Border Collie is bored and unfulfilledJess is a beautiful six-month-old Border Collie living in an environment not ideally suited to a young dog, let alone a clever working dog.

She lives in a shared house with her owners – the man is home all day and with health problems – where one of the other lodgers stirs her up with excitement and fuss and where the other shouts at her because he doesn’t want her near him.

The couple’s only room is crowded with a lot of things lying about for a bored, attention junky puppy to run off with. Because of how this is handled, she is now becoming growly. When I was there she was flying all over the sofas and people until I put her on lead; she stands behind the seated gentleman and humps him. She just looks at him when he calls her and has growled and snapped when she doesn’t want to be touched.

The sort of tug-of-war they play will be teaching her to growl and hang onto things. I would say that although they have taken time to teach her training tricks and unquestionably have her best interests at heart, she is a very confused young dog, with little self-control and no boundaries that she understands. Unintentionally, Jess has been taught by her humans to guard her food, to steal things, to growl when they try to prise them off her, and to jump all over people.

A major problem with Jess’ environment is that there is nowhere to put her away so that they can have a break or so she can have short ‘time-out’ to calm down.

To help any dog there is more involved than behaviour work alone. The environment needs to be managed also, and in this case it’s going to be tricky.

I cannot imagine any of my dogs growling at me for any reason. They are by no means perfectly ‘trained’ but that’s not what I’m into, but if I call them they are eager to come. If they have something they will give it up immediately because I’m always fair and do an exchange. I fostered a dog with guarding problems and she was just the same with me. If I wanted to touch their food while they were eating I’m sure I could – but why would anyone want to do this? They love a fuss. I have primary control over these things and my dogs don’t; I don’t lavish them needlessly and I’m sensitive to my dogs’ own wishes and needs.

Jess’ owners are very committed to helping their lovely dog, so I hope they can work around their difficulties and Jess can grow up to be the wonderful-natured dog she is cut out to be.

Just had a message, one month later: “It as if we have a different dog thank you”.
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