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Just a short background:

I adopted my gal Dublin at six months from a rescue group that had rescued her from a dog hoarder. She's now 14 months old.

The whole time I've had her she has exhibited the typical border collie trait of being very sensitive to correction. She runs and hides in the corner of the kitchen table bench when she even THINKS she's in trouble for something. She will even do this when one of the other animals is "in trouble."

The problem is that she has recently been doing this same behavior for things not even remotely related to "being in trouble." (And, let me just add that I never raise my voice or scold her...I'm super gentle and the most I have ever done is say a sweet but firm "No" and redirect her.)


For example, for some reason she has started to associate closing the window blind in the living room with something "bad" and will run and hide every night when I close the blind. For the life of me I cannot figure out why she thinks this is a negative thing.


The drawer I keep her doggy toothpaste and toothbrush in is the same drawer her leash is in. If I open the drawer, unless I clearly say we are going for a walk...she thinks I am going to brush her teeth (which she HATES) and then slinks away. I guess I could just move the toothbrush.


I wipe her paws off after coming inside, but if she's eaten poop (GROSS) and she knows she's not supposed to do that, I will wipe her face too. So, if I'm not careful and get the towel too close to her face when she hasn't eaten poop, she'll run and hide.


Sigh. These are just a few examples. I know this is very typical border collie stuff, but I'm at a loss to figure out what will trigger her (sometimes it's really random stuff) and then how to make it not such a bad thing without having to constantly have treats with me to give her so she starts to associate some of the things with "good."


Any ideas?


As a side note, some of the things that she used to run and hide from, she has started to emerge from her hiding spot a lot sooner than she used to, but mostly because I just don't make a big deal out of it.....I think she realizes that nothing bad is happening, but I'd like to de-sensitize her to some of these things.

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Nonchalance and creating positive associations are your best way to go. If she has a favorite toy that would be easier to keep on you and reward. If you're stuck with food, then you can at least get it off your body by stashing shelf-stable treats near known problem areas.


So with the drawer, make treats or the leash appear 80% of the time versus the toothbrush with no discernable cue between them (time of day, or saying something like 'go for a walk'). Make a game out of other things to do with the toothbrush - sometimes just ask her for a nose touch and put it up.

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I have a soft dog, too. I am just matter of fact about things like you've described. Things that he's not really scared about, just uncomfortable. Mine doesn't like to have his feet or face wiped when he comes in, either. (we have a "dirty" yard, lol), He puts his ears back, head down, slinks away. I just speak cheerfully to him, and get it done. He's hates having his nails Dremeled, but I just put a slip lead on him, grab the Dremel, and get it done. (treats during the process) He pouts about going in the car, but in he goes anyway. I'm not harsh or rough with him, just cheerful and matter of fact. I don't coddle him about stuff like that.


Noise sensitivity is another issue, I do comfort him then, because he is truly scared. Yes, I've heard not to. No, I'm not going to stop. :)

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I agree with nonchalance and a firm but positive attitude. Jester came to me at age two with multiple sensitivities to everyday things, many of which he had outgrown. Fingernail clippers or anything else that clicks or snaps, folding laundry or anything else that flaps, and so on. I made sure that none of these things ever prefaced anything unpleasant for him, and I still pay attention to where he is so that I am not flapping a towel I am folding "at" him, or in his direction, but I just got on with life and eventually he got used to them all. In the case of the two things mentioned above he still doesn't like them, he doesn't run and hide any more.

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I have always felt that many Border Collies are willing to "take the blame" for anything... Maybe that's a bit of the biddability bred into them. Celt is particularly prone to thinking that if anyone's in trouble, he's in trouble. And totally prepared to make amends. Megan was that way when she could hear, and she can sometimes be that way when she's picking up vibes that something's wrong. Dan only accepts responsibility, when he accepts responsibility, for what he has done wrong - if and when you get after him. Voice reprimands don't do much but if he thinks you are coming to get him, he's repentant (or at least very willing to avoid the consequence that he thinks might come). Three dogs, three personalities.

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