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Mouchette

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Everything posted by Mouchette

  1. Thank you Gentle Lake, those insights you shared about dogs and the concept of learning are very useful to me in my reflections about my relationship with Mouchette, presently and going forward. Patience, persistence, managed expectations, positive reinforcement, all good elements to apply consciously in my approach with her. Best regards to all.
  2. Thank you for the tips on "taming the clicker" and I'll try to reintroduce it to Mouchette at some point down the road, as I can appreciate the benefits it can bring at fostering desired behaviour. Amy, the story of your 2 year old gives me hope and encouragement for Mouchette, whose period of "basic care but not much interaction" may have extended to much of her first two years. So I can see that developing a partnership can be a long, patient process. And that makes me feel less stressful about quickly working out the remaining wrinkles in her behaviour, or being overly critical of myself as an owner and "trainer". Attached is a photo of Mouchette from last summer, a couple of months after acquiring her, and after much much brushing to remove two years' worth of un-groomed farm-dog hair. Thanks again everyone.
  3. Thanks for the additional thoughts. I can't recall where I read or heard about BC's being "independent" thinkers. I might have misinterpreted or conflated a few things together. Probably stemmed from someone saying "a border collie has to be a resourceful and independent thinker, when s/he is sent off into the hills to return a flock of sheep, and has to think for her/himself in how best to get them back". Mouchette loves to be around me, but also has independence, which I like about her. By that I mean that she doesn't follow me everywhere I go around the house (like my previous dog did, a labradoodle). She will gladly find a spot to lie down, a bit removed from me, though always within eyesight or hearing distance. When I return from the walk, she likes lying on the front porch of the house (tied), and observing the goings on the street. Or she likes spending time alone in the back yard, on the deck observing the yard, occasionally chasing a squirrel vigorously. I am retired and am home all day, but do a fair amount of research and writing, or working on small mechanical hobbies in my basement shop. She sometimes comes and lies down near me, or lies somewhere else in the house, but comes to find me and nudge me when it's time to do some petting, brushing, going outside or for a walk. So we appreciate having time to ourselves during the day. She loves to sniff on the walk (quite good at finding hidden dog poop! - though she is starting to avoid it more and more which is encouraging). So nose work or tracking work would be a natural for her. I'll contact the local BC club and see if they may have activities (once Covid distancing rules allow) that would be suited to her. Yes, given the start of her life, she has been a bit of a rehabilitation project, and has come a LONG way, with a few quirks popping up from time to time. Indeed, I hope we have a long life together, her and I. Oh, the clicker. I bought one when I was going to take her to a group obedience class last Fall. But she was so afraid of the sound of the clicker around the house, that we agreed to take her to private lessons instead. Maybe I should pull it out and try it again. I suppose it's what turned me off the training videos that I did see on youtube at the time: many of them were clicker-focused, or seemed to rely on profuse handing out of treats. I know some people have said they never feed their dog in a bowl, but rather make them work for their kibble all day long. So maybe I could try a bit of that, used to throw small treats in the grass and let her find them, for example. Regards.
  4. I like the suggestion to have the dog "sit and release word" before going out. Consistency is something I will strive for going forward. Ruth, I like your suggestions and will try them, thank you. About weight, when we brought her in some months ago (she had developed a bit of a cough), the vet who saw her that day said "her weight is perfect, unlike 80% of the dogs we see here that are overweight". Not much has changed in Mouchette since then so I was a bit taken aback when the recent vet (who had not seen her before) said she was overweight. Anyway, I'm reducing her food somewhat, and am trying to increase her activity levels. There is a good chance that Mouchette is a bit bored, so we'll have to work on stimulating her (something we were doing during the winter, getting her to find treats around the house, that kind of thing). I've not spent a lot of time trying to teach her "tricks", but should get a good book and try again, now that she's more established in her "new home" and surroundings. We feel that she's possibly bored with the "regular" walks, which is why she's always willing to get in the car so we can take her to more fun places like a dog park, walk in the woods, open fields, etc. With summer finally here, she loves sitting outside in the backyard, chasing squirrels, or on the front porch, watching people go by. Probably what she did on farm, tied to a doghouse for the first 2 years of her life. I appreciate all the insights.
  5. Thank you for your feedback, I appreciate it. The vet prescribed alprazolam to administer before thunderstorm and fireworks to help her deal with it. I've had Mouchette for a year now. She knows sit, lie down, wait/stay (I had to teach her all those). Working on "drop it". No tricks, I don't have much experience training a dog. We took her to a trainer/obenience school when we got her, one on one sessions just to get her less nervous and comfortable with toys/objects (everything was strange to her, coming off the farm; where as one of many dogs, perhaps she never had a one on one relationship with a master, she was always many to one). Maybe as you suggest it's a relationship issue and I need to work on that, be consistent. My friend and I take her for walks, sometimes she walks Mouchette, sometimes I do. Maybe that introduces some confusion in the dog. But when she refuses to go somewhere, I give the leash to my friend, call the dog and she usually follows me. So we find these ways to get her going where we'd like her to go, and use treats to reward her. Doesn't always work. I take Mouchette to my friend's house for a visit every day, she's very comfortable there, loves to go inside, but over the last few weeks is reticent to leave with me to go home. So maybe the two house thing is introducing some more confusion. Likewise, we take turns taking our cars to drive her somewhere different for her to walk, the woods, open fields, etc. Always on leash. Mouchette never would go anywhere unless I am there with her, hopefully some day she will be comfortable to go for walks with others (if I need to travel, or am sick). I understand you saying I need to be more consistent (firmer?) when it comes time to leading, but often the only way to get her to walk farther, is to let her lead and pick the way. Otherwise she just locks her legs and stands there on the sidewalk, refusing to go or respond to my call. When I walk her alone she seems to follow my directions more consistently. Anyway, we'll continue working with her, trying to be more consistent. I might call a trainer and see if they would come and accompany us on a walk, see what's going on, give us pointers on what we can change in our behaviour and how we act with Mouchette. Once we straighten these things out, Mouchette will be an even better companion than she is now. Best regards.
  6. My female BC Mouchette is 3 years old and was spayed last year, just after I acquired her from a sheep farm and breeder. She is in good health though a bit heavy, so we need to walk her farther distances. She gets 2-3 walks a day. She isn't a high-energy BC, more laid back and definitely not an agility-type dog. She doesn't play with much, never having been played with before I got her (on the farm, she was tied to a dog house most of the time because she apparently could not learn sheep herding with the other dogs). She is very loving and affectionate, and we are happy to have her in our lives, especially during this pandemic. Mouchette has adjusted quite well to life in the city, but has occasional fear and anxiety attacks (when humans send firecrackers and fireworks into the air, for ex). A few weeks ago, we had to suffer three evenings of it, and it took Mouchette a week and a half to get over it, she wouldn't go for walks unless we took her somewhere in the car, etc. I live in a bungalow in a residential neighbourhood, so our walks consist of the (reasonably quiet) neighbouring streets, and a nearby long green-space with lengthy bike path. My friend, who goes for walks with us every day, lives in another bungalow around the corner from me. When all is well, my friend meets Mouchette and I in the street, and we head off in one direction or another from my house (M usually prefers one direction in the morning). When things are not well, M only agrees to walk to my friend's house where she sits by the front door and refuses to go further. When things are REALLY not well, M refuses to leave my front porch. So anyway we've gotten used to her occasional bouts of fear and anxiety, which have possibly been somewhat alleviated by giving her Purina Calming Care for a few months. Two aspects of walking Mouchette are a source of concern and stress for us. First, she developed last Fall a taste for eating dog poo, so we're constantly on the alert for anything left by other dogs and that she may want to pick up. That is manageable, sort of. The second issue, and this may be a border collie issue (this is my first BC, so I'm not sure), is an occasional and notable stubbornness by M on the walk. If she wants to go left, she will refuse to go right (sometimes enticing her with treats will work, not always). She will lock her legs and just stare at us, or look in the other direction. And if we try to pull her, she will pull back and threaten to pull out of her harness (we use Sporn non-pull mesh harness). I know dogs can hear and smell things we don't, and may not want to go in a direction for fear of something, but usually these are well-traveled streets. From what I've read, BC's are bred to be autonomous thinkers, independent in their decision-making. This dog was never trained, never walked before I got her. So this may partly explain her stubbornness and insistence on going where SHE wants to go on a walk. Most of the other dogs we meet (mostly doodles I must admit) seem quite content to follow their masters anywhere, but Mouchette insists on being a bit ahead of us, and as I said, often refuses to go in a direction WE would like to go. Now some days I don't mind following her wherever she wants to go (she tends to be a creature of habit) but there are instances where for convenience or safety she HAS to listen and follow the master, which is where the issue occasionally arises. I should point out that a few weeks ago, when walking her alone, I decided to force her to go in the "other" direction, and she fought me almost all the way and I had to give in and turn back. This also had lingering negative impacts on her walks. So I've concluded that trying to man-handle her is not a good idea. If this all rings a bell and you have some tips or advice for me in how to best deal with this behaviour, I'd love to hear. If I need to involve a trainer I will, but I'm hoping I can find a way to get Mouchette to have a consistently more harmonious walk with us. Thank you.
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