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Everything posted by CurlyQ

  1. Am I the only one who delights in making little shapes out of my dogs fur? It's so soft and malleable, and Maple certainly isn't a light shedder! Anyway, this is sort of random, but here's some examples. Maple is the big heart and my yorkie, Pip, is the tiny black one. This may be gross but I think it's fun and makes me feel like I have something to do over break xD.
  2. I think it's okay to trim and brush more than usual. What's most important is making sure your dog has access to a healthy amount of water and shade. Your dog's coat is probably doing more help than harm, so I would keep it intact. It keeps your dog cool and shelters their skin from the sun. Kind of like human hair. I would just brush her very thoroughly at least once a week. It's important to get all of that winter fur out so she has a chance at cooling off more efficiently. I've never had to shave a dog's belly or feet, but that might be helpful?
  3. I never realized this may be the reason Maple smells like garbage left out in the sun when something spooks her!
  4. Just an update... I met in person with Nancy O today and it was a very good experience. We watched her finish up with a couple of twin lambs born today, so we were off to a cute start. She then showed me her dogs on sheep, which was my first time seeing such a thing in person. She showed me different styles of herding with two different dogs she brought out. I forget the bitch's name, but she reminded me a lot of Maple just in the way that she moves and her stature. The bitch was a super good listener and she seemed like she could hear Nancy whisper a command from across the field! She also talked about how learning to move the sheep AWAY from the shepherd was to be learned later in practice because it went more against the natural instinct and was therefore harder to learn. It certainly did seem to take a lot more whistles to get the dog to move the sheep away from our general direction. Next up was Spot, who was a really big guy. He was also really intense, and Nancy had to be a lot more firm in her commands with him. His outrun was incredibly wide! He basically followed the fence before coming up behind the sheep. However, to make up for this, he seemed to be able to control them from much longer distances. Whereas the smaller female was pretty close to the flock, the male got them moving the moment he got behind them on the other side of the field. Since becoming interested in herding, I've watched many videos of dogs working sheep. I must say, it's a ton more stunning in person. After watching her dogs work, I introduced Nancy to Maple. I had warned her ahead of time about Maple's anxieties, so she actually gave my dog a chance to sniff her and warm up first before trying to interact with her. We exchanged some training advice, too, which I hope to test out soon enough. Maple was surprisingly calm, but I'm guessing that's because she didn't feel pressured to interact if she didn't want to. In fact, she sniffed around quite a bit until it was time to go. Nancy explained how first lessons are usually carried out, and that she'll try and be honest when she thinks there's just no hope for a dog. She also made many interesting points about encouraging Maple to make "a choice" in training because when she's working sheep she'll have to be experienced in thinking more for herself. We spent a little over an hour there and I'm happy to say I learned a ton that cannot be explained very well through reading, which I find rarely happens. Looking forward to starting lessons late May to early June, and until then Maple and I are going to work mainly on socialization and her car chasing habits, which are really the only issues right now. Again, thanks to Sue for answering my questions and to everyone else for being patient with me. Also to everyone who helped me towards finding a good mentor. I hope I'll be able to post a video of Maple starting on sheep later this spring. Sophie
  5. Looking forward to start Maple on sheep!

  6. Cute and congrats! He looks like a 'Heath' to me, or maybe a 'Lip'.
  7. Ah, I was unaware he had a website. I guess his dogs are a 'breed' of his own creation.
  8. I know this response is a bit late, but has anyone ever read WORKING SHEEP DOGS (A practical guide to breeding, training, and handling) by Tully Williams? I've never really heard of the guy or seen his name mentioned in the forums, but that might be because he's a kelpie breeder. He does an extremely thorough job of separating heritable traits. It's honestly been a joy to read, but I'd like other's opinions on it and its credibility. Big book though, I'm not all the way through it yet. Still have more than half left. He puts a lot of emphasis on "confident" pups versus "weak" pups. Here's an excerpt I thought was relevant: He later quotes James Moore, "Above all things, never breed from a soft-tempered ['weak'] dog." I know there's a point where he explains how heritable each of these 'traits' are, but I haven't gotten to that part yet. I just thought it would be helpful if not interesting. I'm certainly enjoying the read, taking notes and the like.
  9. Excellent. Just began reading Nop's Trials. I love the dialogue between the dogs.
  10. Certainly. Maple has a tendency to feel quickly overwhelmed in large social situations, so I was looking for a chance to go dog-free and get a feel for things. I think I may audit Carol Campion's in PA. Looking forward to the experience!
  11. I just wanted to pop in and say that while the clinic GentleLake suggested to me was full, Nancy O just contacted me back. She's open to lessons, and after the snow melts I think I may mosey on down to her farm so I can talk to her and see her working her dogs. Hopefully by late spring to early summer I'll be able to get Maple into lessons! Thank you for the efforts in helping me find a trainer .
  12. Ah, perhaps that's it. If you could give me her email, that would be lovely.
  13. Thank you so much Sue! Your tips and answers were very helpful, and I'll be sure to keep them close as I set out and look for a trainer. As a person who hates to jump into things blindly, I feel a lot calmer now . As someone who has been absolutely captivated by livestock and farming long before meeting a border collie, I'll probably have a field day. It just depends if Maple's heart/head is in the right spot, I guess. If things don't work out I can always wait a few years until I'm in a spot for another, more inclined dog. Thank you much! Thank you for the advice. I just thought I might as well add that she does have a very intense, focused eye. I'd be worried about Maple making a big display towards other dogs. She's a barker, but the minute the other party lifts a lip, she's quick to correct herself. I could easily believe Maple would completely ignore a strange new dog if she was doing what she considers a "job" (I've seen her do it). I look forward to the changes herding can cause . Thank you for the recommendations and information. Of all of them, Nancy O seems like the most reasonable candidate. Since she doesn't have a website from what I could see, so her training openings and general practices are somewhat of a mystery, but I was able to (after much digging around on stockdog websites) find what I think is her email and address. Turns out she lives in Coatesville, which is a bit closer than Oxford. I hope her email is current. I will check the NEBCA website when/if it is up again. I will also look into attending the clinic and maybe find a recommendation or two there. Thank you for the informative response!
  14. Of course. I wasn't trying to say that coat was necessarily always a correct indicator. Oily doesn't always equate to fat and dull doesn't always equate to skinny. I've met a fair amount of overweight dogs who were, at one point in their lives, a healthy weight. In every dog I've met whose body shape/weight went from fit to unfit, I've noticed the majority's coats also went from what was normal to oily and untidy (perhaps from sleeping all day!). But I agree with you, coat condition depends on more than one factor. Know what's normal for your dog and perhaps take my observations with a grain of salt.
  15. I'm going to apologize ahead of time; I'm sure some of these might sound like a broken record. I'm just curious if starting my dog on sheep is a good idea in the first place. Background - Maple; unspayed female (hasn't had first heat yet either); 10 months; not "working bred" but I'm almost positive her grandparents were in fact stockdogs (might be able to clarify once I find her papers); she's a barker and takes quite a while to warm up to strangers; takes a while to warm up to strange dogs; as she matures her "warm up" time to strangers seems to have decreased somewhat; I've seen her "eye" many times, and can post a video if wanted; I think the instinct is definitely there, but not sure of the quality I'm not even considering lessons until she's over a year and we're at least a week into summer. I'm planning on getting her spayed after her birthday/first heat, but I've heard this doesn't affect potential unless done too early. Maple has a tendency to be fearful/aggressive around strangers and strange dogs, should I be concerned that this will affect any lessons? Will this limit who will mentor us? She's normally fine with humans who don't pet her but not small children and she takes a long time to warm up to other dogs. For a dog who has never seen a sheep in her life, should she recognize what she's supposed "to do" right off the bat? I use "to do" loosely. Obviously she won't be anywhere close to amazing her first time, but I have a hard time believing she won't be anything but fearful towards a new, loud, smelly animal. What is she supposed "to do"? For a dog's first time on sheep, should I be on the look-out for any key behaviors? Correct me if I'm wrong, but she should have the inclination to gather them and bring them towards me? Should I expect her car chasing/related to worsen or get better? I've heard mixed results. Some say that having "a job" actually makes for a tamer, more relaxed dog. Other things I've read make it sound as if starting my dog on sheep will turn her into a wild animal whose drive to chase anything that moves will become next to impossible to deal with. What should I expect from the mentor at the first lesson/eval? Any recommended trainers close to Wilmington DE area? Culleymont Farm (I think that's the name) is over an hour away. Anything above 45 minutes is pushing it, but compromise may be possible? Do you think that starting Maple on sheep would be wise? Please be honest. I have grown really fond of the idea, but if it's going to make my dog/life impossible to manage I'd rather not risk it. Any tips? Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I would really love to get into the world of herding but I'm not sure how or if I should try with this particular dog.
  16. I agree with the above. I examine my dogs everyday so that they get used to being prodded and I can check for anything unusual. Maple (my border collie) is rough coated, so what I do/see may differ slightly from you. I'll take some pictures to aid my explanation when I get a chance. When looking down on Maple I like to be able to see somewhat of an hourglass transition to her hips. I like to be able to feel her ribs through her coat. From the side I always make sure her tummy lifts into a neat little tuck just before her hind legs. I also should be able to feel her spine through her fur. While a bit of fat isn't bad, I prefer muscle. You can tell muscle apart from fat because it gives a dog a more toned appearance (this sounds obvious). In general, I think a big indicator of weight is the coat. I've seen dogs at both extremes. With overweight dogs I've found that frequently the coat is grossly oily. For some reason I've found the fur on chunky dogs doesn't lie right against the body but tends to be less tidy than usual. On underweight dogs, normally the coat is dry and dull. Many times the bones are uncomfortably prominent. All underweight dogs that I've met/owned came from abusive situations. They slept A LOT and like their coats, their eyes were dull and sleepy. Judging by the photo alone, I would never say your girl is too skinny. I wouldn't call her overweight, but she looks like she could use some more muscle and less fat. If anything, I'd suggest losing some weight. Her tummy tuck isn't as defined as I think it should be. Her weight might be fine, but I think it would definitely be worth it to convert some of that fluff to muscle. She's young, but she's not young enough to have the little potbelly a puppy has. I'd consider some more muscle building, but don't push her at this age. Did your vet explain why she needed to gain weight? P.S. Remember, it's a lot easier to feed your dog too much.
  17. Papers for Maple took at least two months, if I recall correctly. ETA: ABCA registry.
  18. Very cool! I can't say much about the increase of quality, since I am inexperienced in the working dog world. I must say it was fascinating to watch. I'm in about the same boat: I would love to at least see how Maple responds to sheep. I'll have to dig out her ABCA pedigree paper sometime... the breeder told me her sire worked sheep but her mother didn't. If I were to speculate based on what I know about my dog, I'd say she was probably bred for color alone in the recent generations, but if someone told me she had working blood in her, I probably wouldn't doubt it. (Are there "big names" I should look for in her papers?) If I get the chance to start her on sheep, I don't think Maple would ever become a wonderful working dog or worthy of a continued legacy (a big chunk of the reason I'm spaying her). Herding seems like a great activity for us to get involved in, though. If a dog has never been introduced to sheep before, is it safe to do so at the "instinct test"? I always feel nervous about just dropping my dog into new situations, considering her nervous nature. Also, is Culleymont Farm a good choice for someone who wants to evaluate potential and maybe take lessons? I've researched some past posts and it seems like a good candidate.
  19. I would be extremely careful with him swallowing little bits of toys. I know even with the best supervision mistakes can happen. I'd strongly suggest looking into chewing sticks for dogs, where every piece is edible. When looking for these, be sure to avoid the ones that even look like they might splinter. If you're unsure about it, read the reviews on the product. Please, do some research into safe puppy chews. I found that my pup, Maple loved ice cubes. You can buy some cool molds for them, but make sure the chewing-spot is safe to get wet, since obviously, ice melts. If you catch him chewing on something illegal, gentle correction and redirection towards something legal helps. This strategy seriously helped with my pup. Maple's chewing was never like the horror stories some hear, and I agree that the noise can be annoying, but please be understanding and helpful towards your pup. It's always better to provide something safe for the natural inclination than find him harmed from attempting to sate his needs on a dangerous object. The noise of Maple's chewing annoyed my family so much, I would sometimes shut us into the bathroom and sit on the floor and read a book while she chewed, just so she wouldn't feel lonely and could help ease the pain. Try and remember it's only a phase. Maple's chewing has been gradually slowing since about 5 months, but after she learned what she was allowed to chew, aside from the occasional puppy-mistake, issues slimmed quite a bit. And on the subject of chicken bones http://dogs.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Dog_And_Chicken_Bones
  20. (Fatty post warning. I'm a habitual rambler and I didn't trim down or proof read too thoroughly before posting. Apologies for headaches and eye-aches.) I cannot stress enough that while exercise and location are both important factors, I think it takes a strong person to own a border collie. It's a partnership unlike any other, but both parties have to try hard for the best results. You have to find a rhythm with your dog. I want to add that you should really know who you are and why you want a border collie before you get one. I knew exactly what I wanted in Maple (my girl). Besides the obvious shallow reasons for wanting a BC, there are few selfish reasons for wanting a dog. I wanted a dog who would be my best friend, simply put. Someone who would get me off my bum each day. A challenge. You will never be bored with a border (which seems like a good thing a lot of times but sometimes you'll wish you still had the capability to be bored). I'm going to just put out there that I'm a teenage girl with an unfenced, suburban lot. I go to a prestigious prep school that makes a point to hand out generous amounts of homework along with mandatory athletics until 5 pm. In the winter months, it's dark by 5:00, and I still have a bouncy 8 month old border collie to entertain. It's not about the amount of exercise, be it physical or mental. It's about the quality. I find the thing that satisfies Maple the most is when I'm thoroughly engaged. I'd say on average we spend about 45 minutes doing physical activities per day. If I'm absolutely swamped with schoolwork, or if the weather is bad, or in the rare instance I'm ill, she might not get any at all. She gets a bit antsy on these days, sometimes a bit bothersome, but overall does what I would consider very well for an 8 month old pup. The post I quoted above I felt needed special attention. I agree completely. No dog is a blank slate. My dog went from utterly terrified of cars to a rabid chaser. She's gotten so much better around small children, but she still seems to want to bite their faces off from time to time. She'll chase anything that moves quickly, just so long as it's not making a scary noise while doing it. She hates old people, but I cannot express the rush of pride and accomplishment when she lets complete strangers give her a quick scratch on the head without barking or cowering or lunging. It brings a smile to my face just writing about it. With border collies-- any dog really, these accomplishments are the moments you'll cherish the most. The breakthroughs. But they take a ton of work. This is a border collie. Work. On both ends. For as long as that dog is alive. Are you prepared for this? For the challenges? And what about personality? There's no real way to pick the most compatible personality out of a litter of 8 week old pups. With the exception of what you know about the parents and the upbringing, it's mostly luck of the draw. Even the most well-tempered parents can occasionally give way to little monsters. You have to learn to love your dog for what s/he is, which is one of the hardest parts of bringing home a puppy. S/he's not going to be perfect. Before getting a puppy, you'll probably read books that'll prepare the sorry mutt to become the perfect dog. I think they make these guides so perfect so that people don't miss the mark by too much. You know, being human and all. What I'm trying to say is, your dog won't be the perfect textbook example the guides say they will if you do "this" and "that". Don't expect that. Between school and my reactive little bugger, I'll shamelessly admit that I've cried and near-given up hope a number of times. But it's next to impossible to stay that way when Maple pushes her nose into my cheek and asks for cuddles. I'm going to keep trying as long as she does, and border collies are known for their endless stamina. It's only an uphill battle until you reach the top of the hill (even though there are many, many hills in border collie ownership). This is my experience/warning with my dog. Others may feel differently, since every dog is different as is every dog-human partnership. It's really up to you to decide if you can accept such a huge commitment/source of stress/source. Come back to the boards when in doubt.
  21. After wearing out her old harness I received a new one as a gift for the holidays. It's not a regular harness, but an "Easy Walk Harness". I'm unsure about using it, but I took it for a spin out in the front yard. Whenever Maple pulls on the leash, it applies pressure to the shoulders and causes her to redirect back towards me. Not that I'm complaining, it worked like a charm. It's basically what I've been doing with a collar except more automatic. I guess it's less of a mental leash training technique (Maple must acknowledge she was pulling before we continue) and more of a physical (Maple feels the pressure and knows that she created too much tension). I've heard nothing but positive reviews about it, and apparently it's one of the more "ethical" training tools. I just want to say that if I do end up using it regularly, I have the full intention of eventually weaning her off of it. As in, I'm not trying to use it as a substitute for leash training. Just as a "helping" tool. Has anyone else used this product with successful results? Should I not use this? Thanks!
  22. This is exactly the technique I use! I'm having similar problems as the OP. Instead of just ignoring me, Maple barks at me instead. She knows what "last one" means, and normally after I say this, she refuses to come back at all. However, she's got "all done" down pat. Once I say those two words, her focus switches off of whatever it was she was doing. I love it! Off switch has been installed. However, this really only works if I've got whatever it was she was playing with in my hand. ETA also, instead of yelling, I just give my best "you're about to get in trouble" voice, and she usually stops right away. If she doesn't, I'll give her one more chance before a stern "No!" which almost always works.
  23. Maple has this problem too. It's more likely to happen when being pet by a man, or when family members come in using exciting, high-pitched voices. She only pees a few drops to a small puddle, nothing serious. How we solved it? Everyone must come in the house calm, and Maple should be pottied before being greeted. At 7 months, this very rarely happens. It used to happen quite frequently. I believe I read somewhere that most dogs grow out of it by the age on one or two. My grandparents have a golden retriever who still does it, but he's daft as the day is long, with poor impulse control. I'd say the reaction in his case is more of a product of environment/household.
  24. A few days after posting this, I've begun to notice improvements. I'll post them since I left off my OP with a rather bitter tone. Maybe a day or two after posting this, I was walking Maple through the neighborhood when my neighbor's spaniels rushed out the door and right towards us. I didn't run of course, but backed up a few steps instinctively before I was able to see whether or not the dogs were aggressive. I was concerned about how Maple would react to their pushy and uncontrolled approach, but was incredibly surprised when she sniffed noses with one and simply gave the other a warning bark before their owner caught up. I praised the calm attitude, of course, and my neighbor apologized profusely. She scolded them when they returned to her (if Maple had returned to my side in the presence of another dog, we'd have been celebrating, not scolding), and I made up my mind to not go back on that path again. While this may seem like a bad situation (and it was), I was very proud of the way she reacted. I do wonder if this was the right course of action, though. How do you guys feel about her reaction? I had an idea that if the dogs pushed at me harder, she would've either gotten more protective or tried to flee. It's always a tough call when approached by off-leash dogs, and I'm interested to see others' opinions on the matter. Another situation happened a couple days ago, while returning from playing at a nearby pond. I was walking Mae up the trail when my neighbor and his dog approached. He made her sit and leashed her before approaching us, which after the previous incident, I appreciated. Through walking Maple around the neighborhood, I've actually grown fond of his wife, who always makes a point to praise Maple's improvements on-leash. Their dog, Peaches, is a very gentle and well-trained poodle-mix (I'm guessing). My neighbor approached slowly and made Peaches sit by his side. He asked to pet Mae, and I responded with "She's in a weird phase right now, but if you could toss her some treats that'd be great". After tossing the first one, Maple approached and took the next from his hand. He asked her to sit for the last one, and not only did she listen, she bent her head to the side so he could scratch her cheek while she chewed! Maple proceeded to walk up, calmly sniff Peaches, and then sit patiently beside me while we said our goodbyes. I think I was the only one who was stressed during this encounter! I practically skipped home, cooing over my "good, friendly girl". And then today, when meeting one of my male relatives for the first time, she reacted warily at first. I wasn't concerned, since it was better than barking, and showed my relative around our new house. About half-way through the tour, I turn around to see him scratching her back while she sniffed his pant leg. After that, they even played tug-of-war for a few minutes before we left the house. I honestly don't know what's gotten into her! Two strange men and three strange dogs all in one week, and I'm the one who's freaking out! Not to mention only attempting to chase one or two cars. I can still see her get antsy around them, but she actually looks to me for the tug-toy before trying to chase. I almost feel like car chasing is frustration, and when she has something else (tug-toy) to take that frustration out on, it's not an impossible feat to redirect the behavior. Of course, there's always pride before the fall. Just because we've had two or three breakthroughs in the course of a week, I'm still keeping her on a short-leash (literally!). I've talked it over with family members, and the plan is to keep her baby gated off from any small children that come over. If she's not absolutely terrified, I may consider allowing them to toss her a few treats through the gate. I'm so happy with the progress, but I don't want to push her too hard. I'll probably post again after our little-kid experience to let you know how it went. Wish us luck! So proud of my girl!
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