Two dogs, one problem. A simple solution.
A three year old farm working Border Collie and a rescued 13 month old mix breed that contains some German shepherd and between them they are causing their owner problems. Jumping up and nipping is the worst of the problems and the owner is getting concerned as the dogs are doing the jumping and nipping mainly to her.
The mixed breed is also wary of visitors to the house and will bark with enough volume to make visitors and the owner think he may nip so this is also causing the owner great concern.
There is a history with the mixed breed rescue of mistreatment before he arrived at his current home and this plays a part in his expectations about how people will behave but the reason the owner got in touch was the mixed breed was learning behaviours from the older Border Collie.
Farm working Border collies can be difficult to live with because of their work drive, their intense concentration and their stamina. After all they are being asked to control and move large groups of animals, usually on their own and they are also required to work quite independently with some instructions from their handler.
When you then ask a dog like this to come in to your house and relax and be quiet, this can be a challenge for the owner as much as it is a challenge for the dog because of the expectations we are taught to believe about working dogs. Yes they can be energetic, yes they want to understand what is required of them but they are still a dog and they are still a dog that wants to be with their owners and to be relaxed yet because they are working dogs they are rarely given that opportunity.
When you have this kind of dog as a role model, it is not a surprise that the younger mixed breed dog is finding life difficult to understand. There needs to be balance, you will have seen me write about this a great deal in my blogs. There needs to be balance between what we as dog owners need and what our dogs need. This is compounded as well by what we are taught to think dogs need. The last thing a working dog needs to be doing at home is behaviours that require activity for attention. The dog has been working all day and just needs to come home and to be able to relax, just like we do yet if being relaxed is not made a viable option then the dog cannot switch of and wind down.
As we observed the dogs, the owner realised she was always the centre of the dogs behaviour because all of their excited interactions happened around her and when she moved, the dogs moved with her and continued their performance.
Dogs are competitive and will compete for our attention, it is just the levels of that competition that vary and the lengths the dog will go to in order to achieve its goal.
Once we give the dog a reason not to compete, they willingly take the option and balance and harmony is quickly restored. It takes time, effort and self control yet within an hour and a half the dogs were much more relaxed. The owner sent me this message later the same day:
“It's like a different household tonight. I'm actually shocked. Thanks so much. Look forward to the next step”
All we did was give the dogs a reason to be relaxed, we shared the attention evenly and for calm behaviour and the dogs followed our lead beautifully.
If you would like balance restored to your life with your dog, please get in touch.