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New User, but no BC (yet)

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Hi all,


First off, I don't have a Border Collie. I've spent ~2 years on this forum researching the breed before I ended up with my German Shepherd pup. However, I can't seem to respect and admire other GSD-specific forums as much as this one. I understand that this is a BC forum, and will limit my GSD posts. :) I do hope to adopt a BC someday.


I got my GSD girl, Emi, at 10 weeks. A long story between my in-laws' neighbor (a czech GSD breeder for police/protection services) and a less-than-preferable puppy buyer (who couldn't handle the pup after only 2 weeks) resulted in me taking the puppy. Now, Emi is 7 months old.


I've been using this forum to guide me in training Emi, and our successes are the primary reason why I signed up for an account here. However, there is one issue that I'm not completely sure how to handle. Although there may be distinctions between BC and GSD training methods, I'm not a fan of the methods prescribed by GSD-specific sites (prong collars, etc.).


Emi is reactive with other dogs on leash. What I've done is have her sit when another dog approaches, then reward her with treats when she appears relaxed. For the most part, this method has done well. However, if the other dog is lunging/barking at us, Emi becomes hard to control. She stands directly in between me and the other dog, and barks (no lunging). I don't think she's barking from excitement, and other people have told me that she's "protecting" me and "that's just what she's going to do". I'm not positive that a 7 month old pup would display protection yet, though. Anyway, I'm unsure as to how I should handle this obstacle.


Thank you all for this forum, I can't express how useful it has been for me and Emi.


- Ashley


P.S. I think it's customary for new users to post their puppy pics. :P She may not be a BC, but she's still my girl.


Emi at 10 weeks:





16 weeks:



And now (excuse the photo quality.. phone cameras+excited dogs don't mix)



And I have a thing for puppy noses/feet




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Load of BS if you ask me. Never owned a GSD, but I like the good ones. My observation has been that 99% of them are barking/lunging because they are anxious, NOT being dominant or guarding their owners. Sad that so many GSD owners fail to see that (their dogs are scared, not brave). I think they have bred for that reactivity, mistaking it for bravery and guarding instinct.


You're on the right track. When she is barking and acting out, she is in over her head. Take a step back, literally. Get farther away from what she is reacting to. Keep moving away until she relaxes and will obey commands again. Praise and shove yummy food in her mouth for being calm and taking commands. Do not let other dogs come directly at her. Protect her from the idiots of the world. If she trusts you to protect her, she won't feel the need to put on a big show.


Patricia McConnell is a great resource.


Dr. Ian Dunbar is another.


"He Just Wants to Say Hi" is a must read article for ALL dog owners.


Is there a reactive dog class in your area?

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Yup. If I want a guard dog I look for one that is calm and quietly studying people. They are stable in temperament and quite relaxed, though sometimes very aloof. Hurt their owners and you will won't know what hit you.


The barky dogs are usually chicken sh*ts that will tuck tail and run when things get too hairy for them.


Same thing with a Border Collie on stock. The brave/powerful dogs are not running around gripping and being stupid. They have a quiet confidence.

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Thank you for the advice!

I'm fortunate that the breeder has well-adjusted dogs and lets Emi & me come over for controlled "training sessions". However, we're still facing a few lunging dogs on our walks that seem to take us one step backwards. I'll start taking a step back and creating some distance from the other dog as you suggested. Previously, I would have her sit and have the other dog pass us - I now see that not creating that extra space for the other dog to pass creates a tense situation.

McConnell's "The Other End of the Leash" is on its way via Amazon, and I've read "He Just Wants to Say Hi". I'll definitely look for Dunbar. There is a class for reactive dogs close by, and I'll be paying them a visit if Emi continues to be reactive.

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Do not let other dogs come directly at her. Protect her from the idiots of the world. If she trusts you to protect her, she won't feel the need to put on a big show.

Sometimes this can be easier said then done (off-leash, uncontrolled dogs can create a difficult situation) but it is such great advice. Putting your dog in a sit and stepping in front of her (blocking the oncoming dog, person, whatever is making her nervous) is a clear signal that YOU are the one who will handle whatever is coming your way. Dogs really do understand this body language and I think it takes some pressure off of them to take control of the situation. Ideally, once she understands "Mom will handle things in the big wide world" you won't even have to worry about making a big show of it. You can just put her in a sit next to you and she will understand that you've got things covered.


By the way, I wanted a German Shepherd so badly as my first dog, but was worried that as a novice dog owner I might be in over my head with the "guarding" instincts of the GSD breed. Not sure I did myself any favors getting a Border Collie, but I have fallen head over heels in love with my dog and all of the quirks of his breed. Anyways, just wanted to say that your dog is absolutely *gorgeous* and welcome to the boards!!

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