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BlazeLove123

Jobs to increase bond with my pup

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Hi again!

I am always looking for ways to increase the bond with my pup, and I would be very interested in signing up to lessons to give her the "job" border collies famously thrive on. I understand she is still too young to do any strenuous activity such as jumps, as as a plan to the future my question is: what do you recommend, herding or agility? Which one tends to build a stronger bond with the dog, or are they both the same?

I just love going out and running around with my dog, and I have seen agility and herding competitions and the communication between dog and handler always impresses me.

If you have any other ideas on "jobs", that would be great too!

Thanks in advance! :wub:

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The best way to build a bond will be something both of you enjoy, and which you can do consistently.

 

If you have access to herding, and both of you enjoy it, then go for it - it will definitely build your bond.

 

If herding does not work out, or you can only access it occasionally, then try agility, or dancing with dogs, or dock diving, or flyball, or nosework, or trick training, or obedience/rally.

 

Given a young dog, nosework, trick training, basic obedience and foundational agility skills are a good place to start and not too physically demanding on young bodies. One caution - basic obedience is a must for pretty much everything - a solid recall, a strong stay and stop.

 

And, of course, lots of time with your dog! Such a hardship! :wub:

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In my humble view, the best way to bond with your pup is to be with your pup. Do things with her, spend time with her, teach her, train her and help her find her way in the world. The thing a dog wants most is time with you. If her "job" is being a running partner or hiking companion, that works, too. I believe it's less the things you do than the fact you do them. :)


~ Gloria

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I love hearing everyone's responses on this! :)

 

Blaze, your dog is a bit older than mine, but I'll share with you what we've been doing for "bonding," maybe it'll give you some ideas. Right now I'm working on basic obedience with Fisher (11 weeks). He also goes where we go. If we are out in the yard, he comes outside with us. If we are in the house, he's in the house (although he's in his crate a good bit of the time for potty training, and so he doesn't get into trouble when we can't watch him). My husband and I each take several breaks a day with Fisher, where we work on obedience, play with him (he loves fetch, although sometimes just for about 45 seconds), and have lots of snuggles. He goes with me to take care of the chickens (three times a day), and also to go pick up the mail at the end of our driveway. (We also work on obedience while we are near the chickens.) He rides in a box on the quad-runner when my husband goes out on our property for various tasks. When I go into town to help the school with their FIRST Robotics team, Fisher tags along to that and enjoys "helping" the kids build their robot. He also goes with us when we go over to houses of friends/family, and comes ice fishing with us. So far I think he's doing well bonding with us and becoming integrated into our lives.

 

Once Fisher gets older, we are going to train him to herd. We have chickens, ducks, turkeys, and soon will be getting cattle. Herding wont be a major job for him, since we live on a small hobby farm. At best, I expect we'll bring the poultry in once a day, and maybe move the cattle every few days.

 

I do plan to continue to teach him commands and tricks, beyond basic obedience. We wont get into the agility competitions, but I like being able to tell my dog to do something and have him follow my lead. Things like, around, under over, etc could be useful in our everyday life. I also thought about teaching him to pick up laundry off the floor and put it in the hamper. :D Maybe you could think of ways that your dog could help around your house. I actually had the though of seeing if I could put the bags of garbage in a sled, and having him pull the sled out to the road for me. We'll see if he can manage that once he's older, both in strength and in restraint not to chew through the garbage bags.

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Anything you do with your dog -- as long as it's not negative (i.e. punitive, scary, etc.) -- will strengthen your bond.

 

Border collies want to be -- were bred to be -- partners. This is what they need to be fulfilled. It doesn't matter so much what they do, just so long as they're involved with their people.

 

I do therapy work with one of mine. It's pretty darned low key work (and he rachets the energy level way down on his own [he takes his job very seriously] when we walk through a facility door) but he thrives on the work because we do it together.

 

It's no wonder why we love these dogs so much. :wub:

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Thank you all so much for your responses. I spend a lot of time with Blaze, taking her to new places, playing A LOT of fetch with her, combined with tugging, teaching her to go off leash and always checking on me, basically always reinforcng her being with me. She spends some time outside in my room and an planning to "shape" her to get to a new bed I got for her so she can hang out with me outs I do feel that we have a bond that grows every day, I just thought we would both enjoy a sport together :) I think agility would be more convenient, since it's more readly available around here.

I do obedience a lot with her, several sessions of trick training and she is improving with reactivity and distractions :wub: . I use marker training ("yes") instead of the click, and am unsure whether to start using the clicker (I have heard that dogs tend to learn faster when using the clicker since it's just one same sound all the time). Is this true? :P

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It sounds like you're doing a lot already to build that bond. Notice if there's one specific type of activity that makes her light up w/interest and excitement - maybe do that type of activity a bit more, percentage wise, than the others.

 

Marker - I gave up on the clicker a while ago. Coordinating the dog's action w/my brain and hand is not easy for me, I'm not sure why. I tried some of the 'teach yourself to use a clicker' exercises and it didn't seem to help.

 

My mouth, now, saying the marker word is just sooooo easy for me, and happens naturally. I think if you're working with a less intelligent, less eager-to-please dog than your typical border collie, that the consistency of the click sound might give you an edge, but the dogs I've worked with all respond really, really well to a marker word.

 

Or if you're doing really, really incredible trick training, where a routine needs to be split out into very precise actions at very specific times, a clicker would be useful there, too. None of the tricks I've taught my dogs have been that ambitious.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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I find the bond develops best when I can tell my dog how terrific they are and how smart they are, so any activity that encourages thinking, effort, and the opportunity to reward (with treats and toys, yes, but mostly with telling them how awesome they are) gets that bond going.

 

Example: my Border Collie gets muddy at the farm, so sometimes on the way home I stop at the park that has a creek running through it and toss a toy across the creek so he will swim to get it (thus cleaning up the mud really well). Last week, he missed seeing it land, and we figured out (on the fly) how to play "hot and cold" so he could find it. AT first he had no idea what I was saying but after 5 mins or so he started realizing that "noooooo" meant wrong way and "yeeeessss!!!" meant right way and he was able to find it. He was SO proud of himself. I was so happy he worked so hard and he pranced alongside me, full of his own brilliance and us working together. He never looked at the cat that suddenly appeared and pranced right along with me, carrying his ball the rest of the walk.

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Example: my Border Collie gets muddy at the farm, so sometimes on the way home I stop at the park that has a creek running through it and toss a toy across the creek so he will swim to get it (thus cleaning up the mud really well). Last week, he missed seeing it land, and we figured out (on the fly) how to play "hot and cold" so he could find it. AT first he had no idea what I was saying but after 5 mins or so he started realizing that "noooooo" meant wrong way and "yeeeessss!!!" meant right way and he was able to find it. He was SO proud of himself. I was so happy he worked so hard and he pranced alongside me, full of his own brilliance and us working together. He never looked at the cat that suddenly appeared and pranced right along with me, carrying his ball the rest of the walk.

 

What a great story! :DB)

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Great story, rushdoggie - love these 'accidents' that lead to a new trick or understanding.

 

One more thing to say about a marker word - I use 'GOOD!', which I like better than 'YES!'. When in conversation with other humans, I prefer using 'yes' to 'yeah'. And when I get some good news I give out a joyful, 'YEEEESSS!!!'

 

So I use 'good' as a marker word. I also like that it begins and ends with 'hard' consonants. An emphatic 'GOOD' is, I think, clearer to a dog than a 'yes'. And I don't use 'GOOD!' in conversation nearly as much as I use 'yes'.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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Rushdoggie, your story reminded me of teaching Jes to go "left!" or "right!" to run out and catch the frisbie. It was such fun teaching him that.

I also agree with others who have said that simply spending time with your new pup is the most important thing. Take the dog everywhere you can. What I do is I take every single situation that we are in and turn it into a teaching moment if I possibly can. This way, training becomes second nature to both of us rather than just a time that is scheduled into the day, and I get a lot more taught that way.

 

As for clicker, I have found that once I got used to using it, my reaction time with the clicker is much faster than it would be with my voice. I can correctly time that click almost every time, and it is always exactly the same sound, which makes a big difference. The clicker is never tired, never has a cold. I think it is superior to using the voice. Having said that, I know a trainer who uses voice exclusively and teaches her classes to use a word as a marker, and she is a great trainer. If the clicker works for you, it's wonderful. But if you have trouble using it, the voice marker works fine too. You need to be comfortable with what you are using.

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I've found that herding is what brings me closest to a dog.

 

There's nothing that beats the total communication. It's eerie a lot of the time. I can see what he's thinking, and he seems to feel what I'm thinking. Herding is less about complete obedience as a working dialogue with your dog. Sometimes when the sheep are so far away you need binoculars, the dog can see what's going on a lot better than you can. The best dogs work on their own, respond to suggestions that you make instantly, adjust, and then continue with what they were doing.

 

For instance, when I bring fresh yearlings into the big pasture, there are quite a few interesting draws that my dog knows about. I have a command "get back". It means go to balance, ie wherever he needs to be to keep the sheep going straight to me. Sometimes that can be directly behind them if I'm 200 yards in front of them, but most often that means that it's to one side or the other to block them (depending on which direction they think the main herd is and where they want to run). If "get back" just meant "go directly to the other side of the sheep and stay there" then we'd be losing sheep left and right. I love that I can communicate with him on that level--with a phrase, it means, "bring the sheep to me--however you think the best way to do that is." And he knows. And then he will accept my suggestion too, adding it to the work he's doing, and funneling information about the sheep back to me.

 

Although, I understand not everyone has sheep, so what I've found they also like is feeling like they're doing a job with you no matter what you're doing, that you include them with little jobs. My dog comes out every morning and he knows he needs to go to the barn first, we have to get the hay out for the horses and the sheep. So he'll go there, and I tell him to get up onto the top of the stack and stay there. He has to stay, without moving, the whole time I'm in the barn. And I don't have to watch him anymore for this, he views it as his job. Then he waits for me to go out of the barn with the hay and I say either "horses" or "sheep" and he goes the right direction, either to the paddock, or to the sheep infield. He knows the difference, and seems to like that I include him. If it's the horses first, he checks on them, and waits while I throw the hay. Sometimes he'll go into the paddock with them, but he knows, "get out of that" and then we practice "stand" at the gate. Not one foot moving. I ask him to back away from it and then say "sheep" and he'll go to the gate of the infield. But "no barging!" if he tries to go through the gate himself (there is a space he can slide through sometimes). He will respect that now even if I'm slow bringing the wheelbarrow along and don't see this. Another "stand" or a "back" at the gate and I open it and move through, he knows that he can't barge (lest he bring down the dreaded "no barging!" from me again). I test him each morning, moving into the infield toward the herd with the hay and expecting him to stay at the gate. That's his job, and NOT ONE FOOT gets to move again. Then he can bring the whole herd away and push them down the field so I can set out hay and grain in peace, and enjoy the sunrise. Then it's off to the little goats, but that's a whole 'nother story.

 

Border collies are the most happy when there are an obsessive set of small "jobs" to be had and they can do it with you. :) At least that's been my experience.

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You know, it occurs to me - after adding seven different dogs to our household (over the years) - that every dog is different in how we best bond.

 

With some of my dogs, we have bonded more through training, and others, not so much. With some of them, we have bonded more through everyday stuff like play and going through daily life together. With some we forge a bond more through structured participation in sports, but then others have done better with less of that.

 

I'd say do different things with your dog and find what works for you, as a team.

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She seems to respond well to my voice marker, so I might just stick to that, since, knowing myself, I'm not sure whether my clicker coordination would be something to be proud of :P . I love your story rushdoggie, I have always thought that border collies seem sometimes more human than dog, although that might just be me anthropomorphizing them :D. Riverpaws, your story about that "unspoken" communication with your dog is exactly what made me wonder whether I should take up herding. I have watched many sheep trials and border collies working in farms and have always admired the understanding and trust between the owner and the dog. But I don't own sheep, I live closer to the city than the country (a town by the capital) so I also have to be practical :rolleyes:.

I love how smart these dogs are, but I have to admit I'm quite impatient when it comes to letting her figure things out by herself. That is something I have to work on :)

What should I be expecting from a five and a half month old pup? (In terms of attention span and behaviour?) For now I am very proud of how she is coming along and responding to me, I realise she's just at the threshold of adolescence, and have heard they can be testing. Any suggestions or stories of your own dogs :wub: ?

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Any shared activity that is fun for you and the dog and requires mutual input.

Dog sports are obvious and usually expensive but you'll be guided through the process by a professional.

For the free stuff, play, simple (or complex) tricks, hanging out in a new place as long as your dog wants to pay attention to you.

What Donald said, there's nothing like nights away from home for bonding, sleeping in a tent, or on a hotel bed, walking through a strange city, hiking a trail.

Since my guy is usually overstimulated on neighbourhood leashed walks, it is the opposite of bonding, as there is a complete clash of desires (he wants to run and chase, I need him leashed at my side) so I'm working on putting in training & play breaks. The times he sinks his teeth into his toy and tugs, or he bounces after his toy with geese 'over there' or a dog walking by, that's bonding. And this comes free (if you don't count the cost of treats)

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I do make it an issue to play A LOT with her, and I think that's part of the reason we are bonding so quickly. However, put a nearby dog in the equation and I've lost her :rolleyes: . That's something we are working on, although still a daily source of frustration <_<

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I don't have a dog just now and that leaves me feeling a little left out. I still like reading the comments here. What dogs have taught me over the years is to keep it fun, light and lots of positive reinforcement. With Border Collies I guess you can add interesting. Be adaptable, I read one comment that each dog has their own personality. How true. Our last dog Jade was great companionship. She did not like to be hugged or physically played with. In this regard she was all business. Her sign of affection came in different ways. If you sat down she would be right next you. She would also gently touch you with her nose. I think time is the common denominator in the end for building a strong bond.

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My puppy recently turned 6 months, GentleLake :) and you're right ramp, dogs have different ways of displaying their love. Blaze tends to like being scratched in the morning and when I come home from school as a greeting. Other than that, she's not a great fan of being petted. But she is always happy to play and train, and always loves to settle and play with her toys by me. Our relationship is still growing though, step by step.

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