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Devil in a puppy suit

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#1 Columbia MO

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 04:35 AM

Hi all,

Thought you might like an update on the puppy I adopted after 26 Awesome BCs puppy mill dogs were confiscated by the MO Dept. of Agriculture in July.

Repo is now 6 1/2 mos. old and is a total hooligan! I've been training and competing in many sports (earning several High In Trials) for the past 28 years, and I have never in my life seen such an outrageously hyperactive and destructive puppy. He'd better make one heck of a stock dog to pay me back for all the stuff he's destroyed so far!

Since I work across town, I'm gone 10 hours a day. Fortunately, I have the perfect setup for this at my home, which is in 10 acres of forest.

I have a 2-car garage downstairs that I outfitted as a training room. It is a cinderblock room painted pastel yellow, with lots of cheerful lighting. There is rubber matting covering the floor, with a hallway-sized carpet runner along the garage door side. There's a fan in the summer and a "dog safe" space heater for the winter. (It also stays warm from being part of the house). There is a dogdoor leading out into a 20x20 kennel. The floor of the kennel is half concrete and half deep bark mulch. The kennel is surrounded by a nicely landscaped and fenced backyard, which is in turn surrounded by several acres of forest.

Each morning before I leave for work, we take a 1 mile walk down our country road on a Flexi--so the puppy is actually running at least 1.5 miles going back and forth. We play fetch while I'm showering, dressing, eating, etc. (In the evenings, we trail hike another 1-2 miles, practice obedience & agility, do lots more fetching and games. So it is not like he doesn't have exercise).

Then Repo goes in his room, outfitted with:

- A large Kong stuffed with canned food and frozen overnight.

- A 2-L soda bottle or a Buster Cube (I have three kinds!) filled with his breakfast kibbles.

- At least two newish toys that I provide on a rotating basis to keep him from getting bored.

- Rawhides and hooves.

- A homemade, very cool bungee toy hanging from the ceiling with several dangling "handles" made from udder tugs, retrieving dummies, squeaky toys, etc.

There is also a Dogloo, but any bedding I tried to put inside (towels, old blanket, carpet sample, new bath rug) got shredded instantly. As of a few days ago, I bought him a nice dog bed, punched grommets into the edges and strapped it securely into the Dogloo, where it remained untouched (at first).

Everything that is not a toy is sprayed liberally and DAILY with Bitter Apple or Foey. This includes all edges of the rubber matting, the carpet strip, all visible portions of the dog bed, electrical outlets, the Dogloo entrance, the dog door and surround, and the bottom of the garage door. (No wonder I'm always late for work, between this spraying and our walk and stuffing Kongs!)

Anyway, no matter what I do, I always come home to shredded bedding, shredding carpet strip, and several 1'-2' deep holes in the outdoor kennel (filled with water from our nearby drippy faucet).

But the last two days, Repo really outdid himself.

I came home to find a fluorescent lightbulb half buried in the mulch/mud. Repo was out of his kennel and in the yard, which was a mess. I was able to reconstruct later how he spent his day.

He started by playing so hard with his bungee tug that it leapt up and slammed into a fluorescent light, breaking the part that holds the bulbs in. One of the 4' long lightbulbs fell to the floor, hitting the rubber mat. Repo then dragged the unbroken bulb through a small dogdoor to the kennel and proceeded to bury it. Then he went back inside and chewed through the straps holding the toys to the bungee rope, took the toys outside and played with them in the mud.

Then he went to the chainlink gate. He had recently learned to open these, so I had "cleverly" slipped a metal clip into the hole to prevent him from lifting it. He knocked the metal clip out, and THEN lifted the latch, letting himself into the yard. He then proceeded around to each of the garden beds, digging down to the landscape fabric (just installed a year ago), and ripped it all out.

And that's about the time I came home.

The next day, I put leash clips on the kennel gate. I reassembled his bungee toy and gave him an extra Kong. This time when I got home, he had found the one square inch of his new, grommeted, securely strapped-down $35 dog bed that I couldn't reach to spray with Bitter Apple, grabbed that square inch, ripped the entire bed from one end to the other, and proceeded to remove every single bit of stuffing.

And he doesn't even make up for this by being sweet or affectionate. :rolleyes: He's one of those total workaholic BCs that just brings a ball 500 times every evening and doesn't particularly enjoy being petted. As I said, he'd sure better make up for this by being my first Open trial winner a couple years from now!

Here is a picture of the little devil:

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Anybody have any ideas on what else I can do to entertain this guy until he is old enough to wear out by herding livestock?

Columbia, MO

#2 2 Devils

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 05:39 AM

Ummmmm.... I would say put him in an actual crate but I think he would find a way out. I would not give him any bedding what-so-ever. Work the brain more than just running around - maybe instead of a long walk in the morning teach him new tricks and such...

GOOD LUCK - you are going to need it. And start saving for that new house since he is going to destroy this one
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#3 Miztiki


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 06:11 AM

Though it certainly sounds like you've done more than most to keep him happy and entertained, it sounds to me like he is bored. Sure, puppies can be destructive but your description really makes me think that he's not getting the type of things a BC needs.

I agree that a crate or smaller space would be better, along with someone to let him out halfway through, or a smaller run with no digging opportunities. He's being left alone in an area that allows him to find ways to occupy himself, and it's allowing bad habits to form.

Walks are nice but is he able to run, run, run every day, or at least several times a week? Walks are not enough for a BC, no matter how long or far.

I also agree that working his brain, on a daily basis, is critical.

I would not leave him or any dog alone with a rawhide or any treat or toy (squeekies) that could present a choking hazard either. I would also encourage you (if you don't already) to loosen his collar to the point where he could slip his head out of it in the event his tags get caught on something, or his collar gets hooked on something. He sounds quite active, so that puts him at greater risk.

Sorry to have listed so many things. It sounds like you've really gone out of your way to make him happy, but he might be just a bit too happy and need a little less freedom to get into trouble.

I LOVE the name Repo! Absolutely love it!

#4 karrie


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 06:43 AM

LOL Mite be cheaper to get him a all day baby sitter ( preferably someone training for a triatholon). Have you informed him he is going to have to start paying you back? I do that to Sam only to get the MOM looks. Helped me but honestly did nothing for him. Sam loves to pull stuffings out. And the Bitter Spray was a joke for him, I had to use hot sauce ( the really good kind, as in HOT HOT burn you 3 times). That was the only why to get him to stop going after a piece of sheet rock. I'm lucky thu I got a nice laid back guy ( after reading your post I think he deserves an extra cookie and hug today).

#5 GeorgiaBC


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 08:53 AM

It sounds like you know a lot about border collies, so I'm surprised you don't know the answer to your question. Here it is, taken verbatim from the Carolina Border Collies Rescue website--"Border collies have an insatiable thirst for human companionship and structured activity." Being alone ten hours a day, your dog is not getting nearly enough of either. Or, if you prefer, consider the well-known border collie adage found nearly everywhere: if you don't give a border collie a job to do, he'll find one to do himself, and it probably won't be the job you want him to do." We all know those words, and your story is those words--in action. I know many people on these boards do it, but if I had to leave my bc's alone for ten hours a day, bc's border would be the last dogs I would own. Nearly everything I know about them, and about 100% of the literature about them, says they are not meant for that life. Despite your considerable and really imprssive efforts, Kong's just ain't gonna cut it. And, as was pointed out, neither are one mile walks. You need to find a way to do more. One more well-known bit of philosophy that works here: a tired bc is a good bc. Add to that, a busy bc with human companionship is a good bc. Sorry, but that's one guy's opinion

#6 Columbia MO

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 09:25 AM

Hi guys,

Thanks for the suggestions! I do realize Repo is bored and needs more exercise. I have a bike with a springer attachment, so I may have to start running him 3-4 miles before work. That's what I did with my ACD for years when I lived in an apartment. Doing a training session BEFORE work is also a good idea.

Crating is out--I'm in the middle of nowhere, no nearby neighbors, no local friends outside work (I'm a relatively recent arrival) and across town for almost 10 hrs. a day (incl. travel time). However, on decent days I can try closing him into the outdoor kennel that has the concrete floor and nothing at all to chew up. That will keep him from rehearsing the bad behavior.

About "why did I even get a Border Collie?" I got my first one 3.5 years ago when I had a home business. He is a very high drive dog when training, but super mellow otherwise, even as a puppy. He got to hang out with me all day, getting to go out for potty breaks virtually every hour. But when I returned to a 9-5 job last year, he adapted instantly to being left inside 10 hrs. a day... did not chew, bark, have housebreaking accidents, etc. He appreciates a nice stuffed Kong, but he has no interest in hoofs, rawhides or toys, and apparently sleeps quietly all day.

This spring, I got a 9 mos. BC from the local Humane Society. She did super in the setup I described that I have for Repo. Did not chew or bark, and entertained heself all day with the Kongs and hoofs. So that was two BCs that were perfectly fine being left alone during the day. (The very sweet rescued BC was later rehomed with a fellow clicker trainer that needed a friendly dog to help her man her agility equipment booth at trials).

The last time I had a puppy and was working away from home was my JRT 10 years ago. He was crated (I came home at lunch). By the age of 7 months--just two weeks older than Repo is--this otherwise very active JRT was able to have run of the apartment for 9 hours a day, with no barking, chewing or housebreaking accidents.

So having had two BCs and a JRT prior to this puppy, I thought I knew what I was in for. But Repo is like the BCs I had read all those horror stories about! :D I had a friend who had to quit her job to raise her BC puppy years ago... which is what had scared me away from the breed back then... but I figured she was exaggerating until I saw what Repo is like. Anyway, I'm totally not upset, mad, frustrated or anything with him. He has me grinning ear to ear all the time. He's just such a crazed lunatic puppy, I thought you all might enjoy his story... if only to make your own crazed lunatic BCs look almost "calm" by comparison! :rolleyes:

By the way, has anybody tried a doggy treadmill? I had some clients with a human treadmill and their dog insisted they turn it on for him to use all the time. I just wondered if maybe I hitched him to that while I'm in the shower or having breakfast that it might take the edge off.

Columbia, MO

#7 Nik


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 09:30 AM

Well I have to say that I really enjoyed the update on Repo. Gave me a good laugh. I can just imagine what he's thinking as hes getting into all this trouble while your gone. Sounds to me, besides all of the boredom that Repo is going through, that you have a doggy paradise at your home. What I would give to be a dog right now!!

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#8 Olivia


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 10:02 AM

I would reiterate a crate. I assume you are worrying about him not being able to go out to potty for those hours? You said yourself that your JRT could stay home alone for 9 hours at 7 months of age. I would think that 10 hours is not that much of a stretch from 9. I know that may sound cruel to some but my opinion it is better than being run over if he lets himself out of the yard, eating a toy and having to have surgery to get it out or any number of problems of such an imaginative, active dog left alone. I crate my dogs including the fosters everyday when I am gone. Allie (foster) was crated up to 9 hours a day starting at around 6 months of age. No problems.

I wouldn't give any bedding at all. Personally I would even wonder about toys and rawhide. I do have a feeling if you leave him outside in the half and half run he will either dig out or eat the mulch. :rolleyes:

Can you go ahead and start him on stock? Maybe give his brain something to think about? I know he wouldn't be able to do much but some exposure might take the edge off. Unless you have a large flock and lots to do though I think it is wishful thinking that he will "wear out by herding livestock", especially if it is only on weekends or a couple of times a week. I work my dogs on a regualar basis and while it works their minds and satisfies them they are not exhaused by the end of training.

I would still say crate him.


#9 MrSnappy


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 10:13 AM

I think it is unberably cruel to crate a puppy for 10 hours a day, especially one who is not getting sufficient exercise and is already bored senseless during the day. I don't think any dog should be crated for 10 hours.

I get up at 4:50AM so I have time to run the pants off my dogs for an hour before I leave for work. They are not crated, but babygated in the dog room from 7:30 until 4:00pm. They have toys and they have each other. After work, I run the pants off them again.

The behaviour of this puppy is not weird or outrageous, it's normal behaviour for a bored puppy. My foster Daisy is 9 months and when I left her in the dog room with my other dogs, having cheated on the morning run, I came home to a decimated foam pad that has been unmolested since it's arrival in my home two years ago. She doesn't shred things if she has run a lot in the day.

He's one of those total workaholic BCs that just brings a ball 500 times every evening

I don't think this makes him a workaholic, I think this makes him a dog who has manipulated his owner very well. It also may be a reason why he doesn't know how to settle down in the house. My dogs know better than to pester me in the house - the house is for quiet time, outside is for chaos time.

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#10 BigD


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 10:38 AM

I wouldn't run a 6.5 month old puppy attached to a bike for 3 or 4 miles. Wait for this until after he's a year. You still have growth plates to worry about, etc at his current age.

You'll get more bang for your buck if you train him mentally. 10 min of mental training for my guys buys me as much down time as 30 min of running or chasing the ball.


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 11:37 AM

I don't know if it's available in your area, but a doggie day care just opened in the small town that I work in. Jazz normally came to work with me every day but since we moved to the farm and I now commute an hour each way, he's not as keen on coming. So when I do bring him to work, he goes to the daycare for part of the day. The romping at the daycare usually tuckers him out!

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#12 TessKipp



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Posted 27 October 2005 - 11:56 AM

I must agree that you just can't run a 6-1/2-month-old puppy 3-4 miles!! His poor joints. :rolleyes:


#13 MaggieDog


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 12:47 PM

What about bringing him to work and leaving him crated in the car? If it's nice out you shouldn't have to worry about temperature dangers, you can take him out on breaks and lunch to work a bit, he learns to settle in a small area, and you know exactly what he's up to. Just make sure you get a super strong crate for him so you don't lose a car in the process - Kennel Aire makes some nice wire ones, but an airline crate contained my crate escape artist girl.

HTH, I agree that he needs more exercise for sure - do you have hills for him to fetch balls up? That would be more of a work out than on the flat.
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#14 Olivia


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 12:49 PM

I think that morning exercise and evening exercise are a must for this dog. He is bored and is finding himself a job. However, I still think crating in an appropriated sized crate would still be better than finding your dog has let himself our of the yard or has eaten his bed and mulch and who knows what else and is obstructed and faces surgery at the best.

Doggie day care would be a great option. I had forgotten about that. Plus teaching this dog to calm down and have an off switch.

I don't like to crate dogs 10 hours a day. However, I too have lived where there is no one to come let them out and they can not go to daycare. I refuse to board my dogs in another cage at a kennel every day. If I or my husband can't get home from work at lunch they are ok. Most dogs hold it in crates that long overnight with no problems. Doing that means the committment to get up early to have a morning play and dedicating your evenings to them but it is doable if need be.


#15 SoloRiver


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 01:13 PM

Your other dog is a conformation dog, which is why Repo seems like such a challenge, I guess.

Is there a reason why he can't be with the other dogs while you are gone? He sounds very bored and isolated.
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#16 GeorgiaBC


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Posted 27 October 2005 - 01:52 PM

I noticed the conformation dog in the photo as well. There was one that looked very much like him in our agility class. It was the most un-border-collie-like border collie I had ever seen. He looked like he was moving in slow motion. So, Columbia MO, your young wild one is much more typical of the breed. The behavior you described didn't sound surprising for a bc in that situation at all.

#17 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 02:49 PM

Heavy exercise is NOT good for a pup this age. Not only with reference to the long runs, but also the 500 ball fetches. Repetitive exercise especially is exactly the type of high risk activity that is worsening joint problems for our suburban Border collie pups (MHO). I'd almost rather see a pup jumped over high jumps than "worn out" fetching for hours every day.

Not to mention I do believe it gets the pup into the mind set that house=self-amusement-time.

My pups get to spend lots of time with me, but being quiet. I eventually teach them an informal "go lie down" command, in addition to a formal down/stay - but even before that when they are tiny pups, they learn quiet time can be as rewarding as play time. I give them yummy recreational bones and they chew on them in the office for an hour or so while we work on school or whatever. We alternate this with quiet training, exciting training, and yard time.

Your setup seems so elaborate that I wonder why you couldn't just set up an indoor kennel or two? If you are spending lots of one-on-one time with your pup when you are at home, then it's not cruel to ask him to hang out and chill for a few hours while you are at work.

The problem is, the way things are right now - you are creating a dog that is self-rewarding, opportunistic, and has no patience. All these things will have to be unlearned before he can be a satisfactory stockdog.

It doesn't help him to compare him to your other dogs or our dogs or anyone's dogs. You have to work with the dog you've got and that dog needs BOTH a lot of interaction with you and ALSO to learn impulse control. Somehow you will have to fulfil that need or you will both be disappointed down the road.
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#18 laurie etc

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 02:59 PM

I'm not sure I would leave a pup under a year ANYWHERE for 10 hours unattended. WOW - way too many ways for him to get in trouble whether crated or loose. Kind of like leaving a kindergartener "home alone". Are you sure there's no way to either a) go in earlier, so you can take a longer lunch and go home in the middle of the day, or b)pay someone to come let him out during the day?
My pups are crated when I'm not home, but for a max of 7-8 hours. In between, there is lots of "free exercise", not forced miles. IMO, sometimes forced exercise such as miles of walking, and too much stimulating play, can actually be more detrimental to the relaxation and calmness you want when you are not home. My dogs each work/train every day (it may be a few 5-minute or one longer session of something), but also spend a good amount of time just hanging out outside, with each other or me. They are very happy to come inside and sleep in their crates in between, because they have learned to have "off switches". They are very good at relaxing. They don't get to have an all-day toy-a-thon, and they don't get to demand that I play with them 24/7 when I am home. They are ready to work, play, or sleep whenever I say it's time for that activity.
IMO, I don't think Repo's bored. Your puppy sounds like a typical working-bred BC that has been overstimulated, has not learned his limits and hasn't found his "off button".

#19 jeanine



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Posted 27 October 2005 - 04:23 PM

I agree with Rebecca and Laurie. One huge mistake allot of folks make is running their dogs to the point of exhaustion. Or throwing stuff at the dogs will, a million times over. BC are the ultimate working dog, if you run them for miles and miles you build and athlete they will come to excpect to be run for miles and miles. If you throw balls 500 times at a BC, he will come to expect this as normal.

Instead teach your pup to be calm, and use his mind. Sure you need exersise, but 5-6 miles on a bike daily for a pup is insane. Also consider your dogs diet, is he eating high protein, high energy foods...well then he will be hyper.

A working BC is very diffrent from a conformation bred dog(can't really call them BC's). They are naturally more active, but sould most definitly not be hyper active as sutch a dog is of no use around stock.


#20 Columbia MO

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 02:42 AM

Various posters wrote:

> Your other dog is a conformation dog, which is why Repo seems like such a challenge, I guess.

> I noticed the conformation dog in the photo as well. There was one that looked very much like him in our agility class. It was the most un-border-collie-like border collie I had ever seen. He looked like he was moving in slow motion.

> A working BC is very diffrent from a conformation bred dog(can't really call them BC's).


Hey, my "conformation dog" resents these comments! He has ONE conformation title (champion) and SIXTEEN titles in performance events, including herding. He's now doing AKC Advanced herding, USBCHA Novice (could do Ranch, but we're working out some kinks first), agility, obedience and tracking. He is a High In Trial obedience & agility dog and a Reserve High In Trial herding dog (from the HRDII class in AHBA).

He is definitely NOT slow... he runs 5.6 yps in agility, and every time he has Q'd in Excellent (70% Q rate), he has been first place, beating usually around 15-30 herding-bred BCs. He is the #2 BC in the U.S. right now for Excellent A agility and working on his MX. He runs only 0.2 yps slower than Remy, the AKC National Champion. This "conformation dog" could certainly not be called "low drive," or "slow"!

Call me naive, but could it perhaps be the fact that he has good structure that makes him able to be such a fast and agile agility dog?! The difference between him and Repo is not beauty or breeding, but that he has an off switch hard-wired into his brain and Repo doesn't!

And another similar point is that the rescue I had for 6 months (rehomed last month) was obviously from herding lines rather than conformation lines. She was surrendered in a rural cattle farming community, and is a smooth coated, prick-eared, black tri... and I trained her a bit in herding, so she definitely had the instinct. This dog had waaaaay less drive than my conformation dog and was calm and well mannered in the house. She did enjoy rough and tumble play with the other dogs, but was happy to lie down and chew toys if I was otherwise occupied.

All BCs are individuals. Being from conformation lines doesn't mean they'll be lower drive, and being from herding lines doesn't mean they'll be high drive with no off switch. :rolleyes:

Columbia, MO

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