|Barked: Thu Nov 20, '08 10:10am PST |
|I think that BCs have a bad name for being bad around young kids. Sometimes you do get a dog that just can't handle the pressure. But a three year old dog, properly raised, should be able to resist the urge to fly randomly at things that don't suit him.
I have a two year old dog with a very "hot" nature and it's been six months or so that he's had plenty of self control available to be able to help hold a bunch of sheep for me - with lambs popping around here and there - without randomly flying in and taking hold of something.
So, it's the raising and the training, I believe, that's at fault here. And the good news is that it can still be corrected, though we are approaching a milestone between "moderately easy" to correct and "requiring the help of professionals" both in terms of his age and the number of times he's been allowed to connect effectively.
I'd stop the eternal ball playing. Now. It can come back later. It's time to treat this dog like a dog and not like a Magic Auto-Fetcher.
He needs a routine of exercise, training, and close interaction with the family. No time to himself other than in a crate. To anyone that might demur at this, if he had had a horrible car accident with massive internal damage, the vet would crate him for extended periods to save his life.
This dog's life is on the line. The structured routine, combined with crate rest, is the easiest way for a busy family to modify this complex mix of personality traits (needing retraining) and unwanted behaviors (requiring reshaping).
I tell people to write up a little schedule and post it. Everyone in the house helps with the schedule, even the little ones. For a while, walks need to be on leash, and quite frequent (but not necessarily long).
If there's not enough time to enroll in a training class, purchase a good video or book with a step-by-step progression reinforcing some area of training (obedience, rally, backyard agility). Also, get another book with trick training instructions. This will guide another daily training session. During a third training session, combine the two.
As with the walks, it's more important that these sessions be frequent and very regular with regard to time of day and sequence - but not so important as to length. Five mintes for each session is really fine, though longer is nice too if it can be managed.
In about three weeks, this dog will stop thinking, "What's in it for me?" and will have assumed the attitude of "What will these wonderful people do next?" and because the routine is predictable, Chauncey will actually have the answer! And that makes dogs really happy. They like to sit around and feel like they have answers - as long as Chauncey's brain is working, he won't feel the need to take matters into his own paws. Continued work on simply keeping his life calm and structured will teach him that it's not necessary to make these decisions.
Finally, what about that beloved ball? Possibly in about six months, the ball can be re-introduced. I'd recommend strongly doing this in the context of brainwork rather than blind, brainless fetching. Attach a series of commands that can be done with the ball as a reward - around the legs, through the legs, weave, directional send-outs ("right" "left").
And as a reward for all that work, the family will have, in the place of a menace to society, a dog that everyone envies. But they'll have to be sure to tell everyone how much work that dog was! Does anyone remember Eddie, the dog on Frasier? Eddie was, a pound rescue slated for destruction for aggressive behavior. He is still not a very nice dog. But he's supremely controllable and dependable around high-dollar actors (can you imagine the liability if a dog slashed open the face of a million-dollar-a-day actress?). What makes him a "bad" dog is also what makes him a super-cool dog - high intelligence and cleverness and a heightened awareness of his surroundings. His handler simply replaced that with a heightened awareness of what SHE wants from him, so even if he's covering his eyes, he is ready for and can sense cues from his human partner.
Border Collies are a whole breed that is bred to crave that kind of partnership and when plunked down into busy families with small kids, sometimes that sensibility can go astray for a while.
I hope they can work this out.
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