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aprilrussell

New to BCs, help me get started

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My family recently adopted a young Border Collie who came to us as a stray. My husband was quite nervous about taking on a new dog, especially considering we have a 1-year-old daughter who I stay home with. I assured him that I would be able to care for and properly train our new dog, Archer.
So...we've had Archer now for about 3 weeks. He exhibits pretty normal puppy behavior (he's just under a year old) - chewing, has some potty training accidents, nipping, etc.

I'm hoping that someone more experienced with BCs than myself can offer some advice on proper training as well as what to expect from our dog.
I began some basic obedience training (heel, sit, come, stay) and I'm seeing some progress. However, if he is the least bit distracted he does not come when I call him. In fact, if he is off leash outside he will completely ignore me, which means we've had to chase him through the neighborhood a few times.

I have two young nephews who get rowdy, and if they run he chases after them and nips them. I know that is pretty common behavior for BCs but how do I keep it under control? How do I teach him not to herd children or other dogs?
How can I train him to come to me when I call him, even when he is distracted by other dogs or people, etc?
And most importantly, what is the best way to keep him occupied so that he doesn't try to escape constantly? He no longer dashes out of the house every time the door opens but I'm worried about him getting out of the yard. I walk him at least twice a day and practice our obedience training several times a week, with lots of playing inside during the day. But I cannot trust him off-leash outside AT ALL. Will that ever change?
We are getting a new house and are planning on building a 6-foot privacy fence. Could he climb that? Should we build a pen for him? Do BCs dig out from under fences?

I hope someone has some advice for me. I don't want this guy to get away from us and end up getting hit by a car, and I don't want to give up on him as we have become VERY attached to each other. But I need some reassurance that he will become better behaved.

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yes, set your dog up for success. tie the dog to you around the house. this will allow you to monitor him at all times. he will be unable to ignore your requests to come. he will be able to give you signals that he has to go out (and not hide behind the couch to poop!) he will be unable to chase children if attached to you without you chasing them also. use this method outside for now also. the dog should not learn that he can blow you off for a romp. generous treating is highly recommended. some people believe that a dog does not need to be treated, that he should do all these things out of the goodness of his heart and his "love" for you. horsefeathers! I consider treating a dog during training payment for the work he is doing. you can let up a bit after awhile, but getting paid is always better than not!

if you can not monitor the dog at a given time, put him in a crate. make it a happy, good occasion. treats and toys available only in the crate. this is not a punishment. it is a mental break for both of you and a safe haven for your dog. he can do very little wrong in the crate!.

i'm sure others will chime in with more helpful tips.

good luck and thanks for taking this lucky pup in!

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Archer is darling! The nipping and not coming have to stop, because he has the potential to be a wonderful companion for little boys, as well as you. My suggestion would be to look around for group classes, so that Archer can learn and practice in a very distracting environment, and you can get feedback from people who are seeing him in person. Our local SPCA & Humane Society offers classes year round, and they are not very expensive. I think (and hope) that many local shelters may do the same.

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Jescano is spot on. Coming back to you has to be the best thing *ever*!!! Practicing recalls is like practicing any other trick/command, you really have to be able to follow through (a long line will be a useful tool). It's also not a bad idea to practice recalls in low distraction environments to begin with. Make it a SUPER FUN hide and seek style game in the house, then maybe move that game to the yard. Try doing many recalls while you are playing or on a walk. Have him come to you, get lots of treats/loving/a toy and then let him go back to what he was doing. You don't ever want him to associate coming to you with the fun coming to an end (i.e. going inside, leaving the park, etc.).

 

Something else I did (since I wanted "come" to be bomb-proof) was teach several other commands that required my dog to come back to me. One example is, I'll say "right here" and put my open hand out. When he touches his nose to my hand he gets treats and praise. He will run, full speed, across a large field when he sees me put out my hand and yell "right here!!!". It's basically just another recall, but I can use that in a tough spot if I don't think he'll respond to "come". I never call my dog to "come" unless I'm absolutely sure he WILL do it or that I can follow through with it (and, I'll be honest, he's still foiled me a few times). :/

 

I wish I could offer some advice on nipping, but I've not really had any experience with that...

 

Also, i just wanted to say, you've only had Archer for three weeks. It sounds like you are doing a great job (and what an angel you are for rescuing him)!! In my experience, these dogs *crave* structure. Keep up the training, the exercise, the daily routine and things will only get better. The more you make yourself the best thing in this dogs world, the less you'll have to worry about him going too far off. :) Good luck and enjoy your handsome pup!

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I have two young nephews who get rowdy, and if they run he chases after them and nips them. I know that is pretty common behavior for BCs but how do I keep it under control? How do I teach him not to herd children or other dogs?

 

 

First train the kids not to run around wildly and wind him up. It isn't fair to expect him to exercise self control if they are setting him up to chase them.

 

As others have said, set him up to succeed, not fail.

 

Get the kids to work with him and train him to do things. It should be a lot more satisfying to them in the long run.

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Every time your dog is given the chance to disobey, he will learn that he can. Don't let this happen. As others have said, use a long line and make SURE you enforce the recall command. Reel him in like a fish if he doesn't take a command. If he does obey, praise and reward. The reward can be another toss of the ball or another few minutes of play. It doesn't have to be food.

 

Is your back yard at your current house fenced? It's not hard to put one up with materials from the local feed store or home improvement store. If it is and he is jumping, can you make the fence higher? How about one of these kits to fence the yard or make the current fence taller. Many a Border Collie can jump a 6 foot fence. In fact, 10 feet is a piece of cake for some. You might do fine with a 6 ft fence if you have a section on top that angles in. For the time being, he should never be off leash unless securely contained by a fence.

 

In general, Border Collies don't like to be left alone in the yard. They are extremely social dogs.

 

Nipping is something that should be resolved in tiny pups, within the first few weeks of owning them (by about 10 weeks old). Not your fault since you just adopted him, but now you have to teach him it's not acceptable. For now, the kids should not be running with him loose. You should have him on a leash and praise for calm behavior. Practice obedience while the kids are running and playing (sit, down, here, stay, etc) with Archer on a leash or line. Eventually you will transition to him being loose (in a fenced yard). The second he considers going into chase/nip mode, he needs to be told to lie down and stay to calm down. You can recognize this by body language. Generally Border Collies will freeze, become tense, stare and crouch before they chase/nip. Correcting him after he nips is too late. You need to correct him when he is just thinking about doing it. If you can't prevent the nipping, you may never be able to let him stay loose while the kids play. Border Collies are very motion sensitive and some will never be trustworthy around kids.

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I agree with what the others have said. I have went one step further as I also train obedience. We do a drop on recall. Which if you don't know is when calling the dog to you some place before it gets back to you I say down and she lays down, then I call her to me again.

I have used this mostly when the neighbors dogs start running the fence and she is focused on chasing them. It brakes her focus on the other dogs and she will drop and puts her focus back on me. Then I call her to me. This really came in handy when we were playing ball and she was running full out and a car showed up where it shouldn't be. I yelled down and she dropped where she was. Definitely stopped and accident. We practice random drops while walking, in the house, even while playing. Praise and treats. good luck and have fun.

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Thanks for all the wonderful tips! I definitely have to get better about using praise and treats! It can get so frustrating when I feel like all I do all day long is tell the baby or the dog NOT to do something. I appreciate your comments, as I tend to get a little discouraged if I don't see improvement right away. But it's good to know that I'm doing at least something right, and if I'm consistent his behavior will improve.

I am still learning how different BCs are from other dogs, too. He is just so smart and a simple "no" rarely does the trick with him. I am looking into obedience classes in town, though we live in a small town and the options are limited.

Hopefully I can learn to be a good BC owner, as I really think Archer could be a wonderful part of our family one day.

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I agree with Liz, you don't have to necessarily use food. If Archer gets jazzed up about toys, play, or lovins be sure to put those to good use, too. Just be careful if you do find yourself using a lot of treats to monitor his caloric in take. You don't want your boy packing on any extra pounds.

 

I am not nearly as experienced a BC owner as most on this forum, but I will say that once I started telling my puppy the behaviors I DID want, as opposed to just correcting the bad ones, we made a lot more ground together. I'd correct any bad behavior *very softly* (usually an "uh-oh"), give him another behavioral option (i.e. if he was chewing on a shoe, I'd give him a doggy chew toy instead) then encourage good behaviors with LOTS of enthusiasm.

 

Don't get me wrong, there are absolutely times for sterner corrections, but since you guys are just getting started together maybe give lots of positive feedback whenever you can. Classes are great too!! I hope you are able to find some in your town or nearby.

 

Lastly, I don't know if you've ever heard of the"Nothing in Life is Free" (NILIF) training program, but it might be worth reading up on. The basic premise is that your dog has to work to earn everything that's good in it's life. Examples: Want an ear scratch? Give me a "sit". Want to go for a walk? Give me a "sit/stay" calmly at the door while I put my shoes on. Want me to throw the ball again? Give me a "down". I think NILIF can get a liiiiiittle bit militant (I've never, ever made my pup work for an ear scratch, lol) but I think the basic principle is a really good one. You're trying to explain to Archer the rules of your house and I think NILIF might be useful for that. It also gives your smarty-pants border collie lots to do and think about throughout the day!

 

It sounds like you guys are gonna do great together!! Good luck and remember to have fun!!

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It can get so frustrating when I feel like all I do all day long is tell the baby or the dog NOT to do something.

 

I read this when I got my first dog -

 

"Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor.

 

I wish I had read it before I had my children.

 

It's not a dog training book as such, more a way of changing your approach to dealing with the problems living creatures throw at you, and that includes humans of all sizes.

 

I can highly recommend it.

 

Just telling a dog or a child not to do something leaves it in limbo not understanding what it should be doing instead that would be acceptable.

 

Try to think positive rather than negative and condition yourself into letting them know what you would like them to do rather than what you don't want.

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Seconding what others have said, primarily adding that if you can find a positive reinforcement trainer in town, opt for that. BCs, especially puppies, can be very sensitive to a heavy handed approach. There may be a time and a place for corrections, but IMO it's best to learn the positive approaches based on learning behavior first rather than having to backtrack and trying to repair the damage once you've come on too strong.

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I like the idea of a positive approach. Like I mentioned, I need to get better about giving praise and reinforcing good behavior instead of just correcting the bad.

Anyone have suggestions on keeping him from getting all of the baby's toys (and pretty much everything he get get his teeth on int he house)? Every time he does it I give him one of his toys instead but it has been 3 weeks with barely any change. He obviously knows he shouldn't have it because he runs from me and won't let go (as opposed to his toys, which he brings to me and drops). No matter how many times I say "no" and replace the "bad" item with a "good" item, he doesn't seem to get the message that the behavior is unacceptable.

I am on the verge of finding him a new home because I'm so frustrated with chasing him all of the house. I simply don't have time for it.

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You could try "trading up." That's where you encourage him to bring whatever he has to you and then giving him something better (usually a delicious treat) when he gives it to you. If it's one of his toys, give it back after treating and praising. If it's something he shouldn't have, give him one of his own toys after treating and praising.

 

Sounds like he's already learning which things he isn't supposed to have, but you haven't given him a better reason not to play keep away with it. ;)

 

ETA: See if you can start considering things from your dog's point of view.

 

Dog: I have one of the toys Mom likes me to play with. OK, I'll take it over and play with her.

 

Dog: I have something fun to play with! Uh-oh . . . here comes Mom with that mad look on her face. I'm going to run away and keep it.

 

At this point, he really doesn't understand what things are his and what things aren't. But he does understand your reactions.

 

For trading up to work, you'll have to adjust your reactions so that anything he has evokes a cheerful response from you, at least at first. Later, you can start adding some low key negatives, like "silly boy" when you take things away, and "good boy" when you give him something he can have. Later still, add "Silly boy, NO!" as you're taking something away, but still replace it with treats and praise when he gives it up and an acceptable toy.

 

It's a process. . . .

 

And, yes, it does take time. And be prepared for it to take more time with an older pup who hasn't had puppy training.

 

Do you have a crate or exercise pen where you can confine him sometimes when you can't be watching him? Preventing errors is key. You might consider tethering him to you, also.

 

Good luck.

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From your posts, it sounds like in all aspects of life he has had too much freedom, too fast in your home. Go back to square one. Pretend he is a puppy. He should not be loose anywhere, yard or house. He should either be on a leash/line or contained by fences/gates.

 

Choose ONE room where he can have freedom. Close it off with baby gates. Nothing should be in that room he can chew that is not a dog toy/bone/treat. He should be leashed in any other rooms. If he even makes a move to put his mouth on a human toy, give a verbal correction and offer something he is allowed to have instead. (He should be leashed so you can prevent him from getting to the object.)

 

Always remember, PREVENTING him from doing undesirable behaviors is critical. Get physical control first so that you can teach him verbal control. Anticipate problems before they happen. Correct him when he is thinking about doing something wrong, then ask for a desirable behavior instead.

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GentleLake, you are spot on. Your suggestions are working beautifully.

 

 

Choose ONE room where he can have freedom. Close it off with baby gates. Nothing should be in that room he can chew that is not a dog toy/bone/treat. He should be leashed in any other rooms. If he even makes a move to put his mouth on a human toy, give a verbal correction and offer something he is allowed to have instead. (He should be leashed so you can prevent him from getting to the object.)

 

Ha...baby gates. You're kidding right? Do they make 7-foot baby gates? ;)

 

Thanks y'all!

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Something that I have used and works fairly well is a exercize pen ment for great dane pups. It is 4ft high and gives lots of room for them to play and sleep in. I also am currently using it as a gate across my hall to keep our cats I since they won't jump it to get to the dog door. The placement of my frige makes it easy.

 

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