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  1. RainDrops

    Healthy and Safe Chews

    It's a constant struggle to keep Fern busy. She finds antlers boring most of the time. She loves bully sticks. I also let her have the porkskin chews because they seem to be a safe, 100% digestible rawhide alternative, and they last a similar time to the bully sticks. She has himalayan chews and sometimes likes them but also gets bored. I buy bully sticks in bulk, 50 at a time, online for around $80. So it's like $1.60 a piece. I haven't been able to find a better cost efficiency when it comes to entertaining her. She usually gets a frozen stuffed kong and a bully stick when left in her crate.
  2. RainDrops

    Barking at obedience trainers

    Thank you, this is a good reasoning for why I should teach her both of them. I will keep at it and see how it goes. She seems to be changing a whole lot lately, and hopefully her confidence is improving.
  3. RainDrops

    Not getting along with other dogs

    I will try to keep you updated on my progress with Fern (see that thread). We did go to the park yesterday without incident, though most of the dogs there were her regular playmates. I am currently looking at how my behavior might be influencing hers, and seeing if a modification on my part will influence her possessiveness. I have been reading the book Click to Calm (recommended on here in some other threads) and I have been trying to start using these methods to encourage calm behavior in response to exciting stimuli. From reading the book, it does sound like the methods could be very useful to your dog, as it is intended specifically for dealing with dog reactive/aggressive dogs.
  4. If you think she's a sport prospect, I would check to see if you can contact rescues that deal specifically with performance dogs. Given her fear issues, she will have the best chance of finding a good home if she can work with an experienced trainer who can help with the fear issues before she goes to a final home. There's an "adoptable performance dogs" group on facebook that might be able to point you in the right direction or hook you up with somebody who has the experience to work with her.
  5. RainDrops

    Sudden behavior changes

    I've read a lot of these discussions in the past, which led me to think 18 months would be a better time to do it. If I stick to this plan, is there a good chance she will chill out again after going through these hormonal mood swings? I'm only concerned with what will allow her to live a happy healthy life in the long run.
  6. RainDrops

    Sudden behavior changes

    I am wondering if she may be coming into season, given how sudden it is. I was going to wait until ~18 months to spay her, but if she has an early heat it may make more sense to do it earlier. I don't mind if she isn't super fond of other dogs, I'm just not cool with her picking fights with any dog that approaches me due to possessiveness. I know she doesn't care for rude behavior and that's totally understandable as long as she's using appropriate behavior to indicate that, as she has always done before now. If I am going to spay her earlier than intended, does it make sense to do it sooner or to wait until she settles down again after a heat? I'm also wondering if this bout of reactiveness is just due to me leaving her with a sitter for a week. The first night I got back, she seemed very out of sorts and was super submissive. I wouldn't be super surprised if it made her more possessive of me, though I'd hate if she made a permanent change.
  7. RainDrops

    Sudden behavior changes

    Thank you. I have heard this as well, but at her current point she is very enthusiastic about playing with other dogs. She is good at following my commands, and will leave play if I ask her, but she would generally prefer to play with other dogs than play with me. Even today she was still wanting to play with the other dogs more, just would come in and react if one of the "ignorable" dogs came near me or did something even slightly annoying to her. Her level of reaction just went from nothing to extreme in a day, making me strongly suspect hormonal changes. But I don't know how to navigate it. If she preferred to play with me rather than other dogs, I wouldn't mind, but she has found such huge enjoyment in playing every day that it is very confusing. She has seemed to enjoy meeting every new dog, and tended to react very appropriately until now. If she was reacting appropriately to convey a desire to not interact with dogs, I would understand that, but she just seems to be going straight to a knee jerk aggressive response, even to dogs she knows very well that are not acting dominant or pushy.
  8. RainDrops

    Foster dog

    I love Brittanys! One of the few breeds I would consider having one day. Great size, and they seem lovely in temperament. Beautiful pics make me a little jealous!
  9. Over the past two days, Fern has suddenly altered her behavior dramatically and I'm not sure how to best communicate to her that it is not appropriate. In the past she has been wonderful with other dogs, and we go to a fenced park at the same time every day to meet up with one of her best friends who has a good temperament match. She mainly will just play with one of these "best friend" dogs and will generally ignore other dogs. She has been generally very good about reading other dogs, and only plays with dogs that have a similar play style to her. Yesterday, there were few dogs around, but a large, pushy, dominant female dog came in and jumped up on me and friend dog's owner. She's seen this dog many times, and has never reacted much. This time, she ran under our bench and started baring teeth & normal threat display. Pushy dog didn't back off, so she jumped her and they got snarly for 5 seconds or so before we separated them. I interpreted this as her being possessive/defensive of me, and I stood up and walked away from her whenever the pushy dog would come near. No more bad interaction occurred. Today, I came at the same time so she could play with her best friend. But her response to every dog was different today. If dogs got near me she would bare teeth and air snap at them. I responded with "leave it" and if she didn't immediately knock it off I had her chill out and enforced some obedience commands before I let her go. But it wasn't only possessiveness of me. If she was playing with a playmate and another dog came by to "police" them by barking or something, she would run up to them and air snap. Basically anything she could possibly interpret as a challenge, however minor, she's reacting aggressively. This change is really dramatic for her. She is 10 months, so I am wondering if this is a temporary change due to hormones. It's like she has some newfound confidence and wants to enforce all her desires. I did leave her with a sitter for a week recently, but the first day I was back she was fine with other dogs, and showed no unusual aggressive behavior. I'm really hoping it won't continue, and not sure the best way to discourage the behavior. If this is a temporary hormonal phase, is it best to take a break from all dog-dog socialization so she can't reinforce this behavior? Alternatively, I can think of a few options I could try to teach her that the behavior does not get rewards. Option A: leave the park as soon as she shows signs of challenging other dogs, only returning after chill out period. Option B: use a clicker to reward all non-challenging interactions (but I am wary of treating because I don't know if this will make her feel more possessive due to food). Option C: continue verbal leave it commands and brief time out if she does not comply. I could also try going to the park at calmer times with few dogs in case over excitement is making the situation worse. If anybody has experienced something similar to this, I would appreciate suggestions on what I should be doing. Thank you in advance.
  10. RainDrops

    Barking at obedience trainers

    Thank you for the advice! That's great to hear CIO works so well. It's funny... I've actually been doing CIO, calling it that, but didn't realize it was a separate thing from LAT. That's exactly what we've started doing with parked trucks and stuff, and she seems to be doing well. If she isn't able to advance on her own towards scary object we leave the scene. Moving things like skateboards and scooters make her want to bark/lunge/chase, and our protocol for those is as soon as she sees one, I click multiple times, and she gets treats for looking at me while it passes. It already seems to be helping, as she has reduced barking and lunging. For strangers it's weird, because she really truly loves to meet people, which I assume based off her body language of googly eyes and wiggly butt, but I can tell she's a little nervous about the actual people. She will try to lean out toward people on our walk if they make eye contact, so she definitely wants to meet strangers. But sometimes if people make a funny movement she's not expecting, she'll get startled and start barking at them. I'm hoping this will fade over time, so I'm just trying to reinforce all her positive interactions.
  11. RainDrops

    Barking at obedience trainers

    Thank you I appreciate your time. I was pretty annoyed she was calling my dog shy and neurotic, because the first time she met her, Fern was very friendly and happy with her. It was only after Fern observed her for a while that she got anxious. I think border collies seem to be very sensitive to behavior of other animals (which makes sense for a dog that specializes in manipulating animals) and it isn't surprising that it results in a tendency to be overly analytical of human behavior. I think Fern draws conclusions way too quickly, resulting in some very difficult results. I am very concerned about working on desensitizing her to triggers she is nervous of, and am just trying to do this through encouraging positive stranger meetings, and using a clicker to work her up to checking out things that give her the willies (like trucks) in a sort of LAT style. I do think she is going through a fear period, but she's also getting more confident in her abilities and tries to scare things away rather than running away herself. But it's so hard to go to an obedience class and be working on two things at once. So I feel very good about this decision.
  12. Does he have specific toys designated for tug? My dog likes to tug, but I discourage playing tug with most of her toys or random objects. She has two tug toys, and she knows that if I'm holding one of those, she's welcome to tug on it. Maybe if he has more of a structured use of toys, he will learn the difference between something he can tug and something he gets no reward for. If you try to do this, I would suggest never letting him have a tug toy on his own. Keep it away where he can't reach it unless you decide to take it out. I just taught drop by making it a game, with a cycle of tug, drop, leave it (when I lay the tug toy on the ground) and get it (when I grab it and wiggle it for her to grab). I don't know about drop with random objects though, because we haven't had that problem.
  13. RainDrops

    How big will he get?

    Just wanted to say he is super cute! And the rule of thumb I usually see on here is that they're about 1/2 their weight at 4 months. So maybe around 40 lbs?
  14. RainDrops

    Barking at obedience trainers

    Thank you for the advice! I think I need to be more proactive about ending situations that cause anxiety like that. I think I've been too eager to let her "get used" to things, and I need to listen to what she's saying with her body language more. Fern also has issues with certain dogs that don't know how to play politely or don't understand dog body language, and I think I find it tricky trying to decide if letting them experience it will help the situation, because sometimes they learn to get along after some communication. Other times they don't, and I remove Fern after it's clear that she's not benefiting from the situation. But when that happens I tend to beat myself up about not pulling her sooner, because I hate her having negative experiences. But it's hard to tell which sort of situation it is at the beginning.
  15. RainDrops

    Barking at obedience trainers

    That sounds like the sort of trainer Fern would like! She is visibly more nervous around big men, though she usually is overly submissive to them rather than defensive. I think she picks up on commanding voice the same way as she does size. Usually she is most comfortable with women, but the female trainer we've had tends to take charge in a very "masculine" way. Fern's favorite people are small females who talk in a high pitched excited voice, though the more excited people are the more likely she is to forget her manners!