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JOBS YOU GIVE YOUR BORDER COLLIE


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#1 Star

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 07:54 AM

Many times I have read, "Give your bc a job to do". I'm wondering what jobs you give your dog to do (other than working stock). Right now I think Star believes her job description is: 1.eat 2.play ball 3.repeat. I've thought about having Star pick up laundry, or at least pick up her toys!

Also, are there any suggestions on HOW to teach her to do this stuff--I can get her to pick anything up, but I can't seem to get her to then put it in a basket and I don't know what I'm doing wrong on this. The minute she picks up the item, she drops it then looks to me for a "good girl". How do I translate into pick it up AND put it in the basket?

#2 Kelleybean

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 09:06 AM

Asa's favorite job is putting my son to bed and waking him up in the morning. She's the perfect alarm clock, she avoids the flailing arms as he tries to swat her in the morning and stealtfully licks him till he wakes up! It's a bonus treat for her when my other son is home from college and she can do the same with him. I just say "Go get Sam up" or "Go put Sam in bed".
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#3 Root Beer

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 11:44 AM

Will Star give you a ball when she brings it back? If so, you can try throwing a ball, having her bring it back and hold a big basket under her mouth as you say your "give" cue. Instead of taking the ball, let it fall into the basket and reward by throwing it again. Once she gets the idea, you can create a new cue that means "drop it in the basket" and continue the exercise with the ball. When that is really solid, you can try having her pick up something else right next to the basket and immediately cue her to put it into the basket. Once she has that down, you can build distance for her to carry it and bring it to the basket.

Dean's "jobs" include things like ball playing - we play several games in addition to just regular retrieving. He does some stays as the ball flies and is then released to go get it. We play a game where the ball flies over the back of the sofa and he has to guess where it is coming from. He also hangs out with me while I clean and do chores around the house. I don't really have him play any active part. He's just around. He also accompanies me when we roll the trash can to the end of the driveway, go out to the woodshed for wood, go out to close the gate to the dog yard, go out to call in a mutt if he or she has been out long enough, etc. I've considered training him to do something more active with these things, but really he is happy to just go along.

Then, of course, there is his training. Clicker training is included in that. He trains to do Agility, Rally, and Freestyle. We train new moves/exercises, and work on fluency of moves/exercises that he is learning, and we train to maintain what he knows.

I am only describing Dean's "jobs" because he is really the only one of my dogs who really "needs a job". I guess ball and training are Speedy's "jobs", too, but he isn't really as "job minded". Dean has more of a need to use his brain with some degree of variety.

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#4 nancy

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 11:56 AM

We have taught Fergie to pick up and bring in the newspaper at the end of our morning walk. Now that she's 15, we have to hand it to her as she tends to slip and fall when she tries to toss it for a good grip. She also carries in what mail we let her slobber on.

She and the cat have decided that she tells time, gooses Maggie, and Maggie yells to tell us it's time for a meal.

She used to wake us up when the sun came in the bedroom window - and never before that. But she now sleeps downstairs, with a baby-gate across the stairs, because we worry that, with her arthritis, she'll slip going down.

My best friend has taught her border collie/ pit bull mix (best we can guess) to get and put away specific toys, to catch and recycle 2-liter soda bottles, and to carry socks upstairs and put them in the drawer.

#5 Alchemist

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 12:24 PM

We taught Duncan to put his toys in his toybox by "back chaining" - starting with the end of the trick. We put a treat in his toy box, and told him to "take it" (a command he already knew, so this part didn't take long). We then progressed to telling him to "take it" (the treat) in the toy box when he had a toy in his mouth (this part was easy as he already knew how to fetch). When he dropped it in the toy box, we gave him a "jackpot" of treats and effusive praise. It didn't take long before he was collecting toys and bringing him to the toy box to release them there, even reattempting it when his aim was bad until he was successful. We're now working on getting him to select toys by name to bring them to the toy box.

But to answer the OP's bigger question: how to give them "a job". I'm assuming that stock work is not something you're looking to do. In that case, I'd recommend signing up for obedience or agility or freestyle classes. I'm sure if you look around or ask around, you can find a class that will suit you. Perhaps it's rally obedience, perhaps it's an introduction to agility - perhaps it's just a class in "clicker training" or in "trick training". Any of these is a great way to build strong connections to your dog and to exercise it mentally. Duncan is never so pleased as when he's being taught a new trick. (Not sure it's exactly "a job" for him, as his tail is up the whole time - when he thinks he's working, it's an entirely different game).

You can buy books that have lots of suggestions for dog tricks. I own a copy of "The Only Dog Tricks Book You'll Ever Need", and it has many ideas and detailed suggestions on how to train them. But if you don't have a lot of experience in training basic obedience, you might get frustrated in training complex tricks, and that wouldn't be fun for either you or for Star, which is why a class would be better. Besides, personally, I find the fear of having my dog look bad at the next class gives me the incentive I need to practice during the week.

Good luck and enjoy!

#6 Star

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 11:31 PM

Good ideas and I will try the tips on "put it in the basket". I think they'll work! We might try getting the mail, too. I'd love to start Star on sheep and had even found someone in the area to help me, but I think we'll do agility. My daughter is more excited about that prospect and we'll get her involved in it, too. I plan to start right after the holidays.

#7 sjones

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 10:48 PM

Sometimes when doing chores my hands are too full and can't carry everything so thats where my dogs come in. Some of them like helping more than others. I have taught the girls to go get the bucket and carry it for me. They will also pick up the dropped scrubbie I use to clean out water buckets, gloves, hats, etc. They think its fun, but I guess you could call it a job. The only one of mine who thinks this job is beneath her is Floss, if it doesn't pertain to sheep than she sees no reason to do things like pick up a bucket.

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#8 sweet_ceana

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 12:20 AM

I always ask Poke to come help me with things. Even if he is not actively doing whatever it is with me I often explain what I am doing show him something let him sniff it and give him the word for it. Poke feels his job title is my personal assistant, so I indulge him. He opens doors for me, gets things for me etc... The newest chore we are working on is taking clothing from the hamper and putting it piece by piece in the washing machine. He also feels his job is to entertain visitors with high flying Frisbee playing. His favorite thing is stock work. We don't get to do it as much as either one of us likes, but when he does he loves being the smarter partner. :lol:

Ceana sounds scary so her main job is to protect the house by sounding much larger then she is. Down here people will come to your door and pretend to be landscapers, check out your house and rob it. People go door to door and leave cards on your front porch (something I really hate about this state, I don't like cleaning up random items constantly)so I let her bark at people at our front door and in the alley behind our house. She wouldn't hurt a fly, but she sounds like it. ;) Ceana also takes stock lessons.

Sita's job is to hold down the couch. I have the laziest border collie in history at my house.
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#9 Sue R

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 06:20 AM

A job doesn't have to be a "job" - like housecleaning! Our dogs work our cattle but that comprises only a very small part of their daily routine on average (and, sometimes, even on work days).

When I think of a job for the average, non-working Border Collie, I think of being a companion in every sense of the word - being actively engaged with his/her handler. Walks, bike rides, manners and obedience, fetch, frisbee.

The key is mental and physical activity, but more importantly mental - and engagement and involvement with his/her person.

So, maybe the use of the word "job" is misleading. Now, if only my dogs would do housework, they'd be utterly perfect...
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

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#10 manasquan_jim

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:12 PM

We give our BC security detail also. He only weighs in at 35 pounds, but has a very menacing bark. Due to the nature of the neighborhood, we let him bark at strangers walking by the house. Funny thing is that he totally loves people and wouldnt hurt anybody.
The only problem is that he thinks squirrels, rabbits and cats are a part of the detail. I'll have to work on that.

The command is "go on patrol" and he runs to the front door, ears up, standing straight and fully alert. If we want him to bark, we say "woo, woo". This took almost no training as if in the breeding and he seems to really enjoy it, but takes it seriously.

He also tucks in and wakes up the kids.

#11 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:39 PM

When I think of a job for the average, non-working Border Collie, I think of being a companion in every sense of the word - being actively engaged with his/her handler. Walks, bike rides, manners and obedience, fetch, frisbee.

The key is mental and physical activity, but more importantly mental - and engagement and involvement with his/her person.

So, maybe the use of the word "job" is misleading.


This. All this. :)

I suspect the warning about giving BCs a job is aimed at people who might mistake the dog's reputation for intelligence as meaning it's a dog they won't have to put a lot of time into.

... And I think I just ended a sentence with a preposition. I hate when I do that! :P

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#12 Star

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 02:55 PM

That's a good clarification. In that case, Star has lots of jobs. She lays on the bed at story time, follows me around doing laundry and I talk to her while I'm folding (I think the attraction here is the sock, though, not my company!). She lays under my feet when I work. She goes with to pick up the kids from school. She goes camping, hiking, running with me, and plays lots of fetch and tug.

The put it in the basket came along very quickly last night. I threw her all and instead of patting my chair or lap (which is where she will usually put it when she brings it back), I patted the basket and said put it in the basket. She dropped it close, but not in, twice. Next time I moved it so she ended up dropping it in. Woohoo, treat, good girl. One more time and she had it. Cracked me up because you could see the light go on and then she reached back in, picked up the ball, and dropped it back in a couple of times with a look that said, "Look what I can do!" We'll keep working on this a little and then start moving the basket. Thanks for the suggestions I guess my process oriented mind wanted to take it from step 1 to the end instead of the other way around.

#13 Sue R

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 05:23 PM

I suspect the warning about giving BCs a job is aimed at people who might mistake the dog's reputation for intelligence as meaning it's a dog they won't have to put a lot of time into.~ Gloria

This, I think, is often the crux of the matter - many people equate "smart" with "no effort" when the opposite is really the case.
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

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"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown


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