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Samantha2

Anxious Border Collie

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Hello,

 

My name is Samantha and I'm brand new to this board!

 

I was given a pure bred Border Collie when I was 15yrs old (he was 3mo.) because they couldn't sell him. I was told he had too much white for anyone to want him and they'd "humanely smother him" if I didn't take him. That was 7yrs ago...

 

Due to my lack of training and inexperience with the breed Bandit has turned into an obsessive, neurotic, and anxious dog! On a day to day basis he's behavior is fine, but when we go for a walk all hell breaks loose. He pulls on the end of his leash until he's gagging and choking trying to run around, and will, without cease, bark and whine the WHOLE time!

 

Over the last 7 months I've really been trying to address this behavior and change it. On walks my attitude is calm and assertive, with hopes he might feed off of some of my energy, I do my best to correct him fairly and consistently - but I have yet to succeed. Most dog training resources out there are aimed for puppies or 'normal' dogs. I really feel that the Border Collie is a special breed all to it's own, with very 'special' quirks.

 

I recently adopted a 1/2 border collie pup and I started him from day one on good manners, leash training and respect. He's turned out to be wonderful, and a perfect gentleman in all situations. I think I've really let Bandit go way too long without training and he's just become neurotic.

 

I want to do right by him. Being SO anxious when we go out for a walk musn't be fun for him either. He will settle down if I take the leash off and he'll just run laps to and from me, or circle me. However, this isn't always conducive to our surroundings, or safe.

 

Any ideas or resources would be great!

Thanks,

Samantha

 

ps - How do I post a photo of him? He's darling!

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Now, FYI, I'm not an expert and I have issues with my own B/C that I'm working on but...if you've tried the calm and assertive deal and positively rewarding good behavior with treats while ignoring or repremanding and it's not working you might try the gentle leader (it's a head collar). Clover, my bc is like a husky with her pulling but once I got her accustomed to the gentle leader she is happy hanging out by my side. If you kept up the calm and assertiveness and didn't let your guy walk in front of you (which is the duty of the pack leader) he might calm down some and let you take over the lead.

 

Plus, I was reading on Cesear Milan's website that having the dog walk slightly behind you or at the heel position is actually mental work for the dog and will help get some of the excess energy out.

 

Good luck!

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Hi,

 

Maybe I will try a head collar for him. I'm a HUGE Cesar fan and started my other puppy under his methods. I never allow my dogs to roam ahead of my heel unless they get the "ok" to do so, such as in a dog park.

 

Bandit is neurotic whether I'm trying to keep him behind my heel or allow him to be at the end of the leash in front. I do my best to be a good pack leader for him, but I'm just not enough of what he needs right now... It's strange because he never takes his eye off me and will stay close to me no matter what. He's the only dog (out of the three that live in the house) I NEVER have to worry about losing. He may want to run around like a maniac but he'll stay close whether I'm walking, biking, or riding my horse...

 

Have you tried Cesar's Illusion collar? Or heard any success stories with it?

 

Thanks for your input!

Samantha

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Hi Samantha welcome to the boards.

 

I am not an expert. My dogs do herding work and a non perfect frisbee-show. That show must not be perfect - it is important that myself and my dogs have fun. It is good, when BC`s have any job to do.

 

A good dog-trainer can help you for sure.

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i would do more basic obedience with him- like heel, sits,stays,downs.i'd take my dogs to a field or park and do their obedience 'homework' before letting them loose to play ball or frisbee.you can incorporate the obedience lessons into your walks then. do a down stay on your walk,or heeling changing direction often,make him think while he's walking. have you tried a clicker for any of his heel work with food as reward?

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I too would use a Gentle Leader and look into training classes in your area.

 

I have used the Gentle Leader with Zoey in the past. She hates it, but it got the point across and now I do not need any longer.

 

FWIW: I do allow my dogs to walk ahead of me on leash. There is no question that I am the pack leader and I do not think that this challenges my position in anyway. If I want either of them to heel, I just say with me and they will move to their designated side (Fennec left, Zoey right). The thing is to earn that right they must not pull on the lead and they have to heed all commands.

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Just a thought, have you had his hearing checked? I notice that in the OP you stated he had a lot of white. He might be deaf which could contribute to his anxiety.

 

WWBC

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Bandit's had routine vet care, but never a specific hearing check. He's a super sensitive dog to loud noises, rough brushing, and even quick moving objects. I always assumed he had great senses, but maybe if one or a few of them are dull he could be being caught by surprise when he does hear or see something.

 

I wonder how a possible lack of hearing translates to specific anxiety on-leash vs. the second you take the leash off?

 

This board is really nice to be able to bounce ideas around. I am living in a TINY town in Montana, population 4000 (which includes the surrounding ranches), and no other cities for another 3 hours by car. When I was in Seattle there were lots of resources, I wish I had been trying to teach him something then rather than now!

 

Thanks for everyone's help!!

Sam

 

ps - Anyone know how to upload photos?

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I haven't done this myself but does anyone have opinion on shock collar training? I fear that the BC breed might just be too sensitive if used incorrectly.

 

I do have a zone system by Innotek, where a small disk is placed where you don't want the dog. You set an adjustable sensor radius and put the collar on the dog. It beeps to warn the dog it's too close to a room or item (ie: garbage, litter box, etc) and then delivers a small shock that slowly increases in intensity the longer or closer the dog gets to the disk. I've had a lot of success with this, took each of my dogs one time of getting zapped and now as soon as they hear the warning beep they move away from the areas that are no dog zones.

 

Also, does anyone have any suggestions for improving recall and the 'stay' or 'wait' command?

 

I know there are hundreds of training books out there, but I rather get opinions from people who've had personal success or failure with certain methods on their BCs.

 

Thanks!

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Originally posted by Samantha2:

Also, does anyone have any suggestions for improving recall and the 'stay' or 'wait' command?

I would go back to basics with him (sit, down, heel), then work up to stay and wait. Find a place with the least distractions possible (in the house or the yard) and work with him alone without the other dogs. If you don't have consistent success without distractions, you will have little chance of getting it when you're out for a walk.

 

Also, find something that will motivate him (food, toy, etc) without getting him overly excited, then use that as a training reward.

 

Use different type of collar and a different leash for fun walks so that you don't undermine the training you're doing at home. Dogs are able to understand that they are expected to behave differently depending on what 'gear' they're wearing. For example, my last dog knew that his red leather buckle collar and traffic lead meant he was going to do therapy work and his martingale and leather leash meant fun walks and his choke chain meant we would be doing obedience.

 

Of course, if you can find a trainer to work with, that would be best.

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I know you're a Cesar fan and are probably using his methods, but I personally don't trust the man as far as I could throw him. He is a self proclaimed "dog psychologist" and what little education he does have on the subject of dog behavior is very, very misguided. A good deal of his "training" involves correcting the dog until it is so confused that it shuts down entirely. I wouldn't feel comfortable advising anyone to correct an anxious, neurotic dog with a shock collar. Ever . . .

 

With Bandit, I honestly would work on one thing at a time, the first being pulling. First thing I'd do is buy a clicker and a little bag that attaches to your belt loop, to carry treats. Get Bandit on a flat collar and leash, and step outside. The instant he starts pulling, you stop moving. If he strains at the leash for 5 minutes, you stand completely still for 5 minutes. The very second his leash goes slack, click the clicker, give him a treat and then move forward. If he pulls again as soon as you move forward, you stop. When the leash goes slack, again, click/treat and immediately move forward. By stopping as soon as the leash gets tight, you are eliminating his payoff for pulling (getting to go where he wants) and instead rewarding the slack leash. When you move forward, if the leash stays slack, click/treat again and keep walking until he pulls again. If he doesn't pull, click/treat at random intervals.

 

As far as the barking and whining goes... If this is a problem exclusively with the leash, then I'd put the leash on him in the house (supervise him of course, since the leash can get caught on things) and periodically, when he's in a calm state of mind, pick up the leash and lead him somewhere. Once he's comfortable with that, I'd take him outside and use the same stop-and-go method. If he starts getting vocal and upset, stop all forward progress until he is in a calm state of mind again. Then give him a treat and resume the walk.

 

It sounds to me like he's a bit understimulated. A training class would be great for him, I think.

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I've heard of clicker training for horses and dogs. How does the click actually work and what is the dog learning from it? Why not just reward with a treat everytime he stops pulling? I've heard of great success with the clickers - just never knew too much about it.

 

Thanks,

Samantha

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Originally posted by Samantha2:

I've heard of clicker training for horses and dogs. How does the click actually work and what is the dog learning from it?

The click is simply a way to telling the dog that the behavior at the moment of the click was good. It's like giving a treat or praising the dog, but without a delay. Since there will always be a delay between when you catch the right behavior and give the treat, the click serves to tell the dog "What you did right then is what I want - a treat is coming".

 

I'm sure someone else can explain it better.

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Edit: Genie beat me to it. :rolleyes:

 

The clicker is a marker, a conditioned reinforcer. Basically it marks the exact behavior an animal is being reinforced for. For example, if Bandit stops pulling on the leash, in the time it will take you to just shove a treat into his mouth, he may have started pulling again. He may eventually understand what he is being rewarded for, but the clicker makes it much more clear because it captures that exact moment, in this case that would be when the leash goes slack.

 

You can use the same concept without the clicker, some people (me included) use a verbal marker like "yes", but I find the clicker to be even more precise and more easily understood by the dog.

 

I forgot to add this link in my post... This will explain more about clicker training: http://www.clickertraining.com/what_is_clicker_training

 

This will explain how to start out with a clicker or bridge word: http://www.clickerlessons.com/clicker.htm

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Originally posted by borderlicious:

Edit: Genie beat me to it. :rolleyes:

Ah, but you did a better job of explaining it than I did! :D

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Just wanted to add Im also a Milan fan. We tried a few different things with Riven before she finally began listening and settling in. Ceasars methods worked great and still do. We also do a small bit of NILF. Have you heard of that?

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Hi Samantha, and welcome! NILIF is Nothing In Life Is Free. If you Google it you will get tons of great info. I think Graces input is right on. The only thing I would add is to teach Bandit what the clicker is, and what it means. An easy way is to start with the clicker and bag-o-treats. Click and treat, click and treat, (or C/T for short) about 10 times, so he realizes that a click is always followed by a goodie (can be treat, pat, game of tug, what ever floats his boat, treats are just quick and easy). Then do something he knows, like a sit. Ask for a sit, just as his butt is about to hit the ground, click, treat. repeat. This will teach him what the clicker means, how it is marking behavior. Then you can move on to using it to teach him new stuff (easy tricks like high five, spin, sit up, etc) Always keep your training sessions short, a couple of minutes at first, a few times a day. If he's confused, back up to something he understands. Always end it on a high note.

 

The 'make like a tree if he pulls' idea of teaching him to walk nicely on the leash works great, just don't expect to get anywhere at first. What kind of collar are you using? Could it be bothering/scaring him? If your using a choke collar, try a flat one, and do the 'make like a tree' thing, see what happens. Good luck, and keep us posted!

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For the last 6 years I've just been using a flat nylon collar, but since trying to be effective with him I've tried various types of tighten/loosen models (no chains!) in various materials to see what results I might get. Tried round and thin, thought it might be uncomfortable to pull on, tried wide and flat, tried stiff, soft, etc. He just wants to GO GO GO, and if he can't go fast enough he'll whine. If I get on my bike and pedal as fast as I can go without giving myself a heartattack he gets his feet moving just fast enough that he's happy and won't whine/bark. His problem is lack of focus and wanting to run, which turns into anxiety when he can't. I like the clicker idea, I'll have to dig around, I think I have a clicky thing somewhere....

 

Tried the 'make like a tree' thing. I've also tried lots of walking, stopping, changing direction, turning, etc to keep him focused - we can do hours of that but if I try to then walk 20 ft in a straight line he starts all over.

 

One thing that was effective a while ago on a hike, I picked up a stick and used it like a wand, or arm extension just to discourage him from running past me. He was quite content to walk behind me, and if he did creep forward or whine all I had to do was jiggle the stick in front of him and he'd stop and back up... Any ideas why this might have changes his behavior?

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I've been thinking about this and have come to the conclusion that I cannot give you any advice because I have no idea what Bandit is actually doing. I cannot tell if he is actually anxious, or merely bad-mannered, or what.

 

What I will say is that I think Cesar Milan is one of the worst things ever to happen to dogs, and that I think shock collars are MAYBE appropriate for training working retrievers, and MAYBE some kinds of predator avoidance (snakes, etc. -- but that's a MAYBE) and that is pretty much it. If Bandit actually is anxious, being constantly punished and/or electrically shocked is the last thing that he needs.

 

If Bandit is as unhappy as you believe he is, please get in-person help from a good trainer who is well versed in operant conditioning, or a certified veterinary behaviorist if you believe he may actually be pathological. I have a Border Collie who truly does have anxiety problems, and if I'd used "Dog Whisperer" methods or a shock collar on him I have no doubt that I would have ruined him utterly by now.

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hi,

 

i too would never use a shock collar on a dog, esp. a dog like you are describing.it also sounds like he needs some job to focus on, like he's got loads of energy that he needs to get out in some way and is anxious about it. how is he on the leash if you have let him off for a good long run or play session and he is walking home? does he do the same thing? or is he a bit calmer?

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Very quick OT post - Melanie, by the sounds of it do you think that is actual anxiety or just pent-up energy and bratty behavior? I ask becuase I am a volunteer trainer for the local animal shelter and I see a *lot* of dogs exhibiting the exact same leash behavior Samantha has described. Usually most calm down after some exercise and the rest learn to calm down after a few training sessions, but I recall working with one dog that simply would not calm down, no matter what - circling, whining, eyes always wide open, flinched at the slightest noise or touch . . . Would this individual be an actual anxious/psycho (honestly don't know any other way to put it) dog while the others are just bored and untrained?

 

The dog in question actually got adopted but I'm still curious about her because I wasn't able to make *any* progress with her at all.

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Once again, the dog has a lot of white on his head...........He behaves and stays in line/ behind you when he has a visual aid(the stick/arm extension). To be fair to him, I would get him BAER tested. He could be deaf or at least a uni which could cause him some anxiety. Deaf dogs will often bark excessively. You also said he never takes his eyes off you and stays right around you (in sight) when he is loose. Another clue that maybe he is watching you for visual cues. Being super sensitive to movement could also be indicative of a hearing deficeit. Again, just a thought.

 

WWBC

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What do you do with Bandit besides taking him on walks? Do you play any ball or frisbee? Do you play any mind games?

 

What is his day like?

 

I've heard of the Illusion collar on other forums. The general feeling (even among those who like CM) is that the collar is waaay over priced for what you are getting.

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