Fearful Border Collie

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Fearful Border Collie

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Old 07-06-2018, 03:04 PM
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Fearful Border Collie

Hi all,

My fiancÚ and I recently took the leap and adopted a Merle Border Collie female named Rogue. A few months before we got Rogue, her previous owners had ‘accidently’ bred her when she was less than a year. She gave birth to beautiful puppies, but the pregnancy happening at such a young age stunted her growth. She is a little bit smaller than your average adult female BC, weighing in at about 30-35 pounds. We were told she was mildly anxious but warmed up fairly quickly to new people. Of course, we fell in love! We made the two hour trip to get her and bring her home with us. From the beginning, it was very evident that she was not just fearful, she was extremely scared of just about everything but women. She adores people, but is a little weird around men. She also has a continence problem when people touch her. My boyfriend made the mistake of sternly telling her “Rogue, no” when she had put her snout in our cats litter box and was shuffling the litter around, that she peed herself on the kitchen floor and ran to hide under our bed. We have never once lay a hand on this beautiful dog, but it is becoming evident that she has serious anxiety and I am doing everything I can to help her and make her feel at ease. For the most part when I call her name she will come, hesitantly, into the living room for some snuggles and pets. She LOVES being pet. There are some times that she comes up to put her head beneath my hand so that I can pat her head, and as soon as I do her tail will wag and she will pee all over the floor. I haven’t gotten mad at her, though sometimes it can be frustrating. It is as if she knows she has done something wrong and will go running underneath our bed again. Today, I finally got her into the bath. Because she has had some continence issues since being with us, she was well overdue for a scrub. She was scared of the water but once I put shampoo on her and coaxed her good behavior throughout the bath, she seemed to not mind it so much. She has never shown any sign of aggression towards me. She is just really scared and I need to know ways I can let her know that whatever happened to her before, won’t happen at her new home. She has been eating grain-free dog food. When I pour her food into her dish, she does not come right away like our smaller maltipoo. She is very timid. Sometimes I will call her name and she will slowly come to the kitchen and I will shake the bowl to let her know it is there. It isn’t until after I leave the kitchen and turn the light off to relax on the couch, that I will see her walk slowly towards the dish and eat. I am happy she is eating at least. She makes small bounds everyday, like when we visited the dog park. I wasn’t sure how she would do with her anxiety, but she had a blast and seemed like a completely healthy dog! She played chase with the other dogs and greeted them with her tail up and wagging. She approached other dog owners at the park for a pet (mainly females), and ran around and played with the other dogs for a solid thirty minutes. She has done well in those areas, I just want her to be comfortable enough to approach us in our home whenever she feels like it. I don’t want her to be so scared when we pet her that she keels over and pees on herself. This was an extremely long post, but I feel a connection with her and I feel horrible that her previous home might have been abusive. I care about her well-being and want her to enjoy her dog life with our family so that can act just like that: a dog.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:39 AM
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Hi madisonalicia,

First of all, let me congratulate you on the wonderful job you're already doing with your dog. She's lucky to be part of your loving family. What you're already doing will pay off in time as she gradually realizes she's safe.

To further lower her overall anxiety, make sure she gets plenty of physical exercise. It's been scientifically proven that physical exercise lowers the stress hormones levels and tends to keep them low for the rest of the day. That's especially good if she exercises in the morning.

Now, for a Border Collie, that's easier said then done, because of their typical high energy levels. 70% of these dogs seem to never get tired. So, besides her walks, she'll need anything from 60 minutes or more of vigorous exercise per day.

To spare your own energy, see if she likes to retrieve balls, frisbees. This way it's her doing most of the effort, not you.

You can also begin agility training if you like this kind of activities. Most Border Collies love doing agility.

Play intelligence games with her, make her brain rejoice with puzzles. Things like finding treats under a cup, learning the names of objects and retrieving those objects, putting toys in a box, color discrimination (dogs can tell yellow and blue). Anything that's physically possible for her, you can teach her.

And as bonus, physical activities and games strengthen the bond between the two of you.

Continue to build your relationship with her and the relationship between her and your husband:

1. Feed most or all of her food from your hand if at all possible. When that goes smoothly,

2. feed her from you hand only in the presence of your husband. When that goes smoothly,

3. your husband feeds her from his hand.

Also, do an Internet Search for "desensitization and counterconditioning". It's a simple technique to improve your dog's emotional response to her environment.

Please, tell us how it goes


P.S.: You can also confine her to a playpen in the living room when you can't have your eyes on her. The purpose of a playpen in this situation is twofold:

- you make sure she never gets scared without you being there to reassure her everything is ok
- it provides her with a safe place while at the same time she's together with the whole family

If you choose to use a playpen:

- make sure put her there only when she's really tired
- don't leave her in her playpen for more than two hours in a row
- put a bed, her cuddly toy, water and some toys stuffed with food at one side of the playpen and a pee pad at the other side
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:33 AM
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Hi @madisonalicia, welcome to the DF!

Have you ever owned a Border Collies before? They are not your average dog, that is for sure.

The first thing I want to say is, she's not that small. :P Most working Border Collie bitches fall between 30-40 pounds, mine included.

Secondly, she does in general sound like a very nervous dog. How long have you had her?
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Old 07-09-2018, 12:20 PM
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Also curious how long you have had her. My answer may change depending
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Old 07-14-2018, 05:59 PM
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The peeing when you pet her could be overexcitement/overstimulation. If this is the case, stop petting her until she stops.

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