Border Collie Hears Bangs and Drops

Mia is very fortunate to live with such dedicated people who have the time to help her with her fear of bangsMia is a real sweetie. She is an 8-year-old Collie/Shepherd cross and sadly had to be found a new home due to her previous family’s change in circumstances. I could go on and on listing her good points.

However, Mia has a problem and it is getting worse. It started with her hearing a bang shortly after she arrived – a gunshot. She dropped to the ground shaking, and refused to move. Over time she has refused to go to places associated with bangs. Then she refused to go to places not knowingly associated with bangs.  Loud noise as such is no problem. It’s sudden surprise bangs that terrify her.

Now Mia, nine times out of ten, simply refuses to get out of the car. This results in all sorts of ploys from her people like throwing her ball to one another to lure her, enticing her or bribing her. Only sometimes does this work.

Now she even drops down and refuses to move out of their driveway for a walk down the road – unikely to be associated with any bangs.

They feel they have tried absolutely everything. ‘Going on strike’ seems to be growing into a habit, reinforced by so much attention, fuss and concern. Although a dog’s hearing is a great deal more accute than our own, most of the time the people can hear nothing.

Mia is much of the time focussed on her ball, wanting it thrown or kicked. Out on walks there is little sniffing and exploring because of the ball. At home, her clever Collie brain is probably understimulated but she is repeatedly worrying over the ball.

So, they will remove balls and ration ball play, introducing brain and scenting games. They will spend as long as it takes walking her around the house and garden, as many times a day as they can, gradually advancing – out of the door but not attempting to go off the drive. When they do step beyond the drive they will come straight back again. All the time she is walking around calmly she can be earning some of her food.

If they see her slow down as though to go on strike, they will immediately and cheerfully turn around and keep her busy. This is a very good time to bring out that ball! I suggest that if she does drop down, to simply wait it out in silence. When she does eventually move, to turn around and go home without a word – like nothing has happened. Play it down.

Exiting the car will be dealt with in a similar way – broken down into small increments.

Most importantly they will work on the original root of the problem – Mia’s fear of bangs, starting with controlled bangs inside the house. She will learn that bangs are associated with either food or her beloved ball. She will learn to look at her people when she hears a bang.

Mia is very fortunate to live with such dedicated people who have the time to do these things. They love her to bits and recognise that as things are getting worse they need to do things differently in order to help her.

Update. An Email From Pogo

Pogo with a friend

Pogo on the right

Fourteen months ago I went to help Pogo (see his story). Here he is on the right in a recent photo with a friend. I just must share his email with you.

Hi Theo, remember me, the mad car chasing, washing machine hooligan, law unto myself (how could you forget me!), the busy rescue collie x lab (or as my mum says apart from my looks I am 100% collie in my outlook on life). I’m just about to turn 2yrs old and what a wonderful last year I have had!

I know that when my mum last e-mailed you, she said how she wished for the day my family could take me on holiday with them. Well it happened and it was great, I’d not had a holiday with a family before. We went to Yorkshire Moors last August and it was fantastic. Who would have thought I would ever be well behaved enough to go on holiday.

We spent most days walking on the moors, going to the beach – that was really good fun, I got to paddle in the sea, went to cafes for lunch where I got lots of goodies, did tricks for any children that wanted to give me a treat (yes, I can do tricks now like sit, paw, down, stay, come, wait and you can put a treat in front of my nose and I will not touch it until I’m told I can). My mum is always telling me what a clever boy I am and she gives me big kisses (yuk), but is always telling me how much my forever family love me.

One of the local ladies actually asked my mum if she would sell me and how much she wanted. My mum’s answer took no thought and firmly told the lady that I was not for sale, for any price. I was very well behaved wherever I went, but was very interested in the funny white fluffy animals on the moors and in the fields, I think my mum called them sheep, I wanted to chase them, but wasn’t allowed to play with them. My family told me many times how proud they were of me…..

I have loads of doggy friends that I meet on walks and even friends who come to our house.

Last week we went to the Fun Dog Show. I had a great time. I did some agility (yes, I can do that now as well and I’m very good at it. In fact I won the very first competition I entered). I’ve also had a go at Flyball and guess what, I’m good at that too (I’m known as the pocket rocket, I may have short legs but I have the speed and stamina of a collie). My girl person took me in the child handler class and you’ll never believe it, we came in 2nd place. What an achievement because a year ago even my mum and dad struggled to handle me. The only bad thing was that I came in 2nd .

Anyway, thought I better take time to write and give you an update. I know my mum has thanked you loads of times, but I would like to thank you for encouraging my family to have patience and give me a chance.

Doesn’t everyone just love happy endings, I am certainly very lucky (and so are my family for having me!).

See you soon,   POGOxxxxxxxxxx

Energetic Adolescent Collie Mix

KieraKiera lives with a gentleman and his mother. The lady unfortunately is not well and seldom goes out. She is not really up to looking after an energetic young dog all day, but her son brought Kiera home.

Whenever six-month-old Border Collie Kiera does something the lady doesn’t want, she is shouted at. NO! Mostly she ignores her. The lady unfortunately hasn’t the mobility to quickly get up and move her away. After all, she’s not being taught what is good behaviour, only being scolded for bad. Scolding does at least get her attention under her own terms.

During the day she spends too much time creating her own stimulation. She is digging in the garden, wrecking the plants and becoming possessive of a spot under a bush. Then, when the gentleman comes home in the evening, she is over-stimulated by him. Excitement and stress causes her fly at them, attack feet, bite clothes, and to be destructive – she scratches at chairs, carpets and walls. She is deaf to NO. She barks continually at him until he takes her out. Which he does.

Throughout her puppy-hood Kiera has been learning that bad behaviour gets the attention. She has to be doing something with her active brain, after all. She is fed on a commercial brand of food known to cause hyperactivity because it contains additives and colourings. She is also give lots of unhealthy extras and taught to be a nuisance at mealtimes by being fed from their plates. She has so many unearned tit-bits that food rewards have no value.

Meals need to be regular and healthy, and treats earned. Then, when she’s doing something they don’t want, it will be sufficient to call her away and divert her onto something else, because she will realise this is when she gets a treat – not doing nothing at all or just to shut her up.

Kiera needs some boundaries. Kiera’s behaviour is so clearly a result of the behaviour of the humans in her life. People need to be consistent, calm, patient and kind. She needs encouragement and reward for the desired behaviour and no attention for unwanted or wild behaviour.


How Can People Do This to a Puppy?

Rescue from Ireland isrelaxed and happyHeidi is yet another rescue dog from Ireland. A mixed breed with  some collie in her, she is around one year old and has been in her new home since last March. The poor puppy had been found with wire tied around her muzzle – there are the scars – with stones being thrown at her.

In the circumstances she is amazing. She is lovely – affectionate an obedient. Look at her! The lady, an experienced dog owner, has worked very hard with her. She has been to training classes and did exactly what was required of her, but all the time looking totally miserable. They admit to having over-compensated for her start by giving her a great amount of freedom because she ‘loves to run’.This is often out of sight. She is seldom on lead for long, even when leaving the house – which poses a risk. She has upset a neighbour with her behaviour.

The problem that just won’t go away is Heidi’s rushing aggressively at people, and dropping down and stalking dogs, then charging, hackles up, as though to attack. She makes contact but so far has not actually bitten. She is desperate to make them go away. It’s not every person and it isn’t every dog. It will also depend upon her state of mind. Considering her beginning it is not surprising. Normally her recall is excellent, but if they get the timing wrong it is to late.

We had a good look at the world through Heidi’s eyes, along with why dog training as such does not help in times like this. She needs to be rescued from the fear she feels, and only her humans can do that for her by how they behave. A natural reaction is to be cross out of embarrassment if nothing else, but this will only add further stress to the situation by her associating people and dogs with unpleasant stuff.

For starters Heidi needs to be saved from herself. It needs to be made absolutely impossible for her to do this again, and this means an end to all this off-lead freedom for now.  It will do her no harm at all and in fact may make her feel more secure to have owners who take over the role of decision-making.

How would Heidi expect a leader to behave in the face of perceived danger?

I received this email about seven weeks later: “I am really still so pleased and suprised how much Heidi has changed, the main improvement with her is the calmness that she shows now all the time.  This shows in her behaviour around the home as well as outside and because she is spending more time on the lead, when I do let her off she does not now go far away from me and constantly comes back to check with me besides being very good on her recall.   She only does an initial bark at anyone coming to the door and then looks for me to come and thank her and follows me inside.  She is far more relaxed and I feel that there is a much stronger bond between us now and that she looks to me much more now. We still have good days and bad days with other dogs we meet but there is definite improvement and I do realise that this is going to be the problem that will take the longest but there is definetly a huge improvement and there are instances when she will pass another dog and almost ignore them which never happened before so baby steps but they are going forward”.
I can’t thank you enough for showing me where we were going wrong with Heidi and to be honest I feel so much more relaxed now and have no worries about walking Heidi anywhere and she is sooo worth it. and such an affection little girl and she appears to be far more confident now”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.