Jump to content
BC Boards

Help with a puppy

Recommended Posts

I know many of you have had your dogs from pups and have seen them grow up. This is something I am really loving to be able to do with my collie Misha. I do have some questions though. I am not sure if they are breed-related, but maybe someone could give out some suggestions or pointers?



Misha is a really good dog......about 20% of the time. She has so much energy and drive that sometimes it's really hard just to run her down at all. We do try to wear her out all day but she seems agressive many times during the day. What is this? True aggression? Dominance? She nips and snaps at our feet, lunges at our faces and all out growls and snarls like a beast from hell. Being about 10 weeks, this is a little daunting. I mean, I've never really had a dog before. I want to do what I can to make her happy and bring her up well, but I wonder if I am doing something wrong. Are most border collies like that as puppies?


She's real good at going to the bathroom outside, but, at times, she will do something wrong just to do it wrong. She's a dog, I'm a human, got that. I swear this dog seems to think beyond me, though! She watches constantly and does whatever it is that pleases her. Which is fine many times, but there are things that by now she knows is off limits, but does them anyway (i.e. biting feet and hands, being on the couch, not wanting to sit before being fed). What really, is the best way to discipline a dog? Do you know when it's needed?


I feel strongly I have to get this right. I love my girl and I love this breed. I'll do what it takes and I really appreciate any help I can get! Thank you all.



With love,


Bri and Misha

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Number 1: Enroll in a puppy class, preferably where the trainer has border collies and understands them because you simply cannot train a bc the way you would a lab or a golden. BCs are far too smart and ADD for too many repetitions in a row. If you're not planning on working sheep (or even if you are) try clicker training with catching and free shaping to work her mind.


No 2: Make sure you have some down time during the day. It is vital that she learns how to settle down. Sometimes, I give my pups massages during our quiet times, other times I just put them in their crates, and still others I give them a food puzzle or a Kong to work their minds.


No. 3: Institute NILIF (nothing in life is free). Make her work for everything. For example, sit to put on the leash, sit and wait for food (if she tries to rush it, pick the bowl back up). You decide when it's time to play, not her. You are the human, so control the resources and don't let her have too much freedom around the house. She should be in the same room with you under direct supervision, or in her dog-safe area (ie blocked off kitchen, crate, pen, etc.)


No. 4: If she gets too rowdy, it's okay to give her a time out (only about a minute or so) to give her a chance to calm down and then resume play or life as the case may be, just don't over do it. When she bites hard, give a sharp yelp. Try to target just the hard bites and let the others slide for now because you want her to learn to have a soft mouth. You can go back and target the other ones later when she figures out jaw pressure. If she keeps coming after the yelp, you may want to consider having her drag a line that you can pick up and either tie some place or lead her to her time out area. If the infraction is small, you can try giving a verbal correction or clap your hands to startle her out of it.


No. 5: Don't forget to tell her what a good girl she is when she's doing something right, even if you didn't tell her to do it. If you start paying more attention to her when she's doing something right, then she'll start doing correct things more often.


No. 6: Don't get emotional or stressed. My experience has been that dogs feed off that and it just winds them up further.


If you have time this Friday and a facebook account, the APDT is sponsoring a free chat Common Dog Behavior Problems (Barking, Digging, and more) at 4pm eastern where you can ask specific questions. I haven't attended one of their chats yet, but it looks promising. I also have a host of book I could recommend, but, since she's your first puppy, I strongly suggest a trainer over book.


This isn't all inclusive of everything you could do, but hopefully it'll give you a starting point.


Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second all of KelliePup's advice, particularly the bit about enrolling yours in puppy classes. Our new pup, Ace, is also 10 weeks old and he does that demon growl from time to time when he's playing. We make both dogs work for everything and it definitely helps. We're dealing with the lunging and nipping thing now, too, and I seem to remember Colby acting the same way when she was younger. It may be cute now, but it won't be when the dog is older, so make sure to try and limit that behavior as much as possible. Always redirect the attention if at all possible (i.e. work on some "sits" or other tricks when he's feeling rambunctious) If Ace jumps at my feet I usually stand still. That way, it ends the "game" he's trying to create. Same goes with biting/mouthing--if I'm playing with him and he starts that, I'll say "oops!" and stand up or walk away for a minute or so. I've found that taking him on a brisk walk tends to help tire him out. We work on heeling and sitting (wait!) at each corner.


A general note about BCs in general is that stimulating their minds is way more tiring for them than purely physical exercise. Of course, if you can combine mental and physical exercise, that's GOLD.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1.) The aggression - she's a baby. When she gets too tired, she doesn't know how to take herself off for a rest. As KelliePup said, you need to enforce rest. The variety of methods KP offered are very good as well.

2) Nipping at your heels, lunging at your feet - again, she's a baby. She's doing what a lot of puppies do until they're trained not to. A good puppy class will serve you and your girl very well.

3) Doing something wrong - she's learning boundaries. Are you sure your actions and responses are consistent? For example, do you let her jump up and rest her adorable little paws on your kneee sometimes and push her away others? Even if you're consistent, she's still got a very busy little puppy brain and is trying to figure out if the rules apply in this situation but not that situation.

4) Another vote for mental stimulation! Give her a food puzzle toy for part of her meals. Teaching her NILIF consistently will get her attention and wear out that brain, all at the same time.


Good luck!



Link to comment
Share on other sites


but, at times, she will do something wrong just to do it wrong. She's a dog, I'm a human, got that. I swear this dog seems to think beyond me, though! She watches constantly and does whatever it is that pleases her. Which is fine many times, but there are things that by now she knows is off limits, but does them anyway (i.e. biting feet and hands, being on the couch, not wanting to sit before being fed).


You make many assumptions. At 10 weeks old, she is not "doing something wrong just to do it wrong." She does NOT know these things are off limits yet -- she is doing them because she thinks they are fun and she finds them rewarding.


So you are a first time dog owner and you got a border collie puppy. Congratulations, you are in for loads of fun and LOADS of work. All puppies are a lot of work, but border collies are more so because you have to work their minds, not just their bodies. Often mental stimulation will wear them out more so than running for an hour. Get used to it, because it will always be this way.


You should absolutely enroll in a puppy socialization class as soon as possible. Then you can expect to continue on up the training ladder as she gets older so that you are able to (hopefully) stay a step ahead of her. It sounds like you got a very bold, strong-willed puppy ---- Not the best for a first time owner, but that's what you got and you are going to have to rise up to the challenge. In order to be successful, you are going to need a strong support network of trainers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All I would add is that you need to be patient and don't give up. It may take awhile to reinforce the behavours you want to see and weed out the ones you don't. As was noted by KelliePup you can not train most Border Collies like a lab or Golden. I know from experience as all my previous dogs were Goldens before Dex. We are still working on some bad habits with Dex and he is 2-1/2 now. Border Collies can also re-learn behaviours or re-assert old habits if you don't continue to reinforce what you expect from them. Socialization with other dogs and people (strangers) from a young age is also extremely important.


Stay the course and you will have a fantastic dog in the end. Best breed ever!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

You sound frustrated, but please take a big breath, count to 10, and enjoy your puppy! You have quite a challenge ahead of you since you are a first-time dog owner with a livewire BC puppy :D I see you are a new member here so spend some time reading previous posts on training. The previous posts have also been very good.


At 10 weeks old, how long have you had your pup? I hope she stayed with her mom and littermates until he was 8 weeks old to benefit from proper puppy socialization. If not, you will have to be careful to make sure she gets the correct socialization, in addition to training him.


A couple of comments:

Take the time to crate train your pup. Do not use it as a punishment. IMHO a dog should be comfortable in a crate.


Her nipping and biting are puppy play behavior and saying "ouch" in a high, squeaky voice should cause her to stop, at least for the second or two needed to distract towards another, more acceptable behavior. She would have learned this from playing with her littermates (if she was with them long enough).


On the other hand, don't forget she is a puppy, and like a small child, they can get exhausted and continue to pester you or engage in bad behavior, but they don't really know what they are doing. It is up to you to know if she is tired and just being cranky. I recently had a one year old rescue that would continue to play and pester everyone in the household and finally, when I put her in the TV room where she didn't have anything to pester, she conked out on the dog bed within 60 seconds.


Does she REALLY know that some things are off limits? And you say "at times, she will do something wrong just to do it wrong." Again, at only 10 weeks old, I doubt that she is that well trained. (That is not to say you are a bad trainer, just that she is such a young dog and they forget things.) It is your job to gently and positively continue to teach her how to be a well-mannered dog. Remember, it may take months to reliably teach some behaviors.


You also say ... "She watches constantly". Of course she does. Do not be disconcerted by her watching you. You are the center of her universe and she is trying her best to figure things out. :) Most animals (both prey (sheep, deer, etc.) and predator (dogs, cats, lions, etc.)) are excellent at understanding body language - because they do spend a majority of their time watching.. and watching. That is how they stay alive in the wild. Also they do not waste time engaging in verbal diarrhea like most of us humans. I am not doing a good job explaining, but I consider the ability to understand body language very special - and something many humans no longer understand how to do. Your pup is only doing what her dog instincts tell her is the best way to understand her world. You can certainly use her focus on you as training opportunities..


Anyway, best of luck with your pup.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Brianna, Congrats on your new puppy! sounds just like my Pete was at that age. I struggled with him a lot, but boy, what a good dog his is now. A great book to read and follow is Ruff Love by Susan Garrett. It is all about positive training, while controlling your dogs environment so they can learn to make good choices. Highly recommend it. You will be glad you followed it. Also, agree with puppy class. Do some research, though and really try to get a clicker class. You and your border collie will be much, much happier. clicker training and shaping in general will really help to engage your puppy's mind. A border collie is the best dog there is, but if they are not properly trained and do not get plenty of mental and physical stimulation and get a job, they can be the worst dog in the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just want to say that you can do this!


I knew nothing about Border Collies, nothing about puppies, etc. when I raised the only one of my dogs that I raised from puppyhood (which is an incredible privilege!).


I managed to do it and looking back, there isn't really that much I would change if I had it to do over.


You will get some things right and you will make mistakes. That's fine. Experienced dog folks make mistakes, too.


Leslie McDevitt just released a "Control Unleashed Puppy" book and I highly recommend getting a copy. Although it is sold through a site that sells Agility books and materials, the book is equally appropriate for pet puppies and future sport puppies. You can find it on cleanrun.com in the "What's New" section. I believe they are going to ship next week.


I wish you the best!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...