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ElizaRose

How to I allow/teach my BC to relax/calm?

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Hi guys,

My 8 month old BC pup is absolutely full of energy (as can be expected) but I feel as though it is often due to being over stimulated & unable to calm down. I actually think he wants to sleep/rest but is too switched on to switch off. 

We exercise twice a day - lead walks in the morning and off lead time in the dog park in the afternoon. He runs around ALOT and fast and is clearly pooped when we are walking home. We also does lots of training around meals - practicing commands, tricks and hide and seek games. 

However, when we are at home he can't seem to lie down for more than a couple of minutes before something has his attention. He chases flies obsessively, does laps of the house & but never stops moving. The more we move around the house, making any sort of noise, the more worked up he gets. While it doesn't bother us, I feel like it bothers him. And when we have guests over he runs laps around where ever we are sitting which tends to stress everybody out. 

In any circumstance where he is blocked off from all stimulants (like in the car with the windows up) he crashes straight to sleep.

I am just wondering if I should be providing him with a way to switch off at home or teaching him how to be calm. Any advise or experience would be fantastic! 

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You might want to look at some recent threads that deal with similar situations. Puppies, like toddlers, often don't know how to wind down and take naps when they're overly tired. That's when it's time to put him in his crate where he really has no choice other than to stop the frenetic motion and calm down.

12 hours ago, ElizaRose said:

He chases flies obsessively...

Unless you want to allow this to become a lifetime obsession (hint: trust me, you really don't). For many dogs CCD (the canine version of OCD) becomes every bit as debilitating as full blown OCD does for humans. And it probably won't stop at flies. It can easily start being obsession with lights, shadow, etc. in addition to the fly chasing.

When he starts this you need to distract and redirect him away from the behavior, each. and. every. time. to break the cycle now before it goes too far. Reward for any break in the behavior to help reinforce it.

 

 

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What she said! And especially about the flies! Some of these dogs can easily become obsessed with flies, shadows, light, ceiling fans, etc., and while it may seem amusing at first, it is not good for the dog. So do just what GentleLake said and distract him and redirect him into something worthwhile, but you have to be consistent. 

Do you ever crate your pup? Or does he have an x-pen or other small area for "down time"? If not, you might want to consider that. Also, find things that do occupy him but in a quiet, restful way, like things that largely occupy his mind, like a food dispenser for his dry kibble (if you feed that) or a toy that dispenses small treats but only if he works at it.  When he gets overly tired, or when you just need some peace, a stuffed Kong (or other item that will quietly occupy him) in his crate might be a good alternative, and a lead-in to a nap...

Physical exercise is important but so is mental exercise, and many pups/dogs tire out more from using their minds than just their bodies. When you train, do you find he gets tired and is more likely to take some "time out" to rest? If not, you might want to consider training - basic family dog training (sit, lie down, stay, etc.) and also silly dog tricks (spin, crawl, balancing a dog treat on his nose, etc.) - all things that promote a bond between you while allowing him to learn and use his mind. 

Best wishes! 

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I'd definitely second the recommendation for mental rather than physical exercise.  When my 3 yr old BC was a pup, physical exercise left her really hyped, unable to settle and much more likely to nip me and bother my other dogs even when she was physically exhausted.  So I taught her to herd a tennis ball.  She had great working instincts and loved it!  I taught her 'come by', 'away to me', 'walk up', lie down, 'that'll do' and various others that harnessed her natural instincts.  The most I would ever do with the ball was gently roll it away from us 10-15 ft with her by my side, then I would send her out to it with an 'away' then have her lie down then call her back with a 'that'll do'...then back out to the ball in the other direction with a 'come by'. I'd have her stalk up to it with 'walk up' and get her to lie down occasionally as she did so.  Her ultimate reward was once or twice I would tell her to 'go get it' and she was allowed to pick the ball up.  It was very little real physical exercise but she was using her brain constantly and hanging on my every word and it left her tired and relaxed.  I kept my voice barely above a whisper so that she really had to focus on me and I kept it really calm - we could then go home and she would put herself to bed. Just 5 or 10 minutes is plenty.  Much better than playing 'fetch' with a tennis ball (which I hate as it is so hard on dogs joints)

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I agree with SueR. Use a crate. Train him more. Use mental exercise to wear him out. Ten minutes of concentrated training is as tiring as twice that time running around. Do NOT allow him to run laps when you have guests, as this will teach him that this is acceptable behavior and you don't want him doing it as an adult. Put him in the crate the moment he starts this. He is like a baby who gets overstimulated and winds up into over-activity and needs to be put down for a nap. Put him in his crate, cover it with cloth, or have it in a quiet room away from everything else, and let him rest. And curb the fly chasing immediately, as this will turn into an obsession that will be very bad for him and your life with him. Every time he starts it, pop him into his crate. Don't scold or say no, just put him in the crate. He will learn that if he does this, or runs laps, or behaves in other over-excited ways, he will be removed from the fun, and since he doesn't want that he will learn to control those impulses.

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On 1/25/2019 at 5:13 PM, Dinkle said:

 I taught her 'come by', 'away to me', 'walk up', lie down, 'that'll do' and various others that harnessed her natural instincts. 

@Dinkle Awesome! I'm wondering about how to teach these commands with a tennis ball - any tips or resources?

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Just use one throw of the tennis ball as a reward. Mind you, this will make the training sessions take longer because fetching the ball takes longer than swallowing one little treat. And, if your dog is too much into the ball and fetching it won't work because the presence of the ball will be too distracting and all the dog will think about is "where's the ball?" If this is the case, simply use the fetching as a final reward after the end of the training session.

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8 hours ago, KevTheDog said:

@Dinkle Awesome! I'm wondering about how to teach these commands with a tennis ball - any tips or resources?

start at close quarters and lure the dog round the ball in the direction you want - repeat and add in the command, treat and praise.  Then move a little further back and lure towards and round in the direction you want again (ie anticlockwise) for 'away'.  bring the dog to the '12 o'clock' position to the ball each time before your treat/praise.  From there after enough repetition you can start sending them out from a few feet from the ball with an arm movement similar to your lure with a treat alongside the command.  As BCs they seem to get it really fast as its so hard wired into them!  you can then increase the distance.  Repeat for 'Come By' going clockwise towards the ball and moving to the 12 o'clock position. 

For 'walk up', you'll first need the pup to have a decent 'lie down' or 'stay' then you put them in a down/stay position and back away.  Ask them or lure them towards you but almost immediately ask for another 'lie down' or 'stay' - after a while when they are moving slowly towards you, anticipating another 'stay' or 'lie down' you can start to add in the command for moving forwards eg 'walk up' and putting the ball in between the 2 of you.  They then start to target the ball in the walk up if you always get them to stop/lie down on reaching the ball -  again, easy for BCs, it's in their DNA :-) to crouch and stalk up.

After a few sessions my girl was doing it with me about 10ft from the ball - she'd run out to it then lie down at the 12 o'clock .  Amazing how many times she'll do this and how much entertainment she gets from a stationary ball!! To get more exercise just increase the distance to the ball

You can place the ball, roll it or throw it depending on how much stimulation that particular dog needs to focus on it.

it's great fun - give it a try and I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Just a caveat about the away/come-by/walk up et al.  If you think you might ever want to take your dog to stock, where you would use these words to communicate with your dog, these games are not a good idea. I do sometimes engage my Aussie/Border Collie mix in the types of games you describe, but that is only because I decided I would not be taking her to sheep. I don't engage in these types of games at all with my Border Collie (a trained sheepdog). She has no natural inclination toward ball play, other than to occasionally pick up the ball, run around with it a few times and drop it (which is hilarious). The commands you mentioned should be taught on--and in relation to--stock, if that's in your plan.

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3 hours ago, terrecar said:

If you think you might ever want to take your dog to stock, where you would use these words to communicate with your dog, these games are not a good idea...

Agreed. There's too much of a risk that it would create a very mechanical dog who doesn't develop a feel for the stock and looks solely to his handler for direction.

Another thing, this kind of ball play is. not. "herding" the ball! Herding involves another animal being moved by the dog. The ball has no mind of its own and doesn't move of its own volition.

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27 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

Another thing, this kind of ball play is. not. "herding" the ball!

But it sounds like lots of fun for those of us who might not get the opportunity to work stock.

I've been teaching left and right by having our boy sit next to me and before I throw the ball I either say left, right or go and then throw the ball in whatever direction I said. I'm not sure yet what it might be useful for but it's fun and encourages him to listen, otherwise playing fetch can become a bit mindless.

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Sure it's fun, and no reason not to do it if you have no plans to put your dog on livestock. You might want to look into Treiball as a more formal and competitive version of the game.

But though as a sport it may have begun as a way to give herding breed dogs an outlet, it's not really herding. Calling it or any other type of ball play "herding" perpetuates the general misuse and misunderstanding of the term. ;)

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19 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

Calling it or any other type of ball play "herding" perpetuates the general misuse and misunderstanding of the term. ;)

Yes, I understand. I'm very careful not to use the H word at all in reference to our boy ;) although other people are quick to use it when pointing out his bad behaviour :rolleyes:

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Wow! talk about pedantic!  I can call it herding the ball if I choose to do so and there is no harm in that whatsoever and I'm pretty damn sure that it hasn't ever confused anyone...well not anyone with a modicum of intelligence anyway.   And no, I have no intention of my dogs ever working livestock - it's just a game which pet collies love .  Some people...!

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4 hours ago, terrecar said:

Just a caveat about the away/come-by/walk up et al.  If you think you might ever want to take your dog to stock, where you would use these words to communicate with your dog, these games are not a good idea. I do sometimes engage my Aussie/Border Collie mix in the types of games you describe, but that is only because I decided I would not be taking her to sheep. I don't engage in these types of games at all with my Border Collie (a trained sheepdog). She has no natural inclination toward ball play, other than to occasionally pick up the ball, run around with it a few times and drop it (which is hilarious). The commands you mentioned should be taught on--and in relation to--stock, if that's in your plan.

thank you - but my collie enjoys the game immensely and hasn't once complained about the commands I use...and there is no intention or requirement for her ever to work stock.  I'm bright enough to have figured out for myself that might have been confusing ;-) 

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12 minutes ago, Dinkle said:

thank you - but my collie enjoys the game immensely and hasn't once complained about the commands I use...and there is no intention or requirement for her ever to work stock.  I'm bright enough to have figured out for myself that might have been confusing ;-) 

No condescension was intended. I was actually just trying to be helpful.

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It's not a matter of being pedantic, @Dinkle, but of trying to debunk the all too common blaming of so many unwanted behaviors in border collies and other related breeds as due to their having been bred for herding. If you've followed these Boards for a while (and I see you have) you'll have repeatedly seen people worried about their pups' nipping at feet and following motion, etc. as herding behavior when it's nothing more than perfectly normal juvenile predatory play behavior seen in all types of dogs. By not understanding and misnaming what it actually is, too many people don't seek out entirely legitimate advice from very qualified trainers, or worse, get bad advice from misguided trainers who'll write it off as "herding behavior" and throw up their hands not knowing how to deal with it.

What you call your game assigning herding terms with your dog is entirely up to you. Heck, you can call your dog a dinosaur if you want to. But it won't make you right and will instead make you look pretty foolish and uninformed.

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21 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

It's not a matter of being pedantic, @Dinkle, but of trying to debunk the all too common blaming of so many unwanted behaviors in border collies and other related breeds as due to their having been bred for herding. If you've followed these Boards for a while (and I see you have) you'll have repeatedly seen people worried about their pups' nipping at feet and following motion, etc. as herding behavior when it's nothing more than perfectly normal juvenile predatory play behavior seen in all types of dogs. By not understanding and misnaming what it actually is, too many people don't seek out entirely legitimate advice from very qualified trainers, or worse, get bad advice from misguided trainers who'll write it off as "herding behavior" and throw up their hands not knowing how to deal with it.

What you call your game assigning herding terms with your dog is entirely up to you. Heck, you can call your dog a dinosaur if you want to. But it won't make you right and will instead make you look pretty foolish and uninformed.

Well, nearly right...  I signed up to this board some years ago and was put off by  attitudes then by some who clearly spend a lot of time on here and consider themselves authorities, so it has taken me a few years to return.  I see some things never change.  Regarding the remainder of your post - interesting to see your explanation, it's not entirely correct of course, but interesting nonetheless.  Thank you for calling me foolish and uninformed (and whichever way I read that, it's what you intended), I am far from it but you were so busy being pedantic that you missed that.

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1 hour ago, GentleLake said:

 If you've followed these Boards for a while (and I see you have) you'll have repeatedly seen people worried about their pups' nipping at feet and following motion, etc. as herding behavior when it's nothing more than perfectly normal juvenile predatory play behavior seen in all types of dogs.

Yes, exactly. Even Dachshunds :)

 

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On 1/31/2019 at 11:27 AM, Dinkle said:

Well, nearly right...  I signed up to this board some years ago and was put off by  attitudes then by some who clearly spend a lot of time on here and consider themselves authorities, so it has taken me a few years to return.  I see some things never change.  Regarding the remainder of your post - interesting to see your explanation, it's not entirely correct of course, but interesting nonetheless.  Thank you for calling me foolish and uninformed (and whichever way I read that, it's what you intended), I am far from it but you were so busy being pedantic that you missed that.

Well, Dinkle, the folks on this forum have spent many years working with border collies and advising people who have them. Everyone is here because we love the breed and we want to help other people who may have less information or experience with these dogs than we do. Many of us spend time every day replying to people's questions here because we want to help, and you came here with a question because you needed help. We have done our best to help. If you want to get insulted and over react to the things people say then maybe this is not the right forum for you. If you can stop taking things so personally and choosing to take offense, you will have the opportunity to learn a great deal from people here, some of whom actually are authorities on the breed. I am not an authority myself, but I know oceans more now than I did years ago when I first started posting and reading here, and everyone here has been supportive and helpful to me. Sometimes I didn't like what they had to say. Oh well. I got past my urge to take offense or to be hurt and listened to the meat of the information that was being given to me.  I learned something each time. If you cannot take the information that is being given in the spirit it is given you will miss out on a lot that will help both you and your dog. It's up to you of course. If you'd rather respond imagined offence by slinging insults at the people here then you can't learn anything from us, and we can't learn anything from you and your experience either. I suggest you put down your sword and shield and join us.

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16 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

Well, Dinkle, the folks on this forum have spent many years working with border collies and advising people who have them. Everyone is here because we love the breed and we want to help other people who may have less information or experience with these dogs than we do. Many of us spend time every day replying to people's questions here because we want to help, and you came here with a question because you needed help. We have done our best to help. If you want to get insulted and over react to the things people say then maybe this is not the right forum for you. If you can stop taking things so personally and choosing to take offense, you will have the opportunity to learn a great deal from people here, some of whom actually are authorities on the breed. I am not an authority myself, but I know oceans more now than I did years ago when I first started posting and reading here, and everyone here has been supportive and helpful to me. Sometimes I didn't like what they had to say. Oh well. I got past my urge to take offense or to be hurt and listened to the meat of the information that was being given to me.  I learned something each time. If you cannot take the information that is being given in the spirit it is given you will miss out on a lot that will help both you and your dog. It's up to you of course. If you'd rather respond imagined offence by slinging insults at the people here then you can't learn anything from us, and we can't learn anything from you and your experience either. I suggest you put down your sword and shield and join us.

Oh dear....perhaps go back and read the thread before jumping on me?...I am not the OP.  I responded to the op with a perfectly nice training game that they may wish to try with their pup and because I DARED to use the word 'herding' in the title of my game I was taken to task...so in fact it was me who was trying to be helpful and someone else who took offense at my terminology that they deemed inappropriate and then insulted me by calling me uninformed and foolish...I'm afraid your response and speed to back up another 'senior member' without verifying your facts only reinforces the reasons why I stayed away from this board for so long.  I am the one wishing that I had never tried to be helpful at this point.

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Being a "senior member" here really isn't a bid deal. All you have to do is post 100 times -- and it can be pure drivel -- I think it is to earn that title. :rolleyes:

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2 hours ago, Dinkle said:

 I am the one wishing that I had never tried to be helpful at this point.

@Dinkle I am truly sorry if my post came off as inappropriately critical. I get it. Sometimes it isn't what is being said but how it is being said; and sometimes an uncharitable message board reply IS more about the poster's ego (or insecurities) than it is about any real desire to be helpful (not on this board, necessarily).  However, I assure you that my intention was to be helpful; not demeaning.

I think if you will read my post again, you will see that my warning about these games was specifically geared toward those who might want to take their dog to stock. Speaking as a novice sheepdog handler, one of the most difficult things to learn, particularly if you've come from an obedience background, is that sheepdog handling is not about commands, focus on the handler or control. The dog needs to be able to feel its sheep and even, in some instances, ignore a command to save one's novice ass :lol:.  What's worse is that, particularly in some 'herding' venues, there are 'mechanical' trainers who might steer you in the wrong direction. So, I just wanted to put that out there in case it could be useful to someone who will later take sheepdog training lessons with their dog.

Like I said, I have done these games with my own Aussie/Border Collie mix (btw, "walk up" and "lie down" are not the exclusive domain of shepherds). However,  I had already decided that it would be pointless to try her on sheep, even if she did show some interest. So, I by no means meant to disparage your use of the terms. If you're not taking your dog to sheep, it doesn't really matter to anyone who really matters.;)

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8 minutes ago, terrecar said:

@Dinkle I am truly sorry if my post came off as inappropriately critical. I get it. Sometimes it isn't what is being said but how it is being said; and sometimes an uncharitable message board reply IS more about the poster's ego (or insecurities) than it is about any real desire to be helpful (not on this board, necessarily).  However, I assure you that my intention was to be helpful; not demeaning.

I think if you will read my post again, you will see that my warning about these games was specifically geared toward those who might want to take their dog to stock. Speaking as a novice sheepdog handler, one of the most difficult things to learn, particularly if you've come from an obedience background, is that sheepdog handling is not about commands, focus on the handler or control. The dog needs to be able to feel its sheep and even, in some instances, ignore a command to save one's novice ass :lol:.  What's worse is that, particularly in some 'herding' venues, there are 'mechanical' trainers who might steer you in the wrong direction. So, I just wanted to put that out there in case it could be useful to someone who will later take sheepdog training lessons with their dog.

Like I said, I have done these games with my own Aussie/Border Collie mix (btw, "walk up" and "lie down" are not the exclusive domain of shepherds). However,  I had already decided that it would be pointless to try her on sheep, even if she did show some interest. So, I by no means meant to disparage your use of the terms. If you're not taking your dog to sheep, it doesn't really matter to anyone who really matters.;)

Thank you, this is really nice of you and much appreciated.  I'm sorry too if my response to you was a little snippy - it really wasn't you who got my back up and I do think the point you made is fair and correct. 

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