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Mentally Tiring a Border Collie?

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Just to start with, thanks so much for all the support and help I've received from you guys! I spend a little bit of time every day just going through various topics on this forum and it helps a lot. Plus all the help I've received for questions I've asked, too :) Dallas is getting on really well. He's such a joy to have around!


My question is how do you know when your border collie is done training for a session? I read somewhere, I think on this site, that you want to do many little training sessions during the day, like 5 minutes each. However, Dallas seems like he could keep going and going and going. He loves learning. Absolutely loves it. He completely focuses on me and picks up on things really quickly. When I end a session he keeps following me and focusing on me as if to say, "please keep going!" In fact, I've never seen him tired after a session and no matter how long a session has gone on, he never seems like he has had enough except maybe once when he really wanted to go play and was very distracted.


Should I maybe extend our sessions or incorporate more throughout the day? Each one is typically 5-10 minutes long and we have probably 5 sessions a day. We always do some training on walks, anytime he goes outside to use the toilet, and then spontaneously during the day if we have a chance.


How can you tell when a border collie is like a satisfied done with a session? Obviously I don't want him done in a sense that he has gone on longer than he should to a point where he no longer enjoys training. I want to keep him happy and satisfied B)

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How old is Dallas now? As the dog matures, they can usually train for longer times. I can't give you any specific guidelines (e.g. at 9 months old, a dog should be able to train for 10 minutes). As you have heard before, each dog is an individual.


I wouldn't worry about breaking his training into smaller segments. Nor would I worry about him wanting to keep training. In fact, I always want my dog NOT to stop training. My goal IS to stop before he wants to stop. I want to see him hopping around saying "More, More, More".


Most often, I can tell if my dog is 'done' training when he starts making mistakes that he didn't before. He gets a little sloppy.


For example, I am trying to train weave poles right now. He usually has a good start to the session, then after a few minutes, he decides he would rather pop out at the 2nd or 3rd to last pole in order to try and get the treat sooner. (He doesn't get his reward.) I will set him up again and try weaving again. If he repeats his 'mistake' two more times, I will stop the session. This prevents him from practicing the incorrect behavior, but also allows me time to think if I am doing something that causes his behavior. Assuming that I am not, my theory is that he is not concentrating on proper performance of his behavior. Concentration can be very tiring.


I would worry less about stopping before he is ready to stop, than going on too long. I guess I have a hard heart, but I do not worry about him being 'satisfied' in an individual session. As you have done, multiple, short sessions are good. Also, he should be able to calm himself if you are not actively working with him.

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What Jovi said!


The goal is not to get your dog "tired" so much as to get your dog's brain exercised and ready for some quiet time, time to think over what you have worked on, get a little rest or nap, chill out.

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My gut response is that the human decides when training ends, not the dog. You don't mention if he's bugging you and won't settle, but if he is, then it's time to install an 'off-switch".


If he settles easily and doesn't relentlessly bombard you with requests for action, then you're doing great.


Some signs that he's feeling overworked are turning away, refusing to look at you, leaving the room, (I had that happen to me several times when I was a novice owner)


Unless you're seeing signs that he won't settle when you want/need him to, I wouldn't worry about it. Sounds like he enjoys working with you, and is full of zest for life! Enjoy it.


Ruth & Gibbs

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Thanks so much y'all! That is a huge relief. I'm always worried I'm not doing enough training for him, but it sounds like we're doing it right. We've got that 101 Dog Tricks book so we've been working through some of those tricks while still working to perfect basic obedience like stays and come.


Sometimes he's quiet after and sometimes he isn't. I do find that when he is really hyper, that's actually the perfect time to do training with him. He zones in all of that energy into me and completely focuses. We're working on his off-switch. He's not perfect, but he's getting the picture that if I'm busy with something (or just being lazy on the laptop), it's time for him to calm down and go do his own thing. Sometimes he does keep bugging me in hopes that we'll continue training or I'll play with him, but it doesn't last long.


Oh, forgot to mention! He's 6 months now, nearly 7 months.


Thanks so much again! I am loving having a dog who is always up for an adventure and loves to learn. It's so much fun having a dog like that :D

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