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Anxiety Issues - Dangerous!

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We rescued two supposed collies in October. Turns out, one mostly BC and one BC/sheltie mix. Both are about 1yr old now. The BC is having really serious anxiety/herding issues with everything (especially trucks, busses, mailmen, etc.) outside our windows. She is trying to go thru the glass windows and door to get to them. Screens were a joke. I put up metal door guards (like the kind you would put up on a glass door to keep a toddler from pushing thru the glass...) and she ripped them down, literally, within a week. Now I've got horizontal 2 x 4's with plexiglass. Not working either. Can't get her to settle down. Currently in obedience training, but this is going to be a long process and I don't want her hurt in the meantime. Been all over the web and can't find a security/safety screen that would prevent her from breaking thru the glass. I have casement windows so this doesn't help. Tried moving things away from the walls to remove the launching pads, tried putting things in front of the windows to block her from seeing out. Just made things worse. Can't cage her when it comes time for busses etc., she goes nuts and I don't feel it's right to do this anyway. Cages aren't supposed to be for punishment in my eyes. She's about 45 pounds and is very long/tall. We have too many kids, animals, and a busy street for cars/busses. I'm getting nothing done but trying to get her to settle and work with her everytime something goes by. We're in the middle of establishing a solid recall (come) even with distractions, but she goes from 0 - 60 in nothing flat. And by the time I stop what I'm doing and get to her, it's too late. She's too far gone, way out of control.

 

Then there's outside. We had to raise the height of our fence, and put 45 deg toppers (like for barbed wire) with 3' welded fence attached, angled inside the yard, to keep her from jumping/climbing out! She wins everytime she pitches a fit over everything, because the "thing" goes away and she accomplished her task.

 

We walk twice a day, play fetch daily and I try to work with her on obedience daily if not more.

 

Any suggestions?? I'm so afraid that she's gonna go thru the glass!

 

addition 4:30 p.m. 5-18-07

Thanks, and actually, it's not harsh. Just obvious. We already tried Prozac. Just made her more aggressive. We are already working with a behaviorist (also the obedience trainer), he has been out to the house as well. We have already started the "desensitizing" and taking her into a back room on lead where she doesn't really see / hear the trucks etc. as easily, then watching for the first sign of anxiety and maintaining the sit stay, etc. Also had a friend walk their dog and kid on a bike up and down the street while she's out there on lead, trying to maintain a stay, sit, down, watch me, etc. It's a very slow process and she's very stubborn. She does it all with flying colors without distractions. But add a distraction, (vehicles are worse), and it all goes out the window. We work daily on long sit stays, down stays, etc. Getting her to respond to me with whatever distraction I know will come in time. I guess patience and repetition is a virtue.

 

The problem with the crate, is she's crated at night, and when I leave the house. Which is not that often. Maybe 2 hrs twice a week. Other than that, she's loose in the house or in the yard when we are not working with her. But lately when I put her in her "house", she goes in voluntarily, but then starts the spinning, pitching a fit, wildly & franticly. I can't tell you how much I've spent on kongs toys. I have multiples of just about every one they make. She gets at least 2 toys that she can stay occupied with every time she is crated. Kongs as well as the other 50+ various toys, (gotta love Ebay....) are readily available and in easy reach. (prefers my shoes lately in the last 2 weeks which is something she has never done since October.) Can't do too many bones, due to colitis. She's on a restricted diet and she really doesn't want the kibble for reward.

 

Other posters have suggested putting her in herding lessons. That would be great. Where do I start? It has also been suggested by our trainer and groomer/border (has owned BC's in the past) that I put her in agility. Which is what we are working towards. Gotta get thru advanced obedience first around here. Then comes agility. She's great on lead, but as soon as the lead comes off, the holy terror puppy comes out again.

 

How long does the adolescent stage of BC's last?? I've owned labs before, and that's an easy 3 years. My Schnauzer is just a couch potato and I never had any issues with her. So, this is a welcome adventure. Just need to figure her out!

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A tired dog is a better behaved dog. It sounds as if she has found an outlet for her energy. The walks may just not be enough. She needs to a) learn to relax in a crate- give her a yummy marrow bone and put her in there sporadically, and :rolleyes: she needs a better outlet for her energy. The walk may not cut it for her prey drive- the ball may not be enough. She just may be one of those high high energy dogs. Keep her away from the windows/doors- that behavior will only stop once you have gotten her tired, and she has no opportunity. Keep a line on her, and when you see a bus/kid/any precipitator, ask her to get her ball. Teach her that when she thinks she needs to respond to that trigger- to interact with you. You should be the source of all fun/activity. Lots of work, but it will work.

Julie

 

We rescued two supposed collies in October. Turns out, one mostly BC and one BC/sheltie mix. Both are about 1yr old now. The BC is having really serious anxiety/herding issues with everything (especially trucks, busses, mailmen, etc.) outside our windows. She is trying to go thru the glass windows and door to get to them. Screens were a joke. I put up metal door guards (like the kind you would put up on a glass door to keep a toddler from pushing thru the glass...) and she ripped them down, literally, within a week. Now I've got horizontal 2 x 4's with plexiglass. Not working either. Can't get her to settle down. Currently in obedience training, but this is going to be a long process and I don't want her hurt in the meantime. Been all over the web and can't find a security/safety screen that would prevent her from breaking thru the glass. I have casement windows so this doesn't help. Tried moving things away from the walls to remove the launching pads, tried putting things in front of the windows to block her from seeing out. Just made things worse. Can't cage her when it comes time for busses etc., she goes nuts and I don't feel it's right to do this anyway. Cages aren't supposed to be for punishment in my eyes. She's about 45 pounds and is very long/tall. We have too many kids, animals, and a busy street for cars/busses. I'm getting nothing done but trying to get her to settle and work with her everytime something goes by. We're in the middle of establishing a solid recall (come) even with distractions, but she goes from 0 - 60 in nothing flat. And by the time I stop what I'm doing and get to her, it's too late. She's too far gone, way out of control.

 

Then there's outside. We had to raise the height of our fence, and put 45 deg toppers (like for barbed wire) with 3' welded fence attached, angled inside the yard, to keep her from jumping/climbing out! She wins everytime she pitches a fit over everything, because the "thing" goes away and she accomplished her task.

 

We walk twice a day, play fetch daily and I try to work with her on obedience daily if not more.

 

Any suggestions?? I'm so afraid that she's gonna go thru the glass!

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It sounds like your border collie is in a continual state of hyper-vigilance and high anxiety, and every mailman or dog that walks by probably revs her up more. Living with a worried border collie in a beach neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic and houses close together, I've experienced how that can go! I am lucky that my backyard is somewhat isolated from the street, and I am able to separate the front (street side) of my house, which has floor-to-ceiling windows just a few feet from the busy sidewalk, from the rear part, which just looks over the backyard. Keeping Daisy in the quieter back part of the house makes a big difference in her level of anxiety.

 

If you are able to see a vet who is a behaviorist, that could be a big help, not only with behavior strategies but also possibly with anti-anxiety medications to allow the real, calmer dog to come to the fore. Here is a place to start, if you are interested in finding someone. We used this list to find a vet who has been very helpful. Some regular vets are good with behavior, but certainly not all. Finding a vet with special training and interest in behavior is a good thing.

 

Website for American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

 

Oh yes, I know about fence-jumping too! We had to add a 4 x 8 piece of plywood to the top of our fence (thank goodness it's concealed by bushes) so that Daisy wouldn't invite herself into our next-door-neighbor's yard, and from there right into their house through the dog door! Turns out hanging around with Rocky the chocolate lab was more fun than being alone. Duh.

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AMEN....

Anti-anxiety meds will help to take the edge off so you can do some rehab work. BTW,don't think

this has anything to do with 'herding'....this is anxiety/reactivity from your description...

 

Right on the money re:vets and behavior too. You can also find a trainer that has experience with

this ...they can work,in conjuction with vet behaviorist to help set up behavior modification program.

The more this dog is allowed to practice the behavior the longer it will take to change.

 

In the meantime....manage.This dog is not going to magically stop by covering windows. As for crates and timeouts...ever given the kids a timeout when they're over the top?It does help them settle if used wisely and appropriately.

 

This dog seems to be dealing,in the only way it knows how, with some major stress right now.

Sorry if I sound harsh, but for both your sake and the dog's sake, it does seem like you need

more than obedience work...

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I would say that the dog sounds a little understimulated, but it's also possible that with cars and such always passing by, she's lost her ability to handle boredom and settle down -- so all the walks and games of fetch you can offer might not be enough at this point.

 

I wish you would change your view on crates. By not allowing her to go nuts over the traffic and therefore not allowing that behavior to reinforce itself, a crate could help your dog a lot when you aren't interacting with her. After she's been worked hard for an hour or so, pack a kong with long-lasting treats or give her something else she enjoys, and put her in the crate with it. If she screams and throws a fit, ignore her and wait for her to settle down. As soon as she settles down, open up the crate and give her some more interaction, then put her back in. That'll reinforce the calm behavior and also, over a period of time, make her realize that there's no need to freak out, because she'll get her chance to "work" eventually.

 

Please see a qualified vet behaviorist.. I'm sure that being in a state of constant vigilance and extreme anxiety/excitement is not healthy for the dog. Also - have you thought about doing anything a little more difficult than fetch? My puppy can play fetch all. day. long. but when she works livestock for 10 minutes, she sleeps the rest of the day. It just drains her mind and satisfies some desire to work that nothing else can.

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Very well put, BC4pack, on the need to manage the dog's situation.

 

Borderlicious is correct that "being in a state of constant vigilance and extreme anxiety/excitement is not healthy for the dog." Furthermore, the behavior you described tends to be very reinforcing. When she barks, the mailman does go away. A very, very unhealthy upward spiral of reactivity is created.

 

She's young and you will be amazed at how much you can help her turn it around. My broken record again...get help from a behaviorist!

 

Good luck with your dog.

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I agree that you money might be better spent on herding lessons, than a behaviorist, if that avenue is open to you. Not that I'm against behaviorists, but she's not really pathological, just experiencing a bad combination of a highly stimulating environment, and your inexperience with behavior like hers.

 

1) She's decided that chasing those passersby is her role in life. You haven't actually told her it's not, you've simply made it more difficult, which actually just makes it more stimulating when she succeeds at bypassing your barriers. This is a natural mistake - we'd rather prevent bad behavior than correct it, but when a Border Collie has decided to react a certain way to something, the horse is out of the barn and it's necessary to backtrack and make it very clear that it's unacceptable.

 

2) This is the kind of dog that will need the idea of impulse control reinforced daily. Herding training will help. You can do numerous other things that will help also. Long down stays. Make sure all fetching games are combined with requests for behaviors before she's allowed to chase down the ball - a down, a sit, a weave through your legs - so that she's in the habit of "listening" to you as soon as she starts tracking her "prey."

 

3) Get a professional trainer to show you how to do desensitization exercises. Sit in a room far away from the stimuli with her on a leash, and watch her closely (but try not to make it obvious you are staring). I can guarantee you that she doesn't have to be anywhere the window to know there's something coming. The second you see a reaction, get her attention with a command - down, sit, or whatever. If she doesn't follow the command instantly, get her attention with a leash correction, followed by a repeat of the command. If she still doesn't listen, you may have to find a way to make it easier - sit in the bathroom with the water running, turn up the radio really loud - some way to block the noise of oncoming traffic.

 

4) You can't let her do the behavior at any time, until you've gotten control of her. This may mean she spends a lot of time in the crate for a while, unfortunately. But the intense work you'll need to do with her when she's not crated will wear her out, anyway. She'll need a break. When she's crated, at first, put her in a room with a heavy cover over the crate and run a loud fan or loud classical music right next to the crate. Give her a yummy frozen raw soup bone to distract her and amuse her. Feed her meals in a kong or treat ball, in the crate.

 

I don't think you'll have to carry on the intense training for longer than a couple months. She'll always need a pretty tight rein and lots of activities, I'm afraid, but if you get involved with herding and maybe a couple other dog sports, you'll enjoy that side of her very much, most likely. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, you know. :rolleyes:

 

I appreciate very much your obvious dedication to her well-being and sticking with her even though this is not exactly what you signed up for when you adopted them. I do wish I had easier answers for you, but you DO have a doozy here. I hope you get to enjoy the fun side of a dog like this, and soon!

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Just to agree with Rebecca and Grace about the value of exercise that is mental. Herding is a great example, really helpful in combination with an at-home behavioral plan. Here is hypervigilant, nervous, bottomless-well-of-energy Daisy laying on the living room floor, close by the big streetside window, after a morning spent at Anna's doing herding lessons!!

 

StillTired.jpg

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I will put my 2 cents in and agree with more mental stimulation. If you can not do herding (we can't afford it) there are other things that you can do with your pup to make her THINK, and therefore spend a bunch of that energy in a constructive way. Teach her tricks, do agility, teach her to 'help' you with putting her toys away, take her for a leash walk in town where she has to deal with strange and unexpected things (only if she can handle that kind of stimulation), teach her silly stuff like walking up stairs backwards, etc. When you exersize her, always ask for something (sit, stay, spin, go round the tree, high five, etc) before you throw the ball each time. Keep it fun, and challenging for her. I can not physically poop out my pup, he just gets more jacked up with just exersize. But add the mental piece to the puzzle, and I have a happy and content boy.

 

I also totally agree with not letting her 'practice' the window lunging, how ever you do it (lots of great suggestion here, a crate with a frozen meaty bone was one of my favorite tricks for hours of peace when Hoku was going through a crazy phase). It's just to self rewarding, and will spiral.

 

Good luck, and big pats on the back for rescuing these dogs, and being willing and able to work with them. And remember, you are in the midst of the dreaded adolescent phase, they WILL get through it, it's just super important to not let them learn and imprint bad behavior, now is the time to nip it.

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AMEN....

Anti-anxiety meds will help to take the edge off so you can do some rehab work. BTW,don't think

this has anything to do with 'herding'....this is anxiety/reactivity from your description...

 

Right on the money re:vets and behavior too. You can also find a trainer that has experience with

this ...they can work,in conjuction with vet behaviorist to help set up behavior modification program.

The more this dog is allowed to practice the behavior the longer it will take to change.

 

In the meantime....manage.This dog is not going to magically stop by covering windows. As for crates and timeouts...ever given the kids a timeout when they're over the top?It does help them settle if used wisely and appropriately.

 

This dog seems to be dealing,in the only way it knows how, with some major stress right now.

Sorry if I sound harsh, but for both your sake and the dog's sake, it does seem like you need

more than obedience work...

 

Thanks, and actually, it's not harsh. Just obvious. We already tried Prozac. Just made her more aggressive. We are already working with a behaviorist (also the obedience trainer), he has been out to the house as well. We have already started the "desensitizing" and taking her into a back room on lead where she doesn't really see / hear the trucks etc. as easily, then watching for the first sign of anxiety and maintaining the sit stay, etc. Also had a friend walk their dog and kid on a bike up and down the street while she's out there on lead, trying to maintain a stay, sit, down, watch me, etc. It's a very slow process and she's very stubborn. She does it all with flying colors without distractions. But add a distraction, (vehicles are worse), and it all goes out the window. We work daily on long sit stays, down stays, etc. Getting her to respond to me with whatever distraction I know will come in time. I guess patience and repetition is a virtue.

 

The problem with the crate, is she's crated at night, and when I leave the house. Which is not that often. Maybe 2 hrs twice a week. Other than that, she's loose in the house or in the yard when we are not working with her. But lately when I put her in her "house", she goes in voluntarily, but then starts the spinning, pitching a fit, wildly & franticly. I can't tell you how much I've spent on kongs toys. I have multiples of just about every one they make. She gets at least 2 toys that she can stay occupied with every time she is crated. Kongs as well as the other 50+ various toys, (gotta love Ebay....) are readily available and in easy reach. (prefers my shoes lately in the last 2 weeks which is something she has never done since October.) Can't do too many bones, due to colitis. She's on a restricted diet and she really doesn't want the kibble for reward.

 

Other posters have suggested putting her in herding lessons. That would be great. Where do I start? It has also been suggested by our trainer and groomer/border (has owned BC's in the past) that I put her in agility. Which is what we are working towards. Gotta get thru advanced obedience first around here. Then comes agility. She's great on lead, but as soon as the lead comes off, the holy terror puppy comes out again.

 

How long does the adolescent stage of BC's last?? I've owned labs before, and that's an easy 3 years. My Schnauzer is just a couch potato and I never had any issues with her. So, this is a welcome adventure. Just need to figure her out!

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What about leashing her to you to completely prevent rehersal of the behavior and/or additional behavior meds? When you are desensitizing you HAVE to be able to control the environment (so sayeth the vet behaviorist at Purdue I had a class with) and if you can't and the behavior is pretty generalized, meds are usually indicated to reduce the anxiety/fear so that desensitization can proceed. With constant exposure to a stimuli over your dog's threshold right now desensitization will take incredibly long (if not be almost impossible) because you exceed the threshold daily. There many other axiolytic drugs other than Prozac, but a vet behaviorist will be able to customize a regime way better than your average vet given their experience in the field.

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My trainer talked about dogs who had to have the windows covered until they stopped the self-reinforcing behavior. I know he mentioned actually nailing wood to the window frames, which I was reluctant to try!

 

Buddy did tear up one windowsill in my house when I first had him. (Lead paint, which was scary!) I had to start keeping Buddy in the back of the house when I wasn't home, because the front room was too stimulating. The neighbors tell me he doesn't bark anymore when I'm not home, so I think he adjusted to the noise and commotion and just sleeps during the day. But the initial move from wherever he was (not many humans) to this environment (humans going by his windows, within 6 feet of him, constantly) was stressful in the beginning. And in spring, when the windows come up again, the new noise still gets him more agitated than usual.

 

What about putting plywood OUTSIDE the windows to block his view? I'm not thinking anything permanent - just some pieces of wood leaned up against the lower part of the window so he can't see out at the stimulating view? He won't be able to get at the plywood to rip it down.

 

Good luck! It's tricky!

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