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My first post - please forgive me if I don’t do it right.


We adopted our girl in March, 2008 from BC Rescue and are curious as to a couple of quirks she exhibits. Years ago, I previously had a border collie / australian shepherd mix, then later, a purebred border collie, both of which were extremely affectionate and loving. However, our Kate does not have time to be loved on. She will tolerate a hug long enough to drop a ball/toy in your lap, then she’s off to the races. The only time we can really have any real prolonged physical contact with her is at bedtime when she is really tired - at that time she will lay down and snuggle and let us pet and hug on her. Has anyone else experienced this? Is this normal, just her personality; are we dealing with abandonment issues, youth (she is about 18 months old), lack of bonding, etc? Also, we have had to board her twice for a weekend, as I have a family member who is very ill and really not up to having Miss Busy bouncing around her house. When she is picked up at the kennel, she races to the jeep; when we get home, she races around the house gathering up her toys, races around the backyard with her balls, the whole time basically ignoring both my husband and I. Won’t make eye contact, will turn her head to the side when we speak to her and act like she doesn’t hear us (although she does wag her tail). Then back to (her) normal sweet, self the next day. She is always near us, just doesn't seem to require much affection. We love this busy little dog so much, but she is making me feel like a failure as a mother. Does anyone have any input? I would appreciate any comments.[

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First of all, she's not a little human (I'm sure you know that), so you're not a failure as a mother. Lots of border collies (and other dogs too) just aren't into being hugged, etc., by humans. It's not a language they understand. A book that explains why dogs don't respond to humans as we might like them to is The Other End of the Leash. It's a great book--even my sister, who is something of a nondog person, read it and found it interesting. I suggest you get it and read it.


Of the 10 border collies I have here at the moment, I would say there's just one or two who actually will allow themselves to be hugged and seem to enjoy it. The rest would rather not. They all are happy to be near me; some want to sleep on the bed with me, but for most of them, cuddles just aren't their thing and I just don't try to force myself on them that way


If I were you, I would concentrate on bonding with her through training. Tricks, manners, obedience. These dogs were bred to work with their human partners, and if you can find an activity to do with her (say, agility), you will develop an amazing bond with her, even if she isn't the affectionate sort.


ETA: And welcome to the boards by they way. You'll find this to be a great community and a great resource.



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I have three dogs with me all the time. My oldest dog rarely wants to be hugged. He will come to us when he is scared or wants attention but he certainly is not huggy. My middle dog is all work. He will accept anything from us, hugs or whatever but for a giant reward all he requires is a pat on the head and a few kind words. My youngest dog shys away from anything that may be considered human affection such as hugging, he rarely even wants a pat on the head. I have come to know this as border collie, work before play or affection. These same dogs at any given moment will come to my side at the drop of a hat and look me straight in the eye. They will do what I ask and they get plenty of attention and gratitude from me. I have come to understand that in spite of the fact I may feel like hugging them at many times, words of praise are all they often want. When I return to them after being away for any length of time they are all over me. When it comes to bedtime they will pile on me like a stampede, show their border collie affection and then off to bed. We have a bond and each dog in his own way. They would rather be beside me than anywhere else. In our terms they show love, affection, want, need and desire in ways I may never understand but I do recognize and for that I am grateful. They are my best friends and family. It is very good advise to do something with your dog, that is when they shine and they will let you know.

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Great advice from Julie. Lots of dogs, and it seems especially young active border collies don't particularly care for cuddling. My own dog is not a big cuddler at any time and especially when playing he does NOT want to be touched! I also had a young foster who would never, ever tolerate physical affection beyond scratching her armpits, and then only on her terms. For her, hugs and cuddles translated to wrestling playtime and she would start bouncing all over and biting. Hugging and cuddling is a human need and the fact that a dog wants nothing to do with it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the dog. When she is boarded for a few days, she probably doesn't have enough of an opportunity to work off her energy, thus the crazy energy and lack of focus you see when you bring her home. She is probably overjoyed to be back in familiar surroundings and expressing it by bouncing off the walls. The fact that she is always near you is pretty good proof that she is well bonded with you.

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Speedy was a lot like this as a puppy. He didn't really care to be cuddled, hugged, petted.


When I took a reactive dog class with him (I'm not calling your dog reactive - I'm just telling my story!), the first thing they wanted us to do was to spend several minutes a day massaging our dogs. We didn't learn any formal massage, the point was just to spend some time petting/massaging.


With Speedy I found that the key to this was to go into a room where there were no toys and to start really slow. At first I just pet him on the head a bit. We slowly progressed to more. We did this at least once a day and it was only a few minutes.


Lo and behold, before the first week was up, he started soliciting petting from us for the first time in his life. It really made a big difference.


Of my four dogs, he is still the least cuddly, but he has come a long way.


You might give something like that a try. It might not make a difference, but you never know.

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Hi there Kate (I assume), and welcome!


I have a non-snuggler too, and felt a bit disappointed, because the other dogs I had known personally, were quite affectionate. My friend's old dog, e.g., who is very, very picky about whom he likes, will stick his head under my arm when I sit down, wanting to be petted.


But my dog has learned over the year we've had her, that getting scratched and petted is a nice thing, and is becoming quite obliging, and she snuggles sort of when she comes to wake me up in the morning (even though she prefers to wrestle instead). So don't give up yet. Once in a while I even get little doggie kisses now.


The book Julie recommended is very nice, I enjoyed reading it! Very helpful.


And the running around episodes: that sounds like the zoomies. She might actually be trying to invite you to play along. She is happy to see her home again, let's celebrate-kind-of-thing.


Good luck!



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Of my 3, one has a very high Daily Petting Quotient, he literally would rather get pets and cuddles than eat. My oldest girl is sort of medium, solicits affection sometimes, is almost always glad to get a pet or a hind end scratch, and Shoshone, our very quirky girl, can go for days, weeks at a time without asking for any attention other than ball throwing and being fed.


So, it's really an individual thing. With an adolescent dog, she may well become more affectionate as she matures.


As far as ignoring you when she comes home from the kennel, you've had her for only 5 or 6 months, and she's had at least two, quite possibly more homes before that. When you drop her off at the kennel, she has no way of knowing that you'll be coming to get her. She may be stressed out from being 'abandoned' again, and just needs a day or two at home before she can relax. She'll probably get more relaxed and trusting as time goes on, but it might take a while. Dropping her off for a day every now and then, and picking her up that afternoon might help with that.


Thanks for taking this girl in!


Ruth n the BC3

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Thanks for all of the input - I have been reading this site for over a year and have learned so very much. I guess “mother” was a poor choice of words, but I do feel totally responsible for Kate’s health and well-being, education, manners, etc. My two previous dogs were outdoor dogs; Kate is my first indoor dog - I guess she gets so much attention, she doesn’t need to ask for it. I did forget to mention that she likes to get on the bed first thing in the morning (4:30 am) and last thing at night (I never thought I’d have a dog in my house, much less on my bed) and snuggle for a few minutes - it’s just the rest of the day that it’s “Don’t bother me, can’t you see I’m busy here?”.


Thanks again - I feel reassured.

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Something that may help you both meet your needs is canine massage. You can buy a video (I like Canine Bodywork) and it's easy to do. The dogs enjoy it, you get training (lying still is rewarded for example) and you get the chance to enjoy stroking healthy canine fur. Something all of us primates need :rolleyes:


Also, just because she is an active, busy dog does not mean she would not benefit from being training to settle down and chill out in general. One of the exercises I do with older pups is to simply put them in a down, then put my foot on the leash while I watch a 30 minutes television show. With your leash/foot you gently but firmly insist she maintain down stay, and only interact with her to quietly and firmly intervene (i.e. if she starts chewing the leash) or quietly praise.


Too many toys are also a problem. They run around like kids in a toy store and we wonder why they can't settle down. Put up the active toys (the toys you play *with* her with) and only bring out one at a time when you are ready to interact. Quiet/settling toys (stuffed kongs, things to chew on etc) should be provided when that is what you desire. Remember value is increased in a toy not by constant availability, but by *lack* availability.


I would also teach her "settle" or "place". Most training books can help you here, but basically you teach her a relaxed down stay on a certain mat or area. Progress to sending her to that area from greater and great distances. Its a *huge* help for door manners, bland time outs (you aren't mad, just ready for a break, or she needs to settle down), and general training.


Remember, the "constant motion" of a Border Collies is mostly a result of stereotypes that have become the norm. It doesn't have to be that way. You can moderate her behavior while still allowing her to be a dog. For both your benefits.

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All advice given so far is great and I highly recommend reading The Other End of the Leash, it's great!


Daisy has her moments, sometimes she will come and ask for attention, other times she has better things to do. The BC down the street will literally try and climb up on you for some petting!


I agree with Lenajo about the toys. It could be there are too many. We have all the toys put away in the spare room. She knows where they are and will go to the box when asked, but other than that she's got a couple of bones, a kong and a few treat dispensing toys on the floor (the treat toys don't always have treats in them either.) My favorite is a ball (like a buster cube) that you put kibble or small treats into and they have to roll it around and try to get the food out. As it gets empty it gets harder to get the food. One meal will keep her busy for about 45 minutes on a good day.


Also, look up TTouch or Tellington Touch, it has a somewhat relaxing element to it and will also help you bond with your dog!



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