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Hello All,


My wife and I adopted Tweak a week ago from the local Border Collie Rescue League. We've been married a year and thought a dog would be great addition to the family. We are both runners and active. A friend recommended the rescue league and after a month of looking online, we met Tweak and adopted him a week later.


He is just over a year old, loveable, smart, well mannered around new people and at the softball park, enjoys car rides, is crate trained but has 2 pretty bad habits. I want to include his schedule and as many details as possible to see if anyone has some insight. We are planning on enrolling him in a PetSmart obedience class as friends have said it has been helpful for their dogs.


My wife and I work all day, but make sure we come home at lunch to get him out of the house.


Here's a typical weekday...


6am - Wakes us up - he goes out to the back yard to explore, go to the bathroom

6:15am - Goes on a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood

6:35am - Gets fed and watered

7:35am - Mingles around the house, then gets taken outside

8:00 am - Crated up


12noon - Brought outside, we play frisbee or ball for 20+ minutes

12:30 - Tweak parks it on the floor while me or my wife eats

12:45 - Brought outside again

1:00pm - Tweak is back in his crate


4:45pm - Tweak is brought outside, play frisbee and ball, for 30+ minutes

5:15pm - He eats/drinks

5:00p+ - Socializes with us around the house, makes 1-2 more trips outside before the night is over

Sleeps on a pillow by 11pm


Tweaks adoptive family was great, but with their work schedule only left him alone for 4 hours a day. We think he's having a hard time adjusting to our schedule.


Here are his two challenges...


- After getting un-crated at lunch or after work and let outside, he explores a bit in the backyard, then jumps up, almost attacking you. He'll spin in circles, bark/yelp and nip (play bite). He doesn't respond to verbal "no" or "down" commands. I get out the ball/Frisbee and he is immediately ready for action. We'll get several tosses in, then he'll see something move in a tree or get distracted and I have to get him focused again.


- Secondly, Tweak has a habit of nipping (play bitting) when we're around the house. On the couch or at the computer. He doesn't respond to "down" or "no" here either. And immediately lays on his back, pawing at you.



Overall, Tweak is a lover and a really great dog. I've personally never had a dog that is as smart as him. We've taught him to catch the Frisbee and bring it back to us in a matter of a few days. He's great with people and like I said is pretty awesome.


Since me and my wife have never had a Border Collie we're looking for some insight. Is his behavior because of his new schedule? Can we do anything to help correct his behaviors? I feel bad that we work all day but hope with extra affection and attention in the evenings and on the weekend, Tweak can be a happy, hearty, obedient addition to our family.


Thanks for any help you can provide!


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Congratulations on adopting and on doing things in the right order! I personally wish I'd gotten a BC and learned to train it BEFORE I had children as one learns so much from the experience. Silly as it sounds, I think it would have been helpful to more fully understand about training. Especially the piece that you are always training them, even in the moments when you aren't deliberately training them. A book I read about training was really enlightening: Don't Shoot The Dog, by Karen Pryor. It's not specifics about training dogs, it's the overall philosphy of positive reinforcement training.


Does Tweak know "lie down" and "stay" yet? If he has to earn a frisbee or ball toss by doing a down, and if he can do some treat hide/seek after holding a stay, then perhaps he could have just as much fun and the play sessions could be a little less nippy. And btw he is a BC adolescent now and he will be more reasonable in a year.


Please post some pictures, we loves 'em here!

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HI Danny and welcome to the Boards. You'll find no shortage of advice here. It's great that you guys adopted Tweak. You're in for a fun ride for sure.


I'm sure folks will pipe in with several suggestions, but here are mine. You can do a lot to work on these behaviors. Tweak is at an age that's still very puppy-ish--esp. for a BC. He needs patience and consistency as you teach him the ropes. Great idea to take him to class--that will teach you and him a lot. Have you had dogs before? Just think of him like a three year old--basically able to understand a lot, but still in need of a lot of help figuring out what to do


Does Tweak know what you want "no" and "down" to mean? Do you know what they mean? (I'm not being a smark-aleck here, but we humans tend to have lots of meanings for both down and no--for instance down can mean lie down or get off the couch or get off of me or a variety of things.)


You want to be as consistent as you can be about what these mean. "No" can be even harder for a dog to figure out since we often use it to mean "stop what you're doing", "you made the wrong choice" or a whole host of things. i like to use "no" for really egregious behavior with the meaning "Cease and desist immediately" and use "wrong" to mean--that's the wrong choice (like if I ask for a sit and I get a down--or whatever). I use "leave it" to mean basically, "Stop and turn away from the chicken carcass on the floor"


In addition to what you are doing with him now, if it were me, I'd build in some dedicated training time to exercise his mind. While it's true that BCs need a lot of physical activitiy, I think it's the mental activity that they really need--almost more the physical activity.


What I generally do with nipping is make a big show of saying "ouch" and then turning away or walking away--showing him that it won't get him what he wants. Esp. if the nipping is a move to try and control me.


For the spinning and craziness--does he do that before he sees the ball/Frisbee or after? It sounds to me like he's anticipating some fun. What I would do is make him sit or lie down before you even let him see the toy and then ask him to hold it before you give him the o.k. Essentially teach him some self-control.


With the focus issue, what I would do is stop before he wanders off--basically stop playing while he still wants it. That teaches him that you control the resources like playing and you decide when play stops.


The thing is that all of this will take some time to teach and reinforce. I might recommend Pat Miller's "the power of positive dog training", which I found invaluable when we were training our first dog.


I'm sure you'll hear lots of other advice soon--


ETA: A lot of times, using something like "no" (or a physical correction) might stop the behavior, but doesn't really tell them what you want instead, which can be confusing for them. So, if you can think about what you want Tweak to do *instead* of jumping/spinning or nipping, then you can also use that to train him.

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I'm fairly new to BC's myself, but it kind of sounds to me like the behaviours you've described are attention getting behaviours. His nipping at you when you're sitting on the couch or at the computer may be his way of saying "hey! get up and play with me!". Same when he starts the barking/jumping/spinning/yelping/nipping outside. It sounds like excitement, and then of course the frisbee or ball comes out so he's getting what he wants. One of my dogs is crazy for balls and frisbees too, but if he starts yelping or barking, demanding that I play I make him sit or down and I won't throw it until he settles, because I don't want to give in to his demanding and reinforce that behaviour. He was very barky and yelpy when I did some agility classes with him too and the instructor had me stop everything and make him "down" until he settled. To continue when he was acting like that would only get him more wound up, so stopping the "game" was like giving him a time out. When he settled, getting to continue with the game was like a reward.

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Congrats on adopting Tweak! If you don't mind me asking, did you adopt him from Mo-Kan? Sorry, even though I can't take in anymore bc's, I still enjoy 'surfing' and reading the the bc's stories. It does a heart good to know a dog has gone to a deserving home.


Obedience classes will help. You should remember, Tweak has gone from a home that had other playmates and now he's an 'only child'. I'm not saying adopt another dog. That's just a viewpoint on Tweak's side. Bc's are very intelligent and you are going to find out they are different. Having a sense of humor and thinking on a different level helps.


This is a great wesite. I'm a newbie here myself and have found it very informative. Welcome aboard!

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Congrats on Tweak!


At PetSmart you'll learn the different commands ( e.g off instead of down when you want the dog off of you or another object) and that should help some. It really does sound like attention getting as well and/or puppy play, but the specific commands can really help.


Good luck and have fun!


PS, I love SouthPark (which is where I'm assuming his name came from). Totally cute name!

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Sounds to me as though he needs to be wore out more during the day. (fetch or mental stimulation games or whatever)And with the hot weather having a kiddie pool is a great way to be able to play with them outside, and keep them cool.

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Thank you all for the feedback...we will try a few things and keep you up-to-date.


To answer a few questions and give you more details...


Tweak does know "sit" and "stay." He will even "stay" when he is introduced to someone new. It really surprised the heck out of our friends. :-) He also won't eat until you give him a command. Great lesson taught by his adoptive parents. Prevents him from bum-rushing the bowls. We did adopt him from Mo-Kan. There is little background on where his name came from, coulda been Southpark. We didn't want to try and change it on him, after a year+ of having it.


Today, at lunch, was the first time he had very minimal interest in playing. He simply barked at the squirrels in our three large oak trees and jumped up on the sides of the trees. I walk towards him and he does his jump/nip/yelp routine. I turn away, he's back at the trees, staring into oblivion. It was the first time he totally disregarded me. And if I did get the Frisbee out, he'd get one catch in, drop it 20ft from me and head back to wandering around the trees. Didn't respond to his name and had little recall.


Any other tips...


We'll see what happens next week.

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He'll get it. Sounds like he's already learned quite a bit. I'd work a lot on building the relationship between you. "watch me" is a good one to teach him to focus on you. Basically, lure him to look at you by holding a treat next to your eye, then "yes!" or click when he establishes eye contact with you. Work on sustained focus on you, up close on on leash at first, then at expanding distance and in varying surroundings with varying degrees of distractions. I labeled it "watch me" after he got it. The world is full of interesting stimuli, and we humans are just another part of the environment until we establish ourselves as the most important source of all good things and true in the world.


The jumping up, overstimulated stuff will likely slow down as he gets more comfortable. Remember, he's only known you a week...you're this new human who feeds him, loves him and dotes on him...who he likes a lot, but doesn't know real well yet. I've found success in the jumping by making sure not to reinforcement the behavior...always turning around and ignoring the jumping, and always rewarding the correct behavior with praise and treats. Have fun....he'll get it!

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Hi Danny,


Make sure you and your wife go together to obedience class. If Tweak is disruptive in class, it's only because he's bored. He's going to learn faster than some of the other dogs in class so you might have to teach Tweak additional commands/tricks. This happened to us with JJ. While DH was listening to the instructor, I was having JJ do 'say your prayers', 'give me left', 'give me right', 'take a bow', 'through' (figure 8 through the legs), etc. When it comes to learning commands, they have a tendency to get bored with too much repetition. Variety is good. So is a notebook, for yourself. Tweak can learn so many command/tricks it can be hard to keep up with them.


How is Tweak on catching balls? A game JJ and Jake like to play is one I call "Colors". PetSmart sells a toy cube with 4 balls in it. When we play, I'll call their name and when I toss the ball, I say the color. Now I can call a name, have a different color ball in each hand and tell them to 'take red' or 'take blue' and they'll do it. Of course, he needs to learn the 'take' command first. Some people speed up the process by putting a different scent on each ball but I didn't want to do that.


But first and foremost, have fun!!! Command time should always be fun!

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