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Hey All,

Fairly new around here. Forgive me if I'm doing this incorrectly.

My boyfriend and I just adopted a 1 year old border collie/Australian shepherd/something else(?) mix. She's full of energy and super smart. We live in a two bedroom apartment and also have a cat and a bird.

She gets a lot of exercise every day. My boyfriend takes her out before he leaves (6:30 am) and then I take her out before school that day or later in the morning if I'm home. She then goes out again when my boyfriend gets home, and again before bed. Our typical walks with her are 20 minutes in the morning and 30-40 minutes at night. We have also found that bringing her up stairs at the end of walks helps calm her down. Then we play some fetch or tug inside while she's winding down.

So now for my questions:

- She's not eating out of her bowl (she will however eat the cat's food - that's now been moved). She will eat out of a kong though so she's been getting all her meals from that. However, she's eating probably 1/2 of what the bag says she should be eating for her weight. Is this normal?

- She is normally great while we're gone. She has a lot of toys and generally just amuses herself. However, a few times she has destroyed things. How should we discipline her when this happens? She is afraid of some men (mainly with beards) and so we're just afraid if we discipline her that it will trigger a bad reaction.

- Do you have any suggestions for keeping her busy while we're gone?

Thanks for any help. Sorry for the length.
 

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Destroying things is usually a sign of a bored dog. Walks are great, and it sounds like she's getting a good amount of physical exercise! However, dogs also need mental exercise, and while the Kong is a great start, she might need a little bit extra mental exercise, especially since her breed background is all working dogs who like to use their brains. What shape that exercise takes is up to you and what she reacts best to. Learning tricks is often a very good way to exercise dogs' brains.

Another option, that might also help with your other question, is food puzzles. There are things like these: Pet Supplies : Pet Chew Toys : Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Dog Toy : Amazon.com
or for a more simple option, these: Pet Supplies : Pet Chew Toys : StarMark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy, Small : Amazon.com
With these toys, it's important not to leave the dog unsupervised with them, but it might be a fun way for her to get some extra food, with the Kong giving her other food while you're out of the house. Kongs are generally one of the toys people feel safe leaving with a dog without supervision. You could also freeze the food inside the kong (mix it up with water to get it freezeable) so it's that much more entertaining for her to work on while you're not home.

I would not discipline her for destroying things. Once something is destroyed, she won't understand what she's being disciplined for. The best option is to make toys much more enticing so that she doesn't go after people-things when you're away.

Hopefully someone else can help with the amount of food issue. Good luck! <3
 

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First you don't discipline her. She will not understand what you want and you could make her more fearful. If she is getting into things crate her or block her into a room or kitchen where she can not get into trouble. How long have you had her? It often takes many months for a dog to fully settle in so if it hasn't been long give her time. I wouldn't worry about her not eating as much as recommended. First the bags often suggest more food than is needed and when she is hungry she will eat. Is she healthy? A good weight? If so don't worry, she won't starve.
 

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Depending on how much Border Collie she is, Borders are very intelligent, which is good, but they get bored very easily, and will in the quest to amuse themselves, tend to get into trouble. Sounds like she probably needs more stimulation, both physical and mental. As far as her weight, the recommended quantity, is only a suggestion, varies from dog to dog, depending on their metabolism. Samantha, for example only gets barely half of her recommended food quantity, otherwise she would quickly become obese, which I will not let happen.
 

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I've also heard a lot of BC owners specifically say their dogs are more grazers/don't always eat as much as they "should" by choice. I think it can be a breed thing. Some dogs will eat as much as you''ll give them even if it kills them, others only feel the need to eat a smaller meal.

You might try hand feeding her meals as well, or using her mealtimes for training. It's good bonding and if she's learn while she does it its good mental stimulation too.

Personally I would say if she's destroying things I would gate her in a part of the house where she can't do so. IMO a dog in a new environment shouldn't be given the run of the house when its empty anyways, at least that's always been my policy with my pups. I always crated mine, but with BC and aussie in her she may appreciate a little more room to stretch her legs if housetraining isn't the issue.
 
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