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I have a 6 month old border collie. She is the best and cutest dog in the world. We have started obedience training. She works very well with me but when we get to class - she is very distracted by the other dogs. I had to search for a class - I tried a couple of them and they wouldn't take bc's because they are too hyper and disrputive to the class? (that was what the instructor said) I know she is still a puppy - but she needs lots of help with distractions. She is very smart (of course) and knows all of the things they are teaching in the class, sit, stay, heel, come. However, when we get to class -she is watching all the other dogs - she is very well behaved but just keeps her eye on them and not on me. We are training about 40 minutes per day 6-7 days per week. She does wonderfully, but during class, she is just not listening. What's the best way to handle distractions? Will she grow out of it? Will she get used to the dogs in the class and eventually ignore them?


This as you can tell is my first bc - I plan on getting a CGC title and doing agility and frisbee. Any suggestions- ideas would be helpful.


Thanks for your time.

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Hey I am in the same boat.. I have a 6 month old border collie... This is my first BC, but I am doing competitve frisbee with her and she has truely taken to it with obsession.. when we are doing our routines and pitching and catching she wouldn't care if lightning struck a foot away.. but in the class doing boring sit/stays she is very distracted. Basically go out several times a week to a very public area where there are tons of dogs and people around and just desensitize her... unfortunately no magic trick here.. after some time she'll ease up.. Make sure to wear her out before class with frisbee or whatever... and if you run into trainers that are refusing to train based on breed then they are foo foo dog trainers looking for easy money..


Also when it comes down to it, group classes are only effective at proofing already trained commands under distraction. No professional dog trainer trains their own dogs at class. Its first learned through motivation in the kitchen and back yard.. then introduce corrections after you know they are being disobedient, and finally add distractions.. like your front yard, or a park, or a friends house.. THEN the group class which is obviously about the highest distraction level you can find..



Also what

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Ouch...that's a lot of training time every day!!!


I've been an assistant trainer for about 3 years now with our local club. I work with the puppy class. I'm also going to start teaching my own class starting this fall - a trick class using the clicker for normal folks, not serious obedience people.


I have a puppy now that is almost 2. I call her a puppy because she still is. And that will give you some idea on how long it's going to take for your dog to mature a bit and start to calm down. The "selling point" of Border Collies is that they are so smart and easy to train. Sure they are, just lock yourself in your own house and you can teach them to read in 2 hours. But they are herding dogs, bred to do a job. Some dogs have this instinct to work livestock more than others. My puppy is VERY sight motivated and I have had the worst problems with her in class.


Unlike the previous poster, I DO train new behaviors during group class because I WANT that distraction. However, I have worked with my puppy enough to get focus and I know how long I can push her. I would NEVER work her for 40 minutes 6 or 7 days a week. She'd kill me, then get bored, then get distracted, then I would get bored, then mad and it would be pointless. We work for only 3 to 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day if we are lucky. New behaviors are taught quick, short and many times a day. You have to keep things short to keep their interest on you, not the world around them. Cut back on the time you work your dog, break it up and you will see that helps the focus.


At 6 months, I would never expect full on attention from your dog at a group class. Ha! I would never expect full attention from any dog at that age! They are there to have fun and socialize.


As you get to be a better trainer and your dog starts to mature a bit, you will be able to gain more attention from your dog. If you want to work with a clicker, you may find that motivation is enough to get focus on you in those situations... But things will change with time. Be firm and consistent with what you want, but please, don't expect much from a 6 month old unless you can find that obsessive behavior (frisbee, clicker) that gets them going.


ptoohey1 - be careful with jumping with such a young dog. In agility you usually don't jump a dog until about 2 so that they can fully mature as far as bone density, growth, etc. Too much of that could lead to some very expensive and painful problems down the line.


As for the distractions...work to get your dog comfortable and relaxed with you at the class...you may have to go back a ways from the rest of the group. this is a wonderful time to crate train the dog while at the class so that when he/she is out of the crate, the focus is on you you you. It's a great tool and has helped me with my pup 10000%. More so than the clicker.


Good luck.



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Originally posted by suzieq:


I have a 6 month old border collie. - she is very distracted by the other dogs. I had to search for a class - I tried a couple of them and they wouldn't take bc's because they are too hyper and disrputive to the class? (that was what the instructor said) I know she is still a puppy - but she needs lots of help with distractions...This as you can tell is my first bc - I plan on getting a CGC title and doing agility and frisbee. Any suggestions- ideas would be helpful.

I've had good luck with my own pups, and others in our classes using a "gentle leader" head halter to help the dog focus, and be calmer in a class situation. You do have to use it some at other times, as well, so the dog is not fighting it in class, but many people find it extemely useful in a distracting class situation, as well as for walking on leash if your dog like to pull. It would be worth your time to "google" gentle leader and check it out. As for training time per day, I agree with Denise! Break it up into 5-10 minute segments, especially for a pup that young. As for the other post, I agree that it is best to teach new behaviors in a less distracting environment, and escalate the distraction factor slowly. IMO, classes are for learning what to teach, and how to do it. You wil not necessarily get your best performance there, but that's a good place to learn what to practice, ask questions to clarify, and work on social behavior around other dogs and people. Later, once the dog has mastered the tasks, you can expect a better performance with a high distraction level. I have some BC friends in the Chicago area who teach - PM me if you want me to help find a class that "likes Border Collies".
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Susieq.... I second Denise's OUCH!! that is waaaaay to much training for a puppy much less an older dog. I am a Pet Trainer for Pet Smart, and the first thing I tell a new class is, the group class here, with all these distractions is pretty much 75% for the people and 25% for the dogs! It is very exciting when a dog performs in class, but don't even get discouraged if he/she dosen't. Like someone said, just use the class for "desensitizing", from distractions. Practice what is introduced in class at home, where it is familiar, no strange dogs , people, or smells. And pleeeeease cut you training time down to max 5-10 min 2-3 times per day. Never train if you really don't feel like it, if you have had a "bad" day,don't feel well or are just plain in a grumpy mood. Training time should be fun with your dog. Remember that some days may not be a good day for your dog too, they have off days just like us. If you start training and it just isn't going well, end it with something that you KNOW, your dog does well, praise and be done for now, and maybe just play a few minutes, and try again later. I have a 7 month old BC.. he does much better at home than in a group setting. I play first for about 5 minutes, train for about 3-4 minutes, play, train etc. for a total of about 15 minutes of, "combined play and obedience stuff".

The other thing I would like to suggest, is .... if your dog is ball "obsessive", put a tennis ball in your pocket at class and use that to get attention, you can bounce it or let him/her catch it, ONCE, then say "give it", and go on from there.

Just this week I used a tennis ball to distract Phoenix from a new (not so good), behavior while I had him at work with me. He became seriously agressive with a huge black german shepherd. Between me telling him to settle, shhhhhhhh.... and the tennis ball, I eventually got him to pay attention to me and not the dog, who we met 3 or 4 times down one isle or the other. Whew!!! but it finally worked. He preferred the ball to being a total brat! Talk about embarrassed, here I am with my blue Training Instructor, shirt on and my dog acting like a maniac!!!!! Just goes to show, the dogs don't care who you are, when they wanna do a "dog thing", they are gonna do it! It's up to you to handle it appropriately. One of the other Instructors was doing a class at the time, (we were pretty close to the training ring), and actually used my handling of Phoenix during a very "excited", moment between him and this huge dog as a learning experience, for her class. I thank God, what I did worked!!! LOL!!! but ya never know. Time, practice and TONS of patience, it will pay off in the end I promise!

Oh and by the by....any "trainer", who won't take a dog based on breed because of.... whatever... in my book , I am glad you didn't get them for your "trainer", poooh on them!!!

Don't get discouraged, you will do fine.

Keep us posted...

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