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Discussion Starter #1
Long post:

My partner and I picked up a Border Collie puppy from a backyard breeder at 7 weeks old. We intended to wait until 12 weeks but it was now or never, she was the last one left and would have been alone in a dirty room (diarrhea in the corner and poor urine clean up, breeder explained food had just been changed). She was 2/3 the size of her littermates, and the breeder mentioned she was a quiet puppy she did not wake up the entire time we were there.

A combination of poor knowledge, frustration due to breed restrictions making adoption almost impossible, and pity for the puppy made us take her.

We were at the nearest vet hospital the next morning as she had severe diarrhea with blood, tests came back confirming coccidiosis. She came close to dying that afternoon, nil food or water for 6 hours, complete loss of bowel control. Who knows how long she had been ill, coccidia is rarely serious.

Since then she's put on a bunch of weight is growing well and is mostly a joy to have around. She loves new people but is really timid of dogs and other puppies, she goes to puppy school in the small breed class (it's adorable she is three times the size of the rest of them). Our problem is that she seems to become overstimulated and frenzy really easily. She does not respond to anything and draws blood and bruises us. We are in puppy school using 1000 treats a day style positive reinforcement training and our trainer is a little concerned at her progress. I suspect that due to her size and illness she didn't play much with her siblings.

We have tried;
- yelping, this makes it worse she thinks it's fun?
- picking her up, letting her down when she is calm, there is no calm.
- pushing her off, before we knew better, it didn't work anyway.
- ignoring, sometimes effective.
- distraction with toys, often worsens the frenzy.
- distraction with sit, lay down etc... This is effective if she's not too far gone.
- ending an activity and moving outside the gated play area, treats for being calm. This seems to be working but I'm concerned that she may get the idea that aggression can get us to do things.

I don't work so I'm home most of the time, I try to leave for 2-3 hours daily. We live in an apartment with a field next to it so we do a bunch of exercise daily and play inside. She also gets down time in a gated area and we are working on crating.

Both my partner and I are dealing with puppy blues and concerned that if we let this continue she may become aggressive towards us/people and would be unadoptable in future. We are considering rehoming her to a more experienced dog owner if there is not improvement in 2 weeks.

What do you think?
 

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Did you do any research before getting a Border Collie puppy? Have you had dogs before? I mean you chose one of the hardest breeds.

ending an activity and moving outside the gated play area, treats for being calm. This seems to be working but I'm concerned that she may get the idea that aggression can get us to do things.
This is the right thing to do. As long as when you get up, don't say anything. Just exit. And I would say when you come back to treat, as for something ('sit', 'dog', etc). She will learn to understand that she gets stuff from listening to you.

Also, it's great that she is in a positive reinforcement class, but make sure that trainer is knowledgeable about Border Collies and the way their brains work. It can be very different from a regular dog.

Also, for just as much physical exercise, BCs need mental exercise. Brain games, training, a job, something. Are you planning on doing any sports with her? Herding? Obedience? Agility?
@Shandula will probably have a lot of great advice considering she just went through having a baby BC with Heidi.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I did some research, not enough to make a better choice in breeder or breed. My partner had a BC when I met him, I suspect Shadow was at the calm extreme for the breed because they didn't recall anything like this.

The walking away is what we do most, I'll add an instruction.

We do a bunch of mental exercise, toys, treat hiding, scent trails, obedience inside and out. I'm always on the lookout for novel games/toys.

We are planning to do the whole range of puppy and adult manners training classes and hoping to do agility.
 

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Thanks for the mention @jclark343

BCs are very mouthy dogs - how else are they going to move those stubborn sheep? :) As a result, they tend to be extremely motion-sensitive. "Was that a finger moving - I better bite it!" "Ugh no one is doing anything fun, I bet I can get them moving!"

My puppy was a serious land-shark. When we first got her I thought there was no way I would have 10 toes by the time she was grown (she's 8 months now). Yelping made it 100x worse. She thought that was a very fun game.

I always had a small toy on my person. Bit me once (or chewed on things she wasn't suppose to) and I popped the toy in her mouth. If she took it, we played with it. If she didn't, I would remove myself from the room for ~30 seconds. I'd come back and try again. If she bit me again - into the crate for 15 minutes with a chew toy to calm down.

For movement, I would start with her sitting near me, and just shifting my weight. If she made no motion toward my feet, I clicked and treated. Then we moved up to one step. Two steps. Across the room, then hopping, then fast walking etc.

My BC (and to be fair also my Aussie) need to sit for pretty much everything. Food, go out, come in, be leashed, get pet, come out of crate, etc etc.

I'm also a big fan of tug. I use tug to be able to get my dogs JUST to the point of frenzy, and then ask for an "out" and usually a control position (down or sit).

Bonus - you probably will have a superstar drivey agility dog. ;)
 

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The time outs/substitution really is all that works, well that and time. I have a lab/bc/aussie mix and had the exact same problem. Yelping, saying no, ignoring, all that did was make the little monster madder and made me go off to cry in a corner. I really didn't think we'd make it to a year and here we are at 3!

We stuck to time outs and treating whenever she self calmed - it was rare at the beginning but got better once she got the hang of things. Also, if your pup already gets something in class, like easy tricks (because really bc pups are just that much smarter then others ;)) and starts barking/nipping, pull out a kong or toy and keep her busy doing something else. Border collies get bored SUPER fast learners so you got to keep that brain working. I found a squeaky ball - because she was so entranced by my yelping - really worked to redirect attention.

The only other thing that I can say is you need to be wary that your pup very well could turn reactive as well, especially if she's already shy of other dogs/puppies. Not aggressive, reactive. There is a VERY large difference and although genetics play a part you can help lessen it too.

You need to make sure every single social event is positive and on her terms so she can learn, and you can learn, what she's comfortable with. If you feel she's uncomfortable, have a gut feeling that something is wrong, or she looks nervous remove her quickly from the situation.

I wasn't as careful as I could have been, and I blame myself for my dog's dog reactivity. I mean she was genetically predisposed to it, but I see where I made mistakes. I assumed that my pup was just naturally social like all the other lab puppies but she was FAR more sensitive having the bc/aussie in her, then the lab puppies who were in her class. This meant even small, inconsequential (at least I thought) negative experiences worked against her and caused her to make a negative association with other dogs, which caused us issues later (particularly at 6 months to a year), and I can see that now.

I hope this can help, I really don't mean to scare you at all. In fact I wish someone had had the same experience I was going through and tell me what they did wrong in effort to help me do different instead of just saying it'll be fine.

Your pup has the makings of an amazing dog, but I'm not going to lie it's going to be a frustrating ride. I was you 3 years ago, same issue, same amount of fear that I was creating an aggressive hell beast, same tears. But with a whole lot of effort on my part and learning my dog's language/signals we've made it work. Just remember: Time, Training, and Love - oh, and there is no shame in having a good cry once in awhile. I promise it will get better and you'll be on here 3 years from now helping others get through. :huddle:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all, it's really helpful to know this is pretty normal. There have definitely been tears!

She is a super fast learner, and we do a combination of play and capturing behavior that seems to work really well. She had all the class exercises down before we started but she gets a lot of controlled puppy play there which is really good for her, I'll see if using toys will help distract her there. She has a tendency to get bored.

I'm absolutely happy to put time and effort into training and learning her language. We try our best to control all dog meeting so she has a safe place to go and is the one to approach new dogs and she seems to be much more enthusiastic than a few weeks prior.

Honestly writing the post and seeing your replies has helped a lot, it's given me a better perspective. We'll see how it goes in the next few weeks.
 

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Border Collies are going to be challenging. They are 'working' dogs and are happiest when they have a job to do, that involves lots of activity. I know some folks that have a Border Collie, and a significant part of every day involves making sure he gets enough exercise.
 

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Also @Chas, you're new here and may not have been told, but we LOVE seeing pictures of baby Border Collies. Like, we LOVE them...
 
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@jclark343 @Chas - We do love them. Like seriously. Especially because I could totally convince hubby to get another one...
 

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Ahhhh look at those ears!
 

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Oh she is cute! I like her half and half face! So glad to hear things are getting better!
 

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