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Border Collie Puppy Timeline?

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I've been reading some other posts, and I think that perhaps I've misunderstood the development level of my 13 week old puppy. I've raised other dogs, with very good success, but this is my first border collie. I've always pushed my dogs to learn as much as possible as early as possible, knowing that some of what I tried to teach them would stick and some wouldn't, but feeling like there was no harm in trying. But since many of you who are very familiar with BC's are saying this is the wrong approach, I'd like to have a timeline of BC puppy development in human years. I read in another post that a 14 week old BC puppy is equivalent to a 2 year old child, so that can be the starting point. Can anyone here give me a growth timeline, or perhaps point me to a website that has a good one?

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Every puppy is different, even within the same breed. Some mature more quickly than others. Let the dog tell you when they are ready to progress in training. If you aren't sure, find a good trainer who can. Connect with the puppy first. Play. Have fun. When the puppy finds you more valuable than the surroundings, and you have focus and desire to work it's time to progress.

 

It seems like people have way too many expectations of their dogs and puppies. It takes YEARS to make a good dog brilliant. Regardless if they are a house pet, a herding dog, an agility dog, an obedience dog. Let them grow up.

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Every puppy is different, even within the same breed. Some mature more quickly than others. Let the dog tell you when they are ready to progress in training. If you aren't sure, find a good trainer who can. Connect with the puppy first. Play. Have fun. When the puppy finds you more valuable than the surroundings, and you have focus and desire to work it's time to progress.

 

It seems like people have way too many expectations of their dogs and puppies. It takes YEARS to make a good dog brilliant. Regardless if they are a house pet, a herding dog, an agility dog, an obedience dog. Let them grow up.

This is it in a nutshell!

 

You can use your human intelligence to make things work. It's not always easy to out-think a pup! Don't ask me how I know. Pups are like sponges but different kinds of sponges - some learn tricks and manners and whatever you want to teach them. Others are busy learning about other aspects of their world. What one person might call "stubborn" or "stupid" might really be "determined" or "focused on something else right now".

 

I've had a lifetime of pups and dogs, and having several Border Collie pups has caused me to totally rethink (more than once) my approach, and realize that while certain principles work in general, my approach to each individual has had to be customized to fit that particular personality.

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Yes I understand that each puppy will be different. I'm not looking for a guide to pigeon-hole my puppy's development level based firmly on her age. I just want to have a better idea generally where she actually is as she continues to grow. I really would have thought that a 14 week old would be closer to the equivalent of a 3-4 year old child than 2, so I just want to get a better understanding of my puppy's mental growth rate expectancy, generally speaking.

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Does it matter? What changes if you have this timeline?

 

I'm not trying to be rude; I just don't understand what purpose this serves if you understand that each puppy will be different. And each puppy will be different, so isn't it better to just accept that and go with the flow?

 

I had a puppy last year who took longer than most of my pups ever have to become reliably house trained, especially when it came for him to be able to sleep through the night without waking me needing to go out. There was nothing to do about it other than to persist and wait him out until he'd developed sufficiently to hold his bladder overnight. And it happened in its own good time.

 

The same is going to be true of anything, whether it's learning to walk on a loose leash, a reliable recall, turning on to livestock, whatever.

 

It's important to understand the benefit of working with the dog you have, not a prescribed timeline that may or may not match your dog's development. My biggest concern is that you could be setting yourself up not only for possibly unrealistic expectations, but also for frustration or disappointment that could eventually lead to a breakdown in your relationship with your dog.

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Does it matter? What changes if you have this timeline?

 

I'm not trying to be rude; I just don't understand what purpose this serves if you understand that each puppy will be different. And each puppy will be different, so isn't it better to just accept that and go with the flow?

 

I had a puppy last year who took longer than most of my pups ever have to become reliably house trained, especially when it came for him to be able to sleep through the night without waking me needing to go out. There was nothing to do about it other than to persist and wait him out until he'd developed sufficiently to hold his bladder overnight. And it happened in its own good time.

 

The same is going to be true of anything, whether it's learning to walk on a loose leash, a reliable recall, turning on to livestock, whatever.

 

It's important to understand the benefit of working with the dog you have, not a prescribed timeline that may or may not match your dog's development. My biggest concern is that you could be setting yourself up not only for possibly unrealistic expectations, but also for frustration or disappointment that could eventually lead to a breakdown in your relationship with your dog.

 

The only thing that changes is my understanding of whether I'm dealing with a 4-year old child or an 8 year old child. I really do appreciate your concern for my little girl, but I think you are over-worrying here. I'm just asking for a general comparison of puppy age to human age. I don't think there should be any cause for alarm in this question. :)

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Some 8 year old children act 6 and some act 9. Some 4 year old children can do the schoolwork of an 8 year old...I think this is the point we are all trying to make. No one here (nor anyone else) can reliably tell you anything differently. As much as we would all love to have a crystal ball, it just doesn't work that way.

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Hi again!

I understand wanting to have a better sense of where you're going and how, but honestly, as Heartful said, every dog is different. You can't road map the life of a dog. For example, my now-9-year-old male, Nick, started training at about 10 months and was winning arena and ranch trials at 2 years old. My present youngster, who is 2 and a half, started training at 10 months and then decided to BITE sheep and got laid off for 30 days. She is still learning to drive and I have no timeline for when she will begin trialing. She'll be read when she's ready and not a moment before.

I would recommend this: simply deal with the dog in front of you. If she is easily distracted, take time to let her mature. If she latches onto a thing and catches on quickly, then you'll know she's ready to do more. If one thing doesn't click with her, put it aside for now and work on something else.

Let your dog tell you what she's ready for. Become a good observer. Try things with her and pay attention to whether she's able to assimilate the lesson and do well, or if she seems scatter-brained and unfocused.

As much as we'd all wish for it, there is no checklist for border collies, there is no GPS to show you every crossroads along the way. In your other post it sounds like you had a very good day with her simply by changing some things up. That right there is huge. Observe, think and be willing to change and adapt. If one thing isn't working, try something else.

But just work with the dog in front of you. She's going to change and change some more in weeks and months ahead. One day she may seem totally focused and with it and the next day she'll act like she's forgotten everything she knows. Another day she may seem totally confident and another she may decide something is scary. Just take a deep breath and let it go. Along with being able to adapt comes being able to just throw up your hands and say, "Okay, not today."

Even the baby books don't always get it right, because human kids, just like puppies, progress at their own individual speed. Let your puppy come along at hers. No two border collies are alike, as my older boy and younger girl demonstrate.

Sorry if we're not really helping, but we can only tell you what we've found to be true with our own dogs. :)

~ Gloria

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I don't think it's helpful to compare the developmental progress of two different species.

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You talk about the "two year old equivalent of a puppy" versus a three/four year old.

How can you tell? I mean what characteristics has a puppy that is "equivalent "to a two year old child an d how do they differ from those of a puppy that is at the three/ four year level?

Define, qualify and kwantify that, and I will give you an exact answer to hour question...:D

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My youngest dog is the same age as my granddaughter ( nearly 3 years old). He still can't read, even a bit, mathematical skills are minimal (doesn't grasp fractions afaik), he shows no signs of being able to use his imagination, can't negotiate a deal and he can't follow multiple instructions given at the same time. On the other hand, my granddaughter shows no ability in working sheep or interpreting her world through her nose.

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Hi again!

 

I understand wanting to have a better sense of where you're going and how, but honestly, as Heartful said, every dog is different. You can't road map the life of a dog. For example, my now-9-year-old male, Nick, started training at about 10 months and was winning arena and ranch trials at 2 years old. My present youngster, who is 2 and a half, started training at 10 months and then decided to BITE sheep and got laid off for 30 days. She is still learning to drive and I have no timeline for when she will begin trialing. She'll be read when she's ready and not a moment before.

 

I would recommend this: simply deal with the dog in front of you. If she is easily distracted, take time to let her mature. If she latches onto a thing and catches on quickly, then you'll know she's ready to do more. If one thing doesn't click with her, put it aside for now and work on something else.

 

Let your dog tell you what she's ready for. Become a good observer. Try things with her and pay attention to whether she's able to assimilate the lesson and do well, or if she seems scatter-brained and unfocused.

 

As much as we'd all wish for it, there is no checklist for border collies, there is no GPS to show you every crossroads along the way. In your other post it sounds like you had a very good day with her simply by changing some things up. That right there is huge. Observe, think and be willing to change and adapt. If one thing isn't working, try something else.

 

But just work with the dog in front of you. She's going to change and change some more in weeks and months ahead. One day she may seem totally focused and with it and the next day she'll act like she's forgotten everything she knows. Another day she may seem totally confident and another she may decide something is scary. Just take a deep breath and let it go. Along with being able to adapt come being able to just throw up your hands and say, "Okay, not today."

 

Even the baby books don't always get it right, because human kids, just like puppies, progress at their own individual speed. Let your puppy come along at hers. No two border collies are alike, as my older boy and younger girl demonstrate.

 

Sorry if we're not really helping, but we can only tell you what we've found to be true with our own dogs. :)

 

~ Gloria

 

 

Thanks for the thoughtful reply Gloria. I probably should have pointed out that my pup will not be used as a work dog, since I do not own/raise any livestock. (Sorry to all of the herders on these boards - I had no idea how adamant you guys are about using BCs as work dogs. But I can certainly understand your desire to maintain the integrity of the breed. I will not be breeding my pup, she will be spayed as soon as she is old enough so no worries there). I don't currently have any plans to put her into any agility or other competition either, though that could change if I feel like I am cheating her by not letting her compete. My only goal is to live happily together with her, as companions to each other. I have every intention to observe and work with her to the best of my ability. I'm sure I will not be perfect, and will make some mistakes along the way, but she will never lack for being loved, or not know that she is loved. I really just wanted a better understanding of average puppy growth rate (mentally speaking), but certainly not to use as an iron clad guide for anything.

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Thanks for the thoughtful reply Gloria. I probably should have pointed out that my pup will not be used as a work dog, since I do not own/raise any livestock. (Sorry to all of the herders on these boards - I had no idea how adamant you guys are about using BCs as work dogs. But I can certainly understand your desire to maintain the integrity of the breed. I will not be breeding my pup, she will be spayed as soon as she is old enough so no worries there). I don't currently have any plans to put her into any agility or other competition either, though that could change if I feel like I am cheating her by not letting her compete. My only goal is to live happily together with her, as companions to each other. I have every intention to observe and work with her to the best of my ability. I'm sure I will not be perfect, and will make some mistakes along the way, but she will never lack for being loved, or not know that she is loved. I really just wanted a better understanding of average puppy growth rate (mentally speaking), but certainly not to use as an iron clad guide for anything.

 

I think what people are getting at is there is no real consistent way to measure maturity and development in a dog. They really do vary greatly.

 

Also you don't have to do sports or work stock to have a happy pet, a dog can have whatever job you choose be it plating fetch, being a hiking companion, etc.

 

So long as you guys do something together that helps her use her brain and to some degree her body and she will be happy.

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I think what people are getting at is there is no real consistent way to measure maturity and development in a dog. They really do vary greatly.

 

Also you don't have to do sports or work stock to have a happy pet, a dog can have whatever job you choose be it plating fetch, being a hiking companion, etc.

 

So long as you guys do something together that helps her use her brain and to some degree her body and she will be happy.

 

Yes, I definitely hope to teach her some cool tricks. I love working with dogs mentally. I wanted an intelligent dog which is why I chose a Border Collie. We'll do plenty of playing fetch, and I hope to take her on some fishing days with me, if she likes it. (I'll definitely have to find fishing spots with areas where we can park the boat and let her run a bit for part of the day).

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You talk about the "two year old equivalent of a puppy" versus a three/four year old.

How can you tell? I mean what characteristics has a puppy that is "equivalent "to a two year old child an d how do they differ from those of a puppy that is at the three/ four year level?

Define, qualify and kwantify that, and I will give you an exact answer to hour question... :D

 

I think I'm guilty of the 2 year old thing. It was something I tossed out there for illustrative purposes in another post. :P

 

~ Gloria

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Thanks for the thoughtful reply Gloria. I probably should have pointed out that my pup will not be used as a work dog, since I do not own/raise any livestock. (Sorry to all of the herders on these boards - I had no idea how adamant you guys are about using BCs as work dogs. But I can certainly understand your desire to maintain the integrity of the breed. I will not be breeding my pup, she will be spayed as soon as she is old enough so no worries there). I don't currently have any plans to put her into any agility or other competition either, though that could change if I feel like I am cheating her by not letting her compete. My only goal is to live happily together with her, as companions to each other. I have every intention to observe and work with her to the best of my ability. I'm sure I will not be perfect, and will make some mistakes along the way, but she will never lack for being loved, or not know that she is loved. I really just wanted a better understanding of average puppy growth rate (mentally speaking), but certainly not to use as an iron clad guide for anything.

 

 

Totally understand! Not every border collie can be a working dog anyhow. Even the best-bred dogs can throw a puppy that just doesn't have the desire or focus or courage to be a working dog. I think you already have the most important part down - giving your dog a well-loved quality life. :)

 

I guess all I was saying is that you kind of have to make it up as you go along and let your puppy set the pace. I have two pups from different litters born 2 days apart, now coming 14 weeks old. Even being so close in age, they do different things at different speeds, so I try to adapt to each individually. They honestly can be hours apart in age but very different in developmental stages. Some dogs are running sheepdog trials at 18 months. Others are still trying to figure out left and right at 18 months. It's just not easy to say. :)

 

 

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Sometimes I watch puppy litter videos posted on FB. What strikes me is the different learning speeds/abilities of young pups. Some are prodigies for one activity and take a bit longer on another. Some are highly focused little sponges and others are more goofy and mischievous.

 

It's so highly dependent on the individual.

 

My general rules for a pup

 

-keep it fun and stress free

-multiple short (30-60 second) sessions throughout the day

-reward them when you like what they're doing

-quit training with them still wanting more

-listen to your pup

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I think I'm guilty of the 2 year old thing. It was something I tossed out there for illustrative purposes in another post. :P

 

~ Gloria

 

Yes, that was indeed what inspired my question. I've been eavesdropping a bit on other posts to try to pick up a few tidbits on raising a border collie vs. other types of dogs, and that statement really caught my attention and made me wonder if perhaps I've been pushing Mancer a little too much too fast. ;)

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Rush Fan,

Just to be clear, I really don't think that folks on this forum are "adamant about using BCs as work dogs." We are adamant about breeding border collies for working ability, but many of us here have dogs who are primarily, or entirely, human companion dogs, and no one here is stuck-up about that.

 

I also second all the advice you have gotten here about observing and working with the puppy you have. I completely understand wanting a sort of time line that can guide you. When I am new at something I always want to learn everything I can about it and that is what you are doing, to your credit. But with these dogs, your very best approach is simply to observe, observe, observe. Watch your puppy play, watch her run, watch her eat, watch her asking for things, watch her sleep. Watch with an open mind and a goal of learning everything you can about how she is viewing the world and what she may be thinking.

You will learn who she is and how she is maturing and that will be your guide in her training.

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Rush Fan,

Just to be clear, I really don't think that folks on this forum are "adamant about using BCs as work dogs." We are adamant about breeding border collies for working ability, but many of us here have dogs who are primarily, or entirely, human companion dogs, and no one here is stuck-up about that.

 

I also second all the advice you have gotten here about observing and working with the puppy you have. I completely understand wanting a sort of time line that can guide you. When I am new at something I always want to learn everything I can about it and that is what you are doing, to your credit. But with these dogs, your very best approach is simply to observe, observe, observe. Watch your puppy play, watch her run, watch her eat, watch her asking for things, watch her sleep. Watch with an open mind and a goal of learning everything you can about how she is viewing the world and what she may be thinking.

You will learn who she is and how she is maturing and that will be your guide in her training.

 

Thanks D'Elle. I'm doing my best. I don't think anyone here seems "stuck up" (so far anyway :lol: ). I just had no idea about the magnitude of importance the "working dog" aspect of Border Collies held in certain circles. Simply because I've never known anyone who raised livestock or owned a Border Collie I guess. Coming to this site has opened my eyes to it, and I can certainly understand it, but like I said I was just previously unaware.

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Many of us have non-working border collies, mine are agility competitors, the important thing is what they where bred for. What these boards are anti is breeding for the show ring or sport, the only reason to breed is because of working ability on sheep. You will find loads of rescue collies around these parts, and plenty of dogs who's only job is being a companion.

 

If your puppy is learning and having fun then you are not pushing too hard, if they find it stressful and aren't enthusiastic about training then perhaps you are doing to much or not making it fun. My young dog is 13 months and he has been training almost everyday since I got him at 10 weeks but only in small increments and only if he was ready to engage with me.

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Many of us have non-working border collies, mine are agility competitors, the important thing is what they where bred for. What these boards are anti is breeding for the show ring or sport, the only reason to breed is because of working ability on sheep. You will find loads of rescue collies around these parts, and plenty of dogs who's only job is being a companion.

 

If your puppy is learning and having fun then you are not pushing too hard, if they find it stressful and aren't enthusiastic about training then perhaps you are doing to much or not making it fun. My young dog is 13 months and he has been training almost everyday since I got him at 10 weeks but only in small increments and only if he was ready to engage with me.

 

Yeah I try to let her have fun, but I'm the one feeling a little stressed. Trying to keep her happy, but it seems like she mostly just wants to get into stuff and chew on furniture and power cords, etc. And bite off little bits of her toys and eat them. And eat any little piece of dirt or grass she can find on the floor. And when I take her outside she wants to rip up patches of grass by the roots. leaving big holes in my yard. Don't get me wrong, we have our good times together, playing fetch and tug, and she lets me just pet her and give her praise and belly rubs, etc.. And I've taught her a few small things like sit, give kisses, say please (give paw), etc. Our best time together is our daily walk which comes after dinner. She generally behaves very well on the walk (aside from wanting to eat everything). I've finally gotten her to stop chewing/tugging at the leash for the most part, though she slips up once in a while, at which point I stop walking and pick her up until she gets it right. So yes. I love her to death, but we are very much a work in progress. ^_^

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At her age, she is only supposed to be a work in progress! :D Everything that you are saying she does sounds like very typical activity for a border collie her age.

 

What is making you stressed? That she may damage something or get hurt? If that is it, then my advice is never let her out of your sight even for a moment unless she is confined in a safe place like an X-pen or the crate. When I have a puppy in the house I never even go to the bathroom unless the puppy is secured or with me.

 

Puppy-proof your house, and always gently redirect her urges to chew onto something appropriate.

 

One thing that is very useful to train is the "leave it" command. It takes time, so don't worry if she doesn't learn it for a while. I train it by putting something in my closed fist that she wants - something small and yummy. When she tries to get it from my hand she doesn't get it. As soon as she stops mugging my hand for it, even for a second, I give her a marker (like a click from the clicker or a "yes!" or whatever my marker is) and give her the treat. I do this over and over, over the course of however long it takes until the dog knows not to try to get it from my hand. Then, I start saying "leave it" to the dog, and then rewarding that. then I lengthen the time that she has to wait politely to get it, and then I move on to having my hand open with the treat visible, saying "leave it", and if the dog waits she gets rewarded. If she goes for the treat, we back up to having the treat in a closed fist.

 

From there, very slowly and in tiny increments, you move on to having it on the floor, and so on.

I always train my dogs to sit politely and wait until I release them to eat their meals. And they have to sit politely and wait at the door before going out. All these things train self control.

 

Eventually you will be able to be on a walk with the dog and you can say "leave it" and the dog will come away from something potentially dangerous.

 

But remember that these things take a lot of time. Especially for a very young dog.

The most important thing is to be 100% consistent. If you want to train something like a wait-before-going-out-the-door, then you never, never, ever let the dog rush out the door.

 

don't worry about how long anything takes to train. I have had it take as much as 2 years to train something fully into a dog, and that was an adult. Just remember that the time will go by anyway, and if you spend it consistently training what you want then you will have many years with a nicely trained dog and the time it took won't matter. If you don't spend the time training you will never have the behavior you want and your relationship with the dog may suffer.

 

And not to be a broken record, but please do remember that your dog is not stubborn, is not deliberately ignoring you, is not doing anything to spite you. She's just a baby whose attention span is that of a gnat right now. Patience.

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Your pup sounds just like my Tess did at that age :) She's my first bc and I found her very different from my other dogs.

For instance, I'de never used a crate, and with Tess, if I went to the toilet for 2 minutes, she went into the crate. She was just so... entusiastic about everything! And mouthy! And destructive! If I wasn't looking at her she had to be confined otherwise bad things would happen. I never had a dog like that, with so much energy and so much interest in everything and anything. And so much teeth.

 

It had it's tiring moments and, I admit, there was the odd ocasion when I though " What the hell have I gotten myself into", but all in all, she's the best dog I've ever had. She's by far the smartest and more fun to live with. And now she is an adult, she has impecable behaviour.

 

One thing to take into acount is, Tess is the smartest of all the dogs I've had, but that doesn't mean she was reliably doing stuff younger than other dogs. On the contrary. The fact that she understands things very quickly and likes to please me doesn't mean she has been easy to train. For one thing, being smart means she has a mind of her own, and also, she took her good time maturing. Looong adolescence. She's almost 4 and, finally, I'm beginning to sense a solid true partnership between us (she has known her basics for ever, but she has the potential for so much more, and we are finally getting there).

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Thanks for the tips D'Elle. I fully understand what you are saying. I've always said that to train a dog you need to be two things above all - consistent, and persistent. What I'm guilty of here is not doing my homework thoroughly enough. I've always thought I was an above average dog trainer (certainly not on a professional level though), and I thought a Border Collie would be relatively quick and easy for me to train since they're known to be so intelligent. BIG MISTAKE!!! :lol:

 

Teresa just pretty much described Mancer to a T. What's killing me is that I can't have moment to myself. I can't turn my back or stop paying attention to her for 5 seconds or she's into something. Unless I put her in the crate which I don't like doing. And yes she is quite mouthy. Many times when I tell her "no" she listens nicely, but many other times, she boisterously barks back at me as if telling me to shut the heck up, or just generally challenging my authority. When I force the issue, she does succumb, but never without trying to get the last word in, with a low voiced moan, or sometimes even a snap of the jaws in my general direction. I guess the most frustrating thing is having to keep telling her no over the same things over and over again, within seconds of just having told her no. But it is what it is and I Just have to deal with it, and we will be fine. It does feel good to vent every now and then though, so thanks for listening!

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