December 28, 2008

Curious George: Help my bored puppy get smart . My new 10 months old Border Collie is going bananas with boredom because I can't go play on my bunged up foot. Help me figure out what sort of tricks I can teach her while stuck in a chair or a walker.

Crazy Daisy-dog does sit, down, shake, small speak, get your toy, find a biscuit under a rug, and is learning roll over and where's your butt (for scritches and handling a timid dog's tail.) What else can I teach her? I'm not having much luck with sit (beg) My fault, I'm sure. Also, anyone have suggestions on curing the icky licky dog thing? She's much better, but still can't stand not to swipe a tongue once in a while. Both the licking and the awful barking are subsiding, but both of us being stuck indoors isn't helping (she gets soaked to the skin and freezes, so has to come in and warm up) Give me something to consider, Monkeykids!

  • Clarification: She can seem to get sitUP! My other dogs learned best by a sit, then UP on their haunches rather then a different command of beg, although I know many people use a different word. I haven't even tried stay--way too bouncy a dog at this point and not enough exercise to wear her down to focus. (I've had best luck teaching that on long walks)
  • have you considered getting her a subscription to Netflix?
  • Seriously tho, are there any nice local kids/friends/friends' kids that you trust enough to take her out for a walk for you while you can't? I haven't had a dog since I was a kid myself, but I know Border Collies love to be active, and probably won't be happy without some serious busy time. If that's not an option, is there a local pet-walking service that you could employ to keep her entertained?
  • Dr. Dog, aka Bones. Once a friend's dog came up from behind and started licking the bottoms of my feet while I was sitting, minding my own business. What a great, weird experience! The dog seemed to enjoy it too. But would this kind of trick be good, or therapeutic even, on your poor, injured foot? Two problems solved then. (Good luck with your toe repair in any case!)
  • You could try contacting a Border Collie society, see if they have any members/contacts in your area (to help with walking), or if they can give you some ideas about getting all that energy directed somewhere. Reading A Border Collie Warning, they can be quite a handful. They say that "mental exercises are often the most exhausting" for Border Collies. Could be worth trying to get some more detail around what they are talking about. It also says that the dogs can overanalyse everything, with a tendency to interpret the same command, delivered two different ways, as two entirely different commands.
  • find a biscuit under a rug Not sure how specific that is, so this might be the same, but can you do "find it", where you hide, say, several little pieces of a smelly treat in different bits of the room (or house, when more advanced), let her sniff, and then tell her to find it? And is your own mobility up to that? Or you could start teaching her words for objects, and a command to get them - there was a recent National Geographic article that discussed a border collie with a remarkable vocabulary.
  • My aunt had good luck teaching her dogs to beg with a combo of hand signals and words. She gives them a thumbs up and says "sit nice!" and they're up like champs. My dog Steve even learned one weekend by mistake, but this aunt could teach any dog anything.
  • Poly: Thanks for the links. Too bad the people I got Daisy from hadn't read your second post before they got her and made her into a spaz! Hard to say that I 'rescued' her, as she was not ill-treated or hungry, but mentally, the people had been doing all the wrong things for a BC. Solitary confinement away from people, allowing her to bark continually, not socalizing, no training in basic commands (sit/stay/come) I almost didn't get her as when I went to see her she ran at me, barked and snapped, and then barked CONTINUOUSLY the whole half-hour I tried to talk to her former owner. Was sure Mr. BH would NOT be thrilled, and kept thinking I should drive off...but. Finally asked for a collar and leash and briskly walked her down the street away from the owner ignoring the barking, but demanding a heel position. Took about a block--no bark, nice heel. After a couple more blocks, I stopped and positioned her in a sit. Kept walking and stopping and asking for a polite dog. After maybe ten minutes, she had it down. Very civilized, eyes on me, thoroughly enjoying the new 'game' and praise. Got her back to the owner's place and it was bark, bark, bark again. Asked if I could bring her back if she didn't work out (they agreed) and took her home. So here she is. She still has a bit of a problem with introductions, but is getting better at meeting people. She'll never be the quiet, wise type of BC, but she's smart and willing. Any problems she has at this point are simply my not being able to actively work with her. Oddly enough, Mr. Cheese, she won't GO with anyone else! Madly dances to get leash on, but even if Mr. BH takes her, she drags and whines the whole way, he says. She actually snapped at a friend who tried. She and I have bonded in a pretty strong fashion.
  • Are you using a wheelchair? Because Rumpus Room Iditarod could be a lot of fun.
  • Sounds as if Daisy-dog and BlueHorse are a pretty good match - both smart, headstrong and just a little crazy (in a good way, of course):) I'd bet that Daisy, being a Border Collie, is smart enough to realize that GramMa ain't feeling her usual chipper self too. Maybe some particularly complicated dog toys would help until you can both get outside for some regular romping about? Or you could get her a puppy to keep her company. I'm sure Mr. BH would go along with that.
  • Too bad I don't live closer, or I'd volunteer! I have started walking someone else's 3 month-old Newfoundland. He's a real sweetie, but when we're out on the leash, he forgets all about me. I may as well be a giant block of cement trailing at the end of the leash, for all he cares. I welcome suggestions on A) getting him to understand that I'm the boss, and those random noises you keep hearing? That is me, trying to tell you things, HELLO DOWN THERE. And B) not to lunge forward with big sloppy excitement at every single person who passes. He's a dainty 50lbs now, so it's not so bad. It's going to be a lot worse 6 months from now, when he weighs 150lbs. I'm strongly motivated to teach him good leash manners NOW. Halp? Oh, and I suggest teaching Daisy which toy is which, by name, and asking her to pick them out of a lineup and bring them to you. Then teach her the names of the TV remote, leash, car keys, wallet, whatever. It won't take long before she's bringing you everything you could possibly need, and you'll hardly have to lift a finger! That can be her job. Border collies like having a job.
  • Mechagrue, GREAT idea!! I started teaching her the names of her toys, and I bought a couple new heavy-duty ones--a kong and a tire. So far she knows 'ball', 'tire', 'kong', and generic 'toy', which is a plastic jug she rattles and bangs all over the yard. I never thought to teach her leash, remote, etc. Tomorrow we start!!! I found a site that detailed how to teach bow and say prayers, so I'm going to try that, too. Goofy dogs that won't heel drive me nuts. The way I've always taught them (and I've had some hard-heads) is to walk out where there are few distractions (esp. no pets or people) Take lots of soft chewy dog treats or all-beef hotdogs cut up very small and put them in a little pouch or big pocket so their easy to get at. Hopefully you can do a training session without having to have the dog drag you somewhere before you begin. Take a short hold on the leash so the dog is by your leg and tie a knot in it so it doesn't slip. Make the dog sit next to you. Give reward (does sit, I hope?) Say heel, and walk three steps, stop, and say sit. Put the dog down in sit position if necessary. Reward. Keep doing that varying the amount of steps you take but never more than ten at a time and always in a straight line. Always say heel when you start, and always have the dog sit immediately when you stop. Give the reward after the dog sits. Try to use both your voice and a hand signal. Shortly you should be able to use just the hand signal. You want to hold the hotdog above the dog's head and move it toward it's back--that should put him sitting and raising his head to you. No sit, no reward. Say your command only ONCE, then physically put the pup into position at heel or sitting with either the leash or by hand. Pup should be watching you like a hawk by now for treats. Usually only takes about ten reps, if not, keep it up till pup gets it. Start again in the sit position, but now you're going to walk four or five steps and turn suddenly away from the dog in a quick 180 degree turn. Right before you turn, say heel as you hold out the treat in the direction you're going, and tug. If the dog doesn't respond and stay by your leg, you're going to surprise him and pull him around suddenly. Sometimes they surprise you and come right around, and sometimes you have to jerk. If he comes right around, give him the treat immediately. Do this again and again--maybe ten times. Vary your steps--walk four and turn, walk ten and turn, throw in a stop/sit. Start heeling again, walk three, turn, etc. Keep turning away from the dog, and reward him if he comes around nicely.
  • When he gets that reasonably consistently, you want to turn into the dog next. Start walking. Have a treat in the leash hand this time. Say heel as you hold the treat out and do a 180. Most of the time you walk right into the dog, and that's ok. They need to learn to move out of your way. Say heel again, get the dog into position, walk three or four steps, and turn into the dog. After you walk into him and bump him a couple times, he'll get the idea and finally move. Reward him when he comes around nicely out of your way. Every time you reward him, make a big fuss over him. Pat his chest when he sits and talk in a high silly voice about what a great doggy he is. Dogs LOVE praise, and while they originally will work for treats, if you couple the treat and the praise, they eventually will consider praise from you as good as or better than a treat. Hopefully you'll feel like you've made progress. Ideally, you could do this routine twice a day for three or four days and exercise him off a leash by throwing a ball or something. Now you get to take Muttly for a walk. If he's smart and amiable he will let you continue with a training session on your walks and make keep making progress. You have to keep his attention by stopping, starting, and turning around both directions, 90, 180, and even 360 turns. If he lunges, you turn into the rock and nobody goes nowhere. Keep insisting on the heel and the stop/sit. You might not make it two blocks from home. When someone comes near, tell him heel. If he lunges, say HEEL and make an IMMEDIATE 180. Try to take him away far enough that he can't make contact with the person. Wrap the leash around your hip and growl at him. Make him understand in no uncertain terms that you are not a happy person, that you want him to sit. When he finally does, immediately become that happy person with a treat and praise. If people are willing to play along, you could toss them a treat and have them feed him if he continues to stay seated when they approach. Good luck. If it works, great! If not, and it might not, depending on your circumstances, find a puppy obedience school that you can work with the pup while learning yourself. You'll have fun, pup will have fun, and it will be well worth it even if it isn't your dog, as you can transfer that knowledge to other dogs in the future. Now, back to combing the net for Daisy tricks!
  • BlueHorse, you're like that guy on the TV! Except cooler.
  • Thanks, GramMa! I will try that on our walk today. Cesar Romero tries my patience, although I can't quite put my finger on why. Something about his talk about "energy modes" and "passive listening mode" versus "anxious aggressive mode" or whatever just makes me roll my eyes. I'm a Victoria Stilwell ("It's Me or the Dog") fan, myself.
  • Dude, magic!!! I decided to put him on Academic Probation. We spent 10 minutes working in the parking lot at the far end of town, then took a stroll up and down the length of the main street. By the end of it, he was looking up politely at people when we passed them, instead of lunging forward and slobbering madly. (Although when someone did finally stop and pet and coo over him, he was so excited that he peed. Not on her shoe, thank goodness.) I am writing up a big list of dos and don'ts for his owner, so that she can maintain a consistent message with him until he's had the sense beat into his giant head.
  • Congratulations! Sounds like Mr. Nuuf has plenty of smarts, just hasn't had much lernin'. Hope you can convince his owner to follow your list. Sometimes dogs are easy to train, owners not so much. Hey, at least he doesn't roll over on his tummy and squirt. My last Blue Heeler did that till he was nine months old. Not only did he wind up saturated, but he could squirt three feet!
  • Daisy will probably appreciate a Buster Cube. Put her food in it (kibble), set it on either the easy or hard setting, and it'll give her some time pushing the cube around while she gets mental and physical exercise and, eventually, her dinner. My 6-year-old Sheltie (who picks up anything we want to teach her within about 10 minutes, except "no bark," and "leave the food," which are lifelong struggles so far) loves it, though it doesn't keep her occupied for quite as long as it's supposed to. Border Collies are one of the few smarter breeds, so it might entertain Daisy for a while.
  • I've been freezing her kong with peanut butter in it. That doesn't exercise her, but it sure keeps her busy!