When I took this photo yesterday of two-year-old Poppy I didn’t realise she had a halo!nervous Border Collie with halo

Poppy was a very nervous puppy from the start. They have worked hard with her and have come a long way. However, typical of her breed but exceptionally so with Poppy, she is very highly tuned and sensitive. A sound that might make some dogs barely open their eyes, has Poppy running for cover.

A couple of times she has gone for men’s legs – fortunately not breaking skin – and she is a scared ‘Collie chaser’ – of traffic and horses. She sometimes walks with four Cocker Spaniels, and spends the entire walk rounding them up, which unsurprisingly annoys one of them.[divider type=”white”]

Too boisterous for the nervous Border Collie

Although she is an excellent family dog and lovely with their little boy, family life may not be ideally suited to her. Not only should she be a working dog, but also the nervous Border Collie can’t cope with lots of noise and action. Her very sociable male owner would admit that he is on the boisterous side! He ‘rough-houses’ with her and can be volatile with a fairly short fuse.

The signs of fear aggression are getting worse. Instead of understanding her sensitivity and working with it, an angry response is adding fuel to the situation. Not only is she scared of approaching men she does’t know and of some dogs, at the same time she has to be scared of her own humans because they may act, to her, irrationally when she feels she is defending herself.[divider type=”white”]

Reducing stress levels vital

Confidence boosting with Poppy is all about keeping her stress levels as low as possible. Stress builds up at a faster rate than it dissipates. Subjecting her to unecessary things that can be avoided like the lawn mower, machinery, dragging her past barking dogs, indulging in over-stimulating play, sounding cross with her, allowing access to the front window to watch and bark at things going past the house, leaving her to rush up and down in the garden barking at horses behind the hedge, and finally a diet with too high a protein content – all mean her ‘stress bucket’ is constantly on the point of overflowing.

She needs some breed-specific enrichment to counter the urge to chase and herd.

From a calmer base the nervous Border Collie will be able to handle some of the unavoidable things life throws at her, like fortnightly gun shoots in the field behind. We can’t always just change the dog. It’s the humans that need to change what they do.