those instances, but if I try to walk to her she bolts. Makes me lose my mind! Regarding the ball, I think the play is training this position in her that I'm starting to not like. The position is her standing 15' in front of me and staring at me (the same position as when she will not recall). I'm trying to train her to be at my side for the ball to be thrown, but she's not getting it. I do a definite "all done" and the ball goes away, but often she'll just find some other object to drop at my feet, or she'll just ignore me there after. It's at these times that the countless hours that I've put into this dog seem to have lead me nowhere. Frustrating.
  9. I have a quick question regarding my 1 year old BC pup. She started doing mild sheep work about three months ago and is doing very well for her age. She's nice, light with the sheep and responsive to my body language commands (no verbal commands yet). The one weakness she has is when I say "That'll do" she rushes in after the sheep. She doesn't even go after them like that when we are normally working, but it's very difficult to get her off them unless she's really tired. Outside of the farm, she has an embarrassingly bad recall despite my months of effort. Has anyone encountered this or found solutions to training a clean recall or "that'll do"?
  10. It's been a while since my last post up here. My BC pup is 1 year-old is doing very well is almost every regard. Smart, sweet, fun, great with people, dogs and no bad habits. Outside of the one issue, her recall, she seems like the perfect pup. I could gush about how much I love the dog, but when it comes time to call her when I need her, she manages to drive me insane. I've read all the posts about recall and read the books and general theory. No punishment or negativity on recall, no repeating yourself. I've been working on recall since she was 8-weeks old and have never made any headway. I admit to my shortcomings (over-using the word "come" or not properly reinforcing the recalls) but she seems to have the whole things figured out. When we are out walking, she will come back to me without hesitation, but when we are at the house, she will stand out in the driveway staring at me and will not budge when I say "come". Big surprise, she's figured out that play is done and doesn't want it to end. I have started her on sheep with a few local trainers and it's the same thing. She is doing brilliantly in almost every single way except for the recall (calling her off). She will completely blow me off when I saw "That'll do" and dash in at the sheep (she never dives in after then except when I say "that'll do". So, I'm looking for solutions and I'm trying to wade through the confusion of all the different training perspectives. The sheepdog handlers have a much stricter perspective than the trainers I've talked to. I'm afraid that somehow the dog doesn't actually respect me. The only advances she has made in sheep classes where when the trainer got in the ring and really got after her about any bad behavior. Do I need to be harsher with her? That goes against everything I believe in with training. Is it just a matter of going back to square one and trying again, because if so that sounds daunting since she has all the tricks figured out (treats, play, enthusiastic reinforcement). The other small concern is the ball. I admit she is a ball dog because we play everyday and it's her most reliable exercise form. I am worried that it also is breeding behavior that I don't want. Could ball obsession be playing an issue? I'm eager to hear your perspectives. Thank you!
  11. My little one was pretty challenging at 4 mo. old. She's 10 mo. old now and won't touch anything in the house. I found that too much correction or even too much attention made chewing on things a game. She was really into scratching at the bottom of the couch at that age, but eventually I just started to ignore here and it went away... Now I can reliably leave her in the house with things on the ground and she won't mess with them. Knock on wood! I know I'm not out of the woods yet. What worked really well was basically removing any chances for her to get into trouble. She didn't get any free roam of the house and actually was leashed to a leg of the coffee table when she was really young so she could be monitored. I took her out to go pee almost on the hour. Shoes, socks, food, books, remotes, etc. were all lifted up off the ground. Power cords were taped back. I used to joke that if I could lift all the furniture 5' off the ground I would. The only thing that was on the ground was what she could chew on and there was plenty of them. She just learned what was fun to chew on and what wasn't. I wish you luck. Don't mistake that crazy energy of going after your feet and clothes as aggression. Just be calm, consistent and fair and I guarantee it will go away. My little one was CRAZY about going after your pant legs...I thought it would never go away. =)
  12. I am dealing with the same thing in my 10 mo. old. Not exactly the same, but charging cats and barking out the window. Luckily she's good with people in and out of the house. I've been finding some good insight from the Control Unleashed book by Leslie McDevitt. She seems to describe these kinds of behaviors perfectly and highlights them as anxiety and uncertainty. I would suggest that in addition to any advice given here, which is always very helpful!
  13. Man, this one post was a wealth of information and honestly very reassuring. It's just good to hear it's a normal part of a dog's development. I'll keep working with her consistently. I agree about the bone... She's never guarded food or bones even once, but this was a bit more heightened a situation because it involved barking at the neighbor dog, so she may have been more wound up that usual. In the recent past I have yelled at the dog for barking and then sat back and wondered, "what am I doing? I know better than this!" It's so reactionary, just like getting frustrated when she goes after the cat. I am guilty of a little of this, but have since quit it. It's very hard to stay calm, or even use positivity when she's doing something very wrong, but I agree it will help in the long run by not making a situation worse by introducing my own anxiety into the picture. Do you literally click/treat her when she barks? I will be looking into a local trainer here in town and hope she has experience with border collies. I could use the help anyway. I am stressed about it, but then I keep high expectations so... I am still really enjoying my pup, I was just recently fearful of these changes happening so fast.
  14. I did recently take her to the vet, but she checked out fine. The change hasn't bee super sudden, so I'm not thinking it's medical. I think it's circumstantial since her environment changed so much in the past month. I wish I could have made that move when she was more secure. I am planning to seek out a local trainer to help with things. I am also reading Control Unleashed to try and get some tools for working with her excitability. The book is essentially describing her behaviors to the T. I guess I just want to know of others had their pup go through this phase and came out the other end ok.
  15. Brix is now 10 mo. old and her behavior is starting to change a lot. She has become very reactive to her environment. It's no surprise since we moved when she was 9 mo. old to a house that had neighbor dogs on either side, a very reactive and aggressive cat as well as a host of noises and yard animals like occasional rabbits and squirrels. To make matters worse we have huge sliding glass windows looking out on the yard. The big issue has been the cat. Her reactivity starting shortly after being attacked by the cat. Now all cats are an issue to be barked at at best or lunged and growled at at worst. I've worked so hard to introduce her to just about everything since the day she came home and she didn't show any reactivity to anything outside of the normal puppy timidness. Barking is a new issue and I'm working hard to keep that calmed down, but the approach on how to do that is still unclear. Just the other day she showed her first sign of defensive behavior and nipped at my girlfriend's hand when she tried to grab and move a bone we had given her. This is the first time she's done that So naturally I'm concerned and quite anxious about these changes. I'm not sure how much of it is a normal phase for this age. I tend to want to make every little thing an issue, mainly because I've been around a lot of bad behavior dogs and I vowed to do everything I could to avoid it. In a lot of ways it feels like the months of training I did with her have no affect at all. Can you all share some of your experiences with getting your BC through adolescence?
  16. I have had really good luck with using the ball as a training tool and having a lot of structure. My pup (currently 10 mo. old) fell in love with the ball right away. But I made a point to introduce "last one" and "all done" at the end of the sessions at which point the ball was put up high and out of sight...game over, no arguments. She got the picture. I also introduced control games with her. I made her move the ball "closer" if she got lazy and dropped the ball far away from me. She now will repeatedly move the ball closer until it is literally at my feet. I also introduced "wait" and "ok" so she would learn to wait as I threw the ball and would only go get it on "ok". It took starting REALLY small on this one. I've found the ball to be a really valuable thing with my dog since it was a lot of good exercise, a good positive interaction with me and a lot of learning. Just make sure she knows when it's "all done." PS: I occasionally will not use the "last one" because she knows that also means the game is ending and won't come back to me for the last throw. Occasionally the game just ends with "all done."
  17. I definitely do this. It works pretty well, but the context is so different from a casual recall. She knows the context of what we are doing so well that her behaviors change dramatically. I am using the above method to increase her control. This is as much a reward for recall as it is a training exercise to start to be able to call her off things of interests. I realize that a distraction free zone with a ball a few feet away is very different from a running cat, so I"m starting small and hoping to make this one bullet proof. She's becoming very reactive, especially to animal noises, so I want this control. It's bizarre, often she will see other animals like dogs or cats and all is fine until they either bark or meow and then the switch has been flicked and she's in charge mode. Very concerning for me, so I do my best to keep her calm and control these times when I can. Anway, this is obviously my big issue right now, but best approached in a separate post so this one doesn't drift off topic Root Beer, thanks for the insight. I supposed I will just have to take all the advice with a grain of salt and determine what will work best for the pup.
  18. This is very interesting, as is the rest of this thread. I've been following along encouraged by the success stories and by the wealth of knowledge and as usual discouraged by the massive variety in training approaches. I agree, my dog is very sensitive and walking her down would definitely cause an issue. Recently she went after my cat, so I grabbed her collar instinctively. A couple weeks later I was in the midst of a training session and decided to start gradually reinforcing collar grabs. I did two of them from a seated position and she was fine (collar grab-click-treat) and then did one from standing with a little more direct intention and at that moment she wouldn't come near me or wouldn't follow the rest of the commands. It was a big eye opener as to her personality because the original collar grab during the cat incident, while it was firm was not violent (my dog never experiences hitting or unreasonable yelling) She however definitely saw it differently. So I expect that walking her down would be a challenge. The other thing is that sometimes she's really far away and if you haven't noticed border collies are really fast! So it may quickly become a frustrating game of chase. What I have started to do recently (and bare with me as I'm still a little confused and having a hard time finding a protocol to stick to consistently) is to use the ball sessions to work on recall. She's crazy about the ball. She also does a very reliable "wait" for the ball until I release her to get it. So what I do is put her in a down-wait about 15-20 ft. from me, toss the ball 20 ft. away and then make her come to me before going to get the ball. It's working and she's doing well with it. The only thing is that there's really no enthusiasm in it because there's no chasing the ball. Does this sound like a good approach? The other thing I have done is introduce hand targeting with the clicker in the living room without distractions. She's very responsive to gestures, so I have a specific position that I hold my hand that signals her to come touch with her nose. I'm hoping once this gets more reliable I can use it from greater distances. Agreed? The last thing I need to do, and this goes well beyond recall, is to get her back to responding to her name reliably. I think she's heard it so many times (and I wish I could shut off my constant blabbing) that its lost its value. This is partially for recall, but partially to stave off her growing reactivity, which I will address in another post.
  19. I will weigh in as a first time border collie owner with a 9 month old beauty of a dog on my hands. The amount of attention she might need was a huge concern for me. Mainly I wanted to avoid the dog who goes nuts because she is either left alone or bored. Thus, I have defaulted toward giving her a LOT of attention. From 8 weeks until about 5 months of age, it was mainly just corralling her around and teaching her the do's and don'ts. When she was old enough to recognize play and "work" I started introducing tasks and activities (mainly mental with gradually increasing physicality to be mindful of her growing body) I won't lie, work and relationships suffered as a result. I was (and AM) committed to her well being, so I devoted a lot of time. Until about 5 mo. I didn't leave her in the crate more than two hours at a time. Even still I don't leave her alone more than 5 hours at a time. Luckily I'm self employed so I can accommodate that. Around 6 mo. she became positively enamored with the ball. I loved it too because it occupied her and more importantly wore her out so she's rest at night. But soon I started to see she was basically obsessed with the ball, so I had to start waning her off it a bit and doing other tasks like training, leash walks, etc. As it is now, I consider her a full time job from the moment I wake up until she gets in the crate at night. It gets MUCH easier after about 6 mo. Then around 8 mo. they start challenging you again with all their teenage development. I found with my pup I had (and still have) to be even more vigilant of her upbringing now that she's a teen because she is so prone to develop bad behaviors or habits. I think she's going to be very worth it in the long run. I'm still very much in the midst of her development and it's definitely tiring. In the end, I LOVE this pup and always look forward to opening her crate up in the morning.
  20. Oh, ok that makes sense. Ironic too since I just ordered Control Unleashed today! I will get started with Brix right away! I'm going back to some of the more basic stuff anyway. She's so darn smart I got her into more advanced tricks but started to overlook the basics. I'm going back to basic hand-touch exercises to get her used to coming to me and I will certainly incorporate whiplashes in! Thank you!
  21. I did use it for a while. She was very good with it and barely needed any enforcement. It's when the line isn't there that I have the issue. If the command was ignored did you simply reel the dog in? Also can someone define what "whiplashes" are?
  22. This worked exceptionally well training her to "drop." She would drop on command and immediately get the toy back. So I assume the normal training approach applies: start small with low distraction and move up gradually? At the moment she gets a fair amount of off leash time, mainly surrounding the ball. When the ball is present she's 100% attentive of me so I'm not very concerned with her recall. Should I be limiting her time off leash during this period? As much detail as possible is great! Thanks!
  23. Hi everyone! Ok, my 9 mo. old is in full teenage swing now. Very agile, smart and excitable. Her recall is positively terrible. I take full responsibility for this since I just overused the "come" command (and any notion that she needs to return to me) without reinforcing it. As it stands, she will certainly come back to me...when she feels that its in her best interests, but when it isn't she'll positively ignore me. Not good! While she is a wonderful pup otherwise, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't be able to call her off if she was really excited. So, I need to go back to square one, determine a new recall command and get her properly trained up. I work SO SO hard not to keep blabbing my mouth and repeating "come! come!" but it's like a reflex. She's 9 months old, very well behaved otherwise and is trained on the clicker. I would like to stay with the clicker if possible. Can you detail your approach to recall in this case given she's already developed a sense that she can ignore the command? How do you begin? How do you enforce the command if she ignores? Thanks so much! At this point, most of the rest of her training seems so unimportant compared to this, so it's my top priority right now.
  24. Unfortunately/fortunately we have huge sliding glass doors that pretty much make up the whole back wall facing the backyard, so that would be tough... She doesn't get to see the cat all day because the cat isn't allowed free access either. I think I might just need to be with her a lot more out there so I can get to the training issues right away...
  25. I think this was a beautifully made point. I think these dogs do respond to correction like professionals so long as they know that they won't be hurt. I'm working to get my dog used to yelling at her when the time is right and then praising and loving her afterward so she knows that even when I yell, she's not in danger. I am having to step up my limits training with her lately because she is pushing them so hard. I think I might need to institute your "no second chances" policy, though this will be tough... I will say, as a side note, I took the pup to the vet today to have her eyes checked out and she was a total dream. She watched the cats and dogs alike attentively and hung by my side. After a few minutes I was able to run her through her arsenal of tricks to everyone's delight. I was very proud. I was very happy about her reaction to all the cats given her recent track record with them. So there are the good moments. =)
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