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Shoes, socks and counter surfing

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At 6 months, Bear is a challenge.


He has no shortage of chews and toys or attention.

However, he takes shoes, socks, my wife's yarn and he counter surfs.


It's difficult to Bear-proof our house.

It was easier with children.

My children didn't chew my shoes and socks and were too short to counter surf.


He doesn't discriminate.

He will take things from any of us.


Once again, I find myself asking for training suggestions.


Thank you

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It is a plus that children don't generally chew socks. :P As for your 4-legged juvenile, until he's older and knows better, my advice is to NOT give him free rein in the house. Use baby gates to keep him out of rooms you don't want him in. Use a crate when you can't watch or supervise him. Use X-pens to "fence" him into areas where you can watch him. And teach him to lie down and relax when you are relaxing. Again, a crate is invaluable.

If you're not using a crate, now is the time to teach him. Make it a good thing. Feed him his meals there, give him treats there, put high-value toys in there. (But nothing he's liable to chew into pieces he can swallow.)

If he grabs something undesirable right in front of you, my usual tactic is to give a firm but kindly "NO," or "Leave it," take it from the pup and immediately replace it with a good toy or chew treat. They're not in trouble - that's not the point. The point is simply that these things are not toys and these things are. :) This is also a good time to teach a "leave it" and reward them with a higher value toy or treat and praise after you've taken the object.

Hope this helps! :)

~ Gloria

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Thanks for the info, Gloria.

He does have a crate.

Mostly, he just sleeps in it but, occasionally, he gets some time when he starts to drive me nuts.


Never fed him, or any of my dogs in the crate.


In 45 years of dogs, I've let the dogs have free run in the house, generally.

All have had rare incidents like Bear's but were quite easy to break.

However, he's the first male.


I believe that makes a difference in a lot of behaviors.


I think I'll start with restricting him to one room where he can't get in too much trouble and still be with us

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I have always felt that a pup or young dog was an excellent way to teach children (and adults) to pick up and put away their stuff. The consequences of not doing so with a pup or young dog in the house are often not pleasing.

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It is certainly a challenge!


The same applies to counter-surfing which is also rewarding in proportion to what delights are found out and accessible. The microwave or oven, or in the sink, can make great places to defrost if inside the fridge won't do. If I have a pup or youngster that shows any interest in the countertop, out come the mousetraps.


Like any other training or management, it works best and most readily before a habit becomes established. Don't ask me how I know this...

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Baby gate can't come soon enough


Yesterday's adventures with Bear included:

We had a bowl with fudge broken pieces sitting wayyyyyyy back on the counter.

Not any more.

I know chocolate is real bad but he isn't showing any bad signs.


Bear also loves bananas.

I had several banana peels on the counter that I hadn't, yet, fed my composting worms.

Bear got them.

When we get a bunch of bananas, we need to find higher ground.


The boy can't be hungry.

At 6 months, I'm sure he's over 40 #s..


My 3-1/2 year old girl is only @ 31#s.

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I'm always amused by people with 6 month old puppies who are frustrated by their naughty but very normal behavior and want it to to be over already! :lol:


He's still so very young, to put it in perspective the equivalent of about a 7 year old child. No one expects a 7 year old to be perfectly behaved; it's understood they have a lot of learning and growing up to do.


Another way to put this into perspective is that you should be worried if your pup's not always getting into trouble! Curiosity and explorationare a part of normal development, and the smartest children (like the smart puppies) get into a lot of mischief too as they explore their world to see how it works and what their places in it are. A friend's high IQ preschooler glued a lacy tablecloth to the entire dining room table one day because she was curious and otherwise unoccupied. Well, border collie puppies are the high IQ preschoolers of the dog world. LOL


So take a deep breath and be willing to ride this out. Learn to laugh at his shenanigans instead of being frustrated by them. They'll be a distant memory all too soon. One advantage of puppies over human children is that they mature much faster than humans so the time until you have a well mannered adult (if you've put the work into it) is much shorter.


And remember, too, baby gates are as accessible as the nearest Wal-Mart or many other retail stores. B)

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And remember, too, baby gates are as accessible as the nearest Wal-Mart or many other retail stores. B)

I know.

I never go into a store if I can get it online for about the same price.

I've not had one for this long.

Several days more won't make much difference in this case.


Good analogy with a pre-schooler.

WE (I) tend to forget what the last dog was like.


Molly, at 3-1/2, is a sweet well-behaved (in a Border Collie sense) girl.

My daughter hated her and wanted to take her back more than once.


Yesterday, she expressed the same feelings about Bear when he wasn't on his best behavior when we took him someplace.


For me, it's not so much frustration as just trying to train him to not do this stuff.


Restricting his area removes the temptation but he's still not trained to stop this.


It's difficult catching him in the act

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Catching him in the act means that he is not where he can't be supervised (hello, baby gates!) so you can try a combination of reasonable crating, shutting him in a room where there is someone to watch him, and even tethering him to you or your chair or desk while you are working right there.


It is always good to remind yourself that this will be over not a minute too soon but, also in a way, way too soon. Just like with human kids, you can't wait for them to grow up and then you miss the special things that their very youth brings into your life. Mostly.

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Catching him in the act means that he is not where he can't be supervised (hello, baby gates!) so you can try a combination of reasonable crating, shutting him in a room where there is someone to watch him, and even tethering him to you or your chair or desk while you are working right there.


It is always good to remind yourself that this will be over not a minute too soon but, also in a way, way too soon. Just like with human kids, you can't wait for them to grow up and then you miss the special things that their very youth brings into your life. Mostly.


Yup. If he's still able to do mischief, then he's got too much freedom. :) I know it may not be possible to restrict access to the kitchen - the way our house is shaped, the edge of the kitchen is access to both the living room and the bathroom/bedroom hall. But the trick is to never let him out of your sight unsupervised.


X-pens may work better than baby gates in some situations, because they are longer and can be configured to various shapes and come in various heights. Not very attractive as decor, but they serve a purpose until he grows up. ;)


A friend of mine tells a story about how her first border collie was very sweet, easy and obliging, such a nice dog and so very intelligent. She thought border collies surely must be the best breed ever. Then she got her next puppy some years later. TOTALLY not the same! :P


Hang in there! The trick is to change the thought, not just correct a behavior after it happens. Restricting his freedom a bit helps keep those thoughts from forming.


BTW, I heard one correction for counter surfing is to set up a bunch of jangly metal pans and empty tin cans on the counter as precariously as possible, and put something really tasty under it. Be sure it's rigged so if he reaches up, the whole thing comes down CRASH. If it works, he gets a nice self-correction. B) I've never tried this, so I can't swear to its veracity ...


~ Gloria

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I didn't read everyone's response, but I have seen many many dogs with similar issues, and in my opinion it all has to do with attention: your dog wants it, and gets it by acting out.


Puppies, especially of the border collie kind, tend to be very good at knowing how to grab the attention of owners. 'I'm bored, if I grab this, they start chasing me'. Remember: negative attention is still attention.


And attention, is the BEST way to reward your puppy for good behaviour, it's basically currency: and of higher value than any treat or toy. Attention is what most dogs crave, and what they try their utmost to get.


Ignoring, if correctly done, might be your solution. You can't hurt your puppy with it, and I've seen it work so many times. This is how it works:


- When he does something wrong, like jump on the couch, grab a sock, bite your ankles, etc, just ignore, meaning: no looking at him either. Ignoring means no interaction whatsoever.


- Make it a family rule to ignore the dog when he's acting out, running around, etc.


- NO playing with him when he comes up to you and nags you for attention with a toy, or simply his presence. You're not a breathing toy, you decide when it's playtime and when he gets attention.


Now I understand that if there is a valuable item in your puppy's mouth, you can't ignore that. First off: prevention is key, crate training and putting valuables out of reach is important. But when Bear does grab something you have to take from him, you can make the entire interaction very boring. Walk up to him, no chasing, without saying anything, barely look at him, take what he grabbed away, and walk away. That's it. No trading for a chew (that's rewarding!), no saying 'NO!' (because that means nothing after a certain point). Just.. ignore..


bear will probably find out there is simply no use in doing what he's doing, because it doesnt get a response from you anymore.


If you try this, there are 2 things you have to know, that are very imnportant:


- The bad behaviour tends to worsen a bit in the first few days you try this, Bear will start to act out, because he's not getting his usual response, however, if you consistently ignore, it will work. Keep at it for a few days and see what happens.


- Halfway ignoring will worsen your problems: if you ignore for a while and then give attention again, you inadvertently taught your dog to try very hard to grab your attention. so: ignoring means completely ignoring.


Hope it helps!

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Dear Doggers,


Prez, the young beardog is still counter untrustworthy. I wouldn't think of leaving thawing meat where he can smell it and reach it. He's not a Border Collie but incidences are very much reduced by letting him know the counter surfing is unacceptable - not what McCaig pack members do.


"DOWN!!!" works. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!!" works. Nothing can be done unless you catch them in the act.


I don't use the ecollar for these corrections. I believe the strongest corrections should be reserved for important faults. Prez will (mostly) get it in time.


Donald McCaig

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I agree with what others have said. Our girl Mavis will be 12 months old in a few days and only recently has she begun to have more freedom in the house.


She's been a sock thief since a tiny puppy, so all socks were put away. She was a land shark and wanted to chew on anything she could get her mouth on. She was also a foot chaser/shoe biter, so all shoes were kept in closets and her awake time limited to our puppy-proofed den. We had an x-pen in our den and a baby gate separating the den from the kitchen. If she was awake and we were supervising, we were in the den. If we weren't supervising, she was in her x-pen. At night, she sleeps in a crate in our bedroom. Only in the last two months has her chewing subsided. One day I realized it had been a week since she tried to chew on the den rugs or her x-pen, and I was amazed. Since her chewing had subsided, we recently decided to get rid of the x-pen and let her hang out unsupervised in the den (still behind the baby gate) and she did great.


Next, we started letting her into the rest of the house more frequently, leaving the baby gate open (but other doors in the house still closed, like the bathrooms and spare bedroom). This is when her counter surfing started, but we don't leave any food on the counters and the counters are clean of any crumbs. When she jumps up and puts a paw on the counter, there's nothing for her to find, but I still tell her a gentle "Off!" and she gets down. We also taught a "calm" behavior, which is her lying on the floor with her leg kicked out to the side. Now when we are cooking or preparing her food in the kitchen, we'll ask her to be calm and she'll lie down on the kitchen floor and watch. If it's an especially yummy treat/food and she starts to get excited and puts a paw on the counter, I say "Off!" and I freeze and don't look at her. She gets down and back into her calm position. This is still a work in progress... As Gloria mentioned, we also use this calm behavior to get her to relax when we're relaxing. To teach the calm behavior, I tried catching her in this position, clicking and treating. Later I named it "calm" and continued to click/treat. She eventually began offering "calm" for many different things and it's become her new default behavior.


I also agree with the ignoring approach. We tried this with Mavis at about 14 weeks until very recently. When she was a baby, if we made a fuss about anything, it only fueled the undesirable behavior. The first time this happened,she was only about 9 weeks old. We were in our new home and the first Spring flowers were starting to bloom in the backyard. She went to attack one of the flowers and my husband ran across the yard waving his hands and saying "Nooooo!" From then on, every time we went into the yard, she'd run up to the flower, look at us mischievously and attack the flower until it was eventually destroyed. (Luckily, it was not poisonous to dogs and she didn't eat it.) Using the ignoring approach also saved many items in our den, like the curtains, walls, trim and bookshelves. Whenever she'd put her mouth on them, we wouldn't say anything about the item in question and would distract her with something else, because we knew the more attention we drew to the unwanted behavior, the more likely she'd be to continue. But it was hard to ignore at times! With her recent bursts of maturity and sweetness, we can actually tell her not to do something and she'll listen, so there is hope! :D

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When a dog does something unacceptable when I am not around, like stealing anything off the table, I try to make sure it has no opportunity for mischief. But it's only one half.


The other half is I provoke the situation, e.g. leave something tasty at the edge, observe the dog surreptitiously and when it is about to commit the tress-pass thinking no one's around; I bellow "what are you doing!" at the right moment in my subtle "farmer outdoors" fashion. Works wonders :) I wonder who influenced me in this ;)


P.S. I actually have a term for this: "shepherd's bellow" - deep loud yell that carries no anger.

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