Another Herding and Scared Border Collie from Ireland

Border Collie spent first year of her life on farm in IrelandIt’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.

Terrified of Traffic and Rounds People Up

Lottie is a small Border Collie mix, stretching out on the sofaLittle Lottie is a sweetie. She is a very small Border Collie mix, eighteen months of age. She lives with a couple and their two teenage sons.

Lottie is a stressy little dog, highly reactive to things and easily scared. She is also a brave little dog, constantly facing things that terrify her. She is scared of traffic even if it’s at a distance. She runs away from her lead before leaving the house – because she knows she will have to walk along a road.

Her life is confusing. She is taken to training classes of the old-school ‘domination’ type and her male owner wants a ‘controlled’ dog. There are quite a lot of commands and demands made upon her, whilst also overwhelming (to her), excitable type of hands-on play and affection.

The problem I was called out for is that she fixates and paces around the boys when they are moving about – almost rounding them up. Their response is to be angry, shout at her or order her into her crate. She is a dog that would respond to a whisper, so everything is ‘too much’.

I believe this is not an issue to attack head on, as it is a symptom of other things. She needs less stress and she needs to feel protected. She needs leadership of a type she recognises – calm, quiet and consistent. A leader she can trust not to lead her near ‘danger’. Twice a day she has to face the terror of traffic. I hope they will be able to avoid this altogether for a little while and then slowly work on the problem around her comfort threshold, gradually getting nearer to traffic. It could take a long time.

The rounding up problem, strangely, only happens when the lady is about, but we have a plan!

This little dog is highly intelligent and I feel she needs stimulation of the sort that doesn’t over-excite or put too many demands upon her. Teaching her to use her brain with a clicker will be a good substitute for some of the stuff she is currently getting. Clicker is an art in itself and the timing has to be right.

They want to do what is best for their delightful little dog. I hope they will ease back on the pressure of ‘training’ and ‘discipline’ and let Lottie work things out for herself.