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Dear everyone,

 

My 11-month old border collie pup, Gogo, is having this weird behavior - every time I try to train him, he will hide under the sofa or bed only after performing a few times of a command. And if I lure him with food or toys, he may tuck his head out a little. But he wouldnt come out. This has been frustrating me for a month or two cuz now I cannot really train him at all. The only thing I do with him is playing fetch - which he is crazy about and never hide.

 

Has anyone encountered this problem before? I have no clue why he started to behave like this.

 

Thanks a ton in advance!

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His hiding from you could be an indication that he's a little overwhelmed. Your pup may only be able to take a few minutes of training. My 10 yr old loses focus after about 5 minutes, less sometimes.

 

Train in shorter bursts, one thing at a time. If you're working on sit, for example, just ask then reinforce if he responds, but only for 5 minutes or less. And move around. Ask him to sit in the dining room, then move to the bedroom. Make it interesting for him, and in short sessions.

 

You can use fetch as a reward/reinforcement. If he does the behavior you ask for, toss the ball for him a couple times, then ask for that behavior again.

 

At 11 months, he's probably hitting adolescence, and his attention span is REALLY short. Shorter sessions, use the ball as a reward, and possibly fewer sessions. Take an entire day off once in a while.

 

Good luck! Let us know how you get on.

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In addition to the above, I'd also ask if you're using correction based training or positive reinforcement. The hiding suggests to me that he's doing some serious avoidance, and if he is there's a reason why.

 

Border collies can be a very sensitive breed, and if he's getting a lot of corrections -- or even just a few, depending on how sensitive he is -- he may afraid and/or just not be willing to engage in what he perceives to be an unpleasant activity.

 

If you are using corrections, you may want to consider switching to reward based methods. It could take some time to undo any negative associations he's made with training, but he should eventually get over it.

 

Even if you're not specifically using corrections, there may be something else in your demeanor he's uncomfortable with. Do you have very high expectations that he hasn't met yet? If so, you might unknowingly be putting too much pressure on him. Or he might be sensing that you're frustrated with him and wants to avoid your displeasure.

 

Or maybe you're moving through things too quickly and he doesn't understand what you want from him. Some dogs just shut down when they're confused, just like some people do.

 

Try paying attention to these little things to see what might be affecting him. Try some different approaches in very short sessions to see if you can figure out what he's hiding from. You might have to backtrack and retrain things you think he already knows, just to create new and different, happier associations toward training.

 

It also might be helpful to enlist the aid of a good positive reinforcement trainer. Sometimes someone else observing can see things we're not even aware that we're doing or reactions from the dog we just haven't noticed because we're too wrapped up in the process. I've learned so much about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it by having someone else watch me.

 

I wish you and Gogo well in working this out.

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His hiding from you could be an indication that he's a little overwhelmed. Your pup may only be able to take a few minutes of training. My 10 yr old loses focus after about 5 minutes, less sometimes.

 

Train in shorter bursts, one thing at a time. If you're working on sit, for example, just ask then reinforce if he responds, but only for 5 minutes or less. And move around. Ask him to sit in the dining room, then move to the bedroom. Make it interesting for him, and in short sessions.

 

You can use fetch as a reward/reinforcement. If he does the behavior you ask for, toss the ball for him a couple times, then ask for that behavior again.

 

At 11 months, he's probably hitting adolescence, and his attention span is REALLY short. Shorter sessions, use the ball as a reward, and possibly fewer sessions. Take an entire day off once in a while.

 

Good luck! Let us know how you get on.

 

 

Thank you for your tip! And I sort of sensed that his adolescence is affecting some of his behaviors. I'll definitely try short sessions!

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In addition to the above, I'd also ask if you're using correction based training or positive reinforcement. The hiding suggests to me that he's doing some serious avoidance, and if he is there's a reason why.

 

Border collies can be a very sensitive breed, and if he's getting a lot of corrections -- or even just a few, depending on how sensitive he is -- he may afraid and/or just not be willing to engage in what he perceives to be an unpleasant activity.

 

If you are using corrections, you may want to consider switching to reward based methods. It could take some time to undo any negative associations he's made with training, but he should eventually get over it.

 

Even if you're not specifically using corrections, there may be something else in your demeanor he's uncomfortable with. Do you have very high expectations that he hasn't met yet? If so, you might unknowingly be putting too much pressure on him. Or he might be sensing that you're frustrated with him and wants to avoid your displeasure.

 

Or maybe you're moving through things too quickly and he doesn't understand what you want from him. Some dogs just shut down when they're confused, just like some people do.

 

Try paying attention to these little things to see what might be affecting him. Try some different approaches in very short sessions to see if you can figure out what he's hiding from. You might have to backtrack and retrain things you think he already knows, just to create new and different, happier associations toward training.

 

It also might be helpful to enlist the aid of a good positive reinforcement trainer. Sometimes someone else observing can see things we're not even aware that we're doing or reactions from the dog we just haven't noticed because we're too wrapped up in the process. I've learned so much about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it by having someone else watch me.

 

I wish you and Gogo well in working this out.

 

 

Hi GentleLake! Thanks for your reply.

 

I'm using 100% positive reinforcement. I use clickers and treats. He used to respond very very well. Now, treats don't work that well anymore. He somehow lost interest. Maybe it's adolescence?

 

As people on this forum suggest (as well as lots of youtubers) that giving him a good tug of war or playing fetch with him as reward, I generally don't find it work with Gogo. He would be too focused on the ball or the game to do any other command. (I can ask him to do sit, and down now tho). Is this common among BCs,that they are too concentrated on the "job"?

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He would be too focused on the ball or the game to do any other command. (I can ask him to do sit, and down now tho). Is this common among BCs,that they are too concentrated on the "job"?

 

It is common among bc's, and other breeds, that age, but you should continue to work on obedience with games as rewards, and he will eventually be able to play through work. Hide the toy behind your back or in a pocket before you give a comand, then out it comes imediatly after. Do short sessions. If he is still focused on the (absent) toy, just stop the game/training and go do something else. He will soon learn the needed self control to hear you during play, if he wants to keep on playing.

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I'm glad to see this isn't the result of correction based training. However, even positive reinforcement trainers can still put too much pressure on their dogs so still a good idea, IMO, to take stock of your expectations and demeanor while training.

 

Hopefully it's just a phase.

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I endorse all of the above advice.

 

I note that you said it is like the treat you use no longer has much value. Are you using just one type, or have you tried using different treats? If you have not already tried it, maybe try to find another treat which has high value and mix it up a bit.

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Following up on Teresa's post about using the ball or tug as a reward ~ I believe it's important that you train your Gogo that you are in control of the toy, not him. Using it as a reward/reinforcement during training for other behaviors is a great way to do that.

 

If Gogo won't perform once he sees the toy go away, then cease your interaction of any kind with him. Put the toy out of sight, (these dogs will stare at a ball, etc for hours!) Once he gets the message that No Fun Is Being Had Here and moves away from you, maybe even lays down somewhere, give it a minute or so and call him to you. Resume training or play.

 

If you do this consistently, he'll get the message that you are the one in charge of toys appearing and disappearing, and that if he does as you tell him, he'll get the ball to play with.

 

This could take a while, but stick to it. I dislike intensely when a dog stares at me or barks at me for no good reason. Good reasons are, "I have to go outside and potty" and "The house is on fire". "I'm bored" or "Need to play NOW" are not good reasons.

 

If you're consistent, you'll be laying the groundwork for a whole host of other things. You don't mention any dog sports or herding activities that you might want to do, but teaching him to control himself and to be your partner instead of your boss, the easier any of those things will be.

 

I owned 3 border collies at the same time, and had not informed myself at all. If I'd known then what I know now, life would have been better for everyone.

 

Ruth & Gibbs

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Dear Doggers,

 

I've been biting my tongue. My training is correction based and my old friend Roxanne prefers Dr Skinner's theories. Neither of us is likely to change. I was grateful therefore for her " . . .however, even positive reinforcement trainers can still put too much pressure on their dogs so still a good idea, IMO, to take stock of your expectations and demeanor while training."

 

I have seen unhappy/crazy Border Collies trained by "positive' methods and happy ones trained by ecollars. Sheepdogs can be excruciatingly sensitive. They can also be hard as a rock. One must adapt one's training persona to the particular dog. Men may need to become smaller. Women may need to claim their rights.

 

Donald

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Perhaps we need to realize that there is a difference between "correction-based" and "punishment-based" training. A correction, to me, does not automatically mean a punishment - it means letting the dog know that the choice he/she made is not the right choice and to offer another choice/behavior/response. It says, "No, not that, try something else (or try this)."

 

I have a friend who has a Lab/Maremma cross. For a very long time, he was almost totally non-responsive to her recalls and, when he did come, she told him he was a "bad dog". How many of us have heard this? When the dog finally comes or is caught, it is punished in some way - yelled at, grabbed collar, shaken, dragged home, chained up, whatever. Essentially, the dog that the person wanted to "come" finally came, and then was punished because it did come (or get caught). I tried to explain that to her but, like with some other people I've spoken to, it didn't make a difference.

 

Then she took the dog to a family dog class (one that I used to assist at) and now the dog has a great recall - he gets a treat, he gets praised even if he takes his time, he gets no negativity or punishment when he comes. Hmm...

 

And I have learned, sadly way to late in our lives together, that too much positivity (cheerleading, urging, encouragement) can put just as much pressure on a dog as negativity can put. My sensitive and tries-so-hard-to-please Celt is proof of that. Thanks to Roxanne and Donald for stressing that - it is easily seen when someone else does it but not so easy for me to recognize when I do it...

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I really don't see the problem with the dreaded "p word".

Yes I correct my dogs, and yes the stronger corrections could well be defined as punishment.

But I don't train "correction/punishment based" as I also reward.

In my opinion any dog should learn how to take a correction even if it is just a very mild verbal one (for the sensitive ones, stronger for the more thick skulled individuals).

 

As for the dog in the opening post, I think I would kinda put him up for a while, also with regard to his age. Just do the things that he likes like fetch, for at least a couple of weeks (months). And then slowly and gradually reintroduce more specific training.

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I probably should have used the term punishment based training rather than correction based. The reason I didn't -- and as I read some of the responses I realize it wasn't a good reason -- was that I didn't want to come off as criticizing the OP.

 

Yes, I definitely prefer positive reinforcement training. But I do use some mild correction, mostly verbal. I don't mind saying "no" or telling a dog to "knock it off" when it's misbehaving. And I did use some corrections when I was training working sheepdogs, though still not what I'd refer to as punishment.

 

But I don't use or endorse punishments such as leash jerks, prong & shock collars, hitting, pinching toes, alpha rolls, etc.

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I use correction as needed. I was a positive only enthusiast for a while, and discovered that life in all it's iterations is not all positive. Corrections happen naturally. If I'm lucky, they are corrections that I survive and learn from.

 

Having a well-behaved 10 yr old bc, corrections for the dog are not needed all that much. They are still delivered when necessary.

 

Ruth & Gibbs

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Dear Doggers,

 

Corrections? Punishment? The distinction evades me - as why such a distinction might matter. My old Philosophy Prof called this sort of quarrel "a mere terminological dispute". Whether I bodyblock a young dog so he'll reverse direction on sheep, tell my coondog to "leave it" when he's pestering Fly or wading into a dog scrum with shouts and boots I am saying, as vigorously as is required, "This behavior is NOT satisfactory and you must abandon it."

 

Clarity is my primary responsibility because ambiguity is cruel.

 

By the by - Mr. Smalahundur offered a good suggestion to our OP: Put the dog up for a couple weeks. Let him have fun.

 

Donald

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I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding "positive" training on the part of at least some of its opponents AND its advocates. It really is much more complex than paying/"bribing" with cookies. In the end, the DOG gets to decide the reinforcement, not the trainer. One dog's reinforcer may be another dogs punisher.

 

Nonetheless, in my experience "positive" training does not hold up well in the real world under some circumstances. I haven't decided if there are holes in the methodology or if the issue is my skills--likely its both.

 

And yes, I've seen "positive" trainers put dogs under a tremendous amount of pressure. In the case of the OP, its time to back off and perhaps find a different reward that is reinforcing to the dog.

 

Toy play is extremely complex as I have found out the hard way. It is also a very powerful training tool.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Corrections? Punishment? The distinction evades me - as why such a distinction might matter. My old Philosophy Prof called this sort of quarrel "a mere terminological dispute". Whether I bodyblock a young dog so he'll reverse direction on sheep, tell my coondog to "leave it" when he's pestering Fly or wading into a dog scrum with shouts and boots I am saying, as vigorously as is required, "This behavior is NOT satisfactory and you must abandon it."

 

Clarity is my primary responsibility because ambiguity is cruel.

 

By the by - Mr. Smalahundur offered a good suggestion to our OP: Put the dog up for a couple weeks. Let him have fun.

 

Donald

I beg to differ, Donald.

 

I'd call all your examples "corrections" but something causing physical discomfort or pain a "punishment". I think there is certainly a difference.

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I beg to differ, Donald.

I'd call all your examples "corrections" but something causing physical discomfort or pain a "punishment". I think there is certainly a difference.

In everyday parlance there certainly is a difference because of the connotations of the word punishment. Most people dont think of the word in terms of operant conditioning, where it has a broader meaning. For this reason I think correction is a better choice when speaking about dog training.

 

ETA: Sorry for the highjack contribution

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Dear everyone,

 

My 11-month old border collie pup, Gogo, is having this weird behavior - every time I try to train him, he will hide under the sofa or bed only after performing a few times of a command.

 

 

You've already got good advice, so I'll only add this.

 

Do it less.

 

However many "a few times" is, he apparently thinks it's too much. So, doing less is sometimes more.

 

At 11 months he's going through a lot of teenaged changes. He may be starting to look and act like a big dog, but even fun, happy training can seem overwhelming if there's too much of it. Picture asking a 3rd grader to perform a task several times over. At some point, his attention will start to drift and he'll get fidgety and cross.

 

It may be better to take time during the day to do numerous very brief things - only a couple repetitions at a time - and let him go immediately after, than to set up longer training sessions.

 

Just a thought! :)

 

~ Gloria

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