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I was wondering if there is an age when a border collie becomes really biddable. I have an 8 year old dog I bought when he was nearly two years old. He is and always has been, for as long as I've had him, a very biddable, sensitive affectionate dog.  I also have a nearly 9 month old pup. He obviously has his own personality etc. but I was wondering if it is anybody's experience that the biddableness comes with more time than 9 months.  I know it wouldn't be fair to judge an entire breed by one individual dog but I was under the impression that all the great things I love about my older dog are very typical border collie traits. To be honest, I am kind of disappointed with my younger pup.  I wonder if he is just a hard dog or perhaps I just didn't do as good a job raising him as my older dog's original owner did raising him. Or, hopefully and my main question, does the biddableness/sensitivity come with more time?  I appreciate any input. Thanks

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I wouldn't say dogs get more biddable as they get older, but they do calm down. Or at least our dogs always have. At 9 months my dog listened well, but in a very intense way where she would anticipate a little too much and go a bit too fast, which would sometimes mean she didn't do the thing we asked her to do or would do a lot of things and end with the right thing, which could be exhausting. We were very patient with her and at 4 years old now she has calmed down a lot, she still anticipates and sometimes guesses wrong, but I am getting much better at letting her know to wait for what I am going to ask her.

That said, you have to find out what works for your dog. For instance, I can train my BC mostly with praise, because that is enough for her. She loves working with me. My mother's Jack Russell wouldn't come when we called her until we started training with treats. We phased out the treats and she still runs full speed when my mum calls her.

9 months is still young and your pup still has a lot to learn. If you can describe some of the behaviours you have problems with we could be more specific in helping you.
Raising a pup always requires some hard work and patience. And you'll see lots of people on here who ask for help on certain behaviours, so you are definitely not the only one.

 

 

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One specific behavior I have in mind is not coming when called if he knows it's for something he doesn't like (mostly getting tied while I do livestock chores or being put in his kennel).  He is usually great in his recall except for when he knows (or thinks he knows) that I'm going to confine him. I've tried to get him to come to his kennel & then let him out immediately and reward him with play to show him it isn't an automatic lights out. It hasn't helped. My other dog, by contrast, will come no matter what just because it's what I've asked.   There are probably more specific examples but there is also just the general attitude. I don't know how to describe well what I mean other than to say my other BC always has me in mind.  Even when he is exploring or whatever he has an eye or ear on me just in case.  He will also take any opportunity to get close to me. The young dog, not so much. Also yesterday he saw his first deer & would not obey a down or a recall. I haven't started him on stock at all yet so maybe that will sort itself out after I've taken him for training

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I mean that's not even biddability, that's intelligence.  Would YOU come willingly to something you know is unpleasant?  All you're doing with that is teaching him that if he comes to you bad stuff might happen.  Why would he come for that?  He's not dumb  - which is why you got a border collie, right? Well, this is the dark side, as it were.


If you know you're going to need to do those things, just put him on a long line and do it.  Or find a way to make it pay for him. 

 

At the very least know he's playing the odds, so you have to make it worthwhile for him to come WAY more often than coming to you results in something he hates.  I call my dogs probably a hundred times for fun stuff (check in, have a cookie, go back.   Or 'come here so we can go on a walk/play ball, get some love) for every single time I recall them for something like  taking a bath.   Stuff like getting leashed? I always praise, leash, and pair with cookie.   

Does this mean my dogs RESPECT ME?  No. Also they 're dogs, and respects a human concept but we'll ignore that.


Does it mean my dogs are reliable off leash in the middle of the woods and will call off chasing rabbits or deer? Yup.  From 8 weeks onward, without a hint of 'teenage rebellion' other people talk about, at any point.

Even if I don't have cookies or fun stuff on me?  STill yes, because odds tell them that 99% of the time coming means a fun thing so that once (or twice or whatever) doesn't make them immediately wary and allow them to associate coming to me with bad stuff.

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Also, ever time he 'gets away with' not doing what you say, you're burning the command.


At this point I would probably switch to a new word that basically means 'come get a cookie' and use a long line to prevent him EVER not coming to that for a while, and get some 'money in the reward history bank' before you start making withdrawals.

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Second Cpt Jack's suggestion of paying very consistently for a basic command, releasing immediately. And doing it very frequently, even several times in a row. Give him a few minutes between cues to keep him guessing.

You got your first bc as an adult. Your pup is still very young. You don't say how long you've had him, but it seems to me he hasn't had a chance to learn to trust you. Your other dog quite possibly had had a good-to-great relationship with one or more humans before he came to you. Your pup doesn't have that experience, nor does he have a 2 year old's brains/concepts of obedience. 

Pick a new cue, tell him he's a good boy, reinforce in whatever way he likes the most. Food does it for a lot of dogs, but there are other things, too. Experiment a bit with things that might appeal to him. My almost 12 yr old LOVES to have his head scratched as much as he loves food.

Ruth & Gibbs

 

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@Milkmachine my first dog would turn himself inside out to do whatever I asked of him. And I had him from a pup. Never used treats either, the sound of my voice was enough. He was the reason that we got another border collie pup. Completely different. He's a year old now and is calming down, like CptJack we do many positive recalls a day and while he is good, I wouldn't ever put "call off chasing rabbits or deer" to the test. What I do try to do is avoid calling him when it's time for the fun to end, if I want him for something not fun I ask for a down and then go to him.

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In fairness, my dogs will call off running wild animals because sometimes I send them right back to chase the running wild animal.


Premack is fun.

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1 hour ago, CptJack said:

In fairness, my dogs will call off running wild animals because sometimes I send them right back to chase the running wild animal.


Premack is fun.

Ah, I just need some runners in fluorescent lycra or kids on bikes willing to help me with that one then :lol:

Actually it's a good point. We've been practicing nice lead walking in a low distraction place whilst one of us cycles around and since then he barely bats an eyelid at passing bikes. Maybe if I can get my teens running I can practice sending him and recalling him etc.

Thanks for your help :)

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You're welcome!
 

It has been my experience that if you can convince a BC that something is a game, and that they can 'win' that game (get reinforcement) they will go all in.  It's a fantastic feature once you can tap into it :P

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@Milkmachine My mother had very similar issues with her Jack Russell. She had a different personality than we were used to. Our normal method didn't work for her.
She would listen most of the time, but recall was difficult, especially when she thought it was to go inside, or if she smelled wildlife. My mother was so fed up with the dog's general attitude that she almost sold her. But when we talked it over, and the frustration subsided, we came up with a plan that worked for the dog.

We had never trained with treats and to be honest didn't want to. We didn't want our dogs to be too focused on food.  But we also felt we shouldn't give up on the dog and we gave it a try. During walks we called her randomly to give her a treat and immediately release her. She quickly realized that coming when called was fun, so eventually she came running whenever we called her, even though we called her to go inside the house or to put her on a leash. Then we faded out the treats.
This did not only solve the recall problem, but ever since we started this she has become an extremely loyal dog. My mother and the dog are really bonded now and it seems crazy that she once thought about rehoming her.

Look for something that works for your dog, be it treats, a pet, play to make coming to you fun. It may take a while for things to completely change. Hang in there!

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I have used the method above to put a recall on a dog many times, and it always works. I have found that with the terrier I have it is necessary to reinforce the training at least once a week with the treats again, or he starts tuning me out. My border collies didn't need that, although sometimes I did it just to make them happy.

Of course, I never let them out without a leash in any place where I would not be able to walk them down and recapture them until the recall was solid. I also recommend using a whistle. Not necessary, of course, but my idea is that a whistle carries much farther and is easier to hear, and it would be good for the dogs to be trained to it just in case something happened that caused me to be separated from them. You never think such a thing could happen but it can.

 

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I thought about this thread when I was out in the woods this weekend, so have a tiny bit of video.  It's not hugely informative or anything but it's a good show of 'recall and send back' rather than always stopping fun, at least.

 

 

 

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You're welcome - and he's a cool dude.  Only about half BC, but we slides by here on my other dog's credentials (and because people are nice here :P

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