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Has anyone succeeded training BCs out of aggression?


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#1 BC-Coding

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 12:43 PM

Hi everyone, 

 

Sorry for my English if the headline doesn't make sense. 

 

I'm curious if any of your border collie pups have had aggression issues toward other dogs and have been trained out of it

 

I've read a lot of threads (maybe not enough yet) about BC aggression/growling/snarling at other dogs. People usually would suggest having the BCs away from the dog crowd, neutering, and "training".

 

These all make sense to me, but are all a little bit abstract/vague. I wonder what has worked for your dog if yours had the issue. And what kind of training have you had your pup gone through to train him out of it? 

 

I also understand each one of your dogs may have a different situation. But even so, I'd like to post this questions and see what could be shared by the community.

 

 

=============

 

My border collie is a sweetie but he does have this issue with others. I have stopped taking him to the park and just play with him alone. Selfishly,  I really wish there is a cure I can find without having to spend several thousands dollars to get professional training (that's the cost in my area according to my research). 

 

But if you guys tell me that's the way to go, and it's the only way, I will not hesitate to follow. 

 

Thanks a lot everyone! 



#2 CptJack

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 01:36 PM

Depends on what you mean by training it out. 


I have successfully trained her to ignore, and be comfortable in, the presence of other dogs (her aggression was fear based).   I have NOT successfully trained her to enjoy the company of other strange dogs or to be tolerant of dogs who are being rude, rough, or invading her space, nor would I expect to be able to do that. 

 

So basically, she is comfortable doing agility, sharing lessons, going to trials, club practices, doing other dog events, going to a park to play frisbee or work with me, whatever, but I'd no more take her to a dog park and expect her to like it than I'd suggest she take up knitting and expect her to manage that.   Not only is that not who she is, that isn't who *most* dogs are, once they're socially mature.  Kind of like people outgrowing the desire to hang out at crowded nightclubs or bars.



#3 CptJack

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 01:38 PM

Oh, as for what type of training:

Medication, and then basic counter conditioning, desensitization stuff, with the help of known dogs and controlled environments, as well as getting really fluent obedience on her and just generally always having a 'task' for her to focus on (disc, tug, agility, those obedience commands).  

But again: Fear based aggression.  



#4 GentleLake

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:38 AM

Most aggression is fear based, so yeah, desensitization and counter-conditioning. Medication might be helpful, definitely worth discussing with your vet. And best to begin this work immediately. The longer it goes on the more firmly ingrained it will be and so much harder to work with.

 

You might want see if you can get Pam Dennison's Bringing Light to Shadow. She offers a lot of insight into the process.  https://www.amazon.c...y/dp/1929242174

 

There's no good evidence that neutering is particularly effective in lessening aggression in dogs. The only time that might happen is if the aggression is testosterone based. Since most is fear based, well, it's just not the answer. In addition, there's evidence that neutered dogs of both sexes are more aggressive, more fearful and less trainable than intact dogs. https://www.dailydog...dog-aggression/

 

Wishing you the best with your dog.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#5 D'Elle

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 11:08 AM

I highly recommend the book "Click To Calm". 

I took in a foster dog who was so aggressive toward other dogs that if another dog were within smelling or hearing distance she would ceaselessly snarl, growl, and bark, even if she couldn't see the other dog(s).

 

Two foster homes has passed her on because of this. They couldn't get her to stop.

 

I was a clicker trainer but did not know how to use that method with a dog who would go on for hours on end. The Click To Calm book was my (and possibly her) lifesaver. 

 

I learned from that book (among many other things it taught me) that there is always something you can reward, however small. Even a dog who is constantly growling and snarling and barking has to take a breath, and for that second is not making noise. You have to be very precise with the click and treat, but what you do is immediately reward even the slightest tiny period of non-bad behavior.

 

I started this technique, and went from non-stop aggression to the dog being willing to be in the same room with the other dogs and even sniff a little bit up close, in under 45 minutes. Your mileage may vary.

 

I would recommend reading the book to understand this more. Available on Amazon. But in the meantime, I would say first it is very good that you stopped taking her to places where there are a lot of dogs and people, which was stressing her out. Instead, take her on a walk and if you encounter another person/dog and she starts growling, have a treat in your hand and the moment she stops to breathe, click or say "gooddog!" or whatever your marker is, and give her a treat. Wait for her to take a breath again, and do the same. You only need literally one second of quiet to reward. Use really good treats that she loves.

 

Pretty soon she is realizing that she gets a treat when she stops snarling. And in time, you can get to the point that when you see another dog coming you can distract her and give her treats while the other dog walks by, and have no snarling.

 

Don't expect this dog ever to become social and happy go lucky with other dogs. It simply may not be in her makeup. If she gets that far with training, fine, but if not enjoy the dog you have.


D'Elle

and family.

Left to right: Kit, Jester, Boo, Digger

 

 

Mydogs12-2013Smaller.jpg
"You gonna throw that?" --Jester:  2001 - June 24 2016. Remembered with much love.
"I'm grouchier than you are" --Kit

"I love everyone!" -- Boo

(Boing! Boing! Boing!)--Digger

And not pictured, Benjamin the cat, who thinks he is a small border collie with superpowers.

 

 

 


#6 dallasbc

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:05 AM

Thanks for posting this topic. Dallas is fear aggressive, too. He had some scary 'incidents' (aka kids running and screaming around him) when he was really little and now he really really does not like them. Random adults scare him, too, and I haven't been able to figure out his criteria for which ones... We're seeing an animal behaviour specialist tomorrow, but this gives me hope we'll at least get him to a point where I don't have to worry about him barking and lunging at kids anytime he sees one. I don't expect him to ever love them, but to just tolerate being in the same vicinity as one would be good! Good luck with your border collie! I just read some reviews on the Click to Calm book and it sounds fantastic. I think I'll be checking that book out, too.



#7 GentleLake

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:55 AM

Click to Calm is a great program. Highly recommend it.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#8 rariadne

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 02:36 PM

Hi, I have a sort of related question. I take my dog to a large off leash dog beach (I know those types of places are controversial but I live in a neighbourhood with well trained dogs and they basically just swim and play and I always watch him very closely) 

 

But there is often this little puppy of roughly his age , some sort of a high energy spaniel. When he goes to play with this dog, he is just a total jerk. He pushes the dog over and keeps her on the ground. I pull him off as I was told to do in puppy class, using his harness so it does not hurt him. And the puppy comes back to him. Which I was told means they are into it. So I used to let him go again and just stop if he got to rough, but the owner told me that her dog had bite marks last time!!! so obviously I won't let that happen any more and will just leave. I feel terrible. 

 

She doesn't stay close to her dog. I don't know. Am I doing something wrong here? Is it normal for dogs to take an irrational dislike of certain other dogs? In and of itself this situation isn't much of an issue, I can just remove myself and my dog. But is it indicative of a greater problem? Most dogs he plays great with , although he prefers to play on the rougher side. But this one he is just not nice to.  If he did not place nicely generally, I would definitely not take him there. Does it mean he will become aggressive when older? Should I keep him away from the beach entirely? I am concerned about it. Sorry if this is a bit rambling. Any tips or insight would be greatly appreciated. Is this an aggression issue?



#9 D'Elle

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 04:47 PM

I would not assume your dog is being mean to the other dog. I would not assume aggression. It sounds to me as though the play is just a little rough for the smaller dog. However, since the spaniel keeps coming back, it doesn't sound like a problem to the little dog.

 

"Bite marks"...what does that mean? You will not see "bite marks" on a furry dog. It's not like a person, who has exposed skin. So if someone told me that I would be skeptical. If there's no blood, and the spaniel has not made distress sounds at any point, there's no real problem you need to be worried about in my opinion.

 

If I were in your position I would try to stay at the opposite end of the beach from her and her dog. If her dog comes close, you might try saying to her that you are planning to control your dog as needed, and would appreciate it if she did the same by keeping close to her dog. Between the two of you, on a large beach, you can keep the two dogs apart.


D'Elle

and family.

Left to right: Kit, Jester, Boo, Digger

 

 

Mydogs12-2013Smaller.jpg
"You gonna throw that?" --Jester:  2001 - June 24 2016. Remembered with much love.
"I'm grouchier than you are" --Kit

"I love everyone!" -- Boo

(Boing! Boing! Boing!)--Digger

And not pictured, Benjamin the cat, who thinks he is a small border collie with superpowers.

 

 

 


#10 rariadne

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 02:59 PM

Thanks for the very sensible answer. I'm glad to hear I was overreacting. He is my first dog, and I hear so much about avoiding aggressive behavior that I am likely reading too much into interactions. Yah. I was surprised to hear there were bits marks, maybe she meant scabs? But I don't know really, you would think the dog would have made more of a fuss if so.  Anyways, I really appreciate your feedback, I was definitely somewhat flustered when I wrote that. Not fully used to interactions with other dog owners yet!  



#11 GentleLake

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 03:48 PM

Scabs or any other indication of puncture wounds would be cause for concern, IMO. At the very least it would suggest too boisterous play.

 

At worst, it could be actual aggression, but from your description of the other pup wanting to come back for more that seems unlikely to me.

 

You don't mention how old your pup is, but puppy teeth (up till abut 6 months) are exceedingly sharp. I've had playful tiny puppy teeth break my skin when there was no ill intent from the puppy at all.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#12 rariadne

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 08:02 PM

yah, he is just under 5 and a half months. he definitely has a tendency to play rough. it works better when he is playing with dogs who are larger then he is. he is from a farm and i figure maybe as little guys they didn't have much intervention? his litter popped out the eye of an adult dog they were playing with! but that is just my theory, I have no idea if that is how play styles get formed. I have tried to learn about how to change play style to something more gentle , and have asked a trainer but it just sort of seems to be part of the personality. from what I gather you just keep stopping them from being too rough when it happens by removing them. if anyone has any experience or suggestions around that, I would be very interested. 



#13 GentleLake

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 08:49 PM

Sounds to me like he needs a non-aggressive adult dog to put him in his place. I've seen a number of adult dogs teach an obnoxious pup what is and is not appropriate behavior without actually hurting the pup, but in terms that the pup most definitely understands.

 

The problem for you may be find the right dog. ;)

 

Chances are that eventually he'll have a run in with another dog who won't put up with his shenanigans. The older he gets though and looses his puppy license, the more likely that the other dog will be less tolerant of it and the results may not be pretty.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#14 CptJack

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 10:21 PM

Man, I wish I loved close. Kylie is so good at teaching puppies manners.  No damage, no contact, but takes no crap and they learn. 



#15 GentleLake

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 10:40 PM

Bodhi's really good at it too. Like Kylie, no damage and no contact unless the pup doesn't get it the first time. If he has to bring out the big guns he will, but it's still very controlled with no real harm done other than getting the point across. It's definitely something where he starts out with the least force necessary and only escalates if the other dog or pup isn't getting the message.

 

It may be part of the personality but more likely that he never had a good teacher dog. This is one of those things that's usually best taught by other dogs rather than humans.

 

There are lots of dogs out there who are good communicators and teachers.  It's just a matter of finding one that someone knows has the skills to do it. Maybe your trainer would have or know of an appropriate dog. Some trainers who have dogs that are really good at it use them to help teach other dogs more appropriate social behaviors and communication skills.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#16 D'Elle

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Posted 20 May 2018 - 09:36 AM

Does he play rough with you? biting, etc.? If so, maybe working on that with him would help him to learn some control with other dogs. Although, as others have said, best teacher is an adult dog. Perhaps you could ask around your circle of known people to see if anyone has an appropriate adult dog, one who matches the descriptions given above of a good teacher.


D'Elle

and family.

Left to right: Kit, Jester, Boo, Digger

 

 

Mydogs12-2013Smaller.jpg
"You gonna throw that?" --Jester:  2001 - June 24 2016. Remembered with much love.
"I'm grouchier than you are" --Kit

"I love everyone!" -- Boo

(Boing! Boing! Boing!)--Digger

And not pictured, Benjamin the cat, who thinks he is a small border collie with superpowers.

 

 

 


#17 rariadne

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 06:13 PM

Hi guys, thanks very much for the responses and the good ideas. The dog teacher thing does make lots of sense, as it is sort of bratty kid behavior it seems. No, he has great bite control with people! It wasn't always good, but it sort of clicked a month ago and now he is very gentle and if he gets a bit rough and you remind him he stops right away. Thank goodness! Such a nice change. 

 

I will definitely look into trying to find a dog like that. He plays with my mom's older lab, but the lab is far too tolerant and never really corrects at all. The only thing I foresee maybe being an issue, is that he is typically quite respectful of larger dogs. It is mostly if he has a size advantage, or if the dog is particularly submissive (or into the rough play) that he plays extra rough. Charming right :wacko:



#18 rariadne

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 01:05 PM

I guess none of you with an older teacher dog live in Vancouver B.C, eh? :P



#19 CptJack

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 08:02 PM

I guess none of you with an older teacher dog live in Vancouver B.C, eh? :P

 

I do not, but I really wish. Especially since mine is also all of 15lbs so would be a good 'decoy' :P



#20 manthaje

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Posted Yesterday, 12:19 AM

Ah thank you for this thread! My almost 13 yr old lab has been putting pup in her place when she gets out of hand, only escalates past a low growl to a louder growl if necessary and she has had to use a snap once or twice. I felt kind of guilty telling my kids to let her go, but honestly my 9 wk old pup respects her reprimands and she puts her right in line! I think the old lady knows what she's doing :)


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