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kateh

Mysterious behavior problems

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My puppy is about 18 months now and is really starting to test boundaries … but only away from me, it seems. I don't know. She's never done it in front of me.

Her daycare asked me to pick her up today because she was snapping at dogs as they came in. I have NEVER seen this behavior (and they did say this was a new thing) before. We go to dog parks at least once a week, she’s fine there — she loves playing with balls, but she’s never snapped at another dog in my presence before. She is a high energy dog who wants to play with toys when I’m around. She knows ALL commands effortlessly, loves doing tricks, etc. Again, for me? and other people? she’s perfect. At the dog park, she’s just fine. This behavior seems to happen only at daycare.
I also have cats -- she's fine. She absolutely wants to play with them, sometimes she rushes them but she always stops. Sometimes she "air snaps" but it's NEVER close enough to even be alarming - it's just ... nearby. And when I tell her to cut it out, she does stop pretty much right away.
I’m a single dog-mom (unintentionally, thanks, Ex Fiance Who Left His Dog) & time is a big problem. I don’t have TIME to take her on 3 hour walks every day, I don’t have TIME to zip her around to a hundred classes. But I do want a well behaved, happy dog - so there’s gotta be some compromise here… right?
What are your thoughts here? I've looked into some agility, swimming, and herding classes so I'll def. give those a go, but ... I'm curious what you guys think might be happening.

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Just some thoughts off the top of my head . . .

 

If this is happening only at the daycare, then I suspect the problem's based there. Something is stressing her, spooking her, too much pressure, something . . .

 

It could be something as simple as too many dogs in too small a space. Border collies, especially as they mature out of the puppy stage, as your dog is doing now, often don't mix well with certain other types of dogs whose play styles don't mesh. At the dog park there may be enough open space for her to choose who she mixes with and who she prefers to maintain more of a distance from. This may not be possible for her in the confines of a daycare.

 

I think it might be worth having a talk with the daycare operators to see what else they've observed. If you can find time, you might want to see if you can observe the dogs' interactions for a while, especially if you can do it from a vantage point where she cant see you.

 

It might be worth finding out also how much experience the daycare has with border collies. It's possible they just don't really understand this discomfort border collies often have with certain types of dog behaviors that many other dogs display.

 

Good luck figuring it out.

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A few quick thoughts:

Ah -- as I started typing I saw that GentleLake 'stole' ;) my answer. She did a better job explaining than I would have done.

 

I have heard that teaching tricks, both mental games and physical conditioning games, can really tire a dog out. A lot of tricks videos (and how-tos) on Youtube.

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Yeah, we had a long chat today -- and I'm still kind of stumped by it.

 

What you're saying about the amount of space might make sense, though she's always been a pretty easygoing pup. ...part of me wonders if it's time to just cut losses and ask for a refund from the daycare. Honestly, I don't get the impression that they're doing very much to help HER learn what's okay and what isn't. (and I get it, they have other dogs to tend to/etc., but ...still.)

 

I think it might be worth having a talk with the day car operators to see what else they've observed. If you can find time, you might want to see if you can observe the dogs' interactions for a while, especially of yo can do it from a vantage point where she cant see you.

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I feel I may have run out of things to teach her ;) ... https://twitter.com/HackettKate/status/902285798959079424

 

 

 

A few quick thoughts:

Ah -- as I started typing I saw that GentleLake 'stole' ;) my answer. She did a better job explaining than I would have done.

 

I have heard that teaching tricks, both mental games and physical conditioning games, can really tire a dog out. A lot of tricks videos (and how-tos) on Youtube.

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Kate google crate games for easy stuff to teach her. A couple tricks a week isn't too much for an 18 month old to learn.

 

I think you're better off without this particular daycare at least. What GentleLake said is true, and I'd also add that there's a TON of stimulus at a dog daycare and the general amount of noise/motion/constantly changing 'landscape' might be too much for her.

 

Kikopup's YouTube channel is very helpful for trick training and some general manners. Feed her meals out of a frozen kong, (moisten kibble, stuff in kong, freeze) and you can try hiding her kong for her to find. It takes a bit of training to teach them to chew the Kong on an old bath mat or rug, but I've taught 4 dogs this behavior. Finding their own meal engages their brain and their nose, always a good thing.

 

Thank you for keeping this girl!

 

Ruth & Gibbs

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Hey Ruth & Gibbs!

 

She's totally crate trained (so EASY for her) and I do the frozen kong stuff too, for SURE. Her whole life is a series of "how do I wipe you out" activities (mental and otherwise) -- this week was a bit of a disaster because it's ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN DEGREES outside, so she probably wasn't really set up for success today.

 

I wish I had a farm or whatever, but as it stands: I'm a busy actor/writer in LA with a (not too small) condo. We do dog parks, walks, etc., but you know. At some point, doggo needs to chill out & let me LIVE.

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I find that the humans in a dogs vicinity may can effect behavior. Most animals KNOW who they need to listen to ie respect and who they can mess around with, ignore, act up in front up...

 

Day Care are for the most part high energy, anxious places with lots of noise depending on the number of dogs and the way it is run. If the other dogs are bouncing around yipping like I imagine, that can make others uncomfortable. Some places are able to put the more concerned dogs in a quieter space and allow the others to run and bounce, depends on how it is set up and how dog savvy they are. Just because they run a dog care does not mean they know what to do or can deal well with issues.

 

It seems you do not have time, would rather be doing other things than hanging out with her. Honestly sounds like you might be happier with out a dog, if that is the case it is far better to rehome her. Honestly evaluate if a different home would be in her best interest and yours. It is better to help her find that place now.

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What a real peach. What a thoughtful answer.

 

Someone asks for ideas, help, and the response is "rehome your dog" because she doesn't want to spend 100% of her time with said animal?

 

🙄 Come on.

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I am trying out the herding/agility/swimming stuff, but also: shzz's expensive!

 

Given that I don't live on a farm, what are some thoughtful alts? How can I (cheaper-ly) recreate these types of brain/body exercises?

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I wrote a post and the Internet ate it :/ , but I am tough so I will write again.

 

I think it may not be a problem with the day care (though it is likely, but I am just throwing in another idea), but that it is with being away from you and away from home at the same time. Perhaps a dog-sitter/walker is a possibility?

 

I left my dog once with a person who is wonderful with border collies. But all Darine took away from the visit was fear that we might leave her somewhere. Now she is anxious we might leave her behind whenever we go somewhere where there is a house (means training clinics are ok). She just does not want to be away from us and the house (both that is, she is fine staying at home without us and she is fine traveling with us).

 

Border collies, being working dogs, have it in their genes to leave the handler alone. That's why when I work hard at the computer, all three of them congregate around me and sleep soundly (someone is working her butt off, so all is well in the working department for them ;) ). So if she pesters you, you might ask yourself how long ago you broke up with your fiance, and is there a residue left of that situation in you, and thus can the dog sense some bad feeling? They are incredibly sensitive to this, some of them. Again, I could tell a story about being under stress and what it was doing to my young dog, and how it ended with one unexpectedly good phone call that changed my dog instantly from manic pacing back and forth FOREVER, to when she lay under my desk and slept for the first time, soon after that phone call.

 

All the best for you and your pup!

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I agree that a dog walker might be an alternative to daycare to explore for her. If she can get a good walk in daily, she might end up doing better at home than in the daycare, where she's likely stressed out. It doesn't sound like it's working for her any more, so time to be thinking about other options.

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There is no reason to spend all your time (certainly not 3 hour walks each day) and money on your dog. As others have said, as I type, my two are sleeping at my feet. If you don't sincerely have an interest yourself in working stock then I would pass on any type of herding lessons you may find in the LA area. It is about more than letting your dog run around and burn off energy.

 

If you do have an interest in agility then the same goes there. Classes are likely to feel slow and boring (especially in the beginning when you're not doing any obstacles for a while) if you yourself have no interest in the sport. If you do, then it is a great way to train, bond and expel some energy in your dog.

 

I agree with others that the daycare is not working for her and I would stop taking her. A dog walker is a great alternative, it provides more structure, less 'go-go-go' type of stimulation that daycare places provide.

 

I don't think anyone has mentioned it yet but teach her an off-switch. It sounds like you are a tad annoyed at how much attention she demands. Teach her to chill when you are home and otherwise occupied. This is a lot about teaching yourself not to give in. If she begs, wines or demands attention just ignore her or give her something else to do. Teach her 'place' command and you can send her to place (my own dog does place for 30 min. at times while I vacuum and mop). This also uses her brain while giving her structured down time. There are videos on YouTube of how to teach 'place.'

 

I don't think any one of us here spends all of our time and money on our dogs, they are here to complement our lives not further complicate them. :)

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kateh,

I think suggesting that you think about rehoming your dog is quite unnecessary and I, along with most of us responding here, will encourage you to find better solutions. It is clear to me that you really like this dog and feel dedicated to making her life good. No one would be paying for day care in LA where it is so expensive if you didn't care.

 

Having said that I will also join with those who are saying that it sounds as though this daycare isn't working for her. Could be the dogs, or just one or two, could be something else in the environment, could be the people there not knowing enough about border collies. Whatever it is, find a different one and/or hire a dog walker to take her out mid day instead, would be my advice.

 

As for the three hour walk thing, please don't think that that is ever going to be necessary or that any person who knows this breed would tell you that you should do that. These dogs need mental stimulation as much as or more than physical activity. Try to make the time to peruse Kikopup, as suggested, and start teaching her tricks. It is so much fun to do! And you will find she learns very fast. You can spend ten minutes with that and it could give her as much stimulation as a half hour sniff-around walk.

 

Of course, she needs the physical too, but you might be surprised how much fun it is to teach tricks. She can learn to put her toys away, to bring you the remote control, to pick up laundry....so many things, and you might find that you enjoy it so much that it becomes a relaxing activity after a long day at work. You will be amazed at what she can learn in only 10 minutes a day.

 

Lots of folks here, including myself, can help you with trick training as well if you want.

Good for you for giving this dog, whom you did not even go out and get for yourself, a good home.

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Thanks for the thoughtful answers!!! I'm glad most of y'all are not pro-rehoming because ... that's not really even CLOSE to being where I am with her. At all.

 

She doesn't whine or beg or demand attention ever, really. When I'm working, she sits nearby. She's quiet -- so quiet that I actually had a few weeks where the poor thing had a few accidents because she never told me she needed to go outside (we fixed that!). She doesn't have behavioral problems at home at all - none. But I do know that she needs activity and exercise & that's usually the first line when there are issues. The tricky thing is ... it's not around me.

 

I do have a dog walker come sometimes (and reports are always glowing), but the issue is: I need her out of the house for a few hours every two weeks for my cleaning lady (SUCH PROBLEMS RIGHT???). So that's why we do daycare. I'll just need some alternative to that, sounds like. I'm checking out other facilities, seeing if they're a better match, but- yeah, gonna have to get creative.

 

I'm also not annoyed with her, not sure why that came across. I'm mad she was a butthole at daycare. I'm annoyed with that, I guess. But 99.9% of the time, she's easy breezy.

 

We did herding today and she took right to it; I'm testing out a few other activities and seeing how she enjoys them, but this is all kind of just on the assumption that "activity will wear her out & then she'll magically be cool when I'm not around". Which, who knows. I personally don't have a TON of interest in either agility or herding, but like - whatever, it's not for me, that's fine.

 

I love the suggestion of tricks -- we're RUNNING OUT of them, honestly. She's great at tricks and knows so many I often FORGET what she knows. I'm all ears for new ones, but this is a dog who jumps in a circle when I say DRACARYS and who goes and sits by herself when I tell her "STAY OUT OF FOREIGN CONFLICTS" ;) We know a lot of commands.

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i always keep a list of the behaviors that my dogs know, so that I don't forget them all! And, so that I can go back over the list and say, oh yeah, we haven't done that one for a while, better brush up on it.

 

Kikopup and other websites and YouTube videos exist in order to inspire you with more ideas. Have fun. :-)

Your dog sounds great.

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Whatever activity that chosen is for BOTH of you. It is a partnership. Or should be.

Unless you can afford to bring her to herding or an agility lesson or whatever 7 days a week, it is unlikely that the dog will derive benefit beyond that day unless it is something that you can practice together on other days.

 

Your profile says that you like hiking. That is perfect. A long hike where the dog is allowed to sniff and be a dog is very tiring.

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Your profile says that you like hiking. That is perfect. A long hike where the dog is allowed to sniff and be a dog is very tiring.

 

 

Sure.

 

When it's not 113 degrees.

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I don't think any one of us here spends all of our time and money on our dogs, they are here to complement our lives not further complicate them. :)

 

Thank you for saying that, I love it and I think I need to hear it sometimes!!!!

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"-I’m a single dog-mom (unintentionally, thanks, Ex Fiance Who Left His Dog) & time is a big problem.

 

 

Her whole life is a series of "how do I wipe you out" activities (mental and otherwise) -At some point, doggo needs to chill out & let me LIVE. "

 

These 3 sentences that you wrote made me think that it was way more than 1 incident at day care; especially let me LIVE part. I have never been frustrated enough with any animal to feel they were not letting me live my life the way I want.

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How about teaching her the names of objects? I am sure she knows some already as she sounds really smart, but I am talking about building her vocabulary to 100 or more objects. That should take a while and keep her brain engaged. ;)

 

You have probably heard of Chase, the border collie, that knows ~1000 words IIRC. Chase's owner, a psych professor, wrote a book - which I have yet to read, but is more than just his journey teaching words to his border collie. (Remember to write the name of the object on the object itself or else you will forget the name - but your dog remembers it. :-))

 

I am not a big trick trainer (although I should probably try it with my youngest dog who seems very coordinated and agile and may really take to some physical tricks), but I did teach Torque to stack the plastic rings on a stick. It took me a very long time (mostly because I would not train that trick for months at a time), but it is a real crowd-pleaser.

 

Have you considered freestyle with your dog? It may have other names, but I always think of it as 'dancing' with your dog. Look up some freestyle routines performed at Crufts on Youtube.They are amazing. Freestyle is not my thing, but I sure do appreciate the training that goes into developing a routine - almost makes me want to give it a go. Almost. This is something you could practice at home (vs. herding or agility)

 

When I first started getting enlightened about training dogs (~ 20+ years ago), I took my rescue dog to a 'manners/obedience' class for beginning dogs. The instructor was quite good - even by today's standards - and one thing she said has always stuck with me. Whatever you do with your dog should be fun for BOTH you and your dog. She used herself as an example: She had Shelties, who would probably excel in agility, but since she was obese (she admitted it), she didn't like agility. She preferred to do obedience with them (and she was a good enough trainer that they were excited about performing obedience) and would occasionally take them lure coursing.

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Just some thoughts......

 

Your interests included acting and you said your dog know lots of tricks. Have you thought about getting your dog an agent? They offer dog acting classes in my city. Maybe you could both be in the business?

Also, about the dog dancing suggestion, (my BC loves it) going back to acting and the body awareness it requires, it might be fun for both of you.

 

Great suggestion on Kikopup training videos, she is one of my favorites.

 

About gcv-border's suggestion to teach names of objects, here is some inspiration. Link to a 4 minute segment from PBS where Host Neil deGrasse Tyson visited Pilley and Chaser for a Nova documentary.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/world-smartest-dog-nova-special-shows-border-collie/story?id=12875750

 

I tried doggy daycare with my BC and after they told me they kenneled her 3 times for herding the other dogs, I realized it was not a good fit. This is my first border collie and it took awhile to find things we both like to do.

 

Good luck and enjoy your dog.

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