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Discussion Starter #1
Last week I adopted a 2 yr old cattle dog/boxer mix. I LOVE him. His name is Chicken. He is inexhaustible.

He is great with other dogs, great with kids and wants to be great with my cat (although his energy is VERY alarming to my cat who has turned suddenly aggressive - separate issue though).

He knows some commands (sit, stay, shake, come, go potty) although he isn't always responsive - especially at moments when I really need him to be.

My biggest training issue with him is his separation anxiety and anxiety in general. I live in a small apartment. I know and love this breed and am up to the challenge of training and getting him enough vigorous exercise. I assumed that his separation anxiety, and his anxious pacing in the house is due to him not getting enough exercise. The thing is - he's been getting a ridiculous amount of outdoor time running his heart out and nothing has changed.

He sleeps in his crate - and every morning I take him out to pee immediately around 6am when I wake up. Then I bring him back inside, feed him, let him try to chill for a moment (sometimes in his crate) then bring him for a 45 minute run. Mid-day I bring him to a massive open dog park to run around with other dogs and play fetch for an hour. In the evenings I've been bringing him to the beach for about an hour and play fetch/let him run and swim his little heart out. I try to stay at the beach until he seems to be getting tired, but he NEVER slows down, not even a little bit. Not even after an hour of running at full speed and fighting his way through big waves.

He NEVER tires out and it almost seems the more exercise I give him, the more it fuels his energy and anxiety. At the end of the day, his responsiveness to my commands drastically decreases and he begins to pull at the leash during his evening walk. His morning walks are always the best, most relaxed and responsive.

I work from home and during the day he has a very hard time calming down indoors - he paces, pants, gets anxious - especially when I move from room to room... leaving him home alone, or tied up outside a store for a minute is almost impossible.

I feel like he needs more than just exercise and training. But what??? Is his anxiety possibly a temporary thing while he adjusts to his new home? Would I be better off doing long distance power walks? Or maybe he needs more purposeful exercise time where he can work at a task other than fetch and herding waves?

Anyone have any suggestions or tips?
 

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I personally would lay off the exercise :)

You will not physically tire an in-shape, young herding dog. Especially a cattle dog/BC mix. They are bred to have enough stamina to work 10 hour days on a farm. It's just not going to happen. What you end up doing with all that physical exercise is creating an adrenaline junkie. They get basically addicted to it and they get into this zone where they just have to go, go, go, and they don't know how to settle down and relax. It's entirely possible that all the exercise and running is only contributing to his anxiety, because he doesn't know how to do anything else. It seems like you've already caught on to this!

What I would do is start limiting the exercise to maybe just a fun run on the beach once a day. Or just the run.

Work on mental exercise. THIS is what will tire out a herding breed. If you think about working on the farm, they're not just running around for the heck of it. They're herding. Herding requires a lot of focus and mental energy. It's that mental workout that will really tire them out. My BC can hike for miles. But if I do an agility class and a barn hunt class back to back, it's very little physical activity in 2 hours of brain work. But when it's over, he's ZONKED and will just pass out in the car.

Work instead on training some tricks. Here's a website that will actually let you earn trick titles: Do More With Your Dog!

Everything they do is based on this book: 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog: Kyra Sundance, Chalcy: 9781592533251: Amazon.com: Books

Tricks are a great way to engage the dogs mind. I'd look into clicker training!

Another thing that will help is starting mat training and a relaxation protocol. Herding breeds don't always come with an off switch. You have to train that. Tigger was a super busy puppy. I had to teach him to be content to lay down at my feet while I worked on stuff and NOT be constantly getting into something and being a turd. Here are some links on mat training and relaxation:

5 Steps to Train Your Dog to “Go to Place” | Karen Pryor Clicker Training
Three Ways To Teach Relaxation- The Modern Dog Trainer

Also, another point is the value of play with a herder. They can get obsessive about toys and balls. Adding some structure to games of fetch or tug can bring a lot of benefits...It gets the dog to focus on you, it adds mental challenges, it improves impulse control. Here's an article about tugging:

How to Calm Your Dog by Playing Tug | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

A game of fetch can be turned into retrieving objects by name, and being able to put objects in the trash, or in a toybox.

Also here's another fun game to play, kind of related:
101 Things to Do with a Box | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Finally, I don't know how much spare cash you have, but this is an online, force free based dog training school.

Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - Home

They have LOTS of classes that are super fun for you and your dog, that would probably help you out in the mental stimulation department. It's only like, $60 I think for the lowest level. Basically you get access to the class material and videos and discussions. There are higher levels that let you have more interaction with the rest of the class and the instructor. The highest level is I think $250 or so, and you actually submit videos to the instructor of the homework so you can get feedback on what you're doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
THANK YOU! so so helpful. I will look into all of this right now. I just bought a whistle to start working on recall, too control the wild off-leash play a bit more. I also came across teaching settling down, which you mentioned, and will look into that more.
 

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I agree with Tigger that he's just overdoing it and not tiring out. It sounds like you're really committed to him and a good owner. Honestly I have some similar problems with my own Cattle Dog mix.

In terms of the separation anxiety, do you crate him when you're away? Crating can either be really good, or really bad for dogs with this. Some feel safe being contained in the crate and settle down. Others flip out more and can even hurt themselves. I'd try to experiment by setting up a little camera and leaving for a short while to see how he reacts. This way you can rush back if he's harming himself or super stressed. I see you say it's "impossible" to leave him alone. What exactly does he do that makes this impossible? And I wouldn't recommend every tying a dog up outside a business or anything anyway. It's too easy for them to get stolen or untied and run off. It's possible if he has very bad separation anxiety that you'll need a professional to help. This is a condition that is a long process and difficult, so just be forewarned. You sound very dedicated to Chicken though, so I think you can manage.

Also, rereading your page I saw he does this when you're home too. If you're there it's definitely not separation anxiety! If he does it while you're there I would recommend tethering him to you by holding a leash and just talking calmly and maybe rubbing him a bit so he settles down, or even letting him chill in the crate and see if he rests.

I think it's possible he still has new dog adjustment going on, but it's like just indicative of these breeds/mixes that they constantly seek out mental and physical stimulation. Tigger gave some other good suggestions for stuff you can do with him, and really he has a very good routine going with you now as is! In terms of training I think you should practice the commands and "proof" them (practice them with bigger and more intense distractions on a slow increase) when he is very responsive in the mornings. Hopefully this help hm pay attention and obey commands when he normally struggles.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I agree with Tigger that he's just overdoing it and not tiring out. It sounds like you're really committed to him and a good owner. Honestly I have some similar problems with my own Cattle Dog mix.

In terms of the separation anxiety, do you crate him when you're away? Crating can either be really good, or really bad for dogs with this. Some feel safe being contained in the crate and settle down. Others flip out more and can even hurt themselves. I'd try to experiment by setting up a little camera and leaving for a short while to see how he reacts. This way you can rush back if he's harming himself or super stressed. I see you say it's "impossible" to leave him alone. What exactly does he do that makes this impossible? And I wouldn't recommend every tying a dog up outside a business or anything anyway. It's too easy for them to get stolen or untied and run off. It's possible if he has very bad separation anxiety that you'll need a professional to help. This is a condition that is a long process and difficult, so just be forewarned. You sound very dedicated to Chicken though, so I think you can manage.

Also, rereading your page I saw he does this when you're home too. If you're there it's definitely not separation anxiety! If he does it while you're there I would recommend tethering him to you by holding a leash and just talking calmly and maybe rubbing him a bit so he settles down, or even letting him chill in the crate and see if he rests.

I think it's possible he still has new dog adjustment going on, but it's like just indicative of these breeds/mixes that they constantly seek out mental and physical stimulation. Tigger gave some other good suggestions for stuff you can do with him, and really he has a very good routine going with you now as is! In terms of training I think you should practice the commands and "proof" them (practice them with bigger and more intense distractions on a slow increase) when he is very responsive in the mornings. Hopefully this help hm pay attention and obey commands when he normally struggles.

He actually does fine in his crate - he really enjoys it most of the time, but does whine a bit once in a while if I put him in there to settle down and especially when I leave - but he never tries to escape. I got his crate from his previous owner and it was missing pieces (the top half was only resting on the bottom half because pins were missing) and his owner reassured me that he never tried to pop off the top, which he didn't do with me either. I only left it that way for the first night because I didn't have the means to fix it - but he still never puts up a big fuss when in his crate.

BUT if I leave him out of his crate, in a room alone, he will tear the room apart if he can't access me. I haven't dared tried leaving him home alone outside of his crate - but when I'm home and close him in a room by himself (trying to separate him from my cat but not wanting to keep him in the crate) he slowly goes to town pulling the room to pieces. He hasn't ever broken or ripped anything - but he will pull all the cushions off couches, scatter contents of any basket, open drawers, even jump up on desks, tables, counters... like a 40 lb cat!

Even when I am in the same room as him, it takes him a very long time to settle down. He will pace and pant - and if I stand up and make any move once he has finally settled down, he will jump up and start at the pacing and panting again. His manners are bad with putting his paws on the counters and tables but I feel like a firm "No" is only lasts so long, and if I'm too firm once in a while he will have an accident in the house - but that might go away with more training and settling in.

This makes him sound like a devil dog - and he definitely has some things I need to work on... but at the same time I've only had him about a week so it's hard to tell where everything will go once he gets more comfortable. His manners with other dogs and children are outstanding - he is very gentle and never jumps on people. He knows when to back off with aggressive dogs and how to play gently with small dogs. He even tries to be really good (although playful) with my aggressive cat. On walks, he behaves himself much better than most of the other dogs I see out there (especially in the morning, he's right at my hip and nothing phases him). I also think I have high standards for his behavior and I don't want to let him get away with a lot of things other dog owners let slide. He shows so much potential, which is why I'm confident I can help him with whatever is going on - I just don't want to make any wrong moves along the way.

Thank you so much for the help - it makes this whole thing much easier knowing I can reach out to other people.
 

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"Long distance power walks" will not make a dent in your dog's exercise requirement. Walks are for checking out the scents and scenery for a dog like yours or just migrating together.

Obedience training even though it may not always be physically demanding does mentally exercise a dog and at times seems to tire them out especially in areas where there are new distractions. Dog needs to be working in one form or another to feel adequately sated.
 

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Well done on all the exercise you give your dog. Amazing you can give him that. And you should not be worrying about the exercise per say.
Unless you are running and pulling him along and he is fatigued... You are not overworking him. Dogs like us get fitter. And if he is willingly running around with dogs and so forth on his own accord its fine.Watch out at the beach for sun-stroke etc. Always keep water and shade availability.
But no.. Exercise is not a problem. It could be many things... Other dogs, the dog park, reactivity to things around him...
But it certainly is NOT the exercise.

Leash pulling is likely because he is overstimulated by his surroundings rather than interested in you. Dog parks, beach, constantly off leash and rewarded for interacting with everyone but you... Well... That makes a dog pull to get to what he really wants.

(Research building Engagement)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t3VMY-IVuw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CciIIMXJ2_M
 

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Well done on all the exercise you give your dog. Amazing you can give him that. And you should not be worrying about the exercise per say.
Unless you are running and pulling him along and he is fatigued... You are not overworking him. Dogs like us get fitter. And if he is willingly running around with dogs and so forth on his own accord its fine.Watch out at the beach for sun-stroke etc. Always keep water and shade availability.
But no.. Exercise is not a problem. It could be many things... Other dogs, the dog park, reactivity to things around him...
But it certainly is NOT the exercise.

Leash pulling is likely because he is overstimulated by his surroundings rather than interested in you. Dog parks, beach, constantly off leash and rewarded for interacting with everyone but you... Well... That makes a dog pull to get to what he really wants.

(Research building Engagement)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t3VMY-IVuw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CciIIMXJ2_M
Embedded videos:
Lecture on directing energy to you - Engagement
video 1

Training Session: What it looks like.
video 2

Edit... Still struggling to embed videos. Dont understand why it does not work. Copy pasted exact code from another member who can do it.
 

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I have not read all the responses so may be repeating.

I rescued a 1 year old cattle dog x terrier (maybe- DNA test said half cattle dog mix and half corgi and Chihuahua mixed (lol). But everyone says ACD/rat terrier or ACD/JRT. Anyways definitely cattle dog in there and high energy) and the first two weeks or so were pretty hellish regarding energy level. He had been in a shelter a while and just between that and all the change he was a bit... strung out?

One of my friends does a lot of cattle dog rescuing and fostering and said she does a 2 week shut down with her new rescue ACDs. Basically easy hang around the house and calm for the first two weeks. A lot of people overdo it right away. I've read articles discussing about how adrenaline can just build and dogs seem to do better after stressful events to have a cool down period with little happening.

With Hank there was one day I took him and ran him until he was exhausted and then we settled into an easier pace of life. He's good now with about an hour- hour and a half of work/exercise most days. We do a lot of structured training together- work on agility or something else. We play a lot. We walk some and go to the dog park some.

I think you are probably overdoing it to be honest. He sounds overtired at the end of the day and that's why he's not listening.

There is no way you are going to tire out your dog. My dog can go and go and go far beyond most other dogs we meet with little to no decrease in intensity or stamina. Even when I know he is exhausted he will keep outdoing the other dogs at the park. Keep running full tilt. So I limit him. The only time he limits himself is when it's ungodly hot and no body of water around.

They are honestly nuclear powered. I've never had another dog like it.

I would crate yours more often if he will relax there. Build a schedule where you exercise a reasonable amount, train some, and crate some. Reward him for being calm. Hank had to be tied to me for the first few weeks when he was out to prevent lots of chasing and destructiveness.

It took 2 weeks for the first 'holy hell' to pass. 2-3 months before I realized I was not managing his every move. Now at 8 months in I see a very happy and well adjusted and adaptable Hank. :)
 

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Oh and they are great amazing dogs. So capable, hardy, and brilliant. I am considering a purebred ACD next. One day I will for sure have one!
 

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I have not read all the responses so may be repeating.

I rescued a 1 year old cattle dog x terrier (maybe- DNA test said half cattle dog mix and half corgi and Chihuahua mixed (lol). But everyone says ACD/rat terrier or ACD/JRT. Anyways definitely cattle dog in there and high energy) and the first two weeks or so were pretty hellish regarding energy level. He had been in a shelter a while and just between that and all the change he was a bit... strung out?

One of my friends does a lot of cattle dog rescuing and fostering and said she does a 2 week shut down with her new rescue ACDs. Basically easy hang around the house and calm for the first two weeks. A lot of people overdo it right away. I've read articles discussing about how adrenaline can just build and dogs seem to do better after stressful events to have a cool down period with little happening.

With Hank there was one day I took him and ran him until he was exhausted and then we settled into an easier pace of life. He's good now with about an hour- hour and a half of work/exercise most days. We do a lot of structured training together- work on agility or something else. We play a lot. We walk some and go to the dog park some.

I think you are probably overdoing it to be honest. He sounds overtired at the end of the day and that's why he's not listening.

There is no way you are going to tire out your dog. My dog can go and go and go far beyond most other dogs we meet with little to no decrease in intensity or stamina. Even when I know he is exhausted he will keep outdoing the other dogs at the park. Keep running full tilt. So I limit him. The only time he limits himself is when it's ungodly hot and no body of water around.

They are honestly nuclear powered. I've never had another dog like it.

I would crate yours more often if he will relax there. Build a schedule where you exercise a reasonable amount, train some, and crate some. Reward him for being calm. Hank had to be tied to me for the first few weeks when he was out to prevent lots of chasing and destructiveness.

It took 2 weeks for the first 'holy hell' to pass. 2-3 months before I realized I was not managing his every move. Now at 8 months in I see a very happy and well adjusted and adaptable Hank. :)
THANK YOU. Your story sounds very much like mine. I do have a strong feeling that a lot of what's going on is just adjustment and he will calm down in time.

How does Hank do when you leave him with other people? Have you ever done that?
 

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He has been boarded once and he completely flipped out. :( they had to keep him in the vet cages because he was so stressed in the kennels. Next time my agility trainer is going to try boarding him at her house. He likes her so hopefully that will go better. He will hang out with my friends at events just fine even if I leave. Only exception is if I leave him and take another dog then he yells.

Persistence pays off. Mental exercise helps. Hank really lives for structured training. Agility gives me a good goal to train towards. Some days he needs to run for hours but not every day. It took a while to find balance and for him to learn what was expected of him. He is an awesome dog. It's been very well worth it but those first weeks were not easy.
 
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