Resource guarding, lunging at cars and 'mouthing' - amongst other things!

by Hil and Tony
(England)

Our beautiful Border Collie is farm bred. We were led to believe she was the runt of the litter and was being picked on by her siblings - hence she was taken away from the litter. She was 11 weeks old when we got her and is now 8 months old.

We attend training classes with her, but realize we have a heck of a long way to go! She's doing fine with the usual sit, stay etc. commands, walks quite well on a 'gencon' and is doing well with socializing with other dogs and people, but she is SO nervous of everyday things!! She's getting there slowly with the recall exercises.

We cannot let her off the lead where we exercise her as it is by a main road and she lunges at cars! When we leave home, she will only go to the right, never to the left so we can't change our walking plans.

Basically she's frightened of her own shadow!

We ARE making progress with her as regards dropping a toy, letting us pick it up and throw it for her again...but she won't let us pick things up off the floor, be it a stray bit of kibble,a piece of cotton etc. She dives on our hand. Also, she continues to 'nibble' us (mouthing?). We think that maybe she looks on us as members of her litter?

We are wondering whether to arrange another training course for her or should we be seeking advice from a behaviourist?

Many thanks for your kind attention.

ANSWER

My first advice is to tell you to hire a good dog trainer or behaviourist, but make sure you find a positive trainer that can teach you how to help your dog without any punishment. Using punishment with dogs that are afraid can only make things worse! Instead you want to build your dogs confidence.

Second, you need to learn about Sistematic Desensitization and Counterconditioning. These two techniques will help you design a plan to help your furry friend overcome his fears. It takes time and patience but it can be done.

You can also try to be creative when trying to help change her fears. For example, when going out for a walk, start to your right as always. After 10 steps try to go back the other way. Wait until your dog walks one step to the left, then reward her by continuing the walk to the right. Repeat this many times along the way, when you notice he is getting more comfortable, ask for two steps to the left...and so on. You need to go slowly though, always ask for something your pooch is likely to be able to do and succeed.

Third, start training your dog with a clicker. Then enhance your pets creativity by playing the 101 things to do with a box game. Even though this might seem a little silly at first, it can help build your pooch's confidence. Besides, border collies are amazingly smart and need a lot of physical as well as mental exercise.

Let us know your progress!



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