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Someguyjoe

Seemingly unhappy 10 week old

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Hello, first post here.  I've been lurking for a few weeks and since there seem to be so many experienced people here, I thought I'd see what you all thought.

I've got a 10.5 week old puppy, Wren, we've had her for 3 weeks and She's our first puppy, but not our first dog.  I live on a farm with my wife and two young daughters (she seems to really like our three year old) plus an indoor cat.

Well I'm worried that I've ruined Wren.  It seems our only positive interactions are food and play.  She knows sit, come, lay down, and to wait while I give her her food and at the door to be let out for potty (she hasn't had an accident for about a week).  She only obey's those commands when I have food or a toy and she doesn't really react at all to "good dog" or similar praise.  Play consists of basically tug of war or me rolling a ball for her to chase.  Unless she is in very specific mood or just tired, she will duck under our hands when we try to pet her and/or try to mouth them.  Like her only association with our hands is "a thing that holds a toy".  For mouthing we will hold her muzzle and say "no" and that usually gets her the message for a few minutes anyway.  She does understand "no" but only when she wants too, like when the cat is around, forget it.  She really doesn't like being in her crate despite me trying to build up a positive association with it by feeding her in it and giving her a treat or kong toy whenever she goes in.   She's in there about 2 hours at a time (except night of course) and then she gets 1.5-2.5 hours out.  Have I been describing what you would see as normal puppy behavior?  I've tried to get her to "fetch" i.e. bring me toys back when I throw them, and after making progress, she now only loses interest when the toys go away.  I feel like we haven't really bonded, probably because I have been a little heavy handed to her a handful of times: like early on, when she came up and pulled my beard when I was laying on the floor and my reaction was to smack her nose.  I know that's taboo and I understand why; it was a reaction in the moment and not my training "method".  

I guess I'm asking for new command ideas to try to occupy her mind and training and I'm looking to see if most of the above is normal puppy behavior at this stage or if I have a long long road of remedial bonding to travel.  

Thanks for you input,

joe

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First, regarding her not seeming to enjoy being pet, lots of dogs don't.  Many dogs especially dislike being patted or stroked on the head.  My bestest dog ever would have joyfully walked through fire for me, but he acted like a total martyr if I insisted on being so mean and embarrassing as to pet him.  Try butt scratches, or tummy rubs, or maybe pats on the chest. 

As for the rest - right now I have a nearly 6 month old pup.   Except for the part about being worried about ruining him (I think my pup is awesome! ;-}),  your second paragraph describes my pup pretty well.  If I need him to, he settles in his crate for longer periods than yours does but 2 hrs was about his limit when he was 10 wks old. At six months he will relax in there for several hours if need be but he's also becoming more reliable outside the crate so don't find myself using the crate as much.  But everything else, yes including me having smacked him once when one of those needle sharp baby teeth left a hole in my thumb, describes my pup.  You're right, smacking is bad, but puppy causing pain to human is bad too, and sometimes our own startle reflexes aren't under perfect control.  Resolve to do better and move on.  Your puppy doesn't hate you.  She's just being a normal puppy, who at 11 weeks old is roughly comparable to a 2 yr old child.   Think of each month in a puppy's life as being comparable to a year in a human's life up till they are about 2 yrs old.  When my 2 month or 6 month or 12 month old puppy misbehaves, I think back on what a little jerk I was at 6 yrs or 12 yrs old, and that puts my puppy's behavior in perspective ;-)

I like to play scent work games with my puppies - both tracking and searching for hidden treats, but beyond that I'm not much for training tricks.  Certainly not a bad thing, just not something I'm into, but others here can recommend some youtube videos on trick training. 

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I didn't like petting my dog when she was a pup. She couldn't sit still and would bite everything in reach. I used to feel a bit guilty about this. She was my mother's dog at the time, so I don't remember much about how the training went. But I'd say the petting part is normal. Not all pups are like this, but mine definitely was.

She calmed down a lot as she matured and we have a great bond now. She loves to be petted and learned to sit quite still to receive lots of love from people.

Hang in there! It does get better and you are creating a bond even though sometimes it might not feel that way.

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I don't have specific experience with super young BC puppies, but I volunteer at our local SPCA, where I work with many puppies, and I can say that, unless they're super sleepy, many of them just aren't into cuddling or being petted. They just want to play / roughhouse all the time with those tiny sharp teeth. And our current BC, when we first adopted him at 7 months, wasn't interested in being touched either. Bonding took quite a while with him too (ever chased a young Border Collie around a dog park because he doesn't want to go home with you? :blink: fun times). But once he got a little older, and understood we were his family, he turned into a snuggly, loving guy who would follow us to the ends of the earth. Don't give up...10 weeks is still SO young. Just the fact that you're asking for help means that your girl got lucky when she got you. (And we need to see pictures!!)

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3 hours ago, Someguyjoe said:

I guess I'm asking for new command ideas to try to occupy her mind and training and I'm looking to see if most of the above is normal puppy behavior at this stage or if I have a long long road of remedial bonding to travel.  

Thanks for you input,

joe

I may be interpreting this harshly, but from what I’ve read, you feel you have been “heavy handed” a handful of times; you say the pup will “duck under [your] hands”, which I hope isn’t hand shyness rather than toy/play expectations; and you reflexively smacked your pup on the nose. I applaud you for recognizing the latter is taboo, but I can’t help but wonder if you need to ‘reset’ your relationship before introducing any new commands; especially since this is a young puppy.

That fact that you characterize the pup as “seemingly unhappy” and fear you’ve “ruined her” adds to my assessment. So, maybe concentrate on trying to gain her trust in you as a benevolent leader, rather than looking for new command ideas.

My recommendations:  Never ever, freaking ever hit this puppy again (but you already know that). Lower your expectations to meet her age; she is 10.5 weeks and already knows a few commands. Let her be a puppy.  Concentrate on good manners rather than commands. If she is tired of fetch, realize that most puppies that age have the attention span of a gnat. If she gets mouthy, replace your hands with a Kong and end interaction.

Scent games are an excellent suggestion, as you’re not commanding the pup so much as you’re providing her the opportunity to use her nose to seek out treats.

I hope you will take these comments in the spirit in which they are given. Clearly you are concerned about the pup, which is commendable. I seriously doubt you’ve ruined her. Just give her some time to bond with you.

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Dogs have personalities just like people. This seems to be especially true of border collies. Certainly you need to establish yourself as boss(in the proper way), but you also need to be observant and learn what your pup likes and doesn't like. When my pup was about that age, I learned that if I gently rubbed underneath her chest with one finger while holding her, she would stop resisting and let me hold her for 10 minutes or so. Yiu should try different things and learn what she responds to. You can pretty much expect her to be all teeth for a while. I recommend the nylabone key ring for her chewing pleasure. My pup loved it and I gave it to her whenever she wanted to chew my fingers (which she still tried to do while chewing on the keys, lol). At her age her attention span is expected to be short for fetch or any structured activity. My Mancer is 2 years old now, and will play fetch longer than when she was a pup but still has a limited attention span for such games. That's just who she is and I'm perfectly ok with that. I've seen other BCs who become obsessed and will fetch a ball nonstop. You should get to know your pup better as she grows and develops. Just a general tip though, it takes time time and patience to train a border collie. Mancer seems to gradually learn and become accustomed to things. It can be hard to stay persistent and consistent and avoid being frustrated at not getting immediate results, but it is necessary to do so. Remember that it's your job to make her happy just as much as it's up to her to obey and learn what you teach her. :)

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Our puppy did not like being petted and now at 8 months will only sit besides us for short periods of time. He has never sat on our laps.

For the first few months we often wondered if our puppy was happy, he certainly was glad to see us when we got up in the morning when we let him out of his crate.

Recall has been outstanding during the last month, but we know we need to keep up the training with this. Fetch is something we are still working on, he will definitely drop a ball for a treat. He gets it fine, but loves keeping it in his mouth for a game of tug.

As for bonding, I think proper bonding occurred around 3 months of age.

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What are you expecting from a ten week old pup? I don't think you need "new command ideas". Less commanding rather.

Sounds to me like you want too much too soon.

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Thanks for the re-assurance folks.  And for helping me adjust my expectations.  

58 minutes ago, Smalahundur said:

What are you expecting from a ten week old pup? I don't think you need "new command ideas". Less commanding rather.

Sounds to me like you want too much too soon.

Two things here: first, one of my motivations for posting originally was to adjust my expectations (since it became obvious to me early on that mine were off) and to provide context for my puppy.  You all have done that wonderfully.  Second, I think I would have more accurately expressed what I was asking if I would have replaced the word "command" with "games".  Meaning, ways to bond while still working her brains.  

 

3 hours ago, terrecar said:

I may be interpreting this harshly, but from what I’ve read, you feel you have been “heavy handed” a handful of times; you say the pup will “duck under [your] hands”, which I hope isn’t hand shyness rather than toy/play expectations; and you reflexively smacked your pup on the nose. I applaud you for recognizing the latter is taboo, but I can’t help but wonder if you need to ‘reset’ your relationship before introducing any new commands; especially since this is a young puppy.

That fact that you characterize the pup as “seemingly unhappy” and fear you’ve “ruined her” adds to my assessment. So, maybe concentrate on trying to gain her trust in you as a benevolent leader, rather than looking for new command ideas.

My recommendations:  Never ever, freaking ever hit this puppy again (but you already know that). Lower your expectations to meet her age; she is 10.5 weeks and already knows a few commands. Let her be a puppy.  Concentrate on good manners rather than commands. If she is tired of fetch, realize that most puppies that age have the attention span of a gnat. If she gets mouthy, replace your hands with a Kong and end interaction.

Scent games are an excellent suggestion, as you’re not commanding the pup so much as you’re providing her the opportunity to use her nose to seek out treats.

I hope you will take these comments in the spirit in which they are given. Clearly you are concerned about the pup, which is commendable. I seriously doubt you’ve ruined her. Just give her some time to bond with you.

Thanks for not being too hard on me.  I don't think the head ducking is "hand shyness" since its always in the context of playing and/or hyperactivity.  Much of it really seems to depend on her mood. You and at least one other poster have mentioned the "scent games": I'll definitely be looking into those.  Really, I guess I need new ideas like that on ways to interact with her, since tug of war only seems to go so far.  

She's been easier today and since I'm not all doom and gloom in response, I can say that she'll tolerate petting  but really doesn't seem to enjoy it.  But based on many of your responses, that doesn't seem uncommon and in itself, doesn't indicate that I've ruined her in some way. 

Again, thanks for the reassurance.  We will keep building.  
 

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I remember being a bit disappointed that our puppy couldn't/wouldn't do fetch at that age, and wouldn't really tolerate stroking and cuddling either. He certainly didn't want to be in the crate during the day, although slept there happily at night. He was like a spoilt houseguest and I began to understand why there were so many 10+ week old border collie puppies on free-ads needing new homes 'through no fault of their own' or 'change in personal circumstances'. It took a couple of months before it felt like he wanted to be a part of our family and probably another couple before he got good at fetch, tolerated being petted and started to want to please us. Try to be as tolerant and as respectful as you can to your puppy, her behaviour isn't personal and as she gets older she'll be a nicer dog if she trusts you.

As for scent games. I tried hiding some nice smelly treats under a couple of plastic pots, but he just ran off with the pots. A couple of months on and he could have a good sniff and then remove the pot hiding the treat. One game that I did quite like was a recall game where I'd call our boy (and he'd come because he knew I had treats) but then throw the treat away so he could run to find it, then call him again.  

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Another quick thought, if you want her to lay in your lap and be affectionate, try coaxing her to sit in your lap with treats. I've always given Mancer her treats this way, and she lays in my lap (as I watch TV in the recliner) every night now. This will also likely make her more receptive to petting. (Over time of course)

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14 hours ago, Someguyjoe said:

Thanks for not being too hard on me.  I don't think the head ducking is "hand shyness" since its always in the context of playing and/or hyperactivity.  Much of it really seems to depend on her mood. You and at least one other poster have mentioned the "scent games": I'll definitely be looking into those.

That was me being hard on you. :) Sorry about that and about the “hand shyness” comment. I think because I’ve dealt with some very sensitive “second hand” dogs, I wanted to make sure to throw that out there, just in case. It doesn’t sound like it fits, so that’s good. 

I am glad you are reassured, as well. Puppies can be challenging, so I hope you will continue to use these boards as a resource. 

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3 hours ago, Someguyjoe said:

You and at least one other poster have mentioned the "scent games": I'll definitely be looking into those.  Really, I guess I need new ideas like that on ways to interact with her, since tug of war only seems to go so far. 

Scent games can be very, very simple: put a treat down where she will come across it. Do that a few times. Then gradually 'hide' it. Over a week or so, you can hide it in  more difficult spots. My now 11 yr old enjoys half his dinner kibble in a Kong, which is loosely wrapped in an old blanket and put in a different room of the house every evening for him to find.  This is definitely something to build up to over time. And there might be scent work or nose work classes in your area that you can take her to. If you google 'scent games' you'll probably find some more things to do with her.

She's been easier today and since I'm not all doom and gloom in response, I can say that she'll tolerate petting  but really doesn't seem to enjoy it.  But based on many of your responses, that doesn't seem uncommon and in itself, doesn't indicate that I've ruined her in some way. 

B collies seem to be a quirky lot. Gibbs is my 4th. He has learned to like being petted. I got him when he was about 3 ~ he was from a working home, well cared for, but not a house dog. He had some adjusting to do to 'civilian' life, which includes being petted, a bit of rough housing, and learning silly tricks. Of my 3 previous dogs, (all adults when I got them) one was a sweetie who was a bit timid, but warmed up quickly, the 2nd had been very badly treated for a long while and I don't think she ever fully recovered, and the 3rd loved Every Single Human he came across. 

Your girl's personality may change quite a bit as she ages. Have fun with her!

Ruth & Gibbs 

 

 

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If I were in your position, I would simply concentrate all my effort on being as sweet and gentle and understanding with the puppy as possible. Aside from mild corrections when she does something completely unacceptable like biting hands, I would spend my time making sure the puppy got the impression that the whole world is fun and safe and loving. Basically, that is how I feel puppies should be treated in general. You have not ruined this puppy, and it is good you have realized your mistakes and are not going to repeat them. She's just a baby right now and she will very likely turn out fine if you handle her correctly from now on. As for cuddling, I would probably spend time with her on the floor even when it is not play time, and see if she will come be near me on her own. If so, and she is calm, then treats and maybe a very soft slow petting of back near the tail or belly if she is on her back. I would avoid her head. Maybe she's just a dog, like many, who doesn't ever want to be petted on the head. 

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I would add to the great feedback above that sometimes we need to be a little ‘aloof’. We can do it with kindness but let her come to you and know that when she does she’ll get a fuss. 

As others have said it’s good that you recognise ways you could do better but if we are honest I am sure we can all admit to that!

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23 hours ago, D'Elle said:

If I were in your position, I would simply concentrate all my effort on being as sweet and gentle and understanding with the puppy as possible. Aside from mild corrections when she does something completely unacceptable like biting hands, I would spend my time making sure the puppy got the impression that the whole world is fun and safe and loving. Basically, that is how I feel puppies should be treated in general. You have not ruined this puppy, and it is good you have realized your mistakes and are not going to repeat them. She's just a baby right now and she will very likely turn out fine if you handle her correctly from now on. As for cuddling, I would probably spend time with her on the floor even when it is not play time, and see if she will come be near me on her own. If so, and she is calm, then treats and maybe a very soft slow petting of back near the tail or belly if she is on her back. I would avoid her head. Maybe she's just a dog, like many, who doesn't ever want to be petted on the head. 

Very good information here! 

Not all dogs or pups are cuddly. I would love my old dog to have been a cuddler but he just never has been (although, much to my chagrin, he does occasionally cuddle up to my husband) and yet he is as loyal and devoted a dog as a person could ever want. And he really, really dislikes anyone's face near his, and always has been that way. Some dogs, like some people. just have different personal space requirements. 

Enjoy her puppyhood, make it as positive as possible, and continue training and working with her but not expecting more than you should from a pup who is still, really, a baby. Very best wishes!

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I agree with all of the above. Especially that a little pup will come around and bond just fine in a short time so don't despair.

You might also try just sitting on the floor and having her approach you and letting her make up the game.  Like shellyf said, be a bit aloof. Sometimes she might bring a toy for tugging or throwing. Sometimes it might be chase me. (I've found fast crawling on a rug to be a strangely good workout). Sometimes it might even be a cuddle.

 

 

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My shepherd mix, Jessie, didn't like to cuddle as a young puppy. I was worried, but she grew out of it and is now the kind of dog that always wants to be touching me.

I find that just playing with my dogs without a training agenda is important to our relationship. I incorporate lots of playing into all our training, so it is all a game, but at other times I just play with absolutely no other purpose than just having fun.  (Actually this does serve a purpose because if my dogs think I'm fun, and that playing with me is great, I can use play as a reward :) .

Another game you can try is hide and seek, where you hide and the puppy finds you. There are lots of ways to play this, and maybe you already do it. Here are a couple ways to play: One person holds the puppy while you run and hide. Hide in a really easy place at first (Like crouch behind a sofa, but peek out so she can see your face) and you can even call and encourage the puppy to find you. If she comes and finds you make a big fuss and tell her how clever she is. You can reward with treats or toys too. Or you can just run away from your puppy and quickly hide behind something and let her find you. Once she gets better at this game, you can hide in trickier places so she actually has to sniff you out. Jessie loves to find hidden people. It is her favorite game.

Good luck with your puppy, and let us know how its going!

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On 1/18/2019 at 10:43 PM, jami74 said:

I began to understand why there were so many 10+ week old border collie puppies on free-ads needing new homes 'through no fault of their own' or 'change in personal circumstances'.

Interestingly I keep seeing this on here. Are you in the US? 

Here in the UK I don’t see many Border Collies on the rehoming sites. Maybe people know the breed better here? So their expectations are different.  

Certainly everyone who I speak to about our dog says “Oh, Border Collies are a lot of work aren’t they?”. But he really isn’t, at all. Depends on the actual dog. 

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47 minutes ago, Icaraa said:

Interestingly I keep seeing this on here. Are you in the US? 

Here in the UK I don’t see many Border Collies on the rehoming sites. Maybe people know the breed better here? So their expectations are different.  

Certainly everyone who I speak to about our dog says “Oh, Border Collies are a lot of work aren’t they?”. But he really isn’t, at all. Depends on the actual dog. 

And it certainly depends on the owner - what one person finds onerous, another finds to be enjoyable interaction with their pup/dog. I haven't found mine to be a lot of work but I have found it fun to work (sometimes a lot) with them! 

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3 hours ago, Icaraa said:

Interestingly I keep seeing this on here. Are you in the US? 

Here in the UK I don’t see many Border Collies on the rehoming sites. Maybe people know the breed better here? So their expectations are different.  

Yes UK.

Wasn't talking about rehoming sites, I was talking about websites that are free to advertise on like Gumtree, FreeAds, DogsAndPuppies. A quick search on Gum Tree today for England reveals a 6 month old border collie/kelpie needing a home due to owner having a bad back, 17 week old female as owner doesn't have time, 11 month old with behaviour issues due to town environment, a 14 week old as owner has 'bitten off more than I can chew" and a 5 month old due to a change in work commitments. To me they all sound like people who hadn't realised that Border Collie puppies need as much time and energy as they do.

2 hours ago, Sue R said:

And it certainly depends on the owner - what one person finds onerous, another finds to be enjoyable interaction with their pup/dog. I haven't found mine to be a lot of work but I have found it fun to work (sometimes a lot) with them! 

Yes exactly this, it depends on the owner. And probably their previous experience/current expectations/living arrangements (farm vs apartment. work from home/retired vs full time job. adult only household vs family with young kids).

Disclaimer: I do not condone buying/selling dogs on free websites. I don't know why I look at them, our family is certainly very much complete for the time being. 

While I did find our puppy very hard work for the first couple of months that is not to say that I did not enjoy it. I have no regrets about inviting him into our home and I have not nor would I ever consider rehoming him, he is family. I posted my comments in the hope of reassuring the original poster that young puppies can seem almost impossible (like human babies or crazy toddlers) but that it does get better with time and is worth persevering with.

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22 hours ago, jami74 said:
  On 1/22/2019 at 8:57 AM, Sue R said:

And it certainly depends on the owner - what one person finds onerous, another finds to be enjoyable interaction with their pup/dog. I haven't found mine to be a lot of work but I have found it fun to work (sometimes a lot) with them! 

So true. I have heard several times from people that they don't want a border collie because they couldn't stand to have a dog who sat and stared at them, or who asked them for attention. Fortunately these folks don't actually have border collies. To me, having the dog stare at me is not a problem. Having a dog who asks me for attention (as long, of course, as it is polite and not bugging me all the time, which is my responsibility to train, and I do) is a bonus, because it keeps me reminded that I need to get off the chair or away from the computer and go play with or walk or train the dog. To me, this is one of the best things about having a border collie. And training is what I do automatically with any dog in my home.  Dog training is my hobby. What is great about a border collie is there's literally no limit to what you can train the dog to do.

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9 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

So true. I have heard several times from people that they don't want a border collie because they couldn't stand to have a dog who sat and stared at them, or who asked them for attention. Fortunately these folks don't actually have border collies. To me, having the dog stare at me is not a problem. Having a dog who asks me for attention (as long, of course, as it is polite and not bugging me all the time, which is my responsibility to train, and I do) is a bonus, because it keeps me reminded that I need to get off the chair or away from the computer and go play with or walk or train the dog. To me, this is one of the best things about having a border collie. And training is what I do automatically with any dog in my home.  Dog training is my hobby. What is great about a border collie is there's literally no limit to what you can train the dog to do.

So true! I’d be super lazy if it weren’t for Merlin. And yes they are happy to be trained to do anything haha! 

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