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aprilandjax

Touching base on new pup issues

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Hi,

 

BACKGROUND INFO (NOT NECESSARY TO READ)

Quick background: I have had older dogs before (12yo Weimaraner and briefly two 8-10yo SBTs). I'm very close with my OHs family and his sister's family got a rescue 5mo collie, totally unsocialised, underfed, kept in a small shed from birth until she was adopted -- I adored her and living next door I helped a lot with her training/walks. I learned a lot about R+ techniques and counter-conditioning in order to help her. She doesn't have many typical dog behaviours and it took months just to teach her that we were trying to interact, that we could be fun, that playing was a "thing"… but I loved her waggy butt and I knew for sure I was going to get one when I was ready.

 

DOGGO INFO

I see a lot of you are USA based, so I hope it’s okay, but I'm from the Highlands of Scotland. I got my pup Jax nearly 12 weeks ago – he’s a Scottish BC X Australian Kelpie. He's 6 months old on 5th July. I have attached some pics that hurt my heart below.

I live on a sheep and cattle farm and help out there, but I don't intend to work him. I primarily work building trails, MTB tracks, and footpaths in remote Scotland so needed a dog capable of handling the weather and terrain I work in. I also spend almost all of my leisure time in the great wet outdoors.

While I'm essentially in a totally new world, on my version of bed rest as he can't go any distances with me or get into too much at work, I need someone to just ... tell me that I'm doing okay, or correct me before I make any major mistakes.

 

MY QUESTIONS

Some concerns I have:

 

Limiting exercise: I understand about limiting exercise for his growth plates. We go out to work in two hour stints, but he is off-leash and is able to self-settle when tired so he sets his own pace. He's never forced to go significant distances, and my work progresses at a pace of 50 or 70 meters in a day so we aren't "walking" anywhere, but the space he can typically explore is huge and sometimes he does seem to run about exploring for a lot of the time. Is off-leash okay with a nearly 6-month pup? Could this still be damaging?

Prey drive: We hang out a lot off-leash in (privately owned) woodland, and sometimes he sets off after deer or hares or rabbits. He has fantastic recall and we are very remote, so usually I let him follow a scent or animal for 100m or so before I ask him to come back to me, which he has done 100% of the time at full tilt so far. Am I setting him up for failure as he becomes more independent if I let him do this? He loves it and I love to watch it but I would hate to think as he gets older that he will be put in danger by this drive. Can dogs tell the difference between behaviour that is okay at their home and when away?

Barking: The working dogs on the farm are barky, and I have noticed a trend in Jax starting to bark more than I'm okay with. I can ask for "enough" and he stops immediately 80-90% of the time, but the trouble is I don't know how to pre-empt it and stop the first volley of barks. If he goes out to toilet in our enclosed yard I don't go out with him every single time, but he sometimes barks at the swallows or the tractor/UTV/other dogs running past the gate. If I go to the back door and say "enough" he stops and goes about other stuff, but he'll start up again 30 seconds later. If I'm out back he will still bark for his bestest friend in the whole wide world who passes by us loads of times a day. How do I nip this in the bud asap?

 

Biggest Issues

Crate Training He still won't settle in his crate in my room. When we are at work, we are remote sometimes and stay in my camper -- his bed (same one we use at home) is in the void below mine, and he will self-settle to his bed there totally fine at 9:30. In the house, he will also self-settle to his bed for day naps, or if I'm still downstairs at night he will self-settle, often getting off the sofa with me to take himself to bed. When I first brought him home he wasn't keen on the crate and had some separation anxiety that I am working on. I fed his meals in the crate and made a game of getting in and out of it, lots of treats and praise etc. until he was comfortable in it, before I asked him to sleep in it all night (took a couple of weeks because I preferred a night’s sleep to max. progress). However, every night at home now, when we go up to bed I ask him to get in his crate, he goes in and lies down, I shut the door, all is quiet for between 30 seconds and 5 minutes, then he barks/whines loudly and sometimes digs for anywhere up to 10 minutes before he settles to sleep. I am trying periodic random treating for quiet settling and we go upstairs and get in the crate and do treats for little quiet stints in the day, but it has made no difference to this routine so far, it just pushed back the length of time he waits before starting. I can’t leave the crate door open at night as he lays down for 2 minutes then gets up and goes around sniffing the room, scratching the corners and investigating and has to be asked back into his bed on a loop for 30+ minutes (the longest I have managed to try it in one night as I am bleeping tired!). He can also easily (and quickly) get onto our low bed and then constantly has to be given the "off" command, sometimes up to 20 times before he stops for a break. I know I need to disrupt him before he gets on, but our bed has no foot or headboard so he can get on from anywhere so difficult to body block him. What else can I do? He doesn't sound freaked out but it’s load and disruptive and he doesn’t do it when settling outside of the crate so I just feel a bit like a monster and want to know if I’m doing something wrong.  

Excitement Threshold The other difficulty is that sometimes he works himself up trying to get me to play when I won’t give him attention (cooking, after we have already had our morning walk/training/play and I have to do office stuff, in the evening when I’m trying to get him to calm state) and gets jumpy/rough, he won’t listen to “get down” commands or “off”/“sit”/”down” commands, sometimes won’t even go “get a toy”. In isolation he will bark/whine for up to fifteen minutes (I feel awful to leave him longer to try and settle down, and I don’t use the crate yet because of the previous issue). I just wait for a 15 or 20 second quiet to let him out. He will sometimes start the cycle again shortly after being brought back downstairs, sometimes not. What can I try in that moment? This ‘problem’ is the most upsetting for me. Sometimes I get to the point of very deep breaths/teary frustration as he gets destructive looking for any/negative attention and will bite walls, rip carpets, pull my laptop off the table getting tangled in the cords zooming round the room, trip me getting underfoot, tear my clothes trying to jump at me, and sometimes by accident hurts me by scratching me, jumping into me full tilt, headbutting me as he is a wriggly worm et. (he has fantastic bite inhibition, just a bit of puppy mouthing). Will he grow out of this? Things I can do in the moment would be most helpful, but are there related activities or games I can do to work on managing emotions/excitation? 

 

I am sorry this is a tome, hopefully the puppy pics help!

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Jax is soooo cute!

I am Australian, so BC x Kelpie is a mix I see fairly often, and yours is an especially cute version.  To be honest, he looks a lot like what we call a Coolie/Koolie, another working breed from Australia.

A friend of mine has two Coolies and a Kelpie.  The Kelpie is lying down 387447465_RebaDougandAce.jpg.abafa1a304c9b840db82b82d14d890b0.jpg

 

I am not an expert with crate training, but I think you started the crate training well, but then jumped a few steps.  Familiarity with the crate is good, but you need to also gradually increase the amount of time in the crate until he is comfortable being in there for decent periods of time, not just with going in and being in there.  He needs to learn that the crate is for quiet time. Letting him have short times in the crate has possibly taught him that the crate is only a short term thing, not for longer periods of time.  You may need to continue with further crate training of increasing periods of time in the crate.

Have you tried covering his crate at night?  This might be a way to signal that this is bedtime now, or at least that it is time to settle down for a sleep.  It will also make the crate more den-like.

As you have said, if you can fix the crate training, the over-excitement can be fixed by time outs (very matter of fact - "time for a nap") in the crate until he has calmed down.

I do not think you need to worry about limiting exercise if he is able to run around and rest at his own will.  It is more about long runs and walks on lead that are a concern, or repetitive stuff like fetch, jumping, etc that are a big concern.

The prey drive is more of a concern to me. On the one hand, his recall so far appears to be excellent, but he is heading into adolescence, where dog's  test boundaries and will forget what you think they have learned 100%.  Hormones will surge and instincts can gain the upper hand.  If you see signs of reluctance, put him on a long lead, before he refuses to come back, would be my suggestion.

As for barking, I have no suggestions to make.  Maybe someone else here can help there.

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Lawgirl thank you so much for your helpful advice. I agree with you, he is sooooo. freaking. cute. His dad does look almost exactly like the middle dog in your picture (but with the doberman markings), but I had the same thought - he looks far more like a Koolie cross, even in the face shape as he starts to get a little more grown up. I would guess his dad has some mix in him somewhere as his mum is 100% true-to-type blue merle BC. Also your friend's dogs look like some serious good boys haha, those grins are adorable.

I have had a couple of Australians cross streets or tap on my car door asking if he's part Kelpie, they always seem thrilled to see him so I assumed they were pretty popular over there :lol: he certainly likes them!

Your advice for the crate is spot on, I feel I must have amped up the "difficulty" too fast. I knew he was getting the wrong association because the crate seemed to wake him up rather than put him to sleep! :rolleyes: It does have a curtain over it but it's not the most blackout type, so maybe it's not dark enough. I'll look for a wool throw or something around the house I can try. He is really good about the crate considering, I'll just need to up the ante on actively training duration. 

I also agree with you on the prey drive thing. I am watching for that moment where he crosses the boundary and "forgets" commands or just gets too caught up. He's so good sometimes it's hard to remember he will be a teenager soon! I almost always have the 10m line over my shoulder so at least I can hope to jump on it. Have you found that you need to wait out the worst of it to get back to good recall, and do you just essentially take the difficulty back a few steps and re-proof as if you were training it against a higher distraction (i.e. hormones + stranger, etc.)?

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11 hours ago, aprilandjax said:

I have had a couple of Australians cross streets or tap on my car door asking if he's part Kelpie, they always seem thrilled to see him so I assumed they were pretty popular over there :lol: he certainly likes them!

I also agree with you on the prey drive thing. I am watching for that moment where he crosses the boundary and "forgets" commands or just gets too caught up. He's so good sometimes it's hard to remember he will be a teenager soon! I almost always have the 10m line over my shoulder so at least I can hope to jump on it. Have you found that you need to wait out the worst of it to get back to good recall, and do you just essentially take the difficulty back a few steps and re-proof as if you were training it against a higher distraction (i.e. hormones + stranger, etc.)?

I live about 70 kilometres from the birthplace of the Australian Kelpie - Casterton in Victoria, and just last weekend was the Casterton Kelpie Muster.  They have all sorts of activities and competitions, a hill climb for dogs, high jump, as well as a herding displays etc, culminating in an auction for Kelpie dogs.  This year the top price was $15,000, but the record was set last year at $27,000 (this is in Australian dollars, so about half that in pounds, and one AUD is about 70 cents US).  Here are some photos of the recent Muster https://www.stockandland.com.au/story/6208628/crowd-drawn-to-casterton-kelpie-muster/?cs=4793#slide=1

As for the prey drive, I suspect the safest thing is to retrain from the start, even if it is not completely necessary.

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Oh my goodness. Those are some beautiful dogs. The reason we considered a kelpie was because a farmer friend of mine got one from AU. I haven't seen her in a long while now, but such a wonderful and loving dog and so good on sheep, unbelievably fast. 

I can't believe the record price! Is this because of lineage and breeder etc. or are these dogs with specific stockwork training/credentials? I couldn't tell from the article, sorry to ask! It's brilliant that they have made such an event from the breed birthplace as well. Do you go yourself? 

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Yes, the dog sale would have been for working Kelpies.  They mention the top selling bitch went because of her long cast (outrun) and temperament whilst working in the yards, which is what Australians call paddocks or pastures or corrals.  The Muster sounds like a marvelous event!

Amy

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I am by no means an expert on Kelpies, and there is considerable quiet rivalry here in Australia as to which is the better herding dog, BCs or kelpies. 

Yards are are just that, yards where stock are gathered in, either for shearing, drenching, or in preparation for transport etc.  Paddocks are what we call fields or ranges.  So a yard dog is good at close in enclosed work, a paddock dog is good at the open field work. 

And, of course, we also have droving, which is rare nowadays, but still happens, although it is more common with cattle.  Many outback roads, especially in New South Wales and Queensland, have VERY wide verges, which are called the long paddock, and are open pasture for flocks of livestock to be moved around when drought hits and water and feed fail.  It used to be to move large flocks of livestock to railheads for shipping, but now is used more to access better feed when a property is exhausted. 

In Australia, Kelpies tend to be either used in the yards as a yard dog, or in the paddocks as a field dog.  A dog which is good in both yard and field is VERY highly prized, and I often see advertisements for pups boasting how one parent is a strong yard dog and the other good in the paddock.

Kelpies are renowned for 'backing', or jumping up on top of sheep when they are in a yard or race and running along the top of a flock to drop down into them to get them moving in a confined space.  At least, that is what I understand they do.  Livestock truck drivers often have Kelpies who do nothing other than work loading and unloading sheep at stockyards and abattoirs, and travel with the truckies between.

The Muster is fantastic, and is credited with saving Casterton, as the town was starting to fade away, as many country towns do.  It is now starting to thrive, has a Kelpie Centre and tourism is way up. 

Sorry for hijacking your post aprilandjax! 

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On 6/17/2019 at 12:23 AM, Lawgirl said:

Sorry for hijacking your post aprilandjax! 

 Not at all! So interesting. And I love that it's reinvigorated the town. France has some really lovely examples of this because they are so proud of and respectful of their local heritage that many towns can be supported this way -- of course, it is France, so much of the local colour is cuisine and produce!

Just an update, pupper is sleeping in the crate now! He's happy to get in and settle himself with the door open, he's not always popping out. You were right about increasing duration, and I also did a few sessions just increasing the crate's positive value, and practising 'in your bed' and settle. He's also much quicker and quieter to settle at night if the closed door is needed. I still don't use it for time outs -- he is really really good at 'place', so I use that instead. It helps that I read the signs of over-stimulation much better now and can ask for incompatible behaviours. 

Also for anyone that reads this and is trying to stop barking before it becomes a problem Kikopup has a great article -- we've been working on rewarding if I hear a noise and he doesn't react to it, and capturing calm while noises/distractions are present, to show him he doesn't need to react. Outside he can still be a pain in the bum but inside where I've been able to be consistent he has really improved, so it's working!

Plus starting some flat work and body awareness training has been setting his little mind fizzing.

Here he is growing up  into the most handsome good boy :wub: he's almost that blurry in real life!

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