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New BC owner! Little help...

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Hi! I'm new to this site...but excited I found it. My border collie, Nalu, is 4 months old (male). I've had him since he was about 7 weeks old. Having grown up with a bc, and just moved into a house with a large yard, and being a runner, I thought having a bc would be something I could handle...until I got walking pneumonia. It's just me and him in the house. This past month has been painful with such an energetic dog. I couldn't even walk, let alone take him for runs. The most I could handle was throwing a frisbee for him in my backyard, trying to teach him new tricks, and tossing his mini soccer ball in the house. I've taken him to daycare and hired sitters some days, but I can't afford to do that all the time. I'm finally feeling better now and am back on my feet, but still not up for running just yet. Since I've been feeling better (the past four days) I've been taking him on an hour walk every morning, a half hour walk at lunch, and a half hour walk after work...and he's still pretty wired. He's unfortunately taken a liking to playing soccer in the house like we did while I was sick, but I'm trying to ween him off of it to teach him to be calm inside...but then he just chews my furniture...so I go back to letting him play soccer. I'm worried that month of being sick has developed some bad habits in him. Taking him to the dog park helps a bit, but he's still so young, and gets pretty worked by the bigger dogs.

I guess I'm asking if anyone has any tips I can use to release some of his excess energy. I wish I could have sheep in my backyard!

Thanks!

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Welcome to the Boards!

 

I'm sorry to hear about your illness and hope you are feeling much better!

 

Your puppy is adorable. For starters, is he crate trained? Crate training can be a fantastic way to teach an off switch and can keep your puppy from destructive behaviors such as chewing your furniture.

 

Secondly, your puppy is entirely too young to be running with you. "Forced running" such as being on a leash and running along side you can be extremely damaging to growing joints. Typically it is not recommended you run with a dog until their growth plates are fully closed around 12-18 months.

 

It also sounds like you are walking Nalu quite a bit as well. When my pup was 4 months on we rarely went on even 30 minute walks. It also depends on how the walks happen, if it is on a sidewalk and covering quite a bit of distance then, like running, it puts quite a bit of pressure on growing joints. However if you are walking in a large field or similar area and walking very slowly, giving the pup the chance to move, sniff, lay down, and explore at his own pace that is a very different matter.

 

Border Collies are active dogs but you don't want to create an exercise dependent dog. If you walk/run your dog five miles a day then you are creating a dog who expects to be exercise five miles a day. You are better served to teach your dog to be happy with how much exercise you can give him and have an off switch for times when you cannot give him as much exercise as you would like.

 

As for what you can do other than exercise, make sure your puppy has plenty to chew on, kongs, antlers, etc. Also, treat dispensing toys are a great way for your pup to work his mind. I used to feed my youngest entirely out of treat dispensing toys for at least one meal a day. Trick training is also a great way to work your pup's mind and give him some exercise.

 

To teach an off switch I would highly recommend crate training. You can use the crate for naps throughout the day when your pup needs them. An alternative is also using an exercise pen. I don't use crates very often for my dogs anymore but when I did I would give them a kong stuffed with something like peanut butter and put them in for a nap when I felt they needed to take break.

 

I am also not a huge fan of dog parks. Your pup is still really young and susceptible to disease. And in general there are usually just too many people, too many unknowns, and too many things that can go wrong at a dog park. I also expose my dogs to other dogs and owners that I know and that I know they get along with.

 

As a personal example I have two Border Collies. My female, Tess, is 3 years old. I joke sometimes that she's really a cat stuck in a dogs body because she would be more than happy to sleep 18 hours a day every day. She can get up and go and hike 10 miles if she wants to, but is also find to just lay around. She was pretty much born like that and never needed to be taught to have an off-switch.

 

My male, Crow, is an entirely different story. He's over a year old now and is a super busy dog. Right now he is currently squeaking a toy in the middle of the floor trying to get me to play with him. If it's just us at the house he is good about relaxing but if there is anything going on he just cannot relax. He's just happy and wants to be involved in everything and when he starts to get tired he just works himself up more. I've worked really hard to teach him an off-switch and for the most part he does well but even still sometimes I have to crate him and force him to rest. Just this Sunday we were at my boyfriend's house hanging out with his dog and Crow and Urbs just fed energy off each other and we finally had to separate them and I crated Crow so they could both get some rest. So it can definitely be a process and don't expect it to happen overnight.

 

Hope this helps. I'm sure other people will chime in as well.

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First of all I've got to tell you -- and I'm sure you'll hear it from others here too (ETA: I see Tess's girl was writing the same thing at the same time.) -- that 4 months old is way too young to take a puppy running with you! YOU need to wait until he's fully developed and his growth plates have close at about 18 months old, and then condition him by beginning with short runs and working up to longer ones.

 

Settling in the house can be taught. For one thing, even if he lies down on his own for whatever reason, take that opportunity to quietly praise him. Dogs need to be paid attention to when they're doing things we like and value, even if it's doing nothing. Too many people only interact with their puppies when they're active or misbehaving. If they want attention, they'll offer more of those behaviors to get what they want.

 

I recently read something quite interesting. I think it was trainer Shirley Chong who wrote that if you spend 5 minutes every hour you're awake doing some training -- trick or basic manners are fine -- and can do it for 16 hours, you'll have what she called a "flat out dog", that is one who's so mentally exhausted that s/he's flat out tired and just lying around. Now, for most of us the 5/60 rule just isn't practical for 16 hours as we have to go to work, etc., but for you right now it just might be feasible. Even if you can't do it for 16 hours, as many hours of the day that you can spend training for 5 minutes is going to help, the more often the better.

 

I hope you're felling better and will continue to improve. Best wishes helping your little guy learn to settle in the house.

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Welcome! Sorry that you have been so sick but glad that you are on the mend.

 

Remember that mental exercise can be as tiring (or more so) as physical exercise, so do lots of manners training, trick training, silly dog trick training, etc., in increments that both you and he can handle. Sometimes, even just five to ten minutes of intense concentration can really wear a youngster out but he will be able to handler longer periods of time and more varied instruction as he matures.

 

You do need to be careful to not overdo the walks/runs with a youngster. The growth plates in the long bones are often not matured until up to 15 to 18 months of age (it depends on the breed and the individual) and you don't want to encourage too much repetitive and/hard surface motion, like walking on pavement or sidewalks. Do not run with him but limit yourself to walks. Playing in a yard or dog park does not do the same thing as the dog tends to mix up what he is doing and there is less repetition, and he sets his own pace (some youngsters still need you to hold the reins even in that situation).

 

Do not play Frisbee at this age - at most, roll it on the ground. Chasing it and especially jumping for it is not good for those young joints. A ball or a Frisbee can be rolled for a reasonable amount of exercise.

 

The other thing you need to realize is that if you condition him to get a *lot* of exercise, he will expect and need a *lot* of exercise, so that is another good reason to not overdo things.

 

Walks are a terrific time to work on manners and putting mental training into your walks will make them that much more tiring without overdoing the effects on his growing body.

 

I see a couple of others have posted while I have been writing this. I am sure you will get plenty of good advice from other board members. Happy healing!

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PS - As for chewing, he's at that age. Make sure you have a variety of suitable chews for him, ones that are safe for his teeth and that he won't swallow. If he looks like he's going to chew something he shouldn't, give him a good chew instead. Don't leave them all out for him, just leave one or two and rotate them so that they remain fresh and novel in his mind. People aren't the only ones who like novelty in their lives.

 

Good chews can be something like *raw* bones (lamb, pork, or chicken bones, or beef rib bones); rope chews (if he's not a "swallower" of fibers); Kongs that have been stuffed and frozen (give in crate if you don't want a messy floor, and these are great for keeping a youngster or adult dog busy when they get bored); chews made for dogs out of digestible and healthy materials (my dogs like bully sticks, Himalayan chews, Whimzees). Do *not* use rawhides (some dogs will swallow chunks and, besides, they are made with chemicals that aren't really good for dogs) or very hard bones that he can break his teeth on (like weight-bearing bones from cattle).

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Ooohh! Nalu is so cute. I love the red and whites.

 

I am also in agreement with the posters above - so I will try to not be too redundant, but some points bear repeating.

 

Exercise: let pups exercise at their own pace, not at your pace. Remember, the patience and extra care you show your pup now, will pay off in the future with a healthy dog with less chance of osteoarthritis issues.

 

BCs are a remarkably athletic breed, but just because a pup CAN take that run with you, does NOT mean that it SHOULD.

 

Crate training: excellent idea. All my dogs (and foster dogs too) are crate trained from the first day they come into my house. It is NOT a punishment when trained and used correctly.

 

Trick/manners training: yes, mental games can tire out a pup (and adult dog) without worrying about those pesky growth plate issues - or the fact that you may not be physically healthy. At this age, you can gain a lot of ground by just training for 2 or 3 minutes (during the commercials on TV shows). [And don't forget that a young pup has a shorter attention span.] My general rule is to stop training before the dog wants to stop. They should still be begging to train with you when you end a training session. Also, I think positive reinforcement training is a better way to build a close relationship/bond with your dog than just exercising them.

 

You have come the right place for honest (and sometimes blunt) expert advice. Please take the time to go back through the previous posts. There is so much great information available. You will find much more explicit answers to the questions you have posted here - and tons more.

 

Best of Luck with Nalu.

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I agree with everything that has been said so far, especially the cautions not to overdo it with such a very young puppy. You do not want to be responsible for doing him permanent damage.

 

And, just want to say he is completely adorable! You can send him to me any time you want! (Have always had a soft spot for red and white puppies)

 

Welcome to the boards, and I hope that you stick around because this place is a treasure trove of great advice and support.

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Thank you all so much! This was so helpful. My vet was the one that told me to run him! Glad I found this site to talk to some Border Collie experts! Almost seems like it was a blessing in disguise that I got sick, otherwise I think I would have injured little Nalu!

I do have a crate, and used it to potty train him, and he sleeps in it at night. I'll definitely try out the crate training for his down time as well. He usually stays in my kitchen with his chew toys and water for a few hours at a time while I'm at work, and I assume he plays and sleeps until I come back at lunch.

I did discover last night that I can get his energy released pretty easily by sitting on my knees and pulling his tug-rope around me while he tugs back. And it's fun for both of us. ha.

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I am surprised that your vet was not better informed about the damage that excessive, repetitive exercise can do to growth plates. It is not just a border collie issue.

 

As you say, your sickness was a blessing in disguise for your little one. You can now go forward more informed (after a little more research as to age-appropriate activities).

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My vet was the one that told me to run him!

 

Pretty bad advice, IMO.

 

Shows some pretty serious gaps in his or her knowledge not only about about dogs' developmental needs WRT skeletal issues in general and also about border collies (I'm assuming s/he incorrectly believes they need nonstop exercise) in particular. . . .

 

. . . unless s/he just meant run as in play.

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I just took some time to re-read all of these posts. This board has given me more info than any research I've done.

I've taken the advice to heart, and am taking it easy on him, and trying the daily trick-training. And have been using his crate for down-time as well...which has helped immensely. But in the interim, until he has fully developed, how much walking is okay? I have him on this schedule right now:

Short walk in the morning (20-30 minutes, exploring different routes each day to keep things interesting). Then I go to work, keeping Nalu in the kitchen with a dog gate up and water and a couple chew toys. He's awesome and holds his potty business until I come home at lunch, where I play with him in the house for a while after we eat. Then he goes back in the kitchen until the end of my work day. I come home and give another short 20-30 min walk in the evening.

Is this too much? I'm curious if I should only be walking him once a day while he's still little.

Another question, what do you guys recommend for training treats? I'm using Pet Botanics Mini Training Rewards right now. He seems to like them...but I think he'll eat anything. I don't wanna overdo it on treats, but since I'm doing a lot of training throughout the week, I want to be sure to give him something that's good for him.

Thanks!

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I think your walking schedule sounds fine. If you want to reduce the wear-and-tear on his young joints, you could walk him about 5-10 minutes, then let him sniff at his own pace or stop to train him for a couple of minutes - sit, lie down, stay in the presence of distractions - then more walking. Pups can get exercise and running, but the main worry is the repetitive movement that comes with jogging with a human or practicing jumping for agility. Left the their own devices, pups/dogs generally run a bit, then walk/sniff, maybe play with a friend a bit, then sniff, etc. I also watch a young pup playing with an older dog. Sometimes the youngster will overdo it trying to keep up with the older dog, so I will break it up after 5 minutes or so to giver everyone a break.

 

I use a lot of different treats - plain kibble, string cheese, Bil-Jac, cooked chicken, Zuke's and homemade treats (because the high quality grain-free treats at the pet store are sooooo expensive). Check the internet for recipes - and some have been posted in previous threads. If you are doing A LOT of training (treats), just reduce amount you feed at meals.

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For Juno, I tried all kinds of treats. She liked them all, but primarily I used her kibble. In the morning I would put her bowl down with a cup of kibble in it, and then I would ask her to wait a second or two before saying, "okay, take it." For the rest of the day I would use a cup of kibble for training. In addition to this I would use cut up chicken hot dogs, pieces of cheese, pieces of left over chicken, or any other meat we had left over for special training activities (ie. recalls).

Now that Juno is two we are still doing much the same except that I use her regular kibble for breakfast, and then another type of kibble she really likes for her training treats. I still use real food for special training. The other thing about treats is that Juno doesn't seem to care about the size of the treat so If I have an inch long piece of hot dog I can make this stretch into many treats. If she does something really special I can then give her lots of treats because they are small. Hot dogs are also a lot cheaper than almost any dog treat you can buy at the pet store.

 

I would, however, like to give you a heads up on treats. I fell into the trap of using treats as the primary reward and I am still struggling to break the cycle. For example, Juno will fetch and bring back anything, but only if she gets a treat. She is no dummy! If you can use other rewards such as toys, or even environmental rewards like sniffing right from the beginning you will be doing yourself and Nalu a big favour.

 

have fun

Bill

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As Jovi points out, your walking at his pace is a world of difference from his walking at your pace. A pup can walk longer if he's setting the pace, stopping to sniff and romp, etc., than if the handler is chugging along at a business-like walk and the pup is having to keep up to that.

 

When we had our last several pups, we would tend to walk them on a certain walk that took much longer than it does when I'm walking adult dogs, because I let the pup set the pace (most of the time), explore, play, and enjoy. A pup is always learning so a walk, even with a very young pup, is a learning experience on many fronts - learning about his world as well as learning his manners (leash-walking, sits, downs, stays, and general politeness) as you both exercise.

 

So, both of you, enjoy!

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As for treats, you want to be very predictable at first, when the pup is very young (and tiny but coveted treats are best, like bits of string cheese). Then you begin to be unpredictable once the behavior is becoming nicely established - one treat this time, no treat the next time, two or three treats the next time (jackpot!), mixing it up all the time. And then eventually weaning the growing youngster off treats as much as you want to.

 

One treat I really like is Zuke's Mini-Naturals in the Salmon flavor. And they can be cut up into halves or quarters to make tiny treats that are still very tasty and appealing. String cheese is my other favorite. Who can resist the power of cheese? :)

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We also use Zuke's mini naturals for my adult dog, but I did read of someone who runs in similar dog circles as we do, whose puppy choked on a Zuke's mini natural.

 

https://www.change.org/p/zuke-s-patrick-meiering-founder-zuke-s-amy-felker-customer-service-coordinator-zuke-s-david-rizzo-director-of-operations-change-the-shape-of-their-mini-naturals-treats?recruiter=255725961&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_facebook_responsive&utm_term=mob-xs-no_src-custom_msg&fb_ref=Default#petition-letter

 

So maybe look at some other-shaped treats or something. It was totally a freak accident, but I don't think I'd risk it.

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How sad. :( We have some of those Zuke's treats, but I cut them into quarters so they each wind up wedge shaped. I do it so we can get more training out of fewer treats, but it did cross my mind that the different shape is probably safer. Throwback to parenting toddlers, I guess.

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I use the Zuke's mini naturals, too, and also bits of string cheese. Everything is cut up into very tiny pieces, because I use treats liberally when training new behaviors, and I am constantly training new behaviors.

 

I think the choking must have been pretty much a freak accident.....after all, a person or a dog can choke on anything if the circumstances fall that way. I like the semi-moist treats the best because you can cut them into tiny pieces and they don't crumble, which is important especially if I am training away from home. They are expensive, but if you make two to four treats out of each one it ends up not being that bad.

 

At home sometimes I just use the dog's breakfast: one piece of kibble at a time. My terrier Digger is especially easy, as he will work for pieces of just about any vegetable, so celery and carrots are often used at home.

 

Try your puppy on some vegetables. If you can get him to like raw veges it makes treating easy and cheap and you're worrying about adding calories. Sometimes dogs don't like them at first; be persistent. My border collies turned their noses up at veges until the two small dogs came to live here. Then Jes and Kit decided they'd better start eating carrots and apples and celery and kale stems, too, or they would get left out!

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I have 3 dogs one tiny, one small and one Border Collie. My Border Collie is allergic to a lot of stuff and my teeny dog is old and prone to a sensitive stomach.

 

Our favorite treat involves buying cheap cuts of steak on sale in the "buy today" discount bin at the grocer when I shop. When I get I throw some foil on a baking sheep, lay the meat on it and cook it while I put everything else away and other stuff. When its doneI let it sit until its cool.

 

Once cool I dice it into small cubes (cutting board and big knife so I can cute strips then those strips into cubes quickly), and divvy it up into baggies which I freeze.

 

Everyone loves it, a pound makes a lot of little containers of treats, the well done meat cubes don't crumble very much at all (unlike chicken meat), no one has any reaction to anything and if small and tiny get a lot of treats I don't feel back cutting back on a meal because I know it wasn't filler junk they ate.

 

Its actually fairly inexpensive as well.

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I'm a new border collie owner as well, my girl Gracie is wired for sound. I didn't crate Grace at first, thinking "I got this" crates are for all the other people who don't know how to train their pets properly. Ha! boy was I full of myself!! I kept reading, crate them, crate them, crate them, what on earth is wrong with these people? I soon found out crating Grace was a god send,they were right per usual, and I stand corrected. I've had dogs all my life, never having to crate any of them, sleeping with them at night and training them to lay down immediately. Gracie isn't every other dog I have ever owned to say the least. BC's are a breed like no other, I'm blessed to have her. I'm getting ready to repeat what I have heard so many others say, ready? I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life! I cried because of the stress, I thought omg what have I done. Gracie is now 11 weeks old ( almost ) she is still trying my patients but with the amount of time it takes her to catch on to things is amazing!! quick doesn't even come close. This amazing animal has taken dog ownership to a level I have never been on before, I love her and will do anything to ensure I get it right. She has become overwhelmingly the main focus around here and through reading what everyone says helps me out like you wouldn't believe. The people on this site really know what they are talking about,without them I might have given her back to the breeder the second day.

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RushDoggie, that is a good idea for treats, and I am going to try it. I am always on the hunt for a better raining treat.

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Thanks for all the help everyone.

I hope I'm not taking advantage of the ease of this site by asking so many questions, but it's been so helpful so far, so if anyone is willing to keep helping me out, it's greatly appreciated.

1) I think Nalu has a mild eye infection. I asked my vet about it two weeks ago when I was in there getting his last set of shots (his right eye is abnormally goopy), but the vet said they looked normal to him. Since then, the eye has reddened when I pull the bottom lid down, and the goopiness has worsened. It doesn't look terrible, and he's not scratching at it or anything (seems to not bother him at all), but I'm a bit concerned. Going back to the vet will cost me $40, plus more $ for whatever he prescribes me. If that's necessary, I'll do it, but I can't until the end of the week when I get paid.

I wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions on home remedies I can use to ease the redness in the interim, or make it altogether better. I don't want to put anything in his eyes that will harm it more.

Thank you!

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I may be castigated for saying this, but if you don't think it is too bad and it is not bothering him, I would just wipe the goopiness off with a wet tissue. But in the meantime, make the vet appt NOW so you can bring him in at the end of the week.

 

For me, eye issues should be addressed ASAP. It would be better to get him in sooner rather than later. It could be a slight infection, a corneal scratch (although I would expect Nalu to be pawing at his eye) or something else. Eyes are not something you want to put on the back burner. Will your vet allow you to pay a little now and then pay the rest when you are paid at the end of the week? If you are a new client, s/he probably will not be very flexible, but if you have a history with the vet, they may be able to bend the rules this once.

 

It is so hard to diagnose over the internet. How red is red? And how bright a red is cause for alarm? At what level of goopy does one feel it is necessary to go to the vet?

 

In the meantime, it is a good idea to start building up an emergency vet fund for Nalu. Many people have done this. Put away a little bit every week so you can address situations like this, or worse. Or look into insurance.

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