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For the past 6 months I've been repeatedly asked by a "kind of" relative about her friends issue with her border collie. First it was, she just got one from a breeder and the owner has knee problems, what does she do with it. Answer: take an obedience class, buy some running shoes, and commit to a lot of learning..

Now the dog is 8 months and this older lady who can't walk her dog due to knee problems and wants to know what to do with her untrained out of control dog named, funnily enough Rocket. Can she fence it in so it can exercise itself? Will I train her dog free and help pay for a fence? Ha! My answer was: border collies can jump 6 ft fences and a fence will do no good unless you've trained the dog. There are not easy solutions, If you don't want to commit to training the dog then you don't need the dog. I don't drive across the state to provide free dog training nor can I provide them with an easy solution.

 

What would you advise this person?

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I'd be advising the owner to take control of the situation, establish boundaries, demand self control and discipline.

 

I've not seen many in our area that don't have any of the above after spending time at obedience classes, unless they already had it before attending.

 

 

ETA: I've had dogs brought up here with owners looking for help that have been dismissed and banned from obedience classes due to lacking self control and discipline. The change has to happen in the mind of the owner before the dog changes.

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I agree with Debbie. The owner has to be 100% dedicated to teaching the dog first. If the owner isn't committed, then there is no point.

 

If this person can't offer the dog (any dog) enough mental and physical activity/stimulation, then they should reconsider having a dog.

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Wow, pretty nervy of them to expect you to fund a fence for THEIR dog! And free training? Crazy!

 

That said, I do think sometimes people are just a little lost at where to start. Dozens of different trying methods, some do more harm than good--owner realizes they aren't good enough at understanding canine communication to train intuitively themselves, but doesn't know where to find solid resources.

 

If the owner really is willing to work but just needs a little confidence boost and point in the right direction, maybe you can recommend a trainer or obedience class in their area that uses solid techniques. Possibly point the owner to some excellent training books or an agility group in their area? Suggest training a very solid retrieval instinct and investing in a Chuck-It and lots of balls. (I too have knee issues and don't go running with the dog, but find other ways to exercise mind and body.) Suggest a few starting places, then the ball's in the owner's court as to what to do, but they have a little more grasp on where to start.

 

Some clueless people are stubbornly clueless and defiantly determined to stay that way. There are a few though that are just a overwhelmed, and like a flooded puppy they just "shut down" until things are broken down into manageable sized tasks.

 

Debbie's right though--the change has to happen in the owner's mind first. Does the owner have the necessary drive and discipline to make this work? It's hard to tell over the internet whether the owner's just looking for a quick fix and is one who will never change, or someone who really will rise to the occasion with a little direction to solid resources.

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If she is one of those stubbornly clueless people, I'd advise her to find the dog a new home. Help her place the dog, if possible, but she needs to know that a border collie's idea of "exercising itself" is likely to be tremendously damaging to property and/or itself. She has to realize that the border collie's mind is at least as active as its body, and its idea of self-entertainment may involve destroying property and/or putting itself in the vet hospital. If she doesn't understand that and wants a pill (or fence) to fix it all better, she doesn't need to have a dog. Or at least not that breed.

 

I know I sound blunt, but I've grown impatient for people who look for miracle cures that don't involve their active participation. The dogs suffer for their lack of incentive, and that hurts my heart.

 

Good luck with all that. I know it's a tough situation.

Regards,

 

Gloria

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Well I have knee issues (on prescription meds to help) and back issues and I manage to work with my dogs. I also play flyball with them. The knee issue is an excuse to not train her dog.

 

Exercise and building muscle is the best way to help bad knees. I know many folks with true handicaps that manage to train their dogs and compete is different activities. We have one lady on our club that is relatively young who has a pacemaker, paralyzed lower leg, metal rod in her back and some other issues plus works full time, runs a horse barn (and breeding high quality horses) and she finds time and stamina to train her dogs and compete in flyball.

 

Personally, I would recommend that this person rehome the dog or get off their butt and spend the time on the dog that the dog deserves.

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What would you advise this person?

 

I would offer suggestions for lower cost fencing options, explain the need for training and quality daily interaction with the dog and that a fence alone would not be a solution, and recommend a nearby trainer (if possible).

 

I don't see what else you can do.

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An aquaintence thinking about adopting a Border Collie once asked me this question:

"With a family, job, foster, two hour commute, etc, how do you find time to exercise and train Cerb?"

My reply: "You make it or you don't get a dog."

 

I have a bad back and walk with a pronounced limp and I'm still out there every day for 45 - 90 m exercising and training Cerb. I also believe in "teachable moments" so I always have a pocket full of kibble to reinforce some natural behavior that bubbles to the top. He gets trained on walks. He gets trained when the TV's on...life is about learning.

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That makes me feel a bit better to know that others would do something similar. Sometimes I run into someone who wants solutions but then (like this lady here) tells me how they just can't do that either. After 6 months of asking advice I just want to scream and wonder why in the heck she got a dog anyway (also wonder how she managed to get a breeder to sell to her). Of course, I feel rather sorry for the dog who didn't chose their family and might be a phenomenal dog in another home. I hadn't thought about how bad knees might just be a cop out but it kind of is- I know someone in a wheelchair who does sports with their dogs and someone else is going in for her 3rd back surgery in under 2 yrs since she keeps breaking rods. Her dog gets walked 3 times a day for about 30 minutes a piece and I know it is an extremely painful condition- she's allergic to pain meds and can't take them anymore. So if she can walk dogs with rods broken in three spots then I'm sure knees shouldn't completely immobilize you.

Maybe I'm not nuts to wish that this lady comes back in another life as a puppy mill dog. :)

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I saw this first hand back home in Scotland. Some people get a Border Collie because "they are so smart".(Usually more than the owners actually). I was asked to train their dog while they sat around the house. That always made me so mad, because these dogs were fantastic, but the owners were lazy or didn't look into the care for which a Border Collie needs.

They don't have to be walked for 10 miles a day etc, but they do need mental stimulation and training. There are so many things you can train your dog to do, without going out your home or back yard. Teach the dog tricks etc. If the dog is bored, it will find its own amusement, and that is not a good thing.

If the owner is not willing to do any of that, I would advise passing the dog onto someone that will and getting a lap dog for company.

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I think the new Scottish nursery champ ran his dog from a wheelchair. Think I just read that somewhere. So, if there's truly a will, there's a way. If there ain't ... then they find excuses.

 

I feel for this poor dog. You're a saint to have been as patient as you are - but then we know you feel for the dog, too. :)

 

~ Gloria

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I have many relatives that get dogs and don't do anything with them, then expect them to behave perfectly. Rarely do they follow my advice.

 

I feel sorry for the poor dogs so if I happen to be around the dog, I will take 10-15 minutes to teach the dog sit or lay down (at the amazement of the dumb relatives who said the dog couldn't be trained). Usually the dogs are thrilled to be rewarded for it. Beyond that, giving simple advice and referring them to a good trainer or helping find the dog a new home is all you can do.

 

I've also suggested head collars an no-pull harnesses for those who claim they can't walk their out of control dog. Not quite as good as training the dog not to pull, but better than yanking on their neck constantly.

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I get those people at work, people with dogs who are out of control, they ask for advise..I give it to them..shocker, the advice involves work on THEIR part, and suddenly the exuses come out, and the "can you come over and train my dog?"'s, enough to drive ya crazy! I love the people who seem genuinly interested and willing to put in the effort when asking for help..but all effort stops at the "listening" part.

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I would suggest if you want to help this lady, then SPEAK TO HER DIRECTLY instead of using a third party as indicated in your first post.

 

It's awful nice the 3rd party wants to help, but how much of this information you're receiving is actually the 3rd party's input, and how much belongs to the owner? Until you hear directly from the owner, all this 'what should I do, I think you should do this' is just alot of preaching to the choir isn't it?

 

Nancy in Ontario

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I get those people at work, people with dogs who are out of control, they ask for advise..I give it to them..shocker, the advice involves work on THEIR part, and suddenly the exuses come out, and the "can you come over and train my dog?"'s, enough to drive ya crazy! I love the people who seem genuinly interested and willing to put in the effort when asking for help..but all effort stops at the "listening" part.

 

We have a young-ish couple from the UK that winter (they call it summer) in our neighborhood here in AZ. Their terrier is holy terror at the dog park, picking fights and biting for what seem to be small insults. They often watch me working with Cerb, and one day, by way of casual conversation, asked me if I would train their dog. I declined saying I was way too inexperienced (I am), but what I really meant to say was "the last thing I want to do is be your Victoria Stilwell". :angry:

Come to think of it, judging from their lifestyle, they could probably afford Victoria Stilwell....

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can a border collie really jump a 6 foot fence???

Well, when my pup was about five months old, he took a running leap, hit the top of the fence with his front legs, and clawed his way over the top and hightailed it aross the field after a flock of crows. I figured I'd seen the last of him, but he suddenly halted in the middle of the field then took a hard right and cannonballed into the pond -- the one thing Robin loves most in the world is water.

 

So, yes, they can scale a 6 foot fence, one way or the other, if they are determined.

 

Liz

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I think the new Scottish nursery champ ran his dog from a wheelchair. Think I just read that somewhere. So, if there's truly a will, there's a way. If there ain't ... then they find excuses.

 

I feel for this poor dog. You're a saint to have been as patient as you are - but then we know you feel for the dog, too. :)

 

~ Gloria

@ Gloria -- I am so happy to hear this...I believe I've seen this trialist run his dogs in past competitions on episodes of "Come Bye 2007" - the 2007 International Sheep Dog Trial Championships broadcast by Horse and Country and the International Sheep Dog Society, now available online. It is a wonderful viewing experience -- I've been watching the episodes all winter, thanks to a friend sent me the link :)

 

And yes, he is indeed very inspiring.

 

Liz

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Sounds like she needs a bassett hound instead of a BC. About the fence, my girl could climb a 5' fence when she was 10 wks. old. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen her do it with my own eyes! She climbed it just like a ladder. So, I lined the bottom of the fence with chicken wire so she couldn't get her paws in and she figured out how to shimmy up between the fence and a sappling that was several inches from the fence and got over that way! I knew then that agility would be our thing! :P

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Well I have knee issues (on prescription meds to help) and back issues and I manage to work with my dogs. I also play flyball with them. The knee issue is an excuse to not train her dog.

 

Exercise and building muscle is the best way to help bad knees. I know many folks with true handicaps that manage to train their dogs and compete is different activities. We have one lady on our club that is relatively young who has a pacemaker, paralyzed lower leg, metal rod in her back and some other issues plus works full time, runs a horse barn (and breeding high quality horses) and she finds time and stamina to train her dogs and compete in flyball.

 

Personally, I would recommend that this person rehome the dog or get off their butt and spend the time on the dog that the dog deserves.

 

Amen. A dog is a great motivator and helpmate. Anyone who has a health problem can only be improved by a sincere bonding relationship with the right dog for them. When I first met Robin, I was so weak that I could barely hold him, a two day old puppy, in my hand without help...I looked at him and thought, DH wants me to have you, but what AM I going to do with you? I got up and got going, one step at a time...and he healed me.

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We also have some people who play flyball: 1 has Muscular Dystrophy and is in a wheelchair. He can run some dogs in flyball but he normally does the other jobs. Then you have the Muscular Sclerosis ladies that play. How about those with heart conditions - I could go on and on... whether it is flyball, herding, agility or just taking a walk with your dog and training it, it is a benefit to all.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I have very little cartilage in my knees and walking is painful even when on meds. I have arthritis and bone spurs in my back. I have neuritis in my foot. My dogs may not be obedience dogs and have their own craziness but I would not give them up for anything.

 

I just don't like people using pain as an excuse. If her knees are that bad then maybe she could spend the time teaching the dogs to be a service dog helping her with things. I guess you could try that way of thinking - if you train the dog you can also teach it to help you...

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