Posts Tagged ‘adopt border collie’

Dog Fear Aggression Journal 7/13/2015

13 Jul

Adorable, Cute, and Fear Aggressive








I continue to journal about Whiskey, our sweet Border Collie.  He is now 2.5 years old, wow, how the time flies!  We continue to treat him for his fear aggression and although it is a lot of work and CONSUMES a lot of our life, it is rewarding.  He is such a sweet boy and his family loves him dearly and he loves us so much as well.  He continues to take 2 Trazadone in morning along with 30 mg of Prozac and then 1-2 Trazadone at night (each Trazadone is 100 mg.).   He is an energetic, smart, loving dog with a typical quirky border collie personality.  If you have ever had a BC before, you understand how intelligent they are and how different than most dogs.  He acts more like a 5 year old child than a dog and we hold conversations with him because the number of words in the English language he understands is CRAZY!  He “talks” back with different types of barks, sounds, and body language.  We usually know what each other is saying without too much trouble.  It really is a different experience to connect with a dog at such an intellectual level. As I have said before in my posts, building the trust with your fear aggressive dog is vital.  Now that we have it so strongly, I worry so much about bringing in new trainers to help us “get to the next level.”  So many dog trainers have so many different philosophies about dog training.  Some are the “Pack Leader Type,” some feel you need to “Break your dog down first,” – when I heard this I cringed!  This type of leadership is the WORST thing for MY DOG.  For dogs with dominant personalities who need to be brought under control, it might be the perfect fit (I personally have never met a dominant dog) but for a fear aggressive dog who lacks self confidence and is very fearful, if you were to BREAK IT DOWN, you would undo EVERYTHING I just worked for in the last two years.  So, I have to be careful that no trainer I work with has or will use this approach with my dog!  He knows I am the pack leader, this no longer needs to be established so I don’t need a pack leader type trainer either.

What he needs is consistent exposure to what he fears with someone who is confident, not afraid, knows when to back off, and can provide him many opportunities to see that what scares him is not a threat.  As he continues to get this feedback to his brain, he will begin to relax and the scary item can get closer and closer but never should it be pushed on him to the point that he is shaking, fearful, or loses the trust in me that I keep him safe.  Finding trainers who will do this is next to impossible but I keep looking!!!  I have some more calls to make.  Most trainers only know how to “train” and most behaviorists only seem to take you so far and then don’t seem to follow through to the end.  I need someone who will listen to BOTH me and my dog, not someone who says, they know better. At this point and more than two years of training, classes, therapy, and living with my dog, I know what he needs and what has worked.  We have come so far and I want us to make it further!!

Whiskey needs to spend time with more company in the house that he doesn’t know.  We had our first guest, A, for 5 days and 4 nights.  Since A is a child (pre-teen), we could not ask of her what we might be able to ask of an adult – no touch, no look, no eye contact (one thing from Caesar that is very important to Whiskey’s comfort with strangers).  A loves dogs and she is a child and he is more nervous with the unpredictability of children.  So, we had to keep him behind a gate, on leash, playing ball (ball will distract him from anything), or in a downstay by our feet.  His reactions were very small over all compared to former visitors, again, showing improvement.  He would do small growls when she would show up at first after we had been gone or first thing in the morning.   I felt that I could probably have let him loose but safety is a priority, so I did not.  The last day, he was begging for food from a downstay and she came and gave him a cracker.  She and he both got up and he went to her.  He really just wanted to sniff her and I could tell by his body language that he was not aggressively going near her, so I asked her to stand still, he went and sniffed her and then backed away because she moved and it scared him, he let out a low growl to say, “hey I am scared,” and I went and put him behind the gate so he could feel safe with distance.  He did the right thing though, when she moved, he backed away.   This is the point, I felt we were at – where he is still quite nervous but he is learning to move away now.  I probably should have rewarded him at the time but I didn’t know if he would know if I was rewarding for the moving away or the growl and I didn’t want to risk that he wouldn’t know that it was the move away that was the correct behavior.

I think that slowly we can begin to do a little bit more, I am VERY conservative and only do things that I fully trust I can tell where Whiskey’s head is at by his body language and energy – although he does need to start going to people on his own and sniffing them and realize that nothing bad happens AND that if at anytime he feels unsure, he can leave.  I wish I could repeat this drill a 100 times, I just need some strangers who don’t fear dogs!!!

I keep hoping to have more time but the time is flying by with all this other work I find myself busy with!!

Will update more later!




So you want a Border Collie Puppy – here is everything you need to know

09 Aug

I read a ton of information on Border Collies before deciding to get one.  I didn’t read enough!  One big piece of the puzzle was missing, maybe it was there in small doses and I missed it because it wasn’t stressed enough but after I got our puppy and started reading more I found out more information that I wish I knew about – but I am getting ahead of myself here.

I am formerly a Golden Retriever owner.  We have owned 3 Goldens (still have one).  Our first two dogs, Seigel and Tukey were both bought up north, one in New Hampshire and one in Vermont.  They were bought from people who owned the mother and father dogs and had litters and sold the puppies.  They were not big breeders.  We did not want to go the big breeder route because we did not want to spend the money that a big breeder charges and we did not want to sign a spay/neuter contract since we thought we might also like to breed our dogs.  However, I did study up on the breed and we did do testing on the dogs hips for hip dysplasia.  Seigel’s hips were fine and certified and Tukey’s were not perfect but not terrible (she never had any hip problems through life).  Wait, why am I telling you all about Golden Retrievers???  You thought we were going to talk about Border Collies.  Please wait, there is a reason for this discussion about Goldens.  With our healthy dogs, we did have a litter and Seigel also fathered another litter as a stud.  We provided all the puppy parents with crates, food, and information about their new dogs.  We tried to be very responsible about our breeding and the pups were great and all had wonderful temperaments.

So, when we decided to get a Border Collie, we did not think twice about going with a small breeder who just had the mom and dad dog.  (See, this is the reason for the story about our Goldens.)  This as it turned out was a big mistake!  You really can’t go wrong in most cases with Golden Retrievers.  They are bred for their temperaments.  This is NOT TRUE for Border Collies.  Now that I know better, I would NOT suggest buying a border collie from someone who isn’t highly involved with the breed or is a large breeder.  We thought that getting our puppy from parents who were not doing actual sheep herding (but were pets instead) might increase the chances that he would have less herding instincts.  However, a breeder should know how to evaluate the temperament of a new puppy.  Border Collies, as we have since learned, can often be fearful.  If you get a fearful Border Collie, you have a REAL problem on your hands.  (See my blog about Journal of a Fear Aggressive Border Collie).  It was obvious from the beginning that this puppy had issues but the breeder lied to us or was very unaware of what a fearful puppy is.  When we went to see him, this puppy went off by himself away from the other puppies.  He kept going on to the man’s feet and lying there.  Normal puppies should be running around playing, not clinging to someone.  The breeder told us that he was tired from being at a horse show all day and being handled by many people.  He took him and put him on a towel and got him to play for a minute so we thought, “okay, the breeder would know that this behavior isn’t his normal self and that he is just tired.”  So, we trusted in that and took the puppy.  The breeder said he never had any problems with any of his puppies (this was the bitch’s second litter).  The bitch, however, was reserved and didn’t want to meet us.  She was standoffish although once we were throwing a tennis ball for her, she was willing to play.  A good breeder would NEVER have bred a bitch that is standoffish.  After getting Whiskey (our puppy), we have learned how the genes of temperament get passed down and in a breed like a border collie that are already bred to be watch dogs and working dogs, this can create a bigger impact in the puppy’s attitude, fears, and overall temperament.

So, the moral of the story above is if you getting a border collie puppy, it is worth it to get it evaluated for temperament before you fall in love with it and commit to keeping it!  We try to be positive and think that if we hadn’t taken him, Whiskey would probably be put down since we have invested thousands of dollars and hours to helping him get better and the average pet owner would not do this.

Assuming you get a puppy with a sound temperament, what else can you expect with a border collie?

Here is a list:

  1. Your day will be filled with MANY tongue licks!
  2. Expect to have conversations with your border collie, full conversations that go back and forth.
  3. Expect him to look you in the eye.
  4. Expect him to bark at you A LOT to tell you that he needs something, especially when he is bored.
  5. Expect to walk him at least twice a day.
  6. Never expect him to walk in a straight line on a walk.
  7. Expect him to be “wired” and on the “hunt” while walking – looking at everything with great intensity
  8. Expect him to be the star of the obedience class
  9. Expect him to want to do obedience training everyday that you have to buy “Teach your dog 100 words,” and then start watching You-Tube videos to find more things for him to learn
  10. Expect him to be OCD.
  11. Don’t get him chasing after a laser pointer, you will regret it.
  12. Expect that he will love sprinklers.
  13. Expect that he will ask to play and play and play and will NOT take NO for an answer.
  14. Expect to be throwing a tennis ball while watching TV.
  15. Expect company in the bathroom.
  16. Expect a dog that loves to be comfy and will sleep behind the cushions of your couch.
  17. Expect a dog that will try to herd things so you might as well get him a remote control car to herd and sit back and laugh.
  18. Expect a dog that will only need to be told to go to his bed or place once at dinner and then just remembers on his own and does it.
  19. Expect a dog that really wants to please you.
  20. Expect a dog that will handle you having a sick day well.
  21. Expect to find a job for your border collie to do so he doesn’t make up his own jobs to do.
  22. Expect to have the cutest little face in the world staring back at you with a tilted head when you talk to him.
  23. Expect a dog that will probably love swimming (especially if introduced as a puppy).
  24. Expect a dog that is so smart he will “over think” things as he tries to guess what he should do next.
  25. Expect him to grow really fast in the beginning and then really slow down his growth around 6 months.

So, is a border collie the right dog for your family?  Not if you have young children (that isn’t an absolute but the chances of a problem with a border collie and young children from what I have read and seen in my own pup is great and I would just suggest another breed if your kids are under 10).  I also wouldn’t suggest it if you have cats.  They are high prey dogs.  My cats are scared to come downstairs since we got our border collie.  He has tried to chase them and I don’t know what he would do if he “caught” them.  We have an understanding, they stay upstairs and he stays downstairs.   You also have to be committed to your dog and doing things with your dog all the time!!  Almost anything you read will say this, if you don’t get up and think, “What can I do with my dog today?”  EVERYDAY – don’t get a border collie!  They are HIGH MAINTENANCE dogs!!!  But, if you love having a dog to do sports, training, agility, etc. with everyday – a border collie would love to be your pal!