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Intro and crate and other questions

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Hi, I'm new here but have been reading the forums for a while now.

We have a beautiful black & white border collie puppy, he's about 16 weeks and we've had him since about 7-8 weeks.


I wasn't planning on using a crate but a few hours into our first night our puppy just kept climbing out his bed and we couldn't leave him, so we got one the next day. He has always been happy to go in it at bedtime and he currently sleeps in it from about 10pm until 6.30-7am in it.

I work 3 or 4 days a week but there is always someone at home. Apparently when I'm at work the puppy plays/trains a bit, plays a bit by himself and then curls up somewhere (usually next to the sofa) and sleeps quite a lot. When I am at home in the evenings he does not settle and when I'm at home on my days off he doesn't seem to settle or sleep for more than a few minutes. We've realised it is because I'm always on the go, when I'm at work the other humans are generally lounging around quietly watching TV but when I'm home I potter about so our puppy doesn't stay still for long, then he gets over tired and starts getting into mischief (chewing furniture, grabbing at legs, taking things he's not allowed etc). So these last couple of days I've recognised that he's getting tired and popped him into the crate which he has willingly gone and promptly fell asleep. I've then quietly opened the crate after an hour and he's woken up and come out. I've done this a maximum of twice a day for one hour each time.

So my question is, how long is it appropriate to crate him for during the day? How long do other puppies/dogs spend crated? He has been so much calmer and more pleasant to be around with a couple of enforced crate times. The difference at puppy class between the session we went to when he'd been awake and playing for hours and the next session where I put him in his crate to sleep for an hour before class was unbelievable! But I feel uncomfortable about shutting him in, I hate cages and have never used anything like a crate before. It's big enough for him to stretch out in and I imagine it will be big enough for him as an adult to sleep in (I hope at some point to take the door off) but it isn't big enough for a bowl of water, it's a bed rather than a living space. He has a couple of small toys (to chew) in there and a small handful of kibble. Is an hour twice a day reasonable? Should we leave him in until he wakes up and asks to come out or is it best to restrict it?

 I have previous dog and collie experience but have not had a dog since having a family so this is a whole new experience. The puppy is intended to be a companion for my 13 year old son to have adventures with (he's home-schooled). We have stacks of opportunities locally to us, currently doing puppy classes, to follow are obedience classes with agility foundations, later on there is the opportunity to learn to work with sheep, flyball/agility, then further in the future there is sniff training, protection dog training, eventually maybe PAT (Pets As Therapy - visiting nursing homes/hospitals). We live right by the beach, within walking distance of several parks and very close to the river, woods etc. Our puppy has a busy and active life ahead of him. My plan was to remain hands off and let the puppy and boy bond over learning together. They are bonded and adore each other, however watching them is like watching the blind leading the blind. Their reaction times are off so they are missing each others cues and it is quite frustrating to watch. So I've stepped in and am doing some training with the puppy and then passing him to my son and hanging back a bit but offering guidance and this seems to be working okay, except that the puppy very much sees me as 'Mum' and at times they both look at me for guidance rather than each other. My son is reluctant to take him out for walks on his own and when we've been for walks if I've suggested I take an alternate route the puppy has been reluctant to leave me and my son hasn't been confident enough to make him go. Has anyone got any ideas or experiences to help me pass the 'leader' baton to my son if that makes sense? My hope is that they can go off and do things together without me having to follow along.

Thank-you in advance X

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I think the time that you are putting your puppy in the crate for now is perfectly fine.  Dogs can be crated for hours (and may need to be due to injury, travel, agility trials etc.).  As he gets older, the time can probably decrease, but longer if needed would also be fine.  Dogs don't look at a crate as a cage, they look at it as a den.  Many crate trained dogs will actually go into their crate as a safe place when stressed (such as visiting children who won't leave them alone).  You have said that your puppy is so much better to be around when he has some crate time.  This should reassure you that crate time is good for him.  It is teaching him to develop an off switch, which really is invaluable for a BC.

As far as bonding with your son, I suspect the only way to really allow your boy to become the leader is leaving the two of them alone to learn.  You probably need to step back and let the two of them make mistakes together so your son can learn what he needs to do.  And, of course, you need to teach your boy what to look for.  Can someone else film interactions between your son and his dog, then you can watch the video with your son and use it as a lesson.  I know from my agility training that watching myself on video lets me see where I have gone wrong better than someone just telling me.

I am not an expert, mind you.

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The crate time you are doing is fine. There is no golden rule about how long a dog or puppy should or can be crated. It sounds as though what you are doing is working for both you and the dog, so don't worry about fixing what is not broken.

My feeling about the other question is that a thirteen year old is not equipped to raise and train a border collie puppy. You state that their reaction times are off, and they miss each other's cues. This is a recipe for frustration for both of them, and is not going to teach them anything.

If you try to leave it all to your son, there may be results you don't like and that you will then have to work twice as hard to correct. Remember that border collies, very easy to train and quick to learn, are also quick to learn something you had no intention of teaching them. If you leave your son in charge of things I predict he will unintentionally train the puppy into behaviors you don't want. Also, from what you say, your son wants your help and guidance. He clearly cares about the pup and doesn't want to mess up, so step in and help him.

My approach in such a situation would be to have ten minute training sessions daily with the puppy, with the boy there watching. I would explain everything I was doing to the boy and let him ask questions. Then, I would say, " your turn", and let the boy take the dog for 10 minutes and try doing what I was doing, reporting back to me how it went. Of course, these ten minute sessions would not be back-to-back, as 20 minutes is too long for a puppy, but would be at different times in the day. If your son is still hesitant, then stick around and watch him during his session with the pup, so he can ask you what to do if he gets stymied. This will build everyone's confidence and allow a gradual learning process by your son, and the all-important consistency that a puppy absolutely needs in training.  Consistent reactions, cues, rewards, and redirection is necessary to progress smoothly with the pup's development.

Best of luck, and let the good folks on the forum help you out.

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Whether or not a 13 year old is capable of training a pup is very much a factor of how mature the child is. But it's not fair to expect any child who doesn't have experience growing up with a dog to just know how to do it or even how to interact with the puppy.

Something that would probably be a great idea is for you and your son to take some good positive reinforcement based classes together with a good trainer. Start young with puppy kindergarten, then work up to more advanced classes. Allow your son to be the handler under your supervision. You can then help him with the practice sessions at home between classes, using the same methods he's learned in class.

This would allow him the opportunity to develop the confidence to feel he knows what he's about in order to be assertive and effective. He'll probably see that some of the adults in the class really aren't any more clued in than he is too. ;)


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Thank-you all for the reassurances.

We are doing puppy classes twice a week. I signed up for the same class twice because I also have a teenage daughter so they each do each class once rather than having to share the time and it means I get to observe twice a week which helps me keep practice on track, it's a lovely class completely positive based and only  2 or 3 other puppies to the two trainers so we all get plenty of attention. I think it's going to be okay, just a bit slower than I expected. It had never occurred to me that my children wouldn't just know how to work with a puppy.

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Good for you! And even better to think of and accommodate both of them individually.

38 minutes ago, jami74 said:

It had never occurred to me that my children wouldn't just know how to work with a puppy. 

:lol: I love that you're not only able to recognize this but also to admit it.

There are way too many adults who really don't understand how to work with a dog but who just can't see it. Unfortunately, it's usually the dogs who suffer from it.

I hope you'll keep us posted about how your kids' and pup's progress.



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Nobody ever knows anything until they learn it.

I started training dogs when I was 13 with only the benefit of one obedience class, maybe two,  and I had success training my dog. But when I look back I am appalled at some of the methods I used, not knowing any better. I truly was not prepared to do what I wanted to do and do it right.  Compared to what I know now, some of which I learned on on these forums, I knew nothing then. Things could have gone so much faster, more smoothly, and with more respect paid to the dog if I had known then even half of what I know now. 

But you don't know until you learn. It sounds as though this is an opportunity for you all to learn as a family and I think that's a great idea.


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