Jump to content
BC Boards

Exercise vs Socialization vs Over Threshold


Recommended Posts

Our 5.5 month old gets 3 outings a day (this is sustainable beyond current quarantine), we're in an urban area, and we observe a load of caution on her joints/ body in terms of time spent 'walking'. She's a lovely settled pup indoors so far, so not looking to exercise as any way to get her to calm down or anything. Obviously for her and our health, getting out and about is great!

Since we are in an urban area, socialization happens a bit more organically, strangers/ bikes/ dogs/ construction etc. The walks are also a great tool for that (so we think).

On walks, she pulls normally all the time like a puppy would, and the value of treats sort of dictates her closeness, we're experimenting with toy rewards. She wants to see dogs across the street, we dont do leash greetings. Strangers say hi and sometimes she'll put her paws up, we're working on it. 


However, 1 in 15 walks can completely meltdown into what I have to assume is her over excited, over threshold, over stimulated..... are all those the same things (online dog literature is very inconsistent)? Yesterday was one of those, my partner and I went out with her, and a series of things in order just sent her over the top, we should have ended the walk 2 minutes in, but we persisted which I feel horrible about now. 

In these cases, is it always best when they are 'over' to end things? I don't feel in her state that anything would get through to her. We took note of everything, most of which was I woke her from a nap because it was so nice out, and she had a way overexcited greeting with a small child in our building. Next it was 3 dogs across the street, a busy intersection, the park gate entrance, a skateboarder, birds in the field, families playing.  From our building she was head down choking herself for 5 minutes, us tree stopping every pull, where she would go into a sit, then full burst sprint till she flipped over (repeat 100 times). It was very hard to watch to be honest. At the park itself she was pulling so hard, and we had her on a 6ft leash, she sprinted circles around us, leash fully taught. 

We were able to get to a quiet street out of the park, and head back home, total outing should have taken less than 5 minutes to get there, but was easily a 20 minute trip. At home, she plopped down and went to sleep, she seemed relieved to be home. 

So my questions:

1- Is this normal over threshold stuff? I have to do better at recognizing her state of mind, but want to ask if others had this with their pups
2- Train out of it  or grow out of it? Obviously if I manage the above better, age will help her absorb things a little less chaotically? 
3- Would you end any walk/ session there when this is starting? Would you just pick the dog up or try and turn around?
4- This park also contains her closest dog park which we frequent 1-3 times a week. I would never put her in the dog park in this state of mind, how important is dog dog socialization off leash if we arent doing leash greetings at this stage? I just want to take a step back, work with her focus around a few things leading there, that way I am not setting her up to fail if shes gonna go have a run there off lead. By focus I mostly mean she can be excited but not lose her head. 
5- Edit*. In certain tight situations where we are passing kids/ dogs where she wants to say hi, I can use a high value treat. I guess that's 'luring', but is that training the desired behavior (passing respectfully) or distracting her from the distraction. I.e. is there any point to it?

All in all, the pressure you feel from outside sources about socializing a pup early to all kinds of experiences is immense. We try and blend a good mix of stable predictability into her days, as well as the 'new' areas. A trainer we worked with advised making walks be all different places all the time to keep it stimulating and improve socialization, but she does so much better when she knows an area a little better. I think we might also be unfairly conditioning her, that when my partner and i walk her together, we are always going to the beach, or the dog park, or somewhere adventurous. That actually could have been the poison pill that started the whole thing yesterday as I dragged my partner away from work to 'have a good walk in the sun'. :(

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think waking her up to go for a walk might be what made her go over the top. She probably was still a bit too tired for a walk and then lots of things happened which spurred her over excitement.

A good rule to follow is to never wake a pup up to go for a walk (unless it’s for a quick pee and then back to bed). 
 

Don’t worry too much about the pressures of socializing. (Easier said than done- I know). I still sometimes have to remind myself that I know what is best for my dog, or who I trust to ask if I’m not sure. 
Seeing other dogs when she is on a leash but not interacting with them is a very valuable lesson. Meeting some well behaved dogs off leash is important too, but I’m always careful with the dogs I meet (even for my adult dog who doesn’t particularly like other dogs). I don’t know if a dog park is the best place for that, some dog parks attract very rude dogs and people tend to stand around and watch their dogs play and I am not a fan of that. I prefer meetings dogs off leash while walking, I do stop for a sniff and would stay for a minute or so if my dog does want to play, but I keep it short and sweet and move on after that. 
 

There’s no harm in turning back if she is too excited or spending some time waiting/hanging around to see if she can calm down. It depends on why she is so excited. If she is simply too tired turning around is the best thing to do, but if she has a lot of energy it might get better by walking on a bit. 
 

Exposing your pup to lots of new things is important, but it’s easy to overdo it. It really depends on the pup how much is too much or too little. A new route every walk seems a bit much. New adventures can be lots of fun, but a set routine is important too - and on a familiar walk there is still lots of new things to see and sniff: new dogs, new people, new pee spots to sniff, maybe a cat or a bird. So it sounds as if you are doing the right thing!

She’ll get better with age. And sure she’ll know walks with the two of you usually is extra fun because you go to great places and that’s okay. My dog knows everything will be more fun when my mum’s dogs are around and she is a bit more excited when we go out the door. I don’t mind, but I do keep an eye out if it gets too out of control and then I know I’ll have to revisit some of the training again. 
 

It’s been a while since I have had a pup and then my mother did most of the training. So I can’t remember all the specifics, still, I hope I did help you not to worry too much. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Enzsound said:

...she was head down choking herself for 5 minutes...

Don't have time for much of a reply right now but do want to point out that allowing her to do this can cause skeletal and/or thyroid damage. If I were you I'd switch to a harness immediately to mitigate the risk. A no pull harness may even help with the pulling, though in my experience they're no panacea and not a substitute for training.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

If I were you I'd switch to a harness immediately to mitigate the risk.

@GentleLakeYes, we have one on order, exactly for these cases, luckily they are infrequent, but this one was extreme and warranted concern both to post and ask, and to switch her to a harness for a bit. On her puppy harness we were still able to train loose leash fairly well without the same feedback, I'm comfortable going back to that for the time being to protect her!
 

Quote

I think waking her up to go for a walk might be what made her go over the top. She probably was still a bit too tired for a walk and then lots of things happened which spurred her over excitement.

@Flora & MollyOk, thanks, and that's been my gut feeling too, she wasn't in the mood for a walk and we took her into the deep end instantly. Lesson learned.

Quote

I still sometimes have to remind myself that I know what is best for my dog, or who I trust to ask if I’m not sure. 

Again, thanks for the reassurance. I have to remind myself how many dogs live most of their lives in backyards, or far away from crowds of strangers and other dogs (nothing wrong with that) where some literature might be aimed at. Overall needed a breather, giving things a break and taking the training back a few steps. As well in the future, after thinking about it more and more, she was out of control before we left the building courtyard. New rule for the next few months might just be if we cant get her attention even there, to turn back instantly as she's off on the wrong foot. We've been a bit lax as well on treats on walks not changing it up or having high enough value with us, so yesterday we didn't stand a chance. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m glad I could reassure you! Most general advice out there is catered to the “general puppy” or “general dog” which doesn’t always suit a sensitive border collie. That’s why I like it here so much ^_^ everyone has their own quirky BC and there is usually someone with a lot of BC knowledge or someone who has a dog similar to mine. 
Sure an outgoing Labrador puppy might be able to just take life as it comes and go to new places every walk without being fazed, but that doesn’t mean any pup can. 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Sure an outgoing Labrador puppy might be able to just take life as it comes and go to new places every walk without being fazed, but that doesn’t mean any pup can. 

Very true, and a factor of the learning curve.

I upped the treat values, and clicking + treating for every checkin since then, so a tad excessive, but want to try a few weeks of rebuilding that checkin/ focus out and about. Ending any walk where it seems she's getting over threshold and can't calm. Today we made it 15+ minutes and all the way almost to the door of the dog park without a pull (she got excited as it was empty which means she gets to run laps :D). 

Quote

I don’t know if a dog park is the best place for that


I'm leaning that way too atm, and our rule is more than 3 dogs in there, and we pass by. She's too young to be processing that many social cues, when there are adult dogs in there they generally don't interact, or she curiously watches them, when its puppies, its chasing and rumbling, which is ok so long as we're active in monitoring. For us, its a fenced area extremely close, in a relatively posh neighborhood so on average the owners we have interacted with are committed folks, but you never know. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

I followed your post witn interest as we sometimes have the exact same situation with our 6.5 month pup Bailey. We're working on his hyperarousal at the moment, and I completely agree, when they get to that point there really is nothing thay can get through to them, so it's about trying to control and manage the situation before it arises, like turning back if they are having too much exposure to exciting things early in the walk.

On 3/18/2021 at 11:15 AM, Enzsound said:

I don't feel in her state that anything would get through to her.

We're still learning about Bailey as we go, and he's recently entered his sensitive/fear adolescence stage which has added a level of complexity. He is really set off by other dogs, in a completely over friendly 'let me see them' way, and he's pulling and 'scarab beetling' towards them desperately. We've just invested in a front no pull harness, and also a gentle leader head collar for situations where we know he struggles (eg. Town centre/busy areas). By no means are these a substitute for training, but when he's in that mode we can't get him back on us with treats, squeaky toys, anything. Our trainer advised the physical restriction of not being able to pull might help us regain his focus to help with his training and desensitisation. Particularly as he's getting bigger and stronger now.

 

We've also been advised to practice the 3 second meet and greet with other dogs on leash. I think it is a good idea to let pups play with other trusted dogs off leash (Bailey has since he was 3 months old), but agree you need to be in a secure place with dogs you trust :)

 

You'll get there! What's her name?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Her name is Indiana! Ah yea, all of our outings involve seeing several dogs, her working range to them continues to improve, but she can become overloaded if her state of minds not really taken into account. This morning I was heading out for her walk, and our courtyard was alive with abnormal action, a work truck backing up the ramp, people everywhere. She was 100% fine, just something in my head told me to hold off, we did a tad of training just to get her eating some snacks and having a good time and we went home. As soon as we were back she got into her blanket and zoomed , so was clearly right there, and we took a good 20 minute cool off and relaxed. We headed back out and had a lovely 30 minute walk where she passed 4 or 5 dogs, cyclists etc and got her sniffies on. Just sort of learning from past experiences where she needs a bit of a warmup, and to trust my gut and give it another go. Of all that makes covid hard on raising a puppy, the flexibility to just try again in a bit while shes this young is pretty nice!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 weeks later...

Fun little 7 month update, with some more questions. 

I think from what we can tell, Indie has wound up being a little lower energy than we have been expecting at this age. Extremely driven compared to the average dog, but next to some aussie/ bc pups her age, shes not as driven or high energy as them. Healthy/ vet check when her off switch seemed to come on a few months back.

That has led to us sort of realizing, she's quite susceptible to overstimulation/ threshold in the afternoon, when she's tired, if my partner and I are walking her together, or if its been too long without a good run in. Most of this is solvable through either de-sensitization, or management.

One newer struggle has been her overstimulation at our local park. Its big green grassy fields, in the center is her fenced in dog park. In the fields, there is no hope anymore, she is nose to the ground, eating every stick, every goose poop, sprinting from scent to scent. I have no doubt with spring, and that its heavily trafficked by dogs, its an overwhelming place, and what seems that her nose has suddenly flicked on. I would describe her sniffing in the park as 'frantic'. I know she isn't entirely other threshold, but clearly close, I can get some vocal control over her, and when she remembers she'll eat food (she wont take food when over threshold). I guess this is flooding her senses?

In terms of de-sensitization, I don't want to flood her or risk trying to train through threshold, how would some of you handle this? There is no gradation to the park, on a busy city sidewalk, shes great, on the footpaths in the park shes pretty ok, but very aware of where she is (near the dog park), 2 feet to the left in the grass, a nuclear bomb has gone off. I have done a few days where I took her to the park and back, when she went for a bathroom break, some improvement. I have worked out walking paths circling that park to see what her working distance can be from the park in sight, some improvement. I spent one day, where I just waited her out in the same patch of grass, with the least sticks and goose poo, managed what I could with the long line. It was about 25 minutes before she really looked to me.

Of note, she has recently become quite toy motivated, Im learning how to work with that, and her current favorite is ball on a string. In this park, boiled chicken, salmon treats, ball on string, none of them can get her attention back until she's tired herself out. Admittedly, I'm not being consistent with my attempts, what is too much to expect, is this an issue with de-sensitization or management until she can handle that space?
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's the advice I've been given when I had these issues, so here's what I was told. Set a time for how long YOU want to be out there walking around with her. Don't let her behavior be the thing that stops the walk OR keeps the walk going. If by chance she gets over stimulated before the time limit you've set you should of course take her home, 'jolly talking' quietly and calmly the whole while.

"In this park, boiled chicken, salmon treats, ball on string, none of them can get her attention back until she's tired herself out." You are training her to become aroused until she's exhausted. I say 'training' because you're giving her high value treats right after she's been bouncing around for however long she wants to. The human in the equation needs to set limits. This is an issue of consistency, rewarding her when she does what you want her to do.  If you want to keep her on leash and watch from a distance, rewarding when she sits or lays quietly, that's fine. You can also walk some zig zags, so that you go closer, then mover further away, several times. Use this type of activity to remind her to be calm.

You'll be glad you did this when you have a bad cold or the flu. You won't have to wait in the cold and/or rain while until your dog decides she's ready to go home. Been there, done that. No fun for humans!

Ruth & Gibbs

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Enzsound, it sounds like you're really trying and it takes time (and is worth it)

Indiana, your dog sounds like my Diesel, who I've only had for 4 months (he's 15 months old) and he had a sheltered start.

He used to lunge at everything; cars, people and dogs. We have some walks to get off lead time in the park and walk as best we can. We have other walks just to practice walking well; first it was just in our housing courtyard, once he could do that we've been adding more and more streets. When something triggers him, we either turn, cross the road or sometimes I pick him up. Its taken time but things are triggering him less, but its still work.

He's also food motivated on lead, toy motivate off lead. We taught him fetch at home and now we use it as his recall; we raise a hand and call his name. He runs back and he gets one or two throws of fetch and then goes back to it. He now always checks in on me incase we get to play.

We also play sniffing games at home; hiding 5 pieces of dogfood around the room and letting him find it. Three times and it chills him out at home, it chills him out before a walk and if he's become overwhelmed on the street.

Dog meetings were tough at the start; he would lunge on the lead and freeze when meeting other dogs. I started to limit meetings to 3 second before calling him away (or picking him up) and slowly by meeting more dogs this way he has become better (but not perfect).

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Set a time for how long YOU

This! This has worked splendidly for us, for me, it really helps me A) enjoy our time out even more, I'm much more motivated to get where we are going and B. I dont fall trap to going for 'just one more' or 'just a little closer'. Just call it on a success, and go home, times up. Thanks for the great advice!

I've been walking her everyday to the park and back, super short. In all her time training, the stop when theres tension thing has kinda not really registered with Indie. The other day, she burst like she usually does to cross the crosswalk, and finally, she registered the tension, literally barked, jumped up and backwards into heel. THE funniest thing I have seen her do. The determination in her eyes to get across that crosswalk without pulling was hilarious. 

Yesterday was another huge improvement, same thing, walked all the way there 'calmly' ;), we did some laps not going into the grass where shes eating everything, did some obedience about 20 feet from a workout class of 30+ people, then had her in a settle, watching people picnic, kids biking, and folks kicking soccer balls for about 15 minutes. I would have taken a picture, but I didn't want to ruin it, though I looked weird sitting with my dog cross legged on a foot path. We had to quickly get up because the workout class started doing laps and those 30 people were charging right at us. Indie just looked at them coming and didnt move till I got her up quickly. 

One thing I tried yesterday I think helped a LOT, I ran with her for 50 or so feet a few times when we got to the park. Shes on leash, but I just did recall training, just running away from her having her chase some chicken. I think just making moving that fast ok and fun on leash every now and then maybe something just clicked and she got the marbles out. Anyway, been applying loads of this advice, and trying to be as consistent as possible, so thanks all for your help!

 

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...