Rancho Relaxo Posted February 5, 2014 Report Share Posted February 5, 2014 Apologies for the lengthy post. We adopted Bailey (see below) from a local, semi-rural shelter a little more than a year ago. I love him. Dearly. He is an amazing dog, but the journey has not been without its challenges -- namely aggression toward other dogs, one of whom is our own. I'll probably wind up sharing too much information, but in reading posts here, I've learned that sometimes the key lies in the seemingly tiniest detail. I'd appreciate guidance in helping manage the situation, as well as insight as to what may be more common border collie traits. I'm new to the breed, but not to dogs, and I'm doing my best to respect Bailey's uniqueness and not generalize. A quick summary of the journey: We adopted him late in 2012. Because he was recovering from heartworm treatment, physical activity was limited (which as a challenge in and of itself). He was pronounced clean, and we started morning runs together (usually an hour or so). I also worked at home, so we had plenty of time together (though I don't any more). This summer, the vet detected a faint trace of heartworm, so again, no physical activity for three months (which stunk for both of us), but I just spent more time walking him alone. He weathered it like a champ and couldn't be happier when we're running again, weather notwithstanding. In corporate, bullet-point fashion, here are some details about him and us: He loves our morning run. Loves it. He can go for hours (but I can't). And I love how he is constantly scanning and assimilating his surroundings, like some sort of furry cyborg. We live on the edge of the country. Coyotes and deer are common. Our run takes us into a semi-rural area with plenty of fun smells (and sometimes risky encounters, as with skunks -- the coyotes have stayed away and I don't actually see them often). He has a strong prey drive, keenly interested in birds and squirrels. I walk him for 30 minutes every morning with our other two dogs - Sasha (spayed female Brittany) and Artie (neutered lab mix) He urinates frequently on the walk, not so much on the run. He want to chase cars, "stalking" them as they approach. Our yard is not fenced, so I keep him on a leash. He is highly food motivated. He loves squeaky toys -- playing with them and fetching. Sometimes I'll be sitting, and a toy mysteriously winds up on my lap. I find Bailey staring at me in eager anticipation. He hovers over my daughter's guinea pigs. It's calmed down a bit, but it's still there. He drools, pants, licks and occasionally nips. Not sure if he sees a snack or something to herd. When the guinea pig is out, he follows closely but never nips. Still, we watch him very closely. He's fine being kenneled when we're gone. He sleeps with us at night, sometimes cuddling with me for a bit. He rarely barks. He pants in general a great deal (he does get warm, and being around the guinea pig tends to work him up). His ears are usually semi-erect, though often back (sometimes when panting or in motion), but there's no obvious sign of agitation or potential hostility beyond this. His tail has been wagging a lot more over the last few months. He has a zillion whiskers. Sometimes they frost over when we run in the cold. He has a very high metabolism, and I had to switch to a premium dog food (Red Paw Perform) just to keep a bit of weight on. He doesn't engage our other dogs in play. Ever. And he doesn't respond when our Brittany tries to engage him. He is closely bonded with me. Also, he is very sweet with people. Not a mean bone in his body. Warm greetings, belly rubs and hugs abound. While initially guarded about his "personal space," he is much more accepting now with respect to people. Still, he is uneasy being approached from behind, so we respect that. Unfortunately, other dogs don't get the hint, so those rump-sniffing exercises are something Bailey doesn't appreciate (and can set him off). And that brings me to his difficulties with other dogs. Here's what happens: He is incredibly anxious at the vet because of all the other dogs. I am extremely cautious and tend to schedule early appointments to avoid stress. The local dog park is a disaster waiting to happen. I'd initially envisioned tacking him there for exercise and training. Never again. Just a powder keg. Sometimes he initiates the aggression, sometimes he invokes it in other dogs, almost like he's emitting some sort of "jerk" pheromone. He's hostile about 90% of the time. The others, he's just indifferent. There are a few unleashed dogs we encounter in our run. Two of them (one a male golden retriever mix, the other a female adolescent yellow lab mix) try to engage him and follow him on our run. He has no problem with that. A couple of others, however, will pursue and attack (or provoke him). Fenced dogs can sometimes be worse in terms of provoking a response. Other leashed dogs can also be problems. Thankfully, I usually run him at 5 am, so not much other activity. There's no accurate predictor as to which dog will upset him. At first I thought it might be color or sex. Nope. It almost seems to be in the other dog's demeanor. Friendly, confident dogs (as those mentioned above) seem to be fine. Any level of fear or wariness (not to mention hostility), and Bailey is off the rails. He's even chased other larger dogs off our property (but thankfully stopped at the border, no pun intended, as soon as his mission was accomplished). As for causes, who knows? Maybe Bailey wasn't socialized well. Maybe something happened when he was a stray or at the shelter. Maybe he's just protective of my family -- and me. I'm not convinced the foster mom was completely honest or aware -- she said he played well with other dogs. Now with Artie, our black lab mix, things are a little different: Hostility started when I was away on travel. They simply fought and scared the you-know-what out of my wife. They definitely reach the point of seeing red, oblivious to all else around them. Bailey is much faster and younger, so it usually winds up with Bailey clamped on Artie's muzzle until we can pry them apart. There's usually blood and some hair loss in the process. It's sometimes hard to tell who instigates it. Initially, I think it was Bailey, but soon after, Artie definitely took his shots (last year, Bailey was outside with me on a lead as I was shoveling snow -- Bailey was a bit nervous and Artie went right after him). Artie also sometimes positions himself in a way that blocks Bailey's movement (such as at the top of the stairs), which would sometimes initiate a conflict. About Artie: He is generally cautious around other dogs (but loves our Brittany). He is also my wife's dog, following her everywhere. And he is a semi-compulsive licker. He is generally goofy and happy. The last incident happened last spring. In intervening, Artie caught me in the leg. As soon as they realized I was a casualty, both dogs stopped. Artie went to his kennel, and Bailey went full-on submissive to me, belly up and whining. We haven't had an incident since, knock on wood. We've reached a state of uneasy peace. We know what signs to be on the alert for -- and potential triggers. They regard each other warily from time to time, but give each other space. Funny enough, they always get along when I walk them together (though Artie, who had never done so before, now emulates Bailey and lifts his leg). Our vet thinks it may be a pack-order/dominance thing. Our Brittany is the alpha. She tries to break up the fights when they occur. And Bailey definitely didn't like it when, early on, Artie would try to mount Sasha in front of him. We did engage a trainer with border collie experience (she owns two). She suggested a possible resource-guarding issue (with respect to my wife or me). It might also be that Artie (and other dogs) don't know how to react to the border collie communication style (such as the "stare"). They showed no animosity toward each other when she was here. We've also tried a few things she recommended (walking them together, feeding them in a certain order, heavily treating them both when kept alone and then peacefully reintroduced). Again, sorry for the long post. I'd love any advice, guidance or insight. Things are still occasionally tense, but at least workable now. And if Bailey will never be comfortable around other dogs, so be it. At the very least, I want to make sure we're on the right path and, for certain, not doing anything to make matters worse. Thanks in advance. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.