I am new and need serious help. I have an overall great 10 month old male, neutered, border collie (we've owned for 6 months). He is great at home and great with my children (2 yrs old, 6 yrs old, 8 yrs old). He gets plenty of outside time (3-4 hours a day running, frisbee, hiding the ball, etc..etc...) and is also occupied inside with games such as find the ball, basic obidence, and toy time. He is crate trained and has no problems going in when he needs quiet time. All in all, he is a great short hair.....though he has a problem with fear aggresion....to the point where for the first time tonight he left our property and crossed the street and confronted 2 ten year old girls. Before, it has always been centered around territory and confronting strangers advancing upon it...though tonight was the first where he actually pushed his way out of the door, left our yard, and confronted strangers across the street. This is my wife's first experience with a BC and she is less than thrilled with this behavior....tonight might be the icing on the cake...unless I can get some answers here. She wants to give him up for rescue and we have already had a huge blow up tonight about it. He has never really shown these problems with me and I was shocked when I heard he confronted the two girls. To the best of my knowledge, I think he may have been watching them from the picture window and when my wife came inside from work, he pushed his way out and headed directly over to them. -----Also, when we first got him he was diagnosed with Kennel Cough ( within the first few days). He spent almost a week and a half at the vet's 75% of his lungs were filled. We were in every day to see him and spend time with him....though could this possibly be prompting his fear aggression or could there be something more deeply rooted here? PLEASE HELP, I am in love with this dog and want to help his behavior.
What do you mean when you say he 'confronted' the two girls? Barked at them?
It sounds like he has expanded what he considers his 'territory' to include the immediate area around your house, and has taken it upon himself to expand protect that territory when strangers intrude. This is not fear aggression, it's normal territorial aggression, and many dogs display this characteristic. Fear aggression is when a dog feels cornered and can't escape and bites out of fear.
You didnt' say whether or not your back yard is fenced in or not for your play time, so I wasnt' sure if when you guys play with him, he's allowed off leash in an unfenced area in the front yard, or only in a fenced area of the back yard or what. If your yard is fenced in, I suggest you keep all his play times confined to that fenced in area. If you don't have a fenced in yard... it's time to have a fence installed. In the mean time don't let him off the leash, since he cant' be trusted.
Given that he's showing territorial aggression, you need to make sure that he is always on a leash when he's not in a fenced in area. So if youre in the front yard, he needs to be on a leash, so he can't go off wherever he wants. I realize that this seriously restrains what he can do and where he can go, but truly it's for his own safety if he's charging off to confront people. It also has the potential to make him limit his territory to the area inside the fence.
You need to make sure your kids and your wife understand that letting him outside to roam free and unleashed and unfenced is a big no-no under any and all circumstances. And to put it bluntly, your wife saying you need to get rid of the dog over what in dogs is a normal behavior to me indicates she isnt making the life-long commitment to being a responsible pet owner. THink of the effect that getting rid of your children's beloved dog would have on them? My daughter is 7 and she'd be devastated if we told her we were getting rid of one of our two dogs. Not to mention, you don't want to be teaching your kids that pets are a 'disposable' commodity, when they become inconvenient.
Leashing the dog when he's outside and unfenced is a very simple solution that's safe for everyone involved. And it doesn't require the drastic measure of 'getting rid of the dog' for what is, again, a normal behavior in canines.
Never trust a tall dwarf... he's lying about something.
Its not so much barking....rather than growling and being very standoffish. He does not trust other individuals and we have gone to socialization classes with him....where he had a major problem of fear aggresion. Tail tucked underneath him, growling at people who approach, and trying to crawl behind my legs....he has improved with this...at least with me. As far as outside play, we had done a mixture of both....leash and no leash, but no leash is only done in our back yard. We do have a fenced in area in our back yard and this is where all of his play time takes place, except for jogging time which takes place with me. I guess in short my question is.....is ten months to old for behavior modification? Where could I go to find a "good" BC behaviior specialist? Keep in mind, we are not trying to change his normal BC behavior, only the aggression, whether it is territorial or fear aggression....it is not acceptable. He is good with my in-laws, my parents, my children, and their friends....its just everyone else he doesn't know seems to be looked at as a threat. My wife is afraid that he is a ticking time bomb and that one of these days he will take it a step further and actually make contact with someone. Don't get me wrong, she is very connected to the BC and plays with him just as much as I do....but is afraid for not our well-being, but the dog's as well. She wants me to give him to my parents who have twelve acres on a Quarter Horse ranch in the country....the only problem is I don't want to let him go and I am afraid his herding instinct might cause trouble with my parents horses....being that he hasn't had any real exposure to them. My parents do have an aussie cattle dog and they do get along good, but it boils down to me not wanting to part with him.
That to me sounds more like a protection problem I had with one of my aussie bitches. After she had her first litter, she became very protective of her area, no matter how big she thought it was. Anyone walking down the street near our property was a target. She was extremly well obediance trained, and we did herding so she was an amazing listner. I kept her in the back yard only. She was never allowed up front to play, and if our behinde neighbors were out, then she was on a 50ft chain. It gave us peice of mind and the 50ft was plenty of room to play. Most of the time we were not out as the same time as our neighbors, and we had trees on the sides of the property so see couldn't see them. I would suggest a fence and alot of obediance. Most herding breeds can be very protective, did you socialize him alot when he was younger. I tell all my puppy buyers to take my pups everywhere. The vet could have made him fearful, but he should of gotten better as he got older and was introduced to new things. I still say try obediance classes, you may see a world of difference. Esp. if he is pushing out the door. he should be tought to wait no matter what is outside.
Also, he doesn't spook easily...meaning he isn't afraid of cars, loud noises, garbage truck. His composure is pretty good for a BC of ten months....except for when a stranger approached either him or "his" territory. I have read that sometimes this type of aggression has to be checked with force...such as jerking the chain, grabbing the collar, fake growling at your dog and then correcting, etc..etc... I am not a big fan of using physical force to correct my dog, thinking that it might backfire and further instill his unacceptable behavior, though at the same time I am careful not to reinforce this behavior with praise, such as "Oh, thats okay boy...don't be scared". Any ideas on this...any success stories? We have done the socialization piece and continue to go to the vet's, PETCO, Main Street, parks, strangers with treats....
Sorry, I was typing my last reply when I saw I had a new poster offering help. He is 99% of the time great with obidence. He knows that all of us....including my 2.5 yr old are his masters. Though, as expected with a border...there are times where he gets obsessive compulsive and has to complete whatever task he thinks is neccesary....which to him is confronting these strangers. Do you think a behavior specialist will help at all?
I understand your not wanting to use physical force to correct your dog but I personally don't see a collar tug and a firm 'no' as being overly forceful. Especially if what you're currently doing isn't working. You really need to make him understand that his behavior is completely unacceptable. In my opinion, coming down on him harsher than he is used to will help reinforce how much you really do not want to see this behavior exhibited in him.
Never trust a tall dwarf... he's lying about something.
In my opinion, you need to get this dog working, or in active competition. I personally don't recommend a Border Collie as a family pet, and before everyone starts screaming, it's for a simple reason. They are a dog with a huge drive to work. Unless you can keep him very busy, which will also include a lot of socialization, an animal behaviourist is a good idea. I do believe though that his or her advice will be to direct the dog into some long and regular work.Good luck with him.
This is the problem with dogs. People do not want them to be dogs. Why would an animal who is naturally protective of it's territory be expected to act any other way. I doubt a job will do anything for this behavior. I have working dogs. I work them daily. given the chance any one of them would behave the same. This is not fear, This is a natural instinct.
And dogs do not understand social graces. They do not know it's "unacceptable". They understand...does it work? or does it not? Will I get punished or rewarded for this.
This is not a socialization issue either. I bet the dog acts totally different in neutral locations. This is a protection instinct. Some dogs have it more than others.
My experience with training and these types of behaviors is that they rarley change, and if they do they are contigent upon oppurtunity to do it. Like the dog runs out...barks and gets shocked by a collar. then they do not do it. but once they learn when the collar is off they can do it, they will go right back to it.
The only thing I have found that works is that I have to take responsability and not let my dog get itself into these situations. You can train other behaviors like leaving out the door without permission is dangerous....because I will correct you. And I will reward you for waiting.
What you are trying to train out of the dog is 14,000 years of genetic evolution. This drive is as strong in the dog as the drive to eat, drink and breed is.
You could also try keeping the dog in the house. and every time the dog sees people outside, just start stuffing it's face with food. Hopefully instead of getting riled up and wanting to go confront the person, they will look to you for more food. It's no different than putting a behavior to a command. but instead of a command the presence of people becomes the cue (command) to come get food. then when you see that. you can teach the dog to go lay down somewhere (the same spot everytime or you can use a towel and move it around) then when see the people they will come looking for food, put them in there spot to go lay down, and then reward.
I believe a dog's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment he holds dear, is when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-with a ball in his mouth."
Working and exercising is not the issue. I am currently training for police and fire tests....and also a former Marine. I run close to two miles a night and my BC loves it. When I come home and go into my closet to get my jogging shoes...he is right there with his tail wagging because he knows what is coming. He is also involved in frisbee, fetch, hide the ball, basic agility, etc...etc... on a daily basis, we give him jobs to do whether it is inside the house or outside, granted he is not running and herding like my two other BCs did growing up (I grew up on a 15 acre farm), but he is never the less, still being worked. I have a very active family and between my wife, my oldest son (who works agility with him), my sister-inlaw, and myself(also agility with him), he spends close to fours hours a day being active. He is overall outside in our fenced in back yard for almost half the day...with human contact...not just turned out and locked out. I have had two other BC's in my life and am fully aware of their drive to work and please their master. This is also the first time he has crossed the street and confronted someone. My wife and I don't have a problem with him alerting to adult strangers entering our yard, but when he crosses the street and confronts two ten year old girls????? Also, before there is any mention of it, we do not reward him for alerting to strangers within our yard, we have tried to correct it, but we are willing to accept the fact he is protective of his territory, but when his territory consists of across the street and two houses down....that seems to be a little much.
Worst case scenario...build a run where the dog is kept when company or children are visiting, secure the yard, very well, and continue with the long exercise program.Possibly consider muzzling him, although I hate that idea. Basically everything to protect the dog, and the humans he has contact with. What else can you do?
I have a 12-yr-old border collie (female), who was very hostile to strangers in her youth. She would threateningly bark and growl at any strangers that got close to us during our leashed time outside. I dealt with it by avoiding getting such proximity to strangers on our walks that she could hurt them. I regularly told would-be petters that she was unfriendly and pulled her away from them.
Her concept of her territory has been limited to her house and back yard, her body and perhaps me; happily I haven't had to worry about her wanting to protect our front yard from incursions by strangers. However, anyone that she hadn't known since puppyhood who crossed the threshold of our house she met with incredibly fierce barking and growling. I dealt with this by putting her in my car while plumbers, etc, were working in the house. (She was actually happier & quieter there than in the backyard during serviceperson visits, for various reasons, one of them probably being that she was in territorial protection mode while in the backyard, but not while in the car.)
Happily, my border collie turned out to not be bite-oriented. (Through my occasional lapses in vigilance she had opportunities to bite strangers in the house, but she never did.) She gradually got mellower with age. With each of 3 moves to new houses she substantially reduced in territorial behavior - perhaps as she became more mature she didn't as avidly define the new places as territory. Now my dog and I live in a rented room in a house of 3 other humans and 2 other dogs and she shows no territorialism whatsoever.
Your dog going up to the people at the threshold of his home - as he sees it - to fend them off I see as being the same as what my dog did. A border collie in that situation is very upset. It seems ill-advised to respond during the incident in a way that further disturbs the dog. Harsh behavior from us confirms to the dog that the event is rightfully one to get emotional about. I think it's better to get control of the border collie, by leash if voice doesn't work, and, without fuss or upbraiding, guide the dog back into the house or whatever place will keep him/her from bothering the innocent humans. And keep him/her there.
I don't think this behavior of our dogs has any particular relationship to exercise or having/not having work to do.
Somewhere among the other replies to your post some mention is made that your dog might have been looking at the girls through the window before he confronted them. I'm prompted to conjecture that a dog being able to look at the front yard may be more likely to add the front yard (and beyond) to his territorial definition. My dog (who did not territorialize the front yard) did not have the opportunity to see the front yard when she was inside the house.
Whether a dog's humans can deal with the dog's behavioral problem(s) well enough that the humans ultimately have a worthwhile experience with the dog depends not only on the intransigence of the problem(s) and the redeeming qualities of the dog, but also, of course, on what those particular humans like/tolerate/don't like/can easily do/cannot easily do/etc. I was able to put up with and make accommodation for my border collie's less desirable traits, because my lifestyle (solitary), traits and likes happened to fit well enough with her package of pluses and minuses.
I actually think the matter of a border collie's territorialism is more a matter of our management, toleration and ability to ride it out than one of fixing.