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Hello All...New BC Owner

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I've been lurking here for a couple of weeks now and feel safe enough to come out of lurking and actually post. Plus, I will fully admit to having some questions regarding our border collie.


First, I'd like to give you some background information about my husband and I. We currently have (other than the BC) an almost 3 year old male black lab named Orion. He is our fifth lab, all but him have been rescues from our local shelter. We decided to go with a breeder for Orion because we wanted a full on purebred field lab. My husband likes to hunt and has wanted to try his hand at birds, so I talked to a co worker and he gave us the name of a breeder that breeds only field labs. If you don't know....field lab vs. show lab...think all go and no show vs. all show and no go. DH hunted with him for the first time this fall and while no birds were actually shot, Orion did exactly what he's bred to do in the field...hunt all day long and crash that night.


So, the last few months we've been talking about rescuing another dog but not going with a lab this time around. We both looked around at the local shelter a couple of times, but just didn't see the energy we were looking for. Plenty of sad faces, hyper, yapping, growling dogs but just nothing that stood out. Got a text from DH two weeks ago, telling me we had a new member of the pack. Texted back, what did you adopt? and he texted border collie. A little surprising but he said and I quote "he just spoke to me". Who am I to argue with that? As I've had a dog or two in the pound speak to me.


Enter into our lives Jack, the 1.5 to 2 year old border collie. It's been an interesting two weeks to say the least. Through our years doing rescues we've encountered all kinds of behaviors from complete wild child, to anxious, to really laid back to extremely agressive. We've dealt with each "problem" and came out with adjusted, balanced good labs.


Jack, however has some "quirks" we're having a hard time dealing with. He's smart, willing to look you directly in the eye, has learned to sit, lay down, crate trained within about three days, we're working on stay and I think he has that. He seems very willing to learn albeit stubborn. Here's the problem we can't seem to get over...he is constantly wanting to climb on you and paw at you. It's slowed down some since the neutering but he just will not stop. We need to get a handle on this before it becomes a serious source of frustration and then we're in an even worse spot than where we started. We have never allowed any of our dogs to climb on us or our guests and have been able to make the climbing stop. Jack just isn't getting it or we are doing something seriously wrong. ( I'm willing to bet it's us and not the dog)


The other problem we are having is that he will not engage my husband or I in play. He plays with our lab and theyve been zooming around the house like two crazy dogs. The only thing he wants to do with us is either climb or just rolls over for belly rubs. We've tried various squeekies, tennis ball, rope, tied up socks, kong and the frisbee and absolutely zero interest. We've tried "wrestling" with him and he's just not interested.


I understand that things take time and there is an adjustment period with rescues as they get used to you, their enviroment and the daily routine so it's not like we're putting Jack on some type of time table. It's just something we've never encountered before and we're just not sure what to do. The only thing we'd like to get solved asap is the climbing. The play may come in time as he gets more comfortable with us and his surroundings.


Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated. We are all ears and willing to do what it takes. He's a part of the family now and in his forever home so we just want him to be as happy as he can be. If you have any further questions, please ask away.


And I totally apologize for the length of this post, I just didn't want to barge in here start asking questions and give no background on our experience.


I will post pics of the pups when I get it all figured out.

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Welcome! And kudos to you for adopting a dog that needs an intelligent, informed, caring, and fun family.


I don't know if you have any information on Jack's background but some dogs just aren't into playing with people. And others just haven't really had the chance to learn how to play with people, and it's no fault of their own.


Does your Lab play with you? How does Jack react if the Lab is playing with you? It might just take some time for him to (as you said) adjust to his new life and family. Meanwhile, I wouldn't push it or worry about it. Many dogs pick up playing over time and others just don't care about that sort of activity. Your teaching him manners and tricks are a great interaction and that may (at least for now) be satisfying his need to learn new things and be involved with you mentally. And you'll have a lovely dog that you can enjoy being with.


Pawing. I have a dog that paws. It drives me bonkers and I've obviously not found the magic button to stop the behavior but I have to say it's much improved. Dan is told "no" when he paws and he doesn't get any other interaction than that so we are trying to avoid rewarding the behavior. He will often then just put his head on my leg and wait politely, and then I do give him pets and praise.


Does the climbing happen only when you are sitting or lying down, or also when you are standing? For Dan, when we are standing, we just turn around, fold our arms, and ignore him. The best thing for climbing that ever happened to Dan was our one grandson who took it upon himself as a vacation visit project to teach Dan that sitting politely would get much more positive response than being rude, and it only took a couple of days of his working with Dan to teach Dan that a nice sit would get nice attention, and rudeness would mean that the child would turn away and leave him alone.


I am sure others will have much more useful advice as there are folks here with a great deal of experience with these intelligent, energetic dogs. Best wishes!

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We do not have any information about Jack's past. We can guess a few things based on his behavior. He's not potty trained yet and he is more comfortable outside. We are guessing he's had little or very little human interaction, also we think he was probably a farm dog of sorts. Given the county we rescued him from and the surrounding counties being very rural, we just think outside farm dog. When hubby brought him home, he was filthy dirty, had a couple of dread locks starting and burrs stuck into his coat. Not exactly a well cared for dog. So, the play thing may or may not happen and we're not trying to push that on him. Just wish he would because we like playing with our doggies.


Orion is your typical lab, he loves to play. He's always up for a game of fetch, a hike or a ride in the car. He's just happy to be with the pack, no matter what we're doing. When we play with Orion, Jack typically just sits down elsewhere and ignores what's going on. Sometimes he'll run along with Orion but for the most part he just ignores.


We do not reward the climbing or pawing behavior, we say "no off" and try to ignore him. Ignoring him seems to be having some effect so that's what we are continuing to do. When he does lay or sit calmly by us, then we pet and praise. For the most part the climbing and pawing happens when we are trying to relax on the couch, so we're guessing it has to do with our demeanor. When we're sitting up at the dinner table it doesn't happen and he really doesn't jump or paw when we're standing. So, once again it may be a time thing. Patience is key.


We just haven't found his button yet and our bag of tricks is quickly becoming empty. We're also thinking about a beginning obedience class as I think this would be good for all of us. At this point, I know he's bored and a bored border collie is probably much like a bored lab. Not a good thing for dog or human.


The other night I did get Jack outside with the slip lead on and ran him around the backyard and he followed along with me quite well. We then put up a couple of obstacles to run him around and set up a jump for him to go over. We also got him to jump up on the bottom of the crate turned upside and he laid down on it. We ended on that with treats and praise. Maybe a future agility dog??


Thank you for the reply, we're open to any suggestions.

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Sue had a great post. I agree with it all.


A couple of other things stand out to me:

Based on your post, you have had Jack for what? 2 weeks? That is no time at all. It sounds like he has accomplished a huge amount in that short period of time. Just relax and continue to be consistent in your training. He WILL get better.


IMO, there are tricks and there are behaviors. A 'sit' is a trick, while loose leash walking is a behavior. The trick can be taught in 5-10 minutes, whereas a behavior may take several weeks or months. I often hear "My dog learned to sit in 2 minutes, but still won't walk on a lead, and I've been training leash-walking for a WEEK". [Not exactly that, but you get the idea.] I would say that teaching Jack not to paw will come under the category of 'behaviors'.


I am also a huge believer that one of the best things you can do for a rescue dog is to help him to TRUST you. That doesn't happen overnight, or even within 2 weeks. It depends on the dog. The pawing may be appeasement behavior, which, to me, suggests that Jack is still not comfortable and still has a way to go to fully trust you. I don't know about labs, but I feel that border collies don't automatically trust you or truly connect with you just because you feed them, etc. You have to bring more to the table to get a full partnership.


Have you heard of / read Patricia McConnell's book "Love Has No Age Limit"? I think it is a great read for people who have recently adopted a rescue dog, even if it isn't your first rescue dog. I foster BCs, and will occasionally go back and re-read parts of the book to refresh my memory.


I do agility, and I think that agility would be a great way for you to build a strong partnership with Jack.


Good Luck.

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I think Camden's Mom's suggestion to just totally ignore him for the unwanted behaviors is probably the best thing to do.


It's quite possible this is insecurity, and that with time and consistently ignoring it on your part it will fade pretty quickly.


I adopted a border collie who'd been a stray and probably hadn't had much human contact prior to that either. And he was roughly the same age as Jack is when I got him. Bodhi didn't know how to play with humans or other dogs either, and my other dog taught him to play with her and I taught him to play with me, but both took a while. It took 3 1/2 years for him to understand what a tennis ball was for, and when he did finally get it he instantly turned into the stereotypical ball obsessed border collie. <_<


You might try doing some clicker training shaping tricks and such. It'll probably go a little slowly at first, but when he gets going it'll be lots of fun and will keep his mind engaged, which is every bit as important -- probably more so -- as physical activity for a border collie.


Kudos to you for adopting him, and especially for being willing to let things unfold at their own pace. Here's hoping you'll have many great years together.


Keep in mind, too, that Labs and border collies have very different play styles. Some border collies will play with housemates with different play styles, but some never do. So don't be surprised if they never really turn into great playmates.

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Thank you all for your advice. And a big thank you to gcv-border, your post gave us that light bulb moment. It created a great deal of reflection and discussion. It's been four years since our last rescue, Moose, who was a ten year old lab and he was a breeze for the most part. Yea he got into the trash and yea he chewed up a couple of hats but he gave us four wonderful lovely years. He never really learned any tricks other than "sit" and his behavior didn't need much work. He was just that naturally trusting old soul. We've had Orion since he was three months old and he learned from the start what we wanted. He had no other choice but to trust us because we suddenly became his world. Funny thing is that Moose did an amazing job helping us with Orion. He basically crate trained Orion and Orion was his little shadow.


And then there was Scout, the dog every dog owner, lover, rescuer, foster dreads. Very agressive and a biter. We lost track of how many times she bit us, you could not pet that dog without her growling at you or biting you. That was a long uphill battle that took every bit of patience, knowledge and the realization that every dog needs something different. Talk about gaining trust. Two years later, a very dear friend of ours asked if he could have her. We were like "what?? are you sure??? you know her history" He took her home that night and she's been a great dog for him. Has never bit him, any of his friends or guests.


We just needed a reminder of where we've been, where we're going and what it takes to get there. Time, trust and whatever amount of time it takes to gain that trust.


Again, thank you.


And hopefully I get this right...here are the boys.






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Just a thought on the pawing behavior:

As someone else said, and based on what you said about the tendency to roll over for belly rubs, this sounds like appeasing behavior, and will probably ease up as Jack becomes more confident in the new home. But you can train it out of him now.


Since he is so focused on wanting to be with you, I would suggest that when he paws you as you lie on the couch, simply get up without a word and take him gently by the collar into another room and close the door (or put him outside). Act as if you think that the pawing means "please shut me out of the room". Let him back in 3 to 5 minutes later. Repeat as necessary. I have used this technique on several border collie foster dogs and without exception it took only 3 or 4 repetitions of this to train the behavior out of the dog. My experience is that saying "no" or pushing the dog away often translates in the dogs mine into "this is a game", and ends up encouraging the behavior you want to stop.


Welcome to the boards and the wonderful world of border collies and thank you for adopting a shelter BC!!

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As a confidence builder, before he paws or tries to climb on your lap on the couch, how about getting on the floor with him for some snuggle time. He apparently needs some extreme closeness. You can teach him to lie down against your leg and then give him plenty of attention for it, and you definitely need to teach him how to politely ask for attention.

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As a confidence builder, before he paws or tries to climb on your lap on the couch, how about getting on the floor with him for some snuggle time. He apparently needs some extreme closeness. You can teach him to lie down against your leg and then give him plenty of attention for it, and you definitely need to teach him how to politely ask for attention.

This is a great idea! Forestalling the unwanted behavior by doing something desirable *before* it even starts, is a great way to substitute good behaviors for unwanted ones, and develop better habits and manners in your dog.
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Thank you for some more great suggestions. The climbing and pawing behavior has eased up some but now it is becoming more like a game to him. The pushing him away and saying "no off" and his current reaction tells me he thinks it's a game. Last night he started up after he and Orion were playing, they got a little over the top so we stopped them playing and he came right up and started climbing and pawing on me. I got out the leash and redirected that energy into training time. Working on "sit", "lay" and "stay" and just walking him around the house while changing direction suddenly. After about a half hour of working with him, he layed down on the floor for the rest of the night and slept. Eighty percent of the time he comes up and sits to wait nicely for pets. It's just that other twenty percent! <_<


I do like the idea of removing him from the room for a bit of time. We'll give that a try and see how it goes. I can tell that he is getting comfortable with us and his surroundings. He will lay at our feet during dinner time and in the evenings he will lay in the same room with us most of the time. Sometimes he will even come over and snuggle with Orion who is always laying at our feet. We're seeing positive signs and while I can't say right now we'll ever have another border collie again, what I can say, he is certainly is doing a wonderful job of worming his way around our hearts!


BTW D'Elle, I took the time to read the entire thread about your journey with Kelso. Left me speechless! What an incredible story of hope and faith. Thank you for never giving up. Truly an inspiration!

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Just a note on the not playing with you thing: My first rescue border collie was listed on the rescue web site as not really interested in playing. She was extremely shy and would let only me and my female vet approach her. I had another dog (border collie x aussie) who loved everyone and was very outgoing and happy-go-lucky. She learned trust and enjoying being petted, as well as walking on a leash from his example (with my help of course).


I can't remember how quickly she came around the playing, but she turned out to love fetch, swimming after balls, and was an amazing frisbee dog. She was also my jogging/rollerblading partner. After I'd had her about 6 months, circumstances led to me taking her and a newer rescue (also a border collie) to try out for stock work. That same little dog ended up being my first trial dog.


It was a long, wonderful journey from shy, scared rescue to the dog she became and the dog she is today, at nearly 17. My farm is named after her, and I cherish each day we have together, knowing that they are now numbered in months rather than years.


So give your new fellow time. He's just barely gotten there and as time goes by and he learns your routines and how to trust you he will likely also become willing to play. No guarantees of course, but if you had known Willow when I first adopted her and then met her again a year later you would have been amazed at the difference in demeanor and behavior. She first played with Indy and then with me, and we never looked back!


P.S. That's her on the lower right of my signature photo.


P.P.S. Yep field lab vs. show lab is pretty much the same difference as working border collie vs. show border collie!



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