Jump to content
BC Boards

Rescued Border Collir Ace - progress and questions

Recommended Posts

Hi everybody,


First of all, for those who replied to my previous post about our rescue border collie Ace, thank you! Ace is now a well-adjusted, friendly, happy girl thanks to all of your suggestions and helps.


When we first brought her home, she was scared of walking on a leash, cars, humans, loud noises, our cats and didn't know what to do with toys or treats. Now she meets and greets people (there's also some jumping but we are working on that), loves to play with her toys, can't wait to go on long walks, isn't bothered by cars and plays with one of our cats. I'm definitely going at her pace and not forcing her, and that has payed off.


However, we do have two issues that I'm not quite sure how to address and am hoping those with more experience can help me out.


1. Scared (terrified) of other dogs: her fears of cars and humans gradually diminished over the course of a few months with exposure (during our walks) and I hoped the same would happen with other dogs. As soon as Ace sees a dog, she freezes and wants to change course. If I try to calmly walk by them, she gets very agitated and usually stressed out. She forgets a few moments later and our walk continues as normal. She is generally better if she is sitting down and a dog walks pass us. The problem is I don't know any reliable dog owners with well trained dogs to introduce her to other dogs in a controlled environment. So the only time she sees and interracts with other dogs is when we are outside. Any suggestions?


2. Scared/intimadated by my partner: This is probably the more immediate and upsetting concern for us both. From the day she came to us, she has trusted me and seeks me out when she is scared, follows me around and pretty much acts like a "normal" dog when she is around me. She has been slightly more reserved with my parner and I thought this was because he is a man, deeper voice, bigger frame and that she would adjust over time. However, not much has changed despite the fact that she is no longer afraid of other people (men, women or children). She will still come in for pets and listen to him and come up on the couch if I'm also there. She has even slept with him before when I've been around. But there is a distinct fear when he approaches her (she backs away, yawns and lip-licks). She is just not comfortable around him, which is a bit heartbreaking really. He is currently feeding her, giving her treats, doing short training sessions (she will listen), going on walks (not everyday). Is this a time issue that we just need to wait a bit longer or is there something specific we can do?


Thanks a lot everybody!! (Also promise photos will come later)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Per your partner:

Teach him how to present himself in a non-threatening manner -

soft voice: many men do not want to use a high voice that works well with dogs, but at least he shouldn't find it too hard to speak softly around Hazel

do not approach her head-on: try to approach her from the side with his head averted.

do not look directly at her or stare at her: some dogs interpret that as threatening/aggressive.


The giving of treats, feeding meals, short training sessions sound like you are on the right track, but body language at any time is also a very strong signal that dogs can pick up on. And yes, I think that time will help, but some dogs need more time than others. If she is happy otherwise, that is great and just keep slowly working on her other 'quirks' and I predict that they will improve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second the suggestion for your partner to change his body language with regard to Ace. Best of all, ask him not to approach Ace at all or speak to her, but allow her to come to him. If this were a situation in my home I would ask the other person basically to ignore the dog completely unless she comes up to him and asks for attention. Certainly, he should not approach her or make eye contact. And, take heart, Ace will come along given enough time and patience.


when my foster dog, Kelso, was adopted he was petrified of the husband in the team who adopted him. (Kelso is a long story, but was with me for a year and a half before he could even be considered for adoption because he was so frightened of everything). It probably took six months before he was comfortable with the man, but once he got there, there was no looking back. He adores them both now. Just be patient.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would also add the suggestion that, to help your partner make his body language less scary, he does some of the the feeding, treats and training sessions from as non-threatening a posture as possible. By that I mean, sitting on the floor, (because humans do loom over dogs) and speaking in a higher, soft voice and just kind of presenting himself to her by sitting down and having or doing something interesting, such as holding treats or offering a toy - but do NOT ask her to come. Rather let her come to him. Let her have the chance to initiate lots of contacts while he just sits there being very mellow, kindly and available with treats or toys beside him. Sit down sideways to her, rather than facing her and let her choose the approach.

I don't mean he has to do this all the time, but it might be worth just adding in some sessions of him trying this and leaving the "power" in her paws. If she finds that she has the option to initiate more contacts and he's ready with super awesome rewards, she may over time grow bolder. It's liable to take time, months even, but don't give up. You've already come a long ways! :)

~ Gloria

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a very fearful dog who at first thought my DH was evil. All he had to do was look at her and she would pee and run away. If she was in the room while he talked it was the same thing. He was heart broken for her. We ended up having DH talk in a very high pitched voice, which he thought was silly at first until he started doing it and it worked. At first she would cautiously walk up and sniff him while he was standing completely still, then eventually she realized he wasn't so scary and could stand by him. He also started sitting on the floor making himself very small so she would approach him. Now after over a year she started seeking him out for attention.


Other things that may or may not have played part. He was temporarily the only one who gave her treats, trained her, and fed her for roughly a month. We also started general confidence building games like walking on weird surfaces and free shaping her.


For the fear of other dogs have you tried using games like 'look at that'?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first problem, I might have some advice for.


My puppy had the same thing when I got her, afraid of everything. A renowned trainer here gave me some tips that really helped and I had some trial and error myself so I can tell you what I did. My Abbey does so much better now. It's a different thing with puppies of course, I can imagine with an older dog, fear is more engrained, so I guess training should be more persistent / ongoing.


It all comes down to changing the association she has with dogs first, before letting her interact with dogs again. And also teach her, at the same time, that when there is something to fear, she can count on you.


So I wouldn't choose to interact too much with dogs in the beginning, because you are 'forcing' something, and I think that doesn't really works when a dog is fearful. So find a place where dogs are, and where they won't just come running up to your dog. For example: outside of a fenced dog park, or in a park where dogs have to be on leash. Stand some distance away from them and let Ace decide what that distance is: close enough that she sees the dogs, far away enough so you can still get her attention and she isn't overcome by fear (her threshold).


1) Let her look at the dogs, click, reward

(food is a better reward than play in this case I think, because it keeps the focus on the subject matter rather than a toy)


After a few repeats, switch to:

2) Let her look at the dogs, then ask her attention, by making a little noise or her name. When she looks at you, click, reward.


Do this several times a week until you see her relax a little. Her threshold has become higher, so you can decrease the distance a bit. Don't go too fast and watch your dog for signs if you are going too fast.


You'll also know she's improving when she looks at you automatically when she sees a dog, always click and reward for that.


When she is comfortable enough to stand fairly close to a dog, try to find some very controlled way to introduce her to dogs again..


Hope it helps!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...