Jump to content
BC Boards

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

I'm making this post because I'm wondering if anyone has any training advice for me. My BC is 2, and he has a couple unwanted behaviours that I'd really like to fix. I've looked online at training resources but there's something that's definitely "border collie" about his actions, so I thought you all may have some tips.

The first is the major one, which is his recall issue. When we're alone in a park, on a busy trail, literally anywhere, he is perfect at recall. BUT EXCEPT when there is 1. his ball and 2. other dogs that are playing. He'll play keep away and hold his ball in his mouth and stay away from me. When I call him or start to chase after him a bit, he will run huge circles around me, almost frantically. I wonder if anyone has advice on this.

The second is more simple (maybe). He loves to fetch and play with balls, but he won't give it back. This is honestly my mistake in not thoroughly training this as a puppy, but, well, here we are now. When we walk on trails he'll drop the ball on the time. In a field or at the park, he'll hold onto it. The only time he EVER drops the ball is if he's in the 'down' position (he lies down himself or I'll ask him to 'down'). When I ask him to drop it, he won't. I need to physically hold the ball while it's in his mouth and then he'll let go. I really don't like this physical pressuring him.

Has anyone had similar issues and have some advice on what to do? The incidents when he won't come back are especially irritating- sometimes I stay at a park for an extra 30 minutes because I can't catch him.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you reward him for coming to you when you call him? I don't care how old he is sounds like he needs some remedial training. Also, reward him and then tell him to go play again. Don't make the recall the end of everything all the time. As to the ball - get 2. Toss one and he has to let go of the first to get it, then make it a recall/fetch game, he can fetch only when he drops what is in his mouth. Backing up a bit though, have you taught him a release word to drop the ball? Out? Leave it? Again, I'd back up and reward the behavior in a training session, and try to get some good muscle memory going. Out, cookie, give it to him and repeat, so that whatever word you use is a positive reinforcement with a cookie for that behavior. Make sure you're not cheap with your rewards either... 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the above. Any time you have trained something in a dog and in some circumstance the dog regularly fails to do it you have to go back to the basics of training that thing.

In the case of the recall, never chase after the dog if he doesn't come. That only makes it a fun game for him. Go and get him,. If that is impossible, then put him on a long light lead and pull him in to you if he doesn't come. And, very importantly, what Journey said above...always reward him for coming and make sure that it doesn't always mean the end of the fun.  Practice this at home, calling him multiple times and each time he comes he gets a toy or a treat. In the park, on a long line, call him many times and treat each time he comes.  If he is failing to come to you when he is loose, under any circumstances, then he should not be off leash until this is corrected, because 1) it is potentially dangerous, and 2) it teaches the dog over and over that he really doesn't have to come when he is called.

Neither of the issues you describe are any more border collie than any other breed; it's just a matter of re-doing some training, and that is something that is often needed no matter the breed.

As for giving up the ball, Journey's idea is good, especially training a release word, and here's another:   You offer a treat to him every time he brings back the ball and drops it. He has to drop it to get the treat. Another idea, and one you can do simultaneously with the treat when he drops it is this. If he really loves to have you throw the ball, then simply stop the play if he doesn't give up the ball. Never hold the ball to forcibly take it from his mouth. Again, that creates the game of "now she tries to get it from my mouth" and  doesn't teach him to drop it.

The best thing to do is ignore him if he doesn't drop it. Turn your back on him; don't look at him. No throwing the ball until he drops it at your feet. All play and attention stops. If he likes getting the ball thrown for him this will teach him that unless he drops it, you won't play with him at all. Again, practice this at home multiple times. In the park, keep him on a long line and do the same thing. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Following this topic. 

Mine is just a puppy, she loves chasing a ball around the yard. Struggling a bit with teaching her to bring it back. She really wants to play a keep away game where I chase her around, it is her favourite thing and I don’t mind doing that sometimes. Can I teach her when I want her to bring it back and just play fetch as opposed to chasing game? I have honestly never had a dog who wanted to play fetch before in the last 3 dogs so I am a beginner too I guess lol. She will come when I call her after she gets the ball, but she drops the ball and comes running over then, does not bring it back with her. Do I have to completely stop the keep away game in order to teach returning the ball, maybe the two are not compatible? Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites

You've already gotten some very good advice and I'd definitely suggest working in some low distraction environments and going back to the basics until you've got them thoroughly proofed. Then you can very gradually move to some areas where there are more distractions and proofing every step of the way before increasing distractions. It's important to understand that retraining is often more time consuming than originally training a concept, because the dog has effectively learned that he can get away with not complying when he doesn't feel like it so getting him to understand that not complying isn't an option.

Some very important things about recall are never to reprimand your dog for not coming to you when he finally does. You don't want to create any negative associations to his approaching you, so even if he's blown you off it should still be a party when he finally complies. In the same vein, don't call your dog to you for anything unpleasant or disappointing. Don't call your dog to you and then trim his nails or give him a bath; instead go and get the dog and lead him where you want him to go. Don't only call him to you when it's time to leave the park, ending his play time. Instead call him to you often, reward for compliance and then let him go play again. Do this often to reinforce his checking in with you on his own. When he willingly checks in with you of his own accord you can then use that opportunity to cheerfully leash him up when it's time to leave the park instead of always having to use a recall.

For releasing the ball I'd also go back to an area without distraction and do some close work, trading up for something higher value (which will be more possible when he's not hyped up by a game of fetch) like an especially yummy treat and adding a release word, e.g. "give" or "drop." Repeat this over and over till he's happy to play the giving game, then add in some short, low key tosses to proof it before trying it during the excitement of a game of fetch. If he doesn't drop the ball or give it to you, simply walk away and ignore him. Game's over if he doesn't play by your rules.

5 hours ago, D'Elle said:

Neither of the issues you describe are any more border collie than any other breed...

This is important to understand. None of these or other quirky border collie behaviors are breed specific. I have no idea where that myth started but it's just that, a myth. Even what most people tend to think of as border collie behaviors such as the stalking and herding movements used when working sheep are simply versions of very normal canine behaviors found in varying degrees among all dogs and many other canine species. Certain ones have been selectively bred for and then exaggerated in some breeds of dogs while others have been selected against in order to diminish them. Border collies have also been selectively bred for intelligence, which often means that they'll figure out your weak spots such as inconsistency. They'll figure out very quickly that you're not always going to make a big deal over whether or not they carry out with your cues and under what circumstances you're more likely to let disobedience slide. It's one of the reasons "consistency" is key in our training mantra.

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Journey said:

Do you reward him for coming to you when you call him? I don't care how old he is sounds like he needs some remedial training. Also, reward him and then tell him to go play again. Don't make the recall the end of everything all the time. As to the ball - get 2. Toss one and he has to let go of the first to get it, then make it a recall/fetch game, he can fetch only when he drops what is in his mouth. Backing up a bit though, have you taught him a release word to drop the ball? Out? Leave it? Again, I'd back up and reward the behavior in a training session, and try to get some good muscle memory going. Out, cookie, give it to him and repeat, so that whatever word you use is a positive reinforcement with a cookie for that behavior. Make sure you're not cheap with your rewards either... 

Absolutely what Journey said ^^^. With my first bc I got into the 'drop the ball and get in the car' routine and had to fix it. Wasn't that difficult, but I did work at it for a couple weeks ~ 'drop it' , I'd grab it and toss it again, do that several times. Then the last time, I'd add in a GOOD DOG! comment, give her a treat and quickly attach her leash. Then lead her to the car, chatting in a very upbeat voice, 'Wasn't that FUN! Now you get to have DINNER!' as I'd load her in.

Keeping your tone and demeanor bright and lively is important. If your dog gets that you are angry he's going to be wary of you. If he gets that 'wheeee everything is fun and giggles!' he's a lot more likely to trot right along.

Ruth & Gibbs

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your wonderful replies. I will take all your advice and see what works best for me and my guy.

I suppose the most frustrating thing about this was/is that it's only in the "dog park" environment that his recall busts. We could be at the same park when there's only us or a few others there, but when the crowd (5+ dogs) comes and he gets fixated on someone else's ball (sometimes no other ball), is where the issue is. But you guys are absolutely right that I need to go back to the basics.

What's interesting is that the ball drop and recall behaviour are linked- usually he plays hard to catch with the ball in his mouth. Again, just shows that I need to work on both of these things.

7 hours ago, D'Elle said:

Neither of the issues you describe are any more border collie than any other breed; it's just a matter of re-doing some training, and that is something that is often needed no matter the breed.

I see what you and GentleLake mean about this. I know all dogs play this game, but I suppose what made me label what he does as a specifically border collie thing was his movements and the intelligence in his (bad) behaviour. Not an excuse for the behaviour, just an observation. And again, I'm looking forward to the long task of (hopefully) training it out of him.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Littlesplash said:

...it's only in the "dog park" environment that his recall busts...

That's an indication that it's overstimulating for him.

Many border collies don't do well at dog parks for a variety of reasons, but most are linked to its being hyper-stimulating for a dog that's hardwired to control movement. Or else that they run into too many dogs with incompatible, or to them offensive, play styles.

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Littlesplash said:

 

 I know all dogs play this game, but I suppose what made me label what he does as a specifically border collie thing was his movements and the intelligence in his (bad) behavior. 

Littlesplash, his behavior isn't 'bad'. He doesn't understand what you want from him, because you haven't known how to teach what you want specifically in this situation. You're not bad either. Training a very intelligent and intent dog is challenging. The human has to be several steps ahead of that bright and focused canine and that's not always easy. And it seems like they watch every flipping thing you do and interpret it so much differently than you intended it.

They keep us humans on our toes, these beasts. 

Ruth & Gibbs

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Littlesplash said:

I suppose the most frustrating thing about this was/is that it's only in the "dog park" environment that his recall busts.

There is nothing conducive whatsoever about taking your dog to a dog park.  And your above sentence says it all. You are setting him up for failure, as you've witnessed, and this is going to be a problem all along due to the environment and over stimulation brought upon dogs at dog parks.  Not all dogs get along nor should they. not all dogs listen there as you've experienced and no dog should be subjected to the chaos of a dog park.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, GentleLake said:

That's an indication that it's overstimulating for him.

Many border collies don't do well at dog parks for a variety of reasons, but most are linked to its being hyper-stimulating for a dog that's hardwired to control movement. Or else that they run into too many dogs with incompatible, or to them offensive, play styles.

 

21 minutes ago, Journey said:

There is nothing conducive whatsoever about taking your dog to a dog park.  And your above sentence says it all. You are setting him up for failure, as you've witnessed, and this is going to be a problem all along due to the environment and over stimulation brought upon dogs at dog parks.  Not all dogs get along nor should they. not all dogs listen there as you've experienced and no dog should be subjected to the chaos of a dog park.

I'll clarify that it's not specifically a dog park, but a sports field right by my house in which dogs can be off leash when no one is using it. But it might as well be a dog park in the evenings. Which is why we have great success/fun there in the mornings when there's only a few people. Either way, I think you're right that it's overstimulating for him. And that I'm setting him up for failure. In the future I'll only go there when I know there won't be the dog park environment. Again I want to thank you guys for this discussion! We just did our first training session and I'm feeling optimistic :) thank you thank you!

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/6/2021 at 7:19 AM, Rosalee said:

Following this topic. 

Mine is just a puppy, she loves chasing a ball around the yard. Struggling a bit with teaching her to bring it back. She really wants to play a keep away game where I chase her around, it is her favourite thing and I don’t mind doing that sometimes. Can I teach her when I want her to bring it back and just play fetch as opposed to chasing game? I have honestly never had a dog who wanted to play fetch before in the last 3 dogs so I am a beginner too I guess lol. She will come when I call her after she gets the ball, but she drops the ball and comes running over then, does not bring it back with her. Do I have to completely stop the keep away game in order to teach returning the ball, maybe the two are not compatible? Thanks!

Completely stop the keep away game. Personally I think that it is never a good idea to play a keep-away game with a dog, most especially if you are simultaneously trying to get the dog to do something else! The dog cannot understand that. Reward her for bringing the ball back, no reward if she doesn't.  Start in the house, and don't do it outside until you have repeated it in the house long enough that she gets the idea. Toss the ball a little way and ask her to bring it. If she does, she gets a treat. If she doesn't, the game stops and you try again in maybe 10 minutes.  Never, ever chase her around because most dogs will prefer that game to doing anything else.  Now, if your dog never wants to bring it back and you have tried to teach this to her daily indoors for a couple of months, then give up. Your dog may just not want to retrieve. Some do, some don't.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Littlesplash said:

...it's not specifically a dog park...

Whether or not it's a dedicated and named (e.g. municipal) dog park or just a place where multiple people take their dogs to play off leash, it's the same thing in terms of the interactions and effects on the dogs' behavior. It's good that you can see that and will make accommodations for his benefit. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, D'Elle said:

...Never, ever chase her around because most dogs will prefer that game to doing anything else...

Especially border collies and other similar herding breeds. ;) It's one of the reasons that their play styles are often incompatible with other types of dogs that prefer wrestling type play and why they often don't do well at dog parks.

As an aside, I find it fascinating to watch border collies play their chase games. There are definitely rules involved, though they have nothing to do with winning the race. What I've observed is that they tend to maintain a certain distance between chaser and chasee, then will abruptly switch places so that the one doing the chasing is now the one being chased. It can look like maybe the dog chasing isn't able to overtake the other dog, but that really doesn't seem to be the case, especially after they've reversed roles and the same distance between them is maintained.

It's also fascinating to observe the difference between a mature border collie (puppies are less selective w/ their playmates) in a mixed group of dogs and one in a group of border collies. I've seen so many of my own dogs mostly hang back at a dog park and only interact with me (or with whomever will throw a ball or Frisbee for them), but put that same dog into a field with a bunch of other border collies and it's immediately game on! A chase game that is, and they have the time of their lives. B)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/7/2021 at 10:52 AM, GentleLake said:

t's also fascinating to observe the difference between a mature border collie (puppies are less selective w/ their playmates) in a mixed group of dogs and one in a group of border collies. I've seen so many of my own dogs mostly hang back at a dog park and only interact with me (or with whomever will throw a ball or Frisbee for them), but put that same dog into a field with a bunch of other border collies and it's immediately game on! A chase game that is, and they have the time of their lives. B)

I have observed this as well. My BCs have all played with other BCs  (unless there's someone willing to throw a frisbee for them), but not interested for the most part in other kinds of dogs. A whole field full of about 50 border collies running and playing together is one of the most beautiful things to see, IMO.:D

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the private opinion that Border Collies are a little breedist - they know which breeds they like and which they do not.  Other border collies (and other working breeds likes kelpies) will get along just fine, but sometimes other breeds are not welcome.

Of course you always get exceptions who like every breed, or who like specific other dogs, but in general, other working dogs are better.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the breedist comment. My 12 year old border collie hates doodles. His hackles go up as soon as he spots them. He is quite reactive to their "friendliness". Having said that, his best friend from puppyhood is a labradoodle. Also, because of his intent focus on toys, other dogs become fixated on him. Needless to say, we can only play in public places that are being frequented by excessively friendly and bouncy in your face type dogs.

Link to post
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.

Guest
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...