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Herding and Barking when People are in Swimming Pool


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#1 morgans

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 08:42 AM

We have a 10 year old Border Collie whom we adopted 3 years ago. He is a great dog and so smart. We are very lucky. We would be interested in getting input on one behavior we would like to "control" if possible. We have a fenced in "in ground" swimming pool. We have no problem with him going into the swimming pool as he loves to swim. Our problem is that when people are in the pool swimming, he barks continuously and jumps in as if he is herding the people and unfortunately sometimes scratches them. If we try to just sit with him by the pool edge he gets very nervous and tries to get into the pool. If we keep him out of the pool, outside the fence, he gets upset and tries to squeeze through the fence to get into the pool area. We know this is probably just his herding instinct but were hoping to get some advice on how we can calm him down in the pool area while people are swimming and in the pool, and still let him swim. When there are younger children in the pool, we have to keep him in the garage as we don't want him to jump too close to them or scratch them. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

#2 Shetlander

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 09:19 AM

As I'm sure others will tell you, he is not herding. He is over-stimulated by swimming for whatever reason. At the very least, I would put him in the house when using the pool so he can't continue to practice this behavior. There are a number of approaches you can take to stop the behavior. I'd be inclined to take a clicker approach to rewarding the behavior I wanted. Click to Calm is a fantastic book for reactive behaviors and for clicker training in general.

Liz


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#3 morgans

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 09:50 AM

As I'm sure others will tell you, he is not herding. He is over-stimulated by swimming for whatever reason. At the very least, I would put him in the house when using the pool so he can't continue to practice this behavior. There are a number of approaches you can take to stop the behavior. I'd be inclined to take a clicker approach to rewarding the behavior I wanted. Click to Calm is a fantastic book for reactive behaviors and for clicker training in general.

Thank you - I will check into that. Just to clarify, when he jumps into the pool he literally swims around the people very calmly as if he is herding. Then he gets out of the pool and sees that people didn't get out and starts barking at them and jumps in again and swims around them as if he is trying to herd them.
Thanks again.

#4 urge to herd

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 10:42 AM

Some border collies really, really love swimming. Your boy appears to be one of them! Swimming is excellent exercise for most dogs, especially as they age.

As far as being barky after he gets out, it isn't herding behavior. It's bossiness, perhaps some anxiety. Put him up, out of sight of the pool, when he's done swimming. Using the techniques in Click to Calm or Control Unleashed, (both books available at Dogwise.com) you'll be able to teach him to control himself, but it will take a while, as he's been practicing this behavior for a long time.

Thank you for adopting him, it sounds like he's got a wonderful home with you.

Ruth

#5 Mariji

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:45 PM

That is just him being a typical obsessive Border. Especially because you got him as an older dog he probably has many obsessive qualities he has developed. He can't really control what he is doing so I would just remove him from the situation completely. Crate him, or put him in another room or yard. He is just so wound up by it that he can't calm down, I kind of explain it like their heads are buzzing.

You can avoid them developing behaviours by stopping them the second you see them but he has probably been practicing this for years. My 7 month old started herding my older dog when we are training or when we are playing, so now she is put in a down somewhere away from us and is not allowed to display what would become extremely annoying. As for around our pool she runs around and follows us but when she gets to us she just licks us. She's curious as I bring her in with me too but its not obsessive, my other two though, they run and hide in fear I will pull them in. :rolleyes: Anyway just remove him and do not allow him to do it as it just gets worse with time.
"Pick up a ball in front of a Border Collie and you'll find a permanent job."

#6 mbc1963

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 06:05 PM

My parents have an in-ground pool, and the behavior you describe is quite common among visiting dogs - whatever the breed. Many dogs don't like their "people" to be in the water. Over the decades, we've had several dogs that had to be shut down in the lower part of the yard while people swim, because they just get anxious and frantic if people are in the water. We've always assumed it was because they thought their people were drowning.

Mary


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