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Nobody wants to rehome their dog, but I wonder what you think.

 

A short history:

  • We got Diesel at 11 months, directly from the previous owner
  • He was kept in a pantry 7-8 hours a day with another older dog
  • He hadn't had much training, but did have a 2 hour session with a gun dog trainer to improve street walking with a figure of 8 loop
  • He's our first dog (I realise how silly we were)
  • When we first got him, he would pace for hours unless occupied with play, training or a chew
  • We would spend 16 hours a day occupying him for the first month
  • He was also nervous of the sound of planes, trains and would jump at cars and people while walking
  • He was given a clean bill of health from the vet
  • At first we worked with a trainer for two months, to get him give him a recall so he could run outside and to relax at home
  • We worked on the sounds one by one and he began to relax at home but was still nervous street walking
  • We changed to a behaviorist for 8 months, he was put on anti-anxiety medication
  • He would get 1 hour running a day, two 30 minute walks, plays sheep ball, fetch, left and right, jogging together and tons of other tricks
  • We play sniffing games, Kongs, snuffle mats, Nina Otteson puzzles and other games
  • But he still requires attention when we're at home and can't be left at home unless crated (which means we can only leave the house for 3-4 hours).
  • On a good day it's 3-4 hours on a bad one it's 12 hours.
  • And we have to keep an eye out in parks for kids, people on bicycles and walking on paths around the park.
  • He has continued to lunge while street walking and has nipped people on the street or in parks but not broken skin
  • This weekend he bit my partners mum on the leg and punctured the skin

 

It's been 10 months and we were going to board him for a bit so we could have a break. But with the bite, we're thinking whether boarding won't help him (possibly make it worse) and we should find him a quieter home.

 

What do you think?

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Boarding him to give you a break is cop out. From everything you've listed above it seems to me, mo, that you've created a monster and dog that doesn't know how to self entertain or chill on his own. He needs to learn inhibitions, bite inhibition, and to relax. There is nothing wrong with crating him for the 3 to 4 hours as you mentioned above. Far better to do that than have him injured. You've never said how old he is, not quite 2? Puppies are very apt to chase or lock onto moving targets, he's a Border Collie. Stick with your trainer, and the anti anxiety meds if you really think they are necessary.  It's not a matter of finding him a *quieter home* you've allowed him to become self absorbed, center of attention, for how many months now, 10? Rules, he needs rules and parameters so that he will know when and how to act accordingly.  Are there any classes you can take? Classes where he will need to use his mind and not just be reactive?

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42 minutes ago, Journey said:

Boarding him to give you a break is cop out. From everything you've listed above it seems to me, mo, that you've created a monster and dog that doesn't know how to self entertain or chill on his own. He needs to learn inhibitions, bite inhibition, and to relax. There is nothing wrong with crating him for the 3 to 4 hours as you mentioned above. Far better to do that than have him injured. You've never said how old he is, not quite 2? Puppies are very apt to chase or lock onto moving targets, he's a Border Collie. Stick with your trainer, and the anti anxiety meds if you really think they are necessary.  It's not a matter of finding him a *quieter home* you've allowed him to become self absorbed, center of attention, for how many months now, 10? Rules, he needs rules and parameters so that he will know when and how to act accordingly.  Are there any classes you can take? Classes where he will need to use his mind and not just be reactive?

Thank you replying. Do you think rehoming him is a cop out?

He's 21 months old, almost 2 years old.

When we first got him he was unable to self-entertain or chill. But we've managed to get him to sleep more and play alone.

We had exhausted every exercise from our trainer, that's why we moved onto a behaviorist and using medication. But the trainer thinks its our noisy and busy city environment which is hard on Diesel.

What kind of rules do you mean? And exercises for bite inhibition?

What kind of classes do you suggest? We've taught him to herd, to fetch, to find things to jog together, what else is there?

Thank you again.

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What do you mean you've taught him to "herd"? Have you taught him mind games? have you tried LAT - Look At That? The classes I was suggesting were obedience classes, full of dogs and a new environment, not that he needs the teachings, but the environment, to teach him to chill or disregard outside influences. As for rehoming, if *you* truly cannot deal with him, then it would be to his advantage to send him back to his breeder. Rehoming a problem dog is not helping anyone, especially if the problem is semi taught. He does not require 18 hours of play/work a day. You give him that he will will want more, a taught behavior. Rules, general rules, no that naughty behavior, whatever it is, is not allowed, crate time till you can behave, with a nice chew and time for him to decompress. Mind games, nose games, tracking, nose scent work classes? Something to work his brain in an organized fashion versus just being reactive.

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We've taught him "sheep ball" and the herding commands to do that.

 

What kind of mind games do you mean? We've taught him Nina Otteson puzzles, to search for food, to wait when something is thrown and then go find it.

 

We've been using a combination of Look at that and Watch me to break his stare at things and walk more calmly, but he still lunges.

 

We've used tracking and nose games too.

 

We have looked for classes, but most trainers say that can't teach more than what we've already done.

 

I'll look into finding the original breeder, that's useful. Thank you.

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As far as the classes, I think the point is learning how to listen in that group environment. Even if your dog already knows the commands they are teaching there.

 

i have been thinking of doing a class with our dog, she is one year old. She hasn’t done any classes since puppyclass, but we do a lot of training with her at home and she knows lots of commands and tricks and stuff. I think a class will benefit her, even though she might already know everything they teach, just because she gets very distracted by and reactive to her environment lately (lots of teenage stuff going on with her lately) and I think just being in that setting and learning to listen despite the surroundings might help her. Might help your case too?

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If he bites or nips muzzle train him and let him wear a muzzle when you’re out. Prevention is key.

Also, it sounds like you do a lot with him. 16 hours a day is way too much. I’m a dog sitter and I get a lot of dogs that for the first week with me have to be taught to relax and snooze in the house instead of always occupying themselves with something or bothering the humans. They get enough walks and training, so that is not what makes them pace the house. House rule: inside is quiet time. Guest dogs pick it up within a week, but it can be hard work. Crates help, but I like them to be able to just lie in their regular beds or on the floor. Dogs who find it really difficult I usually have on a leash at my feet while I am reading a book (although I will be reading the same page a couple of times…), asking them to lie down again every time they get up. They eventually get the memo.

Honestly, this can make such a difference. Dogs going from always on the alert to happy-go-lucky relaxed dogs. Starting point to work on other anxieties as well.

Anyway, you asked about rehoming. Dogs with behaviour problems can be difficult to rehome, especially if they nip/bite people. You are already his second home. If you can’t “fix” him, who can? Someone with a quieter home? He won’t bite a visitor then?

I can imagine that this is a lot to deal with and if you can find someone who is better equipped to deal with it then it’s an option. There are rescue groups or perhaps his breeder can help. But perhaps it’s just a dark moment in training him and there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We can’t answer that for you. 
 

What do you feel is best for the dog?

 

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What Flora said ^^^^  It doesn't seem like you've taught him to relax. If you're doing things with him every single minute, which is the impression I get from your post then the next step is to teach him to chill. Send him into his crate while you're there. A lot of adult dogs sleep 10-12 hrs a day. He may be a little young for that, but he can learn to chill while you're there as well as while you're out.

What anti-anxiety med did your vet put him on? Would you say it's helped or not?

Ruth & Gibbs

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People who get a border collie without researching how to manage one often think they need to occupy the dog all the time, and that is what you did. The result is you have trained this dog to need to be occupied all the time, and now you have to re-train him, but that can be done.

He needs to learn impulse control, as above. You have had some good advice.

I will add one thing:  Rehoming this dog is a huge cop-out in my opinion. You created this monster (inadvertently of course, but still) and now if you rehome him you are fobbing off the problem you created onto someone else. A dog like that can end up being passed along to others, and could end up in a place where he is mistreated.

On top of that, if the dog bites someone else after being rehomed, you could be held liable for that bite and all kinds of unpleasant things could rain down on you.

Work with the dog. And foremost, teach him to settle down and not be demanding.

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I think I'm not very good at describing everything, its not that we have to give him attention (play/petting/treating) its that we have to manage him.

 

We did a lot of work on relaxing. When he first arrived he had been really sheltered, he would pace for hours unless made to stop and reacted to every noise (draws opening, cups dragging on a surface, planes in the distance, cars outside).

 

We spent hours for months doing relax on the mat and crate training. We used positive reinforcement on every sound to get him used it it (pepper grinder, cracking eggs, opening each draw, opening every cupboard, moving things in the draw, opening the fridge, trains outside, planes outside, cars outside, people outside, sneezing, coughing, sighing, humming, the list goes on, people jumping, rising an arm, showing him a flat hand, showing him a fist). We also play doggy music, use a thunder shirt sometimes, hidden all the mirrors, yucalm. Now he'll rest.

 

But he still needs to be managed because he might react to something, then stay reactive and work himself up. He might hear an unfamiliar sound (skateboards, counting, people in different rooms, stretching, blowing air between your lips) and react and needs to be calmed down. If he's crated to relax him, he'll bark up to an hour.

 

The vet gave him Trazadone, which was initially more effective, but has continued to calm him in the house and on the street. He is still noticeably more anxious without the medication.

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1 hour ago, D'Elle said:

People who get a border collie without researching how to manage one often think they need to occupy the dog all the time, and that is what you did. The result is you have trained this dog to need to be occupied all the time, and now you have to re-train him, but that can be done.

He needs to learn impulse control, as above. You have had some good advice.

I will add one thing:  Rehoming this dog is a huge cop-out in my opinion. You created this monster (inadvertently of course, but still) and now if you rehome him you are fobbing off the problem you created onto someone else. A dog like that can end up being passed along to others, and could end up in a place where he is mistreated.

On top of that, if the dog bites someone else after being rehomed, you could be held liable for that bite and all kinds of unpleasant things could rain down on you.

Work with the dog. And foremost, teach him to settle down and not be demanding.

We completely didn't do the research when we started. We'd never had a dog, let alone a collie.

 

I look more into the impulse control.

 

Our rehoming idea was to work with the centre, try and go home to home and continue to help the new owners.

 

I'll continue to work with him though.

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Ugh..coming from me I can't believe I am about to say this...have you desexed him yet? A 22 mo pup is still a pup, one you need to get a handle on. I don't like drugging a dog or desexing, however, it's not a perfect world. You may want to think about desexing him, if it's even allowed where you live. Based on how he was when you got him and where he is now, you've done well, you have a long way to go and quite a bit to learn about the breed in itself. Work the *mind*, if he needs anti anxiety in order to focus, use them. Everything, everything in his life from you needs to be slow and calm. I'm sure you're worried about what he will react to, your tension may be feeding his reactions. No reaction from you may go further than simply giving him a bone as a distraction for example..

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11 hours ago, urge to herd said:

Ask your vet if he will prescribe Clomicalm for your boy. It's an anti-anxiety drug rather than an anti-depressant.  Clomicalm worked very well for one of my dogs.

Ruth & Gibbs

I'll ask about that, thank you.

 

Here you have to get a behaviourist to recommend the medication for the vet to prescribe but I'll see.

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10 hours ago, Journey said:

Ugh..coming from me I can't believe I am about to say this...have you desexed him yet? A 22 mo pup is still a pup, one you need to get a handle on. I don't like drugging a dog or desexing, however, it's not a perfect world. You may want to think about desexing him, if it's even allowed where you live. Based on how he was when you got him and where he is now, you've done well, you have a long way to go and quite a bit to learn about the breed in itself. Work the *mind*, if he needs anti anxiety in order to focus, use them. Everything, everything in his life from you needs to be slow and calm. I'm sure you're worried about what he will react to, your tension may be feeding his reactions. No reaction from you may go further than simply giving him a bone as a distraction for example..

He was already neutered when we got him.

 

What kind of mind exercises do you do with your dog? I feel like I've listed everything you can do in this post.

 

I agree on the slow and clam it's one of the reasons to re-home him. We live by an estate, near a main road, near three train lines. It can get busy outside.

 

I agree, we don't react when there is a sudden noise. I do breathing exercises to avoid tension by walking and I've been observed and told I don't react.

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For mind games, stupid pet tricks are excellent they are inconsequential so if he doesn’t learn it doesn’t matter. Break out the clicker and start shaping silly behaviours

there is an endless supply

can he cuddle toy

put the rings back on a kids toy

ride a skateboard

pick up toys and put them in a box

climb in a box.

One of our border collies had not been taught to think as a puppy and 10 minutes of learning a new trick would exhaust him. He was also prone to nipping and it was about mangement, keeping strangers away from him. Muzzle training is an excellent suggestion a friend with a border collie with a bite history was heart broken when she had to start using one, but it was a positive experience as she relaxed on walks as her dog could do no damage, and her dog relaxed.

you have invested so much time and energy and you have clearly made progress, if you really have reached the end of the road then re-homing is the right choice but reading your comments it really doesn’t sound like you are ready to give up.

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I think a lot of the points here are excellent, especially those highlighting the fact you have in influenced this behaviour by giving your dog too much activity in a day. In my opinion they have become accustomed to a high intensity schedule so now expect it. Adult dogs sleep about 17 hours a day. If your dog does not get sufficient rest they will become overtired, agitated and restless. I believe it's not impossible to modify your dogs behaviour but the approach is all wrong. You effectively need to teach your dog how to relax, properly settle. It needs to become part of your routine so the dog can get used to it and over time adapt. Sometimes its things as little as giving them their own space, away from noise and disturbances so they can properly rest. 

My BC is very active and a very high energy dog, but because I work from home Infront of a laptop I've made it a priority to teach her how to act at home Vs when we are outside playing. She sleeps for most of the day and when awake is happy to just chill around the house knowing when we go outside she can go nuts. I couldn't ask for a more calm BC indoors and she's only 2. I honestly think it's down to tempering their behaviour so they can acquire the skill of calm relaxation. It makes for a happier dog who is calm and confident. My dog is not reactive because of this training.

If you put the time and effort into patiently training the behaviour you want, you will get there. 

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If you go to YouTube and look at the channel called KIKOPUP, there are probably a hundred different "tricks" you can teach your dog. More importantly, they have excellent training videos on how to teach the dog Go To The Mat, Settle, and learn impulse control. these would be very good methods for you to use with your dog.

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