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We adopted a young, neutered male from a rescue service.  We’re used to Labs.  
we’ve had him about 4 years now.  He’s well behaved, but has issues. He might be a mixed breed.    
He’s one of them that is highly sensitive to his surroundings and nervous most of the time.  
He has bonded to my wife primarily, but I feed and love on him when he accepts it.  
He’s a good watch dog and gets along pretty well with visiting dogs.  

1.  We’re considering getting a Lab puppy.  How would this affect him?   Would it matter what breed we got?

2. Though he’s primarily bonded with my wife, would it help him for me to walk him on leash?  I’m concerned of all the stimulus a walk would give him.   We have a ranch that he LOVES running around on, no leash.  He’s gotten used to me feeding him. 

Thank you


Boerne, Tx


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Hi, Jim, I can't help with the first question as I've never adopted a puppy. 

For your second question, the more you can interact with him in all ways, the more he'll bond with you. Yes indeed, take him on walks around your property. Put a long line on him. Teach him silly tricks. If you need some ideas google 'trick training for dogs'.

If he does ok in the car, take him on car rides with you, even if it's simply to the end of your driveway and back.

Take over his feeding completely. 

I suggest as well with the 'love on him' that you make each love session short and sweet. Pet his head, scratch his rear end, (an area MANY dogs love to have a good scratch for!)  Do a few brief sessions daily, very gradually increasing the length.  Warning ~ some b collies LOVE the physical attention, some don't. If he's not happy with it, he'll move away after a few scritches.

Good luck!

Ruth & Gibbs

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a) Introduce your BC to other people's puppies, Lab and otherwise, in controlled settings for limited periods first.  If that goes well, extend duration and introduce favored resources (toys, feed bowls, people) to gauge how protective the dog is of what is HIS.

b) Accompany your wife several times as SHE walks the BC on leash and exchange the leash back and forth as you walk together.  If the dog is bonded to her, only intermittently "accepts" food & affection from you and largely enjoys run of the property unleashed, then I think that going walk-about on leash out of the blue solo with you is bound to be a strained experience at best.  Start with a long leash:  15 ft or even 30 ft.

I can elaborate w/ some anecdotes if desired

You've had the BC for four years - how old is it now ?

Is there anything about the surroundings that warrant his sensitivity and nervousness?  What does "all the stimulus a [leashed] walk would give him" refer to at a property he loves running around unleashed?

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Thanks for the replies. 
He (Bullet) is about 5 yrs old. 
We live in a small town, and a ranch a short distance away.  
In town, there’s a lot of noises, mostly cars and trucks nearby and a school close by.  These all add to his nervousness.  
At the ranch, he runs free, chasing deer occasionally.  He LOVES it out there.  
We’ve not walked him on leash in town because he’s so nervous.  He stays on our 1 acre lot. 
He’s so well behaved.  I think we’ve resigned ourselves that he is that way and he seems very happy indoors. 
I hope a well adjusted Lab pup will be good for him. 

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If I read your reply correctly, there is both a town and a rural property.  The dog is accustomed to autonomy at both locations and does not cross the perimeters of either.  By inference, he seldom experiences other environments, people or animals.  Earlier remarks about the dog's relationships with your wife and yourself suggest that circumstances are such that you are not in the presence of the dog as often as your wife is.

A.) To speak first to the matter of adding a Lab puppy to a household where a skittish 5 yo (neutered?) male BC is currently sovereign.

My opinion is that parachuting a young Lab into the setting as a "done deal" might work, but I rate this as an outcome with low probability.  Some reasons include general breed differences; characteristics of your particular BC, age differences, and so on.  If introducing ANY second dog, much less a Lab puppy, is at all feasible then everything you can do to help your BC be on board with the change will help improve the odds of success.

A few properties away to one side of me, neighbors have a 10-11? mo female Lab. A few properties away in the other direction, different neighbors have a perhaps now 7-8 mo male.  The female arrived late last spring, the male appeared in Aug?  The female's family hasn't been out & about with the dog as much as the owners of the male.  A few properties further away there is an 100lb+ Anatolian Shepherd "puppy" that I think must be close to 12 mo old now.

My fit 48lb male BC was 2-1/2 last Aug.  Despite a rough patch in life before we adopted him from a shelter at 1-1/2, he is confident and self-assured, great with family & strangers alike.  (One oddity is mild food guarding behavior whenever my wife arrives on the floor where the food dishes are!)  We walk mostly off-leash in the streets and alleys of a suburban environment frequently daily and every couple of days we visit one of three dog parks in the area, weather permitting.  This BC greets new dogs with friendly interest: he is polite and considerate with smaller dogs; if he senses dogs his own size and especially larger ones are game, he engages in mock challenges in hopes that they respond in kind - when they do, spirited play ensues.

Both Lab puppies do what puppies (especially Labs) do.  They PULLED their owners, trying to get close enough to my BC to interact.  When they were really young and smaller than they are now, the Labs were pressing and persistent enough that my BC began to engage with them physically with escalating playful aggression, despite their small young statures.

We didn't see the female often in the summer/autumn and then only for brief periods while it remained (straining) on leash.  Before the weather grew cold, there was more interaction with the male while it was still quite small - much of this was off-leash.

My BC engaged w/ the male to what seemed at times like approaching the point of inappropriateness.  The neighbor (1st time dog owner) and I stood overtop of them.  Usually I intervened early enough when warranted.  Occasionally, the younger dog let out a squeak.  Sometimes, he fled the mayhem to scamper under a nearby tree - only to immediately run back and reengage w/ the BC.

We didn't encounter either dog much during our frequent outings through the dead of winter.  Now that conditions are improving, there has been a bit more contact.

The Labs are still puppy-like, but they have grown and put on significant weight, closing in on my BC and probably likely to surpass him.  While my BC still enjoys wrestling with the younger male, looking for him has we pass the property, he is showing signs of intolerance toward the larger female as it is on-leash dragging the owner around and trying to nuzzle/paw my off-leash BC.

All of which is to say that over a period of 6 mo of periodic encounters on neutral ground, my BC has been generally good-natured with the Lab puppies.  However, I am pretty confident that outcomes would be less favorable in  circumstances where the BC was in enforced proximity to the full-on exuberance of the Labs 24/7.  Not to mention that I anticipate that there would be issues at the food bowls.

Since your dog is older and appears to be more introverted than mine, I came to the somewhat pessimistic conclusion offered earlier in this post.

B.) Regarding your dog's sensitivity to his surroundings and relationship with you vis-a-vis your wife, I'll offer that small steps taken with a view to easing his nervousness in the presence of the new/unknown and relaxing with/trusting you more are encouraged.

After my previous post, I had wondered whether there were factors about the surrounding that humans take for granted but which might cause anxiety for the dog.  Things like seismic activity, fracking, low level industrial noise, gun ranges, flight paths ...  But I can imagine how traffic and esp school yards of shrieking young children could be unsettling for a country-bred BC.

I had an Australian Shepherd in the past that would intermittently STOP in its path and refuse to proceed.  This behavior led to me being largely the only one in the family that regularly walked the dog, because others didn't or wouldn't work with the dog and in time, the dog wouldn't go beyond the property line with them.  We share the neighborhood with coyotes and initially, I thought that their scent is what was affecting the Aussie.  However, there is a wildlife facility in the area that features big cats and an elephant.  I will never know with certainty, but I came to believe that on occasion we were downwind from the facility and the unusual smells, if not the sounds, are what the Aussie was reacting to.

A couple of suggestions to start with include introducing the dog to new non-threatening environments - similar to those he is comfortable in, just different - and slowly, incrementally upping the challenges.  Look around for resources offering help with building confidence and desensitization.  If he takes to this and grows emotionally, that will be beneficial for all concerned IMO.  But if there is no progress, then consider just accepting his sensitivities and making accommodations for these in recognition that they are a part of his unique personality - you have already indicated that your pup is a great dog in many ways.

In addition to the suggestions made by others earlier in the thread with a view to strengthening the dog's bond w/ you, consider hanging some of your unlaundered clothes nearby (but out of reach) where the dog relaxes in the home.

Good grief - what a long winded post.

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If  your dog gets plenty of time on the ranch to run around and is so well behaved as you say, I don't think there's anything wrong with not walking him in town, and I would no doubt do the same. You could counter-condition him to town and noise and so on, but it would take a lot of time and effort to do this, it probably wouldn't be a complete success, and to me it wouldn't be worth the effort if he seems content to stay home and go run on the ranch. No reason to put him through all that if it is not really needed.

A puppy is a huge unknown, whether you have another dog or not. You don't know what kind of dog the lab will grow up to be for one thing and you don't know how your dog will react. I definitely would not just bring home a puppy and hope for the best.

If you can introduce your dog to a few puppies or young and very active and playful dogs in neutral surroundings, you will see how your dog reacts. If it goes well, try it on his turf and see how that goes.  This will give you a lot of information to make your decision. 

Even if those meetings go well,  and you decide to get a puppy, you will have no assurance that your dog will accept that particular puppy nor will you know if that lab will grow  up to dominate or bully the older dog. Getting a female would make this less likely, although there are dominant females as well.  Labs and border collies have extremely different play styles even when both are adults, and that may prove to be an issue. Personally, I wouldn't do it with a dog who tends to be nervous. It would disrupt his world considerably, and could have a bad outcome. A border collie puppy has a better chance of success in my opinion but that is perhaps beside the point if what you want is a lab.

I had  a foster border collie puppy once. She dame at 9 weeks old and both my adult dogs hated her. I couldn't leave them alone together for one minute for fear that my female especially would kill the puppy. This went on for about three weeks and I was taking the puppy to work with me to keep her safe. One day I came home with p uppy and suddenly both my adults loved her. Go figure. So anything can happen, but I think the situation I just described is unusual to say the least.

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