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A little help

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Hi, greetings from the UK. We have had our tri-colored border collie Al now for 5 months - he was a rescued dog coming from a farm in Ireland he didn't make the grade as a working dog and was cast out. He then spent god knows how long in a pound in Ireland, and then 18 months in the Dogs Trust here in the UK before we came and picked him up.


He's such an adorable dog - very hard work - which we knew he would be (he can be awkward bugger when he wants to be) but I love taking him out for runs and on the whole he is a very good boy and is very obedient for me. Notice I said "for me"! He loves being with me and I can do anything with him.


For my wife he can be a mixed bag. Sometimes he is totally fine with her, but other times he just doesn't want her near him. Just speaking to him he emits a low growl and turns and walks away, or walking close by him when he is with me. But then he'll do anything for her when she has a treat for him. Of course we don't want to force him as he is a damaged boy and god knows who has done what to him. I have just ordered a clicker - is this a good way for him and my wife to become closer and him a more loving dog towards her rather than her just trying to bribe him with food?


Over time he has become more relaxed and loves family time when we are all sat around in the evening together (my wife and myself, Al and our cat Salem) but he obviously still doesn't trust being around my wife alone (although he will quite happily plonk himself down next to her when she is cooking or doing household chores). Very conflicted!


Sorry for the long drawn out message! I guess it will just take time for him - but wondered if the clicker was a good start to help him relax around both of us not just me. Although i've had a dog all my life i'm nowhere near a professional dog trainer as it sounds a lot of the people on here are compared to me!




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I think a clicker is a great start. Try some trick training to start. It's a great way to build a relationship and teach both participants how to communicate with one another, and it doesn't have all the added pressure of "must have an obedient dog" that a lot of more formal training can come with.


I'd also suggest your wife ignore him to the best of her ability, if he's ignoring her. If she tries to coerce him into interaction or contact, it is likely poisoning the well.

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Dear Doggers,

I'm not enamoured with clicker training but with a dog that is highly food motivated in this circumstance, IF your wife is willing to be the trick trainer, any treat training should begin to build a bond. It would be better if she takes on the routine feeding a week before so he understands she is the food giver.

Donald McCaig

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I don't think your dog is afraid or untrusting of your wife. I think he is resource guarding you. Having her do the feeding routine with him may help him see her in a different light, but you need to do a search here on resource guarding behavior to better understand what you may be dealing with.

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