It’s not surprising that a Border Collie who has spent the first year of his life on a remote farm in Ireland is terrified of traffic and wants to round people up like they are sheep. Cabra is one such dog, now aged about two and a half. A few days ago I went to Lottie, another Collie with similar issues. It’s probable, because Cabra has knee problems already, that he was worked from too young an age and then dumped when no longer useful.
What a beautiful looking dog!
The home situation is tricky because he lives with a lady and her very elderly parents, both with mobility problems. Each time the old gentleman gets up and slowly walks towards the door, Cabra circles him and when he’s through the door and no longer in sight, charges from room to room, barking quite ferociously. Cabra has run of the house and circles the man on the stairs too. It’s dangerous – it’s only a matter of time before he causes the man fall.
Cabra is wary of all people except his family and their carer, but he is worst when they leave, with his frantic ’rounding up’ and distress at the door.
The first priority is to manage the situation so that Cabra is out of the way when the gentleman is moving about. He should no longer have free run of the house to come and go as he likes – it’s only his humans who should be able to do that.
Psychologically what needs to be worked on is Cabra’s acceptance that people moving about are not his responsibility, and he needs to learn other behaviours instead that are incompatible with herding. Once he has started into the behaviour he is deaf to instruction, so forward planning is necessary.
Cabra is absolutely terrified on walks, terrified of nearly everything including traffic and other dogs, but this is another tricky aspect as the parent’s carer is having to walk him and hasn’t the time to work on this – and it’s not her job.
They have had him for about a year and he has gained some confidence, but here is a lot of work to do, and the degree to which he improves will depend upon how much the people are able to do, both physically and time-wise. Slowly he should become less fearful and be able to calmly to accept people leaving.