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Aggressive (Fear?) Border Collie...


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Hello All!

I'm new here and VERY glad I found this board. I'll try to make this as short as possible without leaving out any important details.

We bought our Border Collie from a breeder locally who has been in business many years. We picked him up when he was 8 weeks old. Mother had to be removed from litter (I know-red flag).

We socialized this puppy from the time we brought him home, taking him everywhere with us, introducing him to people, dogs, new situations in a calm confident manner.

When he was 3 months old, he started challenging us for authority (we worked through that), not nipping but full out biting. After attempting to bite aggressively other people he was formerly familiar with, we had him checked for everything by our veterinarian. No abnormalities, levels are all normal as well. Yes, he tried to bite our vet too.

When we finally got his papers from the breeder, he does have some 'close' breeding. Also, his mother has bitten (drawn blood) on several people and they are now confining her, BUT still breeding her.

Our dog is now 3 years old, and fine w/us. He does 'tolerate' my parents when they come to visit-and is actually starting to warm up to them (he's been around them since he's been a puppy). When strangers (to him) visit, he is either crated, or I keep him on a leash by my feet.

Long story short, he does not go out in public w/us for obvious reasons. Is there ANY hope that this will be possible some day? Or should we just accept that he will always be homebound (however happily) here on the farm w/us.

I do obedience with him and he loves agility (I have a course set up in the back yard for him)! I'd love to be able to show him in agility some day, but I fear his 'issues' will never permit this. If not, we'll happily do 'our thing' here at home. He isn't going anywhere-his forever home is here with us.

Also when we had him neutered, it was major surgery. He did not drop. One testes was in his groin and one was inside his stomach. Poor dog. We hoped altering him would change his personality-it did not.

I just hate to think he can't 'be fixed', and I am looking for ANY suggestions that may help him. However I am realistic, and would never put other human beings in danger, or for that matter my dog. I know that some known biters are forcibly euthanized.

Thanks so much for reading this, sorry it is a bit long!

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Sounds like you need to seek a pro. Check out a vet behaviourist in your area if you are willing to work with this dog. The breeders need to be told they are producing dangerous dogs.

 

The close breeding has little to do with his temperment but rather the lack of proper temperment in the parents.

 

In the mean while there is an aggressive behavior group on Yahoo that offers good help.

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Sounds like you need to seek a pro. Check out a vet behaviourist in your area if you are willing to work with this dog. The breeders need to be told they are producing dangerous dogs.

 

The close breeding has little to do with his temperment but rather the lack of proper temperment in the parents.

 

In the mean while there is an aggressive behavior group on Yahoo that offers good help.

 

Hello Pam and Thanks! Yes, we are DEF willing to work w/this dog. We won't give up on him. He is great w/us (now).

The breeders have been alerted. Our dog is not the only that has been problematic, as we later found out. I personally think the bad behavior is coming from the Dam-as she does have 'biting' issues. He IS getting better as he's getting older, but certainly not trustworthy around strangers yet and may never be. If that is the case, that is just the way it is and we'll attend to his needs in that department. Thanks for the info on the close breeding, I was wondering about that and if that could be part of his issue(s).

Also wanted to add he is exercised daily at LEAST 1 hour if not 2 hours. He assists me in the barn w/our horses and does great. He is definitely a herding dog, and knows his job. I do have him obedience trained, and he has excelled at it. SUPER smart dog, and very loving with us.

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I have a fear aggressive female. Some of those behaviors you explain remind me of her. I would also suggest that you see a veterinary behaviorist. They will be able to give you the best advice for your dog and your situation.

 

Since every dog is different I can't say what will work for you, but i can tell you what has helped us. I have given up on Ceana being normal. It just won't happen. She isn't a danger at all anymore. Actually, I don't think she ever was a danger in the first place, we just didn't know how to handle her. The four things that have helped her the most are: a consistent predictable schedule, a better understanding of her body language, building our confidence, and having another dog companion. Routines are great because the more she can predict her day the less anxiety she has. Learning to read her body language allows us to notice and correct when she is about to go over her threshold. She tries very hard to let us know she is scared or nervous, it just wasn't always obvious to us. If she feels that we are unaware she panics and that's when she gets growly. Ceana does not like when people or dogs are nervous. If they are nervous, about her or in general, then she thinks there must be something to be nervous about and goes into panic mode. If DH and I approach a situation with confidence in ourselves and in her she does a much better job. If we get nervous because we don't know what she'll do, she'll do something since she assumes that our nervousness warrants something to be scared of. finally, for her, life is much easier when she can defer to someone else. She defers to us and her confident pack mate Poke. She relaxes because she knows Poke handles the dog things. He made a world of difference in her life.

 

As I said before, these are things that worked for us and may not work for everyone. I am finally at peace with the fact that she will never be normal. To be quite honest volunteering in rescue has made me thankful that we are the people who have her. I have no doubts that if she wound up in many other situations she would have been put down. We have given up our frustration (so very hard and there was so much frustration) and just enjoy her for the love she gives us and try and learn everything that we can from her. I hope that helps.

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I have a fear aggressive female. Some of those behaviors you explain remind me of her. I would also suggest that you see a veterinary behaviorist. They will be able to give you the best advice for your dog and your situation.

 

Since every dog is different I can't say what will work for you, but i can tell you what has helped us. I have given up on Ceana being normal. It just won't happen. She isn't a danger at all anymore. Actually, I don't think she ever was a danger in the first place, we just didn't know how to handle her. The four things that have helped her the most are: a consistent predictable schedule, a better understanding of her body language, building our confidence, and having another dog companion. Routines are great because the more she can predict her day the less anxiety she has. Learning to read her body language allows us to notice and correct when she is about to go over her threshold. She tries very hard to let us know she is scared or nervous, it just wasn't always obvious to us. If she feels that we are unaware she panics and that's when she gets growly. Ceana does not like when people or dogs are nervous. If they are nervous, about her or in general, then she thinks there must be something to be nervous about and goes into panic mode. If DH and I approach a situation with confidence in ourselves and in her she does a much better job. If we get nervous because we don't know what she'll do, she'll do something since she assumes that our nervousness warrants something to be scared of. finally, for her, life is much easier when she can defer to someone else. She defers to us and her confident pack mate Poke. She relaxes because she knows Poke handles the dog things. He made a world of difference in her life.

 

As I said before, these are things that worked for us and may not work for everyone. I am finally at peace with the fact that she will never be normal. To be quite honest volunteering in rescue has made me thankful that we are the people who have her. I have no doubts that if she wound up in many other situations she would have been put down. We have given up our frustration (so very hard and there was so much frustration) and just enjoy her for the love she gives us and try and learn everything that we can from her. I hope that helps.

 

Hello, and thanks for the response! Yes, what you are describing in your dog also describes the personality 'issues' of our dog as well. So glad that WE have him instead of someone else. I hate to think of the pups that came from this breeder that don't have someone like us to take care of them. I fear they have had a horrible life and horrible ending.

We thought about getting him a doggie brother/sister, but were unsure about how he would react. When he was a baby we had an OLD barn dog and he did okay w/her, but her being elderly-well she didn't exactly care for him. She passed away before he was a year old and he's not been around other dogs since as he is our only one.

Thanks for the input, and have a great day!

J.

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Hi there, and welcome to the boards. :)

 

Your situation reminds me of a friend of mine, who bought an Aussie with some spooky temperament issues. That breeder was also one who'd been in the business for years, but unfortunately, long-time breeders aren't always ethical or conscientious breeders.

 

As with you, my friend found out her young dog has aggression problems that stem from a temperamentally-unsound mother. (Why DO these people continue breeding bitches or dogs they know are unstable? Argh.) This little female turned out to be rather scary in that her triggers were unexpected. She's sweet and loving to be around, but if something trips her stress-trigger - she goes into a sort of "frenzy" mode and bites people.

 

But my friend managed to work with the pup, and now understands her glitches and circumvents her triggers. The dog will never be "safe" ... but kept home on the farm and watched (or put up) when people come over, she can live a good life.

 

Sometimes I think that's the best you can do. When the wiring in their brains is messed up from birth, about all we can do is learn to manage the situation and help the dog live a comfortable, contented life.

 

Best of luck with your furry friend. It's tragic when a breeder's indiscretion leads to a problems a dog can't ever fully overcome.

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

P.S.

One of the litter mates to my friend's dog was put down, on account of its aggression issues. So, your dog is *very* lucky to have someone as savvy as you.

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Jean Donaldson reported on an interesting study done a couple of years ago. Mind you, it only was done on two bitches and two litters of puppies, but it is interesting.

 

A fearful bitch and a normal bitch were both bred. At birth the litters were switched. The hypothesis was that the normal pups would become fearful from being raised with the fearful bitch and the pups born of the fearful bitch would be "normal" due to being raised by the normal bitch. This didn't happen.

 

THe normal puppies showed more and more fearful responses as they got older (nurture) and the fearful puppies were fearful from the get go and didn't improve.

 

Upon studying and testing both litters it was determined that chemical changes had been created in utero in the puppies born of the fearful bitch.

 

As a lot of us know, when there is a "fearfull" or "agressive" response in a dog, chemical changes happen in the brain. It can take up to a week for the brain to go back to its normal state. Each time the fearful bitch had a fear reaction while pregnant, the developing puppies were flooded by the chemical changes in the bitch, resulting in permanent chemical changes in those puppies brains. Therefore, those puppies were born to be fearful, and no amount of nurturing, or behaviour modification could change them, although their fear responses were modified to some extent.

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The Florida Lupine (Russian Fox Study)study shows us that you can select for less fearful dogs. So it would follow that a fearful bitch would produce fearful pups.

 

While much can be done with excellent socialization and upbringing, few people have the time, knowledge or opportunities to take an innately fearful pup and turn it into a friendly outgoing dog (Sorry Dr.Dunbar :( )

 

Unless this sort bitch has outstanding working ability with livestock that cannot be found in another bitch, I honestly think she should not be bred.

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Jean Donaldson reported on an interesting study done a couple of years ago. Mind you, it only was done on two bitches and two litters of puppies, but it is interesting.

 

A fearful bitch and a normal bitch were both bred. At birth the litters were switched. The hypothesis was that the normal pups would become fearful from being raised with the fearful bitch and the pups born of the fearful bitch would be "normal" due to being raised by the normal bitch. This didn't happen.

 

THe normal puppies showed more and more fearful responses as they got older (nurture) and the fearful puppies were fearful from the get go and didn't improve.

 

That is extremely interesting!

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