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Can I handle this border collie?


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I joined the forum here because I really need some comments/advice (and maybe just to vent a little). I've had a 9 month old rescued border collie for about a month now and, to be honest, it hasn't been going too well.

 

 

For background:

My wife and I both work 8 hours slightly out-of-phase from each other, and I come home for lunch, meaning the dog spends two 3-hour periods alone during weekdays. We're both runners, but not horribly active outside aside from that (no hiking, mountain climbing, farming, country picnics). We live in a city with a small fenced back yard. We attend a dog obedience class once a week.

 

We spent the last 6 or so months planning and researching so we could rescue a puppy. The moment we arrived at the shelter we became 12-year-old children and forgot most of what we'd been planning. My wife fell in love with Sunny, said to be a german shepherd mix, and we brought her home. I was a little concerned that the German is a high-energy breed, but my sister had a german in an urban area and it worked out fine with plenty of walking. Of course Sunny has been verified by the vet and multiple trainers to be Border Collie, possibly with german mix, but Border Collie primarily.

 

She's a good dog overall, and I know that. She sleeps 4-out-of-5 nights without barking (though that 5th night she'll bark all night without tiring). She picks up on commands very quickly. She's only had a few accidents in the house. She's velcro-like and loves people. She hasn't destroyed anything of particular value.

 

 

The problem:

I'm just not sure we have the energy level for this dog. Right now I walk her morning, noon, and afternoon totaling about 2 hours. My wife plays fetch and tug with her when she gets home. The walks and playtime just aren't enough, she runs around the house like a mad-dog jumping from couch to table to chair (she's been taught not to get on the furniture). She's turning the back yard into a moonscape trying to dig out. She chases our 2 cats around the house. She's broken 1 crate, has started on a 2nd (metal btw), and has destroyed 2 blankets and a doggie bed. She's extremely jumpy and very nippy.

 

Whenever we stop her from doing these things (usually with a 'no' or a come/sit command) she'll whine and whine until she suddenly starts going again. This will go on and on and on until finally she'll collapse in her bed for 5 minutes, whining the whole time, then she'll go again. Alternatively she'll move from one bad behavior to another. If we stop her from chasing the cats, she'll immediately jump on the table, if we stop her from that she'll immediately start biting at the furniture, etc.

 

Training has been very hard. She knows the cues, she gets them very very quickly, but she ignores them a LOT. She not interested in treats and calm training or even games training like fetch, she's much more interested in running at full gallop or jumping and nipping.

 

She's very aggressive with other dogs. Not fighting, but very hard play, bites and pulls at ears, etc. It's nerve wracking and even the trainer, who is very used to dogs being rough, has expressed concern over how crazy she gets.

 

I know that some of this is puppy stuff. I know we can work hard on training for the jumping, for the biting, and things like that. I have to be honest though, I just don't think that the exercise she's getting is enough, and I don't know how much more we have to give. Spending 2-3 hours a day dedicated to nothing but trying to wear the dog out is about our limit when combined with work, sleep, chores, and (on a good day) an hour to sit down and read or watch TV. We're exhausted and frustrated, and I'm sure Sunny is frustrated too, she just wants to play more!

 

 

Will it get better?

As I said, we're both runners. The vet advised us to wait until 15 months to run with her. When we're able to take her it will be a bit of a 2-birds-1-stone situation where we can exercise her at the same time we get something we need to do out of the way. Will it be enough to tire her out though? Say an hour a day on average, will that make a significant dent in this energy level? My concern is that her frustration and acting-out comes also from hours spent, rather than just workout intensity.

 

Is some of this due to her age? I've read over and over again the border collies can stay puppies forever, but will there be any calming as she grows older and, if so, when will it come?

 

My biggest concern: Is this fair to her? Again, being 100% honest with myself, 2-3 hours of pure dog time is difficult to come by and I don't think I've got more to give. Of course she spends the day with us doing our chores and whatever else we're doing, but I'm talking about purely focused on wearing her out. Is this lifestyle going to be enough for a border collie? We didn't go into this with the idea that "yeah, we want a border collie," it just kind of happened, and I'm not sure this is a dog breed that just happens and then is happy/fits well.

 

 

Random Thoughts

To wrap up I wanted to mention a few things we've been working with. We've got lots of kong products, including the wobbler which dispenses food when she plays with it. That's how she gets her dinner and it uses up some of her energy. We stuff kongs and she'll play with those for a few minutes before getting bored. We have a laser pointer we use to try to bleed some energy.

 

We try to get her outside as much as possible but she's very skittish and scared of most noises, even the wind. She much prefers being inside which is tough because our house isn't big enough to really exercise her. Walks can be tough because sometimes she just doesn't want to go anymore, she just wants to go home.

 

My wife loves this dog, absolutely loves her, but is just as exhausted as I am and also doesn't have more time to give. She keeps saying she'll do more, she'll wear the dog out, but after a month its just not happening, we're just out of hours in the day.

 

She's getting bolder with the cats, and no command will get through to her while she's sited in on one of them. There's been one incident so far that drew blood (from the pup), and I'm concerned about it. She can be great with them, sometime's she'll just lie there and let them wander without a problem, but sometimes she just WANTS them and nothing is stopping her.

 

 

Thank you in advance for absolutely any advice you can give me. I feel awful that this pup isn't getting the attention and workout that she needs, and I really want to make things better. If nothing else, thank you for reading and letting me vent a little, it helps to talk about this stuff. Please don't hate me for being so unsure about this puppy.

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I think you're being very honest with yourselves and the forum about knowing your own limitations - thank you for that.

 

I got my adolescent BC at about 18 months or so. He thrived on one good, long, off-leash walk a day plus some small ones around the neighborhood. Once in a while he'd play with a neighbor's dog, but he started being alone 8 hours a day right off the bat. He had a lot of energy, but nothing like what you're describing.

 

What you're describing is outside my experience with any dog (pup or adult) I've ever owned. Had GS/husky mix in the past who had so much energy I'd walk 8 miles and she'd do huuuuge circles around me - but she would settle when she was back home.

 

Others who've owned dogs like yours may have more experience to share, but I think looking very critically at what you can give this dog is essential. If you can't make it work, better to know now and rehome the dog than end up with a crated, unhappy, stressed-out dog.

 

Mary

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My answer is probably not going to be the popular one.

 

First off, welcome to the boards! Glad you're here, sounds like you've got a handful going on there.

 

It sounds like you're doing everything you possibly can, from training, to entertaining, to trying to wear her out, to providing her with appropriate things to chew, etc. all to no avail. From what you're describing, the behavior sounds over the top -- even for the reputation Border Collies tend to have. I have a small pack of dogs, but even I am worn out reading your post!

 

I'd return her to the shelter. I also wouldn't write-off the Border Collie breed as a whole for yourselves either. This sounds like an issue with an individual dog, rather than a breed-specific issue that doesn't fit your lifestyle. I'd imagine the lifestyle you're describing would do great for another active dog, and Border Collies certainly make great pets and wonderful running partners (from what I'm told ... cause I don't run ... hahahaha). Where are you located? I'd venture to guess that there's a Border Collie rescue in your neighborhood that would be happy to help you find a dog that would fit right into your home.

 

Jodi

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Has anyone (trainer, etc) talked to you about working on an "off switch" with this dog? None of my border collies or fosters has been anything close to your dog. But I admit that I try to never allow my dogs to start needing that much exercise and work. They get it some days and love it but other days, like my finals week or the day before a test, they are expected to hang out in the house and just chill out.

 

You sound like you are going above and beyond for this dog. That is excellent!

 

Also, we would love to see a picture of your girl!

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Just a quick question: what are you feeding this pup?

It's a combination formula made up to 2 parts adrenalin, 1 part rocket fuel, several scoops of sugar, all mixed with redbull. :)

 

She came from the shelter with "chicken soup for the dog's soul" and we've kept on with that, the ingredients looked reasonable enough. I've talked about shifting her to Neutro but haven't done it yet.

 

Thanks for the replies so far. Jodi, I hate to say it but we've considered, seriously, bringing her back to the rescue. This forum post is really trying to find out if there's a light at the end of this tunnel. I'd feel horrible both for the pup and for my wife, not to mention feeling like I'd failed as a dog owner, but I also don't want to force this to 'work' if in reality no one is going to be happy in the end anyways. It's a last resort but it is, sadly, still on the table.

 

I can't tell if its physical exertion that's the problem or not. She seems to get "bored" with stuff, mentally more than physically. I could play fetch with her at our park here for far longer than she could sustain it and that would exhaust her well enough, but she won't play for more than a few minutes. Same with walking, after a time she'll whine and pull hard for home. Training is the same, after a short session she doesn't care anymore. Even when she's entertaining herself with a kong or other toy, she'll play for a few minutes then switch, then run to her water bowl, then back, over and over and over.

 

We want to bleed her energy but the things we try to do only work for a short time before she gets unhappy. She's clearly still hyper when she gets home, but she doesn't really want to do other stuff, she wants to chase and jump. We've tried clickers and treats when she fetches, etc, but she drops the food right out and ignores it when she's in these moods.

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I don't know if this will help or not, but it helps with my crazy dogs: Clicker training, shaping, teaching movie dog tricks. I think you need to get out of the mindset of servicing the dog so that she is sufficiently entertained and get her into the mindset of figuring out what you want. If, every time she has your attention, you are frantically trying to wear her out, then she gets into the state of always being hyper-excited around you. Also, after a certain point, exercise doesn't help calm a dog down - it just gets the dog in better shape with more endurance (God help you). Obedience classes aren't enough to drain her brain. I would really encourage you to look into shaping and clicker training and see if you can get out from behind the eight-ball with the dog.

 

Another thing is to pay close attention to how the dog gets your attention - if she lays quietly, do you ignore her while you watch tv, but if she chases a kitty she suddenly she has all your attention? Does she start chasing the kitty when it goes to get on your lap? One of mine started that because she knew if the cat sat on me, I would be boring for awhile. They can be very manipulative dogs, and it sounds like you girl may have already learned the misbehave for attention trick.

 

Another thing I do, which sounds weird and pointless, is massage my dogs. It can take a while for the dog to relax into it, but it teaches the dog a way to be calm and passively accept attention, and it's something you can do while watching tv and relaxing.

 

But, trying to exercise her into calmness will probably just turn you into a hamster on a treadmill. They need some exercise, of course, but even with sport collies, you shouldn't have to be spending your life trying to wear the dog out. Mostly they need attention and ways to be a "good dog."

 

Just my thoughts -

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I've had this puppy. She was a border collie mix - mixed with something hound-ish and a bit wild. She actually would go from piece of furniture to piece of furniture - all avoiding walking on the floor. She was a little monkey. She was wild, demanding, and I was a first time puppy owner. It was almost enough to drive me to the mad house.

 

You're giving her exercise. You're giving her mental stimulation. You're trying! Kudos to you.

 

Is she crate trained?

 

What I would do, after knowing that she's been exercised, and that her mind is worked... is put her in the crate for a small nap when she gets wild. She needs to learn that sometimes life is boring. Sometimes the dog has to go entertain itself. I'd even say she doesn't have to sleep - just chill.

 

You guys are giving her breaks during the day, and I wouldn't feel a bit guilty about a few crate breaks in the evenings too. I'm wondering, actually, if she might be a hair overstimulated.

 

I would begin to teach her that sometimes she needs to take a toy, and go lie down with it. If she won't lie down and entertain herself, then she can go to the crate with her toy.

 

Another alternative is to put her on a leash, and go sit down. Arm yourself with a clicker and treats, and as she starts to relax click and treat. If she acts silly just ignore it, or give a slight verbal correction, such as "no" or "ahht". Eventually shape it into her lying quietly at your feet. Eventually put that on a command, such as "go to bed".

 

Editing to add: I live in the city, with a small house and a small yard. It is ESSENTIAL to my lifestyle (and my sanity) that dogs learn to settle and relax. They don't always like it at first, but they usually get it pretty quickly. Some moreso than others. :)

 

Just a few thoughts. :)

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You know what the most exhausting thing you could do for this dog - mentally and physically - would be? Teach her to chill and lie still, and behave herself. It sounds to me like you're making her very physically fit and able to withstand all the physical demands you can toss at her. Guess what? The more you do it, the more she can go. Train calmness rather than movement.

 

ETA: i think Laura is saying the same thing, more constructively than me. :)

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Has anyone (trainer, etc) talked to you about working on an "off switch" with this dog?

I've heard myth and rumor, but I have no idea how to go about this. It would be wonderful though.

 

Also, after a certain point, exercise doesn't help calm a dog down - it just gets the dog in better shape with more endurance (God help you).

Believe me this thought has kept me up at nights weeping softly to myself.

 

Another thing is to pay close attention to how the dog gets your attention... it sounds like you girl may have already learned the misbehave for attention trick.

Yes! This is one of my biggest concerns, I'm positive that she's doing this intentionality. When she's seeking attention she'll jump on a counter or chase or bark/whine like mad. The problem is that I don't know how to deal with it. If she's on the counter or attacking a cat I can't ignore her, I need to stop her. Otherwise she gets to 'play' with the cat or eat food off the counter and has earned a 'reward' one way or the other, either from my attention or from the object in question. When she's calm, on those very rare occasions, I praise and pet as best I can every time and she likes it, but that hasn't made a dent yet. How can I not give attention when she's bad?

 

Another alternative is to put her on a leash, and go sit down. Arm yourself with a clicker and treats, and as she starts to relax click and treat.

A great idea. I've tried this a couple times but no consistently so I will work on it more often. The only problem I run into is that she gets bored with this eventually and wants more intense play.

 

They get it some days and love it but other days, like my finals week or the day before a test, they are expected to hang out in the house and just chill out.

I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that an expectation like this is realistic. This is exactly what I'm hoping to one day have with this pup. A couple weeks ago I had a deadline and had to work into the night at home. Would have been bad enough but the dog seeking attention at the same time made it one of the worst nights of my life, no exaggeration. Nearly quit my job the next day.

 

 

Overall, thank you so much to everyone for so many consistent comments that I don't need to spend more time exercising her. That alone has completely changed my attitude and day. The thought of spending my days moving from work to dog exercise to bed and then back to work with no break in between had me past the end of my rope, and the idea from several BC owners that this exercise regimen sounds sufficient is just new life for me.

 

To answer a couple questions, yes she's crate trained and that's where she resides during work hours. We're also working with the clicker extensively both in class and at home.

 

Please, any and all advice on this 'off-switch' or any way to train a dog to be calm, greatly appreciated. I'll definitely try the leash near the couch and the massage trick, see if they help.

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A great idea. I've tried this a couple times but no consistently so I will work on it more often. The only problem I run into is that she gets bored with this eventually and wants more intense play.

 

That's the point though. Sometimes... life is boring. Acting like a jerk isn't allowed just because you (the dog) are bored. Reinforce the "you will stay here and chill out" part of things. If she gets over the top still... put her in her crate. You may have to be very firm. You will definately need to be consistent.

 

Define the rules for yourself, figure out how you'll reinforce the rules, and then stick to them.

 

You CAN do this!

 

Please, any and all advice on this 'off-switch' or any way to train a dog to be calm, greatly appreciated. I'll definitely try the leash near the couch and the massage trick, see if they help.

 

These posts are already arming you with some tools for teaching this off-switch. It's basically about teaching the dog that there are times that it must go be quiet.

 

I have three typical tools for teaching the off switch -

 

1. Crate

2. Leash at my feet

3. Teaching a go to your place command (for my dogs it is a "go to bed" command, which means go lie down in your spot and be quiet).

 

Uh there's a fourth... the voice of doom that screams out "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS" but I wouldn't recommend that one. Usually it results in many dogs that hide under beds and won't come out. :lol: In all seriousness, I finally learned that putting a dog away before I got to that point was good for all of us.

 

Just remember - you are NOT helpless. You can still take control of this, and you and your dog can both be succesful!

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It sounds like you are exhausted.

 

Here is my take:

 

You have only had her one month, and shes overwhelmed and she is 9 months old. You don't really know what her life was like in the past 9 months and likely she is having a hard time figuring out what she should be doing. She may have had a great owner, but chances are her last home felt like you and being in a shelter and transitioning homes is hard, and its probably contributing to her overall bonkers-ness. Plus, shes a full-blown adolescent with zero impulse control and tons of energy and a brain thats hard to deal with.

 

Can she be trained and will she grow up and learn to be better? I would guess yes, but it won't happen overnight. It sounds like you are making the time for her and if we could focus that training time for you it might be better. You might also scale back on the exercise, or you will simply have a very fit bonkers dog. She needs to get tired by training her brain.

 

For your comparison, I have an 11 month old male. He has moments of sheer aggravating annoyingness but they are short lived. He gets an average of 10 minutes hard physical exercise (self driven) twice a day, and 30 minutes of training that may or may not include physical stuff, and thats enough for him. He can settle if asked and will redirect his energy to a bone or a Kong if directed. I have been programming this in since I got him at almost 5 months, so its had more time to stick.

 

I noted you said "trainer" but I think you would benefit from different professional help who has a lot of experience in 1 on 1 training of shelter dogs and/or adolescent herding breeds. Yes, she needs to learn self control and at her age its a rough road if shes never been asked to learn it before because her adolescent brain is full of hormones and other weird stuff. This is not to say she CAN'T learn, its just that its harder on her than other times in her life.

 

Where are you located geographically? Maybe we can find you a dog trainer who could help. I would recommend someone who has experience working with high energy herding dogs would would use a clicker and who would do individual lessons to start and then maybe join a small class. I think if you sign up for a big box store class she will be so overstimulated that it won;t go well and you would feel more overwhelmed.

 

Theresa book called "Control Unleashed" which is full of training exercises to teach these skills. Its really good stuff, but kind of poorly edited, so you could get it and read it but then maybe see if you can find someone who does these classes.

 

And all that said, if shes too much for you, then you may have to acknowledge that and see about finding someone to help you re-home her or return her to the shelter if you can't. But after only 1 month, I would bet things could get better. I know how it feels, I once re-homed a parrot because I had to acknowledge that after months of training that he did not work in our home and he was miserable and my husband was miserable. I felt really bad, cried for weeks, but hes now very happy living with another family and my husband no longer wears earplugs and gloves around the house.

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How long have you had her?

 

How old do the vets think she is?

 

What's does the obedience trainer think?

 

Other then mental stimulation and teachinh her calm behavior. What about trying a thunder shirt on her? It can take the edge off if she is working herself up.

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Welcome to the Boards! I want to echo what everyone is saying: you're going to heroic efforts for this dog. Kudos to you!

 

I agree that you're probably going past the point where more exercise would help. Impulse control and an off-switch are good to work toward. I think you've gotten some good suggestions for "off-switch". Impulse control is not something that comes naturally to adolescents - canine or human. If you keep working on the obedience training, you'll soon start to move beyond the mundane "sit", "lie down", "stay" phase and into the "duration, distance, and distraction" mode. When your dog will reliably lie down at a distance, and has a reliable recall, and you can take her on off-leash walks - exercise that impulse control by making her lie down even when she's DYING to race into the stream or to go chase that squirrel. Before that point work with her so that she knows she's not allowed to fetch that frisbee in your back yard until you've given her permission. Or that she's not allowed to break that "stay" just because you're bouncing a ball near her. Gradually she'll learn that there are limits in life and that she has to work within the constraints that you set.

 

How can I not give attention when she's bad?

 

 

If she's a velcro dog - putting her in a situation where what she most enjoys is denied her is a great start. I broke my Border collie pup of chasing the cat by grabbing him when it happened and locking him a bathroom. Just twenty seconds at a time, but he very soon learned that there are forms of attention he didn't relish.

 

Let us know how it goes! I'm going to cross my fingers and hope you soon see improvement.

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Jodi, yep. That's pretty much it (close enough). I sometimes start with shorter durations with younger dogs. Depending on the dog I will sometimes also slightly shape what I want in that I'll click and treat the first few times that the dog comes up with the idea of lying down, and then actually choses to lie down. With some dogs I'll shape it more actively. Most of the time, though, I just quietly let the dog just figure it out on it's own.

 

I would like to add, too, for the OP that this pup is awfully young, and some silliness is pretty normal. Also, a lot of this stuff will just work itself out. 8 months old is a tough age. :D

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My younger border collie/springer mix sounds a lot like your dog. The first time she walked into the house she ran up the stairs and jumped with all 4 feet smack in the middle of my dining room table *sigh*. The rescue told us that she was about 18mons old but she was probably around 8-10mons at the time. Her favorite game was to run from the kitchen, sail over the back of the couch that separated the rooms, run through the living room, box turn off the wall and jump back over the couch into the kitchen. She was a constant buzz of nerves and activity. She had absolutely no recall and couldn't focus on anything. She was a complusive thief that would eat everything she grabbed. She also had zero interest in toys so I couldn't even play fetch with her. Our only saving grace was that she was the most food motivated dog I've ever met.

 

The first month or two was the hardest for us. My husband stayed up late to walk her, I woke up at dawn to run her. We spent hours every night working on tricks and obedience and trying to get some peace. I finally started just crating her when I needed a break. She got a treat to chew on and I got some peace and quiet.

 

The one thing that finally made a difference was self control exercises. We worked on things like eye contact and focusing on us. We worked on leave it by starting with just getting her to stop digging at our hands and progressing to leaving food on the floor. She had specific rules such as sitting at all doors (coming or going), waiting for us on the steps, staying in the same room as us, going to a specific spot for her meals. Once we finally got some control we started obedience class.

 

Our breakthrough happened when we started her in flyball. The only toy that held any interest was a ball and being indoors helped her attention/concentration. She had to focus on a job and it has made a huge difference in her behavior at home. I explained to the team her attention issues and we just kept everything very very very short while I continued to work on her self control issues during down time in class. She is still impulsive and insane but she can usually hold it together for the 4.5secs it takes her to run the lane lol.

 

I still can't trust her and she is still all energy and nerves at almost 4 but we've all learned to adjust. We are by NO means athletes so I don't really run with her and we both work full time but with trick training, self control exercises, and recall practice every single day she is a much happier and calmer dog.

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I agree whole heartedly with what Laura (Carson Crazies) is saying. Great posts, Laura. I also want to stress that you've only had her a month, albeit, a very tiring month! It can take a rescue dog months to actually settle into a new home, routine, and have their true colors show. Underneath the whirling maniac, there may be a great dog waiting. :lol: I think it's admirable that you're thinking if you have what it takes to continue. None of us can answer that for you, but I can tell you with time and structure, it WILL get better. Giving her more and more exercise is not the answer, but as others have said, teaching her that there is a time and place to settle, is. Crate, crate, crate. Give her the exercise, mentally stimulate her with training, and then Kong in the crate. Think of an overtired toddler...that's how she's acting, and the more she works herself up, the more she needs a time out. We had to learn this with our BC mix when he was a pup. Otherwise, like clockwork, he'd get the 9:00 PM zoomies, usually while banking off the back of our couch. :D

 

I have a friend who, even while being BC experienced, was in no way prepared for what she ended up with in her BC puppy. Several times she talked to me in tears about sending him back to the breeder, she just couldn't handle it. Well, he's three now and for the last year and a half, they've been a match made in heaven and she wonders how she ever thought of sending him back.

 

My advice is give it more time, more structure and build that off switch. And soon she'll be old enough to start running with, and that will be a nice thing for all of you, too. Best wishes! (and yeah, where's the pictures?)

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There are a lot of good ideas here. Training for calmness and for looking at you will be so helpful. And as Diana (DemonPuppy) says, "Pay close attention to how the dog gets your attention." It sounds like the reward that matters more to your pup, over food or toys, is your attention and interaction. Think about how you can use that. I think it will help her a lot if she can learn to look to you for all good things and to refer to your leadership for reassurance when she is skittish outdoors, so I'll suggest you check into NILIF -- nothing in life is free -- for some inspiration too. Welcome aboard, and good luck!

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Ddraig, after reading everyone else's input, I am going to withdraw the comments I wrote in my first post. There's a lot of good information in this thread. I'd never thought of this: "If, every time she has your attention, you are frantically trying to wear her out, then she gets into the state of always being hyper-excited around you." I'd be interested to see how "sitting on the dog" ... or any of the other good training methods discussed here work for you and your wife. No matter what you decide ... please keep us posted.

 

Jodi

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FYI I would never consider flyball to help calm down an overly excited dog...

 

And my big requirment for looking for a useful trainer wouldn't be that they use a clicker...some of the best most well behaved dogs I know manners wise come from stockdog trainers where there is no clicker in sight...

 

Like Jodi said alot of people have some excellent suggestions. I would take into account that she is young but you should decide what YOU want...what expectations you have of her and have her meet them. Follow through and stay consistent through the months and as her young crazy brain settles down and catches up with her eventually...you'll see results :)

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I love how thoughtfully and honestly you are approaching the issue. I actually owned a German Shepherd/BC mix, Suzzi, until she developed cancer at nearly 10 and one day want another one. She was nothing I'd expected and oddly enough led me to loving border collies. Suzzi was a very hard dog for me because she never listened, killed amazingly large amounts of wildlife, came with behavioral & health issues from her previous home- all in all my parents didn't think a 16 yr old kid could handle her. Well, I was determined and I had a lot of time. I would perhaps think about it, maybe get advice from some positive dog trainers or CERTIFIED behaviorists in the area, and then maybe have a family meeting. It sounds like you're doing just about everything you can think of and I aplaud your efforts. I hope that you and your family are able to find the best way to help your dog and yourselves. :)

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We have a laser pointer we use to try to bleed some energy.

Not that this is the whole problem, but you might want to get rid of the laser pointer. In the "search" box at the top of the page, type in "laser pointer(s)" for some thoughts about this.

 

You came to the right place. Lots of good advice here. Good luck! I'll be watching for updates. :)

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LEt me echo what others have said:

1) I soooo appreciate your honesty, the depth of your fatigue, and your commitment to doing right by the dog.

2) YOu've got an adolescent of totally unknown background on your hands. She needs consistent limits and to learn to calm herself. If you've ever been around toddlers/young children, you'll have noticed how they can get wound up and overtired, but keep running around shrieking/having tantrums, etc. When they finally stop, they're out like lights. This is exactly what your girl is doing.

 

Other than the excellent advice you've already been offered, there a couple more things.

Don't use a clicker to mark calm behavior with this dog. A clicker probably jacks up her adrenalin higher. Try soft, soothing sounds - a drawn out caaaaaalm sound - as you reward her for laying quietly. If you need to feed treats, give her something she can get just a lick of, like meat paste from a jar lid. Keep the ambient noise/busyness way down when you work on this at first. Soft music, a white noise machine or air filter, singing a soft song, might all help.

Try a nose work class. It's done wonders for my Gibbs' comfort level with new people and new situations, and he loves it. It's a simple thing that you can do anywhere with very little 'stuff' to carry around.

 

Please let us know how you do! And pictures are darn near a requirement if you visit again.

 

Good luck!

 

Ruth

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Is getting her a canine friend absolutely out of the question? Maybe a dog who's a little bit older - young enough that it still likes to play but NOT an adolescent?

 

I'm just thinking that you're spending way too much time on this dog. And if she had some outlet other than you and your wife, everybody might be happier.

 

My Faith was a lot like your girl. My avatar is her baby picture. Looks like a little sweetheart, right? Yeah. <_< I haven't even been tempted to get a puppy since. :P But take heart - after spending two years wanting to kill her on a regular basis she one day morphed into the best dog on the farm. There's hope! B)

 

Anyway, I brought Faith to a Jack Knox clinic once, when she was a little older than your girl. And he told me I was the one making her so crazy. :blink: You know how? I was forgetting the cardinal rule of dogtraining (and, actually, of a happy marriage as well): Ignore behavior you don't want to see more of.

 

So I stopped paying her so much attention. I got her a dog friend (a large indestructible LGD/BC cross between two and three years of age with the disposition of a saint). I made sure the two of them spent plenty of time outdoors in their fenced yard every day. And other than that - I didn't do much. Fed and watered her, made sure she could do the basic obedience commands: here, sit, lie down, but other than that? I pretty much ignored her. She was allowed to lie down or sit near me if she wanted, but pestering got her put outside or crated. About a year later - presto! The perfect dog appeared. :D

 

Two things:

you do need to stop her getting after the cats. The instant she crosses the line with them (in my case, Faith was allowed to touch but chasing, or assertive play was out of bounds), I calmly put her in her crate. Just for five minutes. Then rinse repeat as necessary. Be calm, though - any reaction on your part is just feeding the fire.

 

And lose the laser pointer. :) I know you don't know this yet, but border collies are susceptible to the weirdest obsessions, and many involve light and shadow. You don't want to go anywhere near there with your girl.

 

And good for you for not giving up on her!

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