Jump to content
BC Boards

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone, I'm new here -- but have been reading for a few weeks. There is such a wealth of information in these archives.

 

I just recently brought home a 9 week-old Border Collie puppy. He's a wonderful pup, adjusted well, seems to be learning quickly. Obviously, he's just a baby so some lapse is going to be permissible at this point, but I've noticed a trend with him and would like to nip it in the bud sooner, rather than later if possible. He listens well... when I have his attention, but he tends to hyper-focus on other things at times and getting his attention then is darn near impossible. I've tried all the old standbys -- clapping my hands, whistling, snapping, smooching, shouting, tossing something in his direction -- all to no avail. I'm just wondering if you all have any tips that work particularly well with Collies?

 

Thus far I'm just going to him and physically removing him or redirecting him, and I'm happy to do that -- some of that is expected with any pup, of course -- but I guess I'm just kind of seeing this as perhaps a personality trait and if he's going to be useful I need to be able get his attention from a distance. I don't want it to become a habit of his to ignore me until I come physically remove him from the situation when he finds something interesting.

 

Or maybe I'm off base entirely and it's just a Collie puppy thing? Or he's still just a little too young to worry about it? It has, admittedly, been a good several years since we've had a pup in the family and this is our first collie. I just don't ever remember the attention issue to this extent with any other dog... I could be forgetting though.

 

Any tips or advice appreciated. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the boards.

 

Sounds like you a normal puppy. They tend to have the attention span of a pea. You are doing the right thing. You may try adding a high value treat..getting down when you call him and call in a really high puppy-puppy voice.

 

Another thing you can go to him get real excited and run seeing if he will chase you. Then stop and hug and praise and reward. At this stage of the game you have got to make yourself more interesting then anything else around.

 

If your neighbors start thinkiing you lost your mind you are on the right track.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, at that age motion tends to get their attention. A high pitched, "puppy, puppy, puppy!" perhaps combined with some clapping as you run in the opposite direction tends to do the trick. When they follow you, reward with a toy or tasty treat to help build the value of the recall.

 

If he's of the uber-independent variety, it wouldn't hurt to keep a long line attached to him to reel him in if he's totally blowing you off. Then reward. Bottom line is to not let him develop the habit of ignoring you.

 

In my experience most puppies are super turned on by the chase me game until they hit about four to five months old and discover that the world is pretty interesting. But if you work hard to reinforce the game when they are young you can generally work through that stage.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the welcome! Luckily, we're in the country with no close neighbors so I can be extra crazy without judgement. :lol:

 

That's the thing though, a week ago I could have agreed with you -- he had an attention span the size of a pea -- but that doesn't seem to be an issue now. In the past week his attention span seems to have grown just as fast as his physical stature and, dare I say, the issue is actually too much attention span? :blink: Or rather too ... rich... an attention span? Deep? Focused?

 

I'm not sure I'm finding the right words here.

 

When he finds something interesting it's like the whole world disappears and it's just him and The Interesting Thing. I have honestly thought to myself, "Is he DEAF?" He's not. When he's not fixated on something he can hear, and responds just fine. I mean, when he's hyper-focused, I have literally clapped my hands right next to his head and he acts like it's not even there. Not a twitch of the ear, absolutely no reaction whatsoever. I have called in every tone of voice humanly possible, used treats, his favorite toys, done it standing, squatting, kneeling, laying, jumping, dancing, waving my hands around like a lunatic... nothing.

 

I have put toys and treats in front of his face and he will go around/under/over to get at whatever he was doing, without even acknowledging that toy/treat/my hand is there other than the fact that he changed his path to whatever it was he was doing slightly to avoid my block.

 

If the things he finds interesting made any sense it would be easier, as I could predict the hyper-focus coming and head it off... but at his point it can be anything, a dandelion, a stick, no apparent rhyme or reason.

 

Any other time he is happy to be with us, wants to please, a normal, happy go lucky puppy in every way. He naps at my feet, walks right with me on fence checks, plays tug-o-war with abandon, loves ear scratches and belly rubs...

 

The long lead sounds like a good idea. Definitely don't want it to become a habit. And yes, he's pretty independent and very precocious.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If he has certain triggers that you are familiar with, try to monitor the environment to get his attention before he latches on. Easier said than done, I know. There should be signs that he is starting to go into that hyper-focused mode, though, and as you become more in tune to this it will be easier to ward off.

 

It should go without saying that this is a dog to NEVER introduce to a laser light. :blink::lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, I'll keep watching. So far it seems like it starts like any other play, but I'll keep watching. Of course this is a puppy who doesn't even have a warning sign that he's going to pee, just runs along and squats mid-gait. :rolleyes::lol:

 

 

And no worries there. The only lasers in this house are on gun sights and we don't make it a habit of playing with those.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

 

If your neighbors start thinking you lost your mind you are on the right track.

 

 

:lol: :lol:

 

That is so gonna be my dog training mantra from now on!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on your new puppy!

 

I know you can not always be in a distraction-free zone, but try and do as much training as possible in an area of no/low distractions in increase his focus on you and to increase the success rate. Outside may be too much for him now. When you do go outside, the idea of keeping a long line on him is a good one. You have to break that focus somehow. And training sessions should be short, short, short -- maybe 1-2 minutes, then release to play - multiple times per day. Is he getting hyper-focused after you have been training for a bit or at the beginning of a session or is it hard to predict? If he is turning his focus away from you at 2 minutes into a training session (for example), then only train for one minute. Try not to build any bad habits now. You can lengthen the training sessions as he grows older and can focus on you more, but 9 weeks old is still really, really young.

 

Chase games -- yes, yes, yes.

 

Another thing you can go to him get real excited and run seeing if he will chase you. Then stop and hug and praise and reward. At this stage of the game you have got to make yourself more interesting then anything else around.

 

At this stage of the game and for a long time to come :) Count on being creative in trying to figure out how to be more interesting than other distractions. This is one reason why we have to be smarter than a BC. :D

 

Jovi

Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on your new puppy!

 

Is he getting hyper-focused after you have been training for a bit or at the beginning of a session or is it hard to predict?

 

Thanks, Jovi.

 

It actually tends to be during free-time, when he's running around playing in the yard or house. And because he doesn't seem to have a specific trigger, just tends to find random things that capture his fascination it's hard to predict. So it's not so much keeping his attention, as getting it. Once I've got his attention he's very good about listening.

 

I haven't really been doing any set training sessions with him of any sort. I tend to be a work-it-into-our-day sort of trainer for the basics. For instance, if I'm cleaning up the kitchen and he's there with me and real keen on what I'm doing I'll just give him a quick "sit", put him in position, praise and then go back to what I'm doing. If he's still real intent on me a few minutes later I'll repeat, but don't force it. He seems to be responding well to that so far. I did notice the one time I did "sit" with him a few times -- I think three, maybe four -- in a row he lost interest real quick and went off to find something else to do. Whereas if I do something just once or maybe twice he will stay right with me and remain interested in what I'm up to.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like you are on the right track. I don 't like to do ridge obedience with puppys.. Just manners. Also whenever you call her always play and treat then release her to go back to doing whatever she was. You don't won't her to think that coming means the end of her fun..If you need to take her in or do something to her (like trim nails) go to her.

 

Most of all enjoy your puppy..don't sweat things..accidents, chewing, "deafness" , fear, are all part of puppy hood.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a Border Collie thing, but you need to start training him NOW that he must listen to you no matter what. Trust me, he can hear you just fine and is aware that you are trying to get his attention, but the object of his focus is much more interesting. He is choosing to ignore you. If you don't fix this bad habit now you will end up with an adult that blows off your commands if there is something interesting to investigate, chase, watch or play with. This is how Border Collies get hit by cars when they go to chase them and blow off their owners commands to stop or come back. If your future goal is stock work, this will translate into a dog that blows off your commands and views you as a hindrance to his fun rather than a working partner.

 

Put him on a long line and practice calling him off the fascinating objects. You can use your recall command (here) or a that'll do if you are the process of playing a game with a toy. Say the command and reel in the pup if he doesn't run back to you, praising when he gets to you if he comes willingly for at least he last few feet. If he did not come willingly at all, take him farther away from the object and practice a recall several times before letting him anywhere near it.

 

Make sure he knows that listening is not an option. If he doesn't choose to come, you will make him. If he obeys and runs back instantly, give lots of praise and toss the toy as a reward. Let him know that you control the rules of the games. If he follows those rules he can keep playing. If he blows you off the game ends. Obedience earns freedom and fun. Disobedience results in freedoms being lost and games ending.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Liz - Thank you! What you described is precisely what I was worried about. Good to know it's a Border Collie thing and I'm not expecting too much of him at this age. I'll start taking him out on the long line and reeling him in when he's not paying attention.

 

Let me see what I can do about a picture or two....

Link to post
Share on other sites

I took him out on the long line today. He improved immensely on response to his name, perking up and paying attention almost every time I called it without needing to be reminded. He did really well on "here" the first few times, too. And then he didn't come once so I reeled him in, seemed to work well enough. Let him back to playing, called him again... he started to come and then it's like a lightbulb went off in his head, he grabbed the lead in his mouth and started running backwards. A couple more rounds of having to reel him in and he's now convinced that "here!" means, "grab the lead and play tug". :blink:

 

One step forward, two steps back? :unsure:

Link to post
Share on other sites

The number one thing I teach all my puppies is that the leash does not belong in your mouth. Many years ago a friend of mine had a puppy that would grab its leash and carry it every time she took it for a walk, mouthing it the whole time. We thought it was so cute. One day her dog lunged at a cat, snapped the weakened spot on the leash, ran into the road, and was hit and killed by a car, all in a split second. Suddenly, it wasn't a cute little habit anymore. Ever since, I have had a no leashes in the mouth policy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree completely with Liz. Border collies are smart. If they learn that they have an option of not paying attention to you as a puppy, it'll only get worse as they get older. They learn bad habits just as quickly and easily as they learn desirable behaviors.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree completely with Liz. Border collies are smart. If they learn that they have an option of not paying attention to you as a puppy, it'll only get worse as they get older. They learn bad habits just as quickly and easily as they learn desirable behaviors.

 

Hell to the yes on this. I have an adult BC who thinks paying attention is optional. We did not get him until he was 9-10 months old, so he learned the behavior young and it's not easy to fix.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all. He came outside off leash while we were playing football in the yard last night (after the long line tug incident) and his recall was actually much improved, he came running every time, even when he was occupied with something so perhaps he did learn a little something from our session. I also have some liver from last fall's steer thawing in the fridge to use for some high-value treating.

Link to post
Share on other sites

He is SO cute, oh my gosh, I want to steal him from you. :wub:

The first picture he looks like he is smiling and the second one is just adorable.

 

Ahhh, puppies <3

Link to post
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.

Guest
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...