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Posts posted by deadlywarbler

  1. As someone who will be getting my first border collie puppy in the near future, this is really interesting and enlightening to read. You sound like a fantastic owner for being able to react and change and not blame the dog. Well done. I will be checking out the books you mentioned, as well. I have nothing to add as far as your dog's behaviour other than good luck in the future and have fun!

    Chene, thank you! Enjoy your puppy! He/she will drive you bonkers, but they are so much fun. There is nothing like the sight of a dog looking at you like you are the bee's knees. Enjoy those books and movies, they are invaluable resources.

  2. I have posted quite a few times throughout my pups early months. I received so much guidance from people here. Somewhere after about 6 months of age, I began to sit back and admire my mostly well behaved, well socialized and generally adorable BC pup. In looking back I realized how much work I had done with her, how many early mornings and late evenings I committed to her. People would even praise me on how happy, well behaved and wonderful she is. I suppose that means my job is done, right? Time to sit back and reap the rewards.




    I will say that my puppy continues to be a well behaved, socialized and generally adorable little dog with one caveat...she is changing. She is 8 months old now and while I enjoy every minute with her, her behavior has begun to evolve. Around 6 months she discovered that the ball is the only thing worth living for and I discovered that the ball was an almost automatic means of having a wonderful experience with my dog. With the ball I taught her to lay down reliably, then to lay down immediately when she is 50-100yard away from me. I taught her to wait reliably untill my "ok" before sprinting off to retrieve the ball. I joyfully observed her speed and grace in a huge open field. I was completely in love.


    But, recently things have been getting a bit more difficult. In a bit, I will rant about how thankful I am for a few specific resources that manage to highlight these times and give me guidance on how to work with them. The pup has discovered that she loves the ball so much that she's now not as willing to wait in the car while I gather her things and instead feels the need to push against me trying to get out. On leash, as I walk her through the city streets en route to the field she tugs relentlessly. Even though I try the "red light, green light" method, she manages to just tug and tug. This leads me to get frustrated and even lose my temper. Not good. I pride myself on being sensitive to my dog, so I can immediately see how my mood change affects her.


    Today was the final straw, a highly frustrating walk to and from the ball session in which she seemed to only want to go where I didn't want her to go. Tug, tug, tug despite all my stop and go until I was literally pissed off. I failed her.


    Luckily I have these few resources that I refer to and in coming home to find them after feel very bad about how I worked with the pup today I realized how long it had been since I referred to them:


    First, The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell Ph.D. This book was my invaluable education into the mindset of dogs before getting my pup. What a savior as I had always subscribed to the dominate and control method of raising dogs simply because it was all I ever saw around me. This book changed EVERYTHING about what I knew and taught me 1. that dogs are always seeking and growing into positivity and 2. that I as a human with all my non-canine behaviors was a veritable liability to her well being. This book taught me to think like a dog and alway use positive reinforcement even if it is the more difficult option.


    Second, After You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar. This book is an invaluable insight into dog training by a true master. When you read what Dr. Dunbar says, it all becomes so painfully obvious that you wonder why you didn't figure that out yourself. His insight into bringing up a well behaved dog is amazing.


    Third, and this is a bit unrelated, I feel really grateful to have watched the movie Buck about the horseman Buck Brannaman prior to owning my pup. While this movie is about horses, it highlights some of the exact struggles I am going through with the pup, namely my own human element. Watching this movie gives me inspiration and hope in working with my dog.


    So, the lesson learned today is that I got lazy, but luckily I realized in time to keep up working with my dog so that I can actually maybe sit back when she's...oh...6-7 years old and enjoy her. Puppyhood was difficult, but the time invested has paid back in spades. I intend to navigate adolescence with the same determination. Thanks for listening!

  3. A lot will depend on the individual dog. It's hard to anticipate how your six-month-old puppy will relate to other dogs when he grows up. Most Border collies I've met are OK playing with other Border collies, especially if the games involve "chase", but they may not appreciate the games other breeds want to play. My dogs are all fine with other dogs, not at all aggressive, but that doesn't mean they'd be at all happy in a daycare setting. The two adults really aren't interested in playing with other dogs, and they'd probably be mortally offended by labrador retrievers in their faces.


    I use a dog walker instead of daycare if I'm out of town for the day. I'm lucky in that I can find people I can trust who will hike with them off-leash (and my dogs have great recall - they can be called off deer).


    I'd vet most daycare places carefully. Are they savvy enough to know that simply throwing a ball all day long for a Border collie will engender obsessive behavior? I think I'd also worry lest they get injured, either from too much "fetch" on a hard surface, or by colliding with other dogs.


    My 13-month-old dog would probably think he'd died and gone to heaven in a daycare setting, but he's still intact, so it isn't an option.

    Ok, this raises an interesting side question. Perhaps it's better posed as a separate post, but I wanted to quote it here since it has been something i've been thinking about. The pup (6 mo. old BC) LOVES fetch. No surprise here, but I am curious what you would call "too much". I usually start the morning with a quick session, then a few throughout the day and again in the evening. They last about 10-15 minutes depending on my time or how hot it is out. I've trained her to recognize "last one" and "all done" at which point she usually goes for some water and then crashes out for a bit. However, if we are in the yard, she's looking at me constantly to throw the ball. She isn't pushy, but she's definitely aware. Does this sound like I'm on the right track?


    I am starting to lessen the morning session, mainly so she doesn't grow up thinking the early morning is all about her all the time. But still, I do throw for a bit to get the nighttime energy out. Thanks for letting me steer this post in a different direction. =)

  4. My little pup is just over 6 mo. old now and doing so well. Smart, affectionate and well behaved (aside from a few little puppy things). It was my goal and continues to be to invest a lot of time with her. This means I am up early to let her out of the crate, play ball throughout the day and make sure she has a visitor if I can't be there. It's worked out great so far. I took her to a party the other day and one woman said, "Wow, she's so happy!" This just made my day since having a happy dog that loves being with me was the paramount goal.


    As she gets older I am going to need to exercise more extended care for her during the days. My work has definitely suffered as a result of needing to go home to spend time with her. I am curious what everyone thinks about doggie daycare. We have a good one here in my town, but I don't want to throw the pup into a situation where she's not having fun.


    She likes other dogs, but shows a bit of timidness at the get go. Eventually she comes to and loves to play. It's hard to imagine letting a whole day go where I have zero control of the dogs environment, so naturally I'm a little apprehensive.


    What has been people's experience with daycare? She wouldn't be starting it until she's about 10 mo. old. Thanks!

  5. It's good to hear my pup isn't the only one being a brat. She has started to get a little contentious with me. I hope it is because she recognizes me as the owner/rules guy and is testing her boundaries. I have been very watchful of her energy levels and making sure she gets downtime often. Most of the time she's nice around the house, often being a complete angel, but I'm not sure what gets at her when she decides she going to be a punk, but man does she play the roll well! I have allowed her the use of her mouth on my hands thus far and she has really gotten to where she uses her mouth softly on me. I don't tolerate her biting on clothes (though she doesn't seem to care that I don't tolerate it) When she bit at me recently she did bite harder than usual, so this worried me. I can see now how the situation may have precipitated that. I am just bracing myself for another 5-6 months of teenager behavior.

  6. All my dogs have come to me between 15 weeks and 12 months.


    A couple could be let off from day 1.

    A couple took an awful lot of work before they were safe to be let off.

    And couple needed a bit of training first.


    Our collie was one of the second sort.


    No help I know.

    This is interesting, so what was it that you saw in the dogs that made you determine whether they were good off leash or needed more time?

  7. I wanted to open up this post mainly in hopes of hearing others' stories of their first off-leash walk with their pups. At what age did you do it? What was your experience? What did you wish you did differently, or what were you happy you had done in advance?


    I pose the question because I have virtually no idea how she will respond to this. She's 5 mo. old now and show's a lot of inclination toward me, but then also shows dazzling moments of indifference. One particular thing she shows is amazing speed and often she wants to run right to the end of her leash with the distance in her sights.


    I am planning to start taking her to the park on a 30' lead and seeing how she reacts. I am working constantly on recall, but of all her tricks she loves to "play dumb" on this one.


    I am all ears!

  8. Last night she was probably a little tired by the time she got to where we were going and she started acting out. A soft crate is a great idea, I will look into those because I can take it around with me. In those times, she is very hard to keep in one place. She shows very little interests or attention toward me, but loves to do all the wrong things. She has learned that many of those get my attention, so they are high reward activities. I am leaning further and further away from correction regarding these things. Ingoring seems to work best unless she's digging up my Mom's vegetable garden in which case I try to lure her away with a ball or toy. The only problem is that she rarely forgets. She can play with the ball for a minute and then shoot straight back to the spot I was trying to get her out of. Bah!

  9. I will also suggest a time-out in the crate.


    When you say you try to move her, how do you move her? Move her with your hands? Pick her up? If she is crabby, she will be biting whatever is closest. Distraction techniques should help. Try to keep your hands away by distracting with a toy - maybe a fleece tug or similar. Choose a toy that is somewhat long so that your hands are on one end and she can grab the other end. Jolly her up a bit with the toy, then maybe you can pick her up - while still engaging her with the toy - and bring her to her crate for a time-out. Just a suggestion.

    This is great advice and something I need to remember. It makes sense that she does this only when she's been awake too long or way over stimulated. It's hard to create a "time out" when not home with the crate, so need to figure out if tying her up for a few minutes will work.


    By distracting her in these situations, is this helping her to learn that biting isn't a part of the equation or a way to get what you want? I guess the underlying concern is biting in general (which I might add she has never shown signs of) Thank you all!

  10. My otherwise sweet 5 mo old has a tendency to get tired, crabby and snappy with me. Usually her being tired leads to her bad behaviors of digging or chewing. When I try to move her to something else she starts to mouth at my hand which leads to harder bites with teeth exposed. It's not full aggression (probably more confusion) but it disconcerting. Who has experiences this and how did you approach it?

  11. I just wanted to offer some encouragement along these lines as well. Camden was my first dog... my first puppy... and I spent the first 3-4 months with him wondering if he was defective. Puppies are supposed to be cute, friendly, loving, snuggle bugs... right... right!?!?! Not mine. Now, I was lucky enough to get an aloof puppy who was extremely food motivated so at least I had that. Training was our only bonding time, as he had zero interest in being petted or loved on. He didn't even show much interest in playing with me until he was 5 months old. I just assumed I had a dog that was never going to be overly affectionate, but I came to terms with it and anyways he'd already won me over with his "smarts" and drive.


    Sometime between 6-7 months everything changed. There's no exact moment I can remember (truth is we were bonding the whole time) but I could suddenly feel that bond. It was (IS) tangible and unmistakable.


    I know every dog is different (and that I am now way off the original topic) but I just wanted to share my experience of having an aloof puppy. I'm guessing you and your girl are building a wonderful foundation and that your relationship will continue to grow and blossom. You obviously care about her a great deal and want the very best for her. I believe that trust and love will have a huge pay off in the long run. :wub:

    You couldn't be more ON topic. This is exactly what goes on in my head because I am still in the phase where the dog seems quite indifferent to me. It's hard to imagine how the dog will ever learn to like me. So hearing these stories gives me hope! Bear in mind, I have a ball with this dog…and then at times she makes me insane. But the process has been amazing, so if it only gets better, well, I'll be happy as a clam! Thanks for the insight!




  12. I recommend being as much fun as possible when training and trying to always end a training or play session with your pup wanting more. Quinn was extremely busy and very independent at 4 months old and I wasn't important to him most of the time. Everything I trained him - manners, obedience, agility foundation, tricks - was fun and games. He has always more excited by toys than food so I used both toys and treats depending on what I was training.


    In between sessions, try to never give a command if you aren't sure she will listen. Don't let her practicing deciding when she will obey. If she is not causing havoc, I would keep an eye on her as she explores, plays and has fun. If you want her to stop a behavior and don't think she will listen if you tell her to or call her to come, then go to her and intervene. Otherwise, unless I wanted to do a training session, I would let my puppy have at it.


    As she matures, her bond with you will grow and she will become more consistently interested in being with you. It varies as far as when that happens. Quinn decided I was worth keeping when he was 6 months old, but it varies from dog to dog. The independent puppies I have known all grew into very attached, affectionate dogs. Quinn went from coyote puppy to momma's boy (eventually). Hang in there and have fun with your girl!

    I love this! Such a good reminder. I'm so bad at keeping my self from repeating commands, or just plain blurting them out during play. Sometimes I'll just say "come!" while running around and then I'll stop and think "why did I say that? I didn't even want her to actually come to me" So while I'm out there training her, I am actually training myself…mainly to shut up.


    I'm so glad to hear that some affection developed around 6 months. That will be very rewarding. Occasionally she comes up to me and sits and just lets me cradle her face and pet her cheeks. It's very sweet and I revel in those moments. =)

  13. I like thinking of this as a lifestyle training rather than an actual exercise. She's a pretty hard headed dog, so as it is now I can't imagine how I'll get her to go lay down, but then she's surprised me with everything else along the way. She has not yet pestered me with toys. Actually it seems that I am the toy. She loves to get cranky and stuff her face under the couch when I'm sitting there and growl and roll around. All very puppy like, but definitely annoying after a while. This seems to be the case when she's either too tired or not tired enough.


    Knock on wood, today is the first day that I let her sit around the house while I did all the mounting computer work for my business. I she has been relaxing in the living room all day and i have gone out to either treat her if she's chilling, or go run in the backyard for a session. No terror mode, no chewing or pester. It's been such a wonderful day that I cancelled all my appointments to soak it all in. =)

  14. I do not use a stay for an off switch. Semantics I am sure. A long down stay is an exercise. As such it is an obedience command. That to my use requires the dog to stay actively engaged as I don't want them accidentally breaking it. So as Gentle Lake already mentioned, short time, on lead, more space between rewards etc.

    And if they break, putting them back into the same place shows a picture that is easier to understand to a young dog that is still learning!

    And once the pup knows, then there is consequences in getting up.


    I would take a chair, a book, a clicker and a box of treats. Do your normal activities. Stop. While on leash, sit down and limit the pups movement to the end of the lead (I choose a longer line but not too long either). At some point the pup is going to check in with you, eye contact or a lick, click and treat. When the pup looks for you more and more, with hold the reward and wait for another offer. A sit, a down, something quiet. Click treat. At some point the pup will lie down as nothing else is going on. Super reward. I would make sure not to command the dog to settle yet but to wait him out. Later, add a separate command. Like settle, chill, chillax....whatever. No formal down needed.

    Ah, I love this! How I failed to consider using the leash is beyond me. I'll try it tonight!

  15. Are you rewarding her for staying put, even if it's only for a few seconds? By this I mean when she's in the down position, you should be dropping treats right between her legs (far enough back so she doesn't have to lean forward or break her down to reach them) every few seconds at first, gradually lengthening the time in between rewards. If she breaks, take her back to wherever you started from and begin again.


    These sessions shouldn't be very long at this point, and you can't expect her to stay for too long either at this age. Once she's successfully stayed for 15 seconds to start, release her. Try for 20 seconds after a few successful 15 second stays. Then 25, and so on. Make sure she's solid before upping the criterion.


    Have fun. She's very young yest, but she'll get there.

    The trick is getting her back to where she was. When she gets up, that's it in her mind. I see no value in dragging her back to a down position when she's just loathing the whole exercise. Your point about praising her more frequently is a great reminder! I will work on that.


    GentleLake, I have been trying to work on that. The other night she was sleeping soundly next to my foot in the evening and I read another post here about that and thought "I never do that!" so I reached down and gave her a gentle pet or to and that woke her up and she went into terror mode for about an hour... No fun! That was negative reinforcement for me to ever touch her when she's resting like that. =)

  16. How long are your training sessions? My first thought is they may be too long for a 4 m.o. puppy.


    Frequent short training sessions that end before she becomes disinterested are better than longer ones that eventually bore her.

    GentleLake, I actually try to keep them very short. They rarely go over about 4-5 minutes. The problem isn't so much during the "sessions" but the in between training. That is where I am having difficulty getting her to pay attention. The dog is so smart she can tell when my handful of treats is out and she knows the training session is through and goes back to whatever she wants to do.

  17. Thanks for indulging my frequent posts here... One big thing I am feeling an urgent need to begin working on is the "off switch" for my 4 mo. old BC. She is so active now, and when play stops she often will trot around the yard for a long while looking for...well, I have no idea what she's looking for. I want to begin to work on the long stay as a means of training in that sense that "play is over, it's time to settle down" I am looking for insight on this because the pup does not enjoy the idea right now. I will call her over and get her to lay down with a "stay" which I might repeat every 30 seconds. Often she will look up at me for a minute and then decide she's through with this task. I have tried a stern "ahhh" as she gets up, or even a body block but she chooses to just ignore me.


    How are you all training this into you pups? Am I letting her off the hook to easily when she gets up? Is this just too early to expect this kind of behavior out of a pup? I would love some insight on where to go from here. Keep in mind, I do not expect her to be able to do a long stay, but I would love to see progress. Thanks!!

  18. I seem to have the most aloof little 4 mo. old. A wonderful dog she is, and continually impressing me with her abilities. But at best she plays with a sort of awareness of me. At worst she LOVES to simply blow me off. So in regards to training, I am constantly searching for the rewards that keep her engaged and excited. Food seems to work for a period of time, but she seems to get that she's being run through "drills" and loses interest pretty quickly. Play is fun for her, but it's hard to train certain things using play (or at least it's hard for me)


    How is everyone going about finding that reward that really engages the pup. Is aloofness a part of puppyhood? At times she seems to not really give a you-know-what about me (pardon this amateur trainer projecting his own stuff onto the pup)



  19. Let me guess . . . she isn't terribly food motivated, right?


    If clicker training isn't fun, then find what motivates her -- i.e. what is fun for her -- and use that as your reward.


    Food isn't the only thing you can use as a reward in clicker training. ;) Maybe tug?

    You got it! Food is basically interesting to a point, but then she gets bored with it. The soccer ball, however, she can chase until she's blue in the face. But I find it difficult to train her with that since she is so fixated. The overall problem is that I haven't trained her to listen to me very well. Maybe it's her age, but she will definitely blow me off at times.


    Actually, this little pup is far more aloof than any other I've had, so finding her big reward has been tough. I have to say I really admire this about her, but it makes training a little more challenging.

  20. I would say training the "off switch" is probably the most valuable, breed specific, advice you've gotten. Sure, every puppy should be taught to "settle", but I think BCs really do need it more then most. I wish I had been more aware of it when my pup was very young, it would've been easier if I had started training that from day 1.


    But, I have a different piece of advice, based on my own personal experience: Mental stimulation at that young age is far more valuable (and safer) then physical exercise.


    Physically these dogs will go and go and go and go, they are seemingly tireless. As a dog savvy person I'm sure you already know the risks of too much physical activity for a young, growing puppy. I was not dog savvy, but while researching getting a puppy I read about this a lot. I thought I was keeping the physical activity within reason, but looking back I realise I allowed him to do way too much and likely did damage to his body. I will never entirely get over the guilt of it... but we live and learn. I'm not one for regrets or living in the past, but I figured this was a good opportunity to share my mistake and hope it helps you avoid doing the same.


    With a breed as driven as the border collie, if they are allowed to set their own pace, they will almost assuredly be pushing themselves to the limit and beyond. They make "overdoing it" look pretty damn easy, actually. Of course every puppy needs exercise, but just be extra careful with that growing body. Prioritize mental stimulation, exhaust the brain, and you'll still have a tired, happy, healthy puppy.


    ETA: Physical risks aside, there is a theory that however much exercise you provide for a dog is the baseline for what that dog will need. IOW, if you exercise a dog for five hours a day you are creating a dog that needs five hours of exercise a day. This seems like a common pitfall for new BC owners, as there is so much literature about about how much exercise the breed needs. It's a pretty common topic on these forums, new users asking how much physical exercise the dogs really require.

    This is an interesting point. My little 4 mo. old loves to move (no surprise here...) She loves to play "soccer" in the yard, run after frisbees and do the occasional chase game. She seems to get bored easily with the "mental stimulation" I am trying to give her. At first I was heavy on the training and she picked it up quick (sit, down, roll over, heel, stay at 3 mo. old) I was worried though that it was a bit too much "boring" work too early on. So I switched my approach to less training (only working on walking nicely on leash and some basics around being a polite dog) and more about fun. The goal being to make hanging with me fun.


    Any perspective on exercise or game-based brain games? During "soccer" games I will try to get her to predict where the ball will go or during tug games I have her trained to "drop" and "take" over and over. Clicker training time isn't the most exciting for her.

  21. I don't think there's anything that's border collie specific you need to know. Raise your BC pup the same way you'd raise any other dog you'd like to grow up well adjusted.


    One thing I do think many people overlook -- and again it's not BC specific but it may be more likely to come back and bite you in the butt (pun intended) with a BC than many other dogs -- is to quietly praise the pup for being calm and quiet. When the pup collapses after playing or lies down to take a nap, as puppies do, softly stroke the pup and tell it it's a good dog. It helps with developing an off switch and reinforcing that quiet behavior is appreciated.


    Too many people only engage with the pup in play and when it's active, and forget to reinforce calm and quiet. That can be a recipe for a whirling dervish. :o


    Have fun with your pup . . . . and don't forget to send pictures!

    I was just sitting watching a little TV with my 4 mo. old BC laying quietly in front of me. I read this and it reminded me that as much as I revel in these quiet moments, I haven't been praising it enough. I just gave her a few good pets and she rolled on her back to enjoy a belly scratch.


    It gets much easier a couple months in!

  22. I used to subscribe to the perspective that a dog will respect an owner if it fears that owner a little. This was before I actually made an effort to understand dogs. My inexperienced take on it is that dogs can really only be controlled with fear but can be controlled while growing and developing with positivity. Humans are no different. A child that knows that if they mess up they might get hit by mom or dad will always carry that with them in their interactions with family.


    My goal in presenting this topic was to seek out the best way to allow my pup the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them (in controlled conditions of course). My weakness and insecurities do drive me to seek out dominance over my dog but I can see through that and am working to not let that drive our development.


    These replies are very helpful! Thanks!

  23. I'm right in the same boat with you on this one. I brought home my 8-week old about two months ago. It has been, what feels like one of the most trying times of my recent life. I think what everyone is saying here is true, which is that my life and routine changed dramatically when she came home. I tell people that when I open the crate door in the morning I feel like I'm punching a time card and I don't punch out until 10pm when I crate her again. In between it seems like I am "on" with her non-stop. Regardless of work, cooking, chores and self care (which have all suffered in the past couple months!) I still have to make sure she's safe, fed and being directed toward being a good pup.


    This morning I went in the house for a couple minutes to make up a quick breakfast. I do this every morning and luckily have a big yard she can play in safely. I caught her out of the corner of my eye and within a minute she had emptied and ruined 3 potted plants and chewed the lower limb off an old maple of mine. I was shocked and honestly pretty pissed off but I had to go out make a loud clapping noise to break her attention and then keep my patience while I lured her to some more productive activity. In my mind I thinking "AHHHHHHH!!!!!" She moves on to chewing on her rope toy and I'm left sitting on the lawn thinking how I don't think I can manage this for 15 years (I know I won't have to by can't seem to convince myself of it) I think back longingly to the evenings when I used to lie on the floor with a beer and just read or watch TV or how I could just go out for however long I wanted. I get sad thinking that freedom is gone. But then I have to remind myself that i brought this dog into my life for a reason. I had an unbreakable attraction to border collies. I knew it would be hard, but I need to stay focused on the fact that I did choose her for a reason. I'll be better for it in time.


    Hang in there. The crate is definitely my friend and she's completely comfortable in it now. Some mornings it seems like she learns something new literally over night. For a week I worked on heeling with her and she wouldn't get it. Then one morning I tried it and she hopped right into position. Blew me away. I also cherish the 15-20 minutes that pass when I give her a marrow bone from the butcher shop (she's chewing one right now!). She chews with complete joy and focus and I try to pick up the pieces of my life, which seem to have exploded in every direction. =)

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