Hi BC boards,
I'm a new member, long time reader. I haven't found any posts that sum up the problems we're having so I thought I'd post and ask for some advice as we're all in a bad way at the moment.
Edie is 6 months old and out first dog (I know a BC for our first dog was probably not the best idea, but here we are). She has always been somewhat reactive to objects, sounds and cars. We have worked really hard on cars with her, doing desensitisation training daily for the past 4 months. She's now at a point where she won't generally attempt to lunge into the path of an oncoming car, but they still stimulate her. We worked really hard at socialising her with other dogs, people and a range of objects and sounds in the early stages. She was doing pretty well with things up until about three weeks ago.
The first thing, and primary thing, is the barking. She has started barking at objects she never paid attention to before, such as the dog door and toilet seat. She has begun barking at elderly women (usually) out on walks. She barks and growls at the front door and windows around the house relentlessly if she thinks something is out there (often there's nothing we can see). She has started running into empty rooms, like our bedroom, with her hackles up and barking furiously. She does this a lot, even if she had just been in the room. We've tried upping her exercise, she now gets about 45 minutes to an hour in the morning and afternoon of running off lead, playing fetch and general walking, in addition to playing with the other dog in the house, and sessions of fetch and play indoors with us throughout the day. We have tried upping her training, she is super smart and picks up new tricks easily but still struggles settling down. We have tried 'calm' training and are still working on it, but even then sometimes she'll bark in our faces while we're doing it, particularly if we try it at a cafe (where she barks basically non stop, even with constant commands, treats, toys, other dogs for company etc. She also barks when we're preparing her meals and it's really difficult to get her to sit. She has also started barking at visitors if they're too energetic, talk too loudly, dance or anything that differs from how she thinks people usually behave. This is really annoying and I can imagine to be scary if you didn't know her or weren't comfortable with dogs. It appears to me that this barking is some sort of play? She runs at them barking and wagging her tail (I know wagging can indicate aggression but her tail is low not erect which makes me think it's play) and often snapping her teeth which she does when she's excited (usually before a walk or dinner).
Another thing is crate training/time outs. We have consistently been using time out as a way of getting her to take a break when she's over stimulated. We put her in the bathroom. We also have been putting her in here when we go out to work or something, no more than 3 hours max. She used to be fine and enjoy the space and usually settled quite quickly. Recently she's started howling and barking when put in there, sometimes doing so for over an hour. We usually put chew toys, treats, kongs etc. in there but the moment she's 'done' with them she resorts back to crying.
She is also obsessed with catching flies. We've tried everything to keep flies outside but we have an old house and it's Australian summer so it's essentially impossible. She fixates on flies to the point where you can't get her attention, even clapping loudly next to her or stomping won't get her out of it. We try just picking her up and removing her from the situation but she's very obsessed.
Minor new fun additions to her behaviour include stealing food off the bench, forgetting her recall, heavily backsliding on her leash walking training, running under the bed if we say 'uh oh', which is our word for 'you've done something we don't like' and usually precedes a time out, harassing the cat (she used to not but has now decided the cat is very fun and has begun chasing her), stealing our underwear and the list goes on...
We are really trying to be consistent with training, getting her to sit and watch when she's displaying a behaviour that's not acceptable, and giving treats for being calm. If she's too stimulated she goes into time out. We're really struggling and it's affecting our relationship with her. I want so much to just have fun with her and communicate with her like we used to about a month ago, but she's suddenly become so extreme with some behaviours and it's really tricky to spend 5 minutes without her going off barking at something. We also can't leave her unsupervised for a minute anymore because she gets into the garden and eats all the plants, digs holes etc.
Our housemate also has always disliked her and has begun swearing at her and being generally unkind, ignoring her when she comes to say hello, and yelling at her (luckily Edie seems immune to yelling and just gives a 'what is wrong with you' look whenever she's yelled at and resumes playing like nothing happened!). Edie isn't generally that friendly towards people aside from us and I'm worried it's because she's been ignored by this housemate since we got her, despite the housemate being 'so excited' about the new puppy. Our housemate also has a dog with a lot of anxiety and difficult behaviours and I have never heard her yell or treat her dog like she treats ours.
Anyway, sorry for the essay I just wanted to give adequate background on Edie and where things are at. We love her and are on a waitlist for an in-home consultation with a professional, positive reinforcement trainer, but the wait could be a while and all of the challenges are sort of compounding and making life difficult at the moment!
My questions are: does anyone know if this 'second fear period' could be the cause of this, or whether Edie might have some sort of OCD? It seems common in BCs but I'm not sure if her behaviours all together indicate it or not. Any advice on barking would be much appreciated, but I have read up on it elsewhere on this forum. And any general advice would be so welcome. Apologies if this board isn't quite the place for this but I wasn't sure where else to put it
And of course, pictures!!
As a tiny one: