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Guest RiverRunning

Anxiety in training?

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Guest RiverRunning

Hello, I recently adopted a BC/husky mix about three or four weeks ago. She is roughly two years old, seems to know sit and lay down and I have been working on her with "stay" which she seems to be understanding. But she is very excitable, mouthy, handsy, and busy. Because of this I have been trying to ask her to lay down when there is food around as a first step toward getting her a little mellower around activity. A couple times now she has been doing great--laying down while we are eating and waiting. Then she gets up and I get up and correct her by asking her to lay down again and stay. This back and forth is normal in my experience until the dog slowly learns when people are eating that it is down time. But occasionally she has become agitated instead, she starts panting and becomes very stubborn, refusing to lay down and just generally acting anxious--that sort of blank out panting thing. I can't tell what is going through her mind--she did this the other day while I was trying to talk to someone and became way too mouthy and demanding so I finally put her in her kennel in another room. Any suggestions here? Is quiet alone time in the kennel a good way to approach this scenario?

  She doesn't do it all the time and is still adjusting, so I am trying to not ask too much all at once, but her becoming agitated/agressively mouthy and demanding is not really tolerable. Curious if anyone sees something I am missing or has suggestions for how to calm down a dog in this state. It doesn't seem like strictly excitement, it seems more anxious but I don't understand why?

  She hasn't been getting as much exercise as I would like but this is mostly due to her overall fear/adjusting period. I take her down to the lake as often as possible because the swimming seems to calm her and she definitely gets a work out, but walking and public places are still a bit much. Hoping to work a little with her today on running to get her used to that activity with me.

I have husky experience but border collies are new to me. My last question is kind of odd; is abnormal breathing a thing with BC's? It doesn't seem medically concerning, just odd compared to all dogs I have experienced. Often it is shallow and sporadic but then goes back to normal...is she just smelling stuff really intensely all the time? :) Maybe I should try nose work with her instead of agility...

 

Thank you!  

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Wow, that is one heck of an interesting mix you have there!  :) Nothing about her behavior sounds border collie specific in my experience. I think what you've got is mainly a complicated mix of two high energy, high drive breeds. I'd expect that to be rather challenging, given this particular mix. But from what you describe, she also brings along some personal issues, and that I think is what you're seeing.

My guess is that you're right, it is anxiety of some sort. Without seeing your situation, I think letting her go somewhere to chill out and decompress for a little bit may be a good idea. You haven't had her that long, so she's still adjusting and there may just be times where her brain gets full - whatever the stimulus may be.

Time out, calming, settling, learning to be quiet - all sounds like valuable things. Other than that, I'm not sure what else to suggest, but until she really settles in with you, that may be the easy way for her to just go let her brain relax.  :)

~ Gloria

 

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Guest RiverRunning
17 hours ago, Gloria Atwater said:

Wow, that is one heck of an interesting mix you have there!  :) 

 

Yeah, what was I thinking! ;) She is a very odd looking and acting dog-- she herds, uses her nose to move things (like me), and has the stubborn streak and kinda, uh, "oddness" of a husky? She uses her hands like a person and talks at me too. 

  Thank you for the response, she is the first adult dog I have ever rescued so a high drive dog with already fully formed ideas/traumas of the world is a bit overwhelming and the encouragement is appreciated! She is starting to focus in on me more and more so hopefully that is a sign of trust building, which I think it is, she is starting to let me lead her by the collar without getting scared and ninja rolling. The breathing thing is really weird...but maybe there is just too much energy in her... :D 

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This forum is meant for people looking to ask an experienced stockdog trainer for help with issues related to training a dog on livestock.

You'll get more responses if you repost this in the General Border Collie Discussion forum.

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Guest RiverRunning

Ah, well this was one of two options for a guest poster. Thanks for the tip.

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