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Thread: Border collie being naughty

  1. #1

    Default Border collie being naughty

    Hi all, I have found this particular thread really interesting and helpful so decided to join and post my own questions.

    Milo is 12 months old and is generally really well behaved. We have the following issues though:

    1. When guests arrive he is waaaay too over excited and proceeds to jump on them and will not listen to any commands during this period of excitement. We have begun settling him before opening the door to guests and using precorrection strategies but he is like an attention seeking beast that can't contain himself!

    2. At the off leash park, we experience a similar problem. He is so over stimulated by socialising with other dogs that he won't respiond to our commands or even come near us. He will visit other dog owners and let them pat him, even sitting next to them for a few seconds.. He is more than likely to run to the gate when I say "time to go" but is known to be a brat at times about this too. Once away from this environment he goes back to being the beautiful obedient pooch we are used to. I have tried taking a high value treat but he is not remotely interested by anything I have to offer once other dogs are around. Bit of an 'attention whore' this one!

    3. Digging. Despite spending days indoors with us and sleeping outside at night time, we are finding new craters in the back yard from time to time. They seem to happen in the early hours of the morning so not at a time when we can catch him doing it. We have tried pepper and chilli in the holes, putting his own poo in them but have had no luck curbing this behaviour. It feels a bit futile if we can't catch him in the act? In terms of boredom he is walked regularly and runs with me twice a week. We have two kids who play games with him too so I feel like he is getting enough stimulation but I could be wrong.

    Any feedback would be great!

    post originally here... in the border collie forum
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 03-23-2014 at 03:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009



    I made a new thread of your post because more people will read and reply to it.

    I like that you've had a look at the other thread where you posted and got some ideas but the problems you describe are training problems more than border collie specific problems.

    Border collies are usually super easy to train, but they are also super smart so will train you if you let them and they will take advantage of any inconsistency in what they can and can't do around you and your household. Ie sometimes (naughty behaviour) allowed - is usually all the time allowed or worth trying on.

    guests ... proceeds to jump on them and will not listen to any commands
    he can only do this if you let him.

    When I have exciting guests over - my dog stays on lead with me until she shows some sign of calm, and then she's allowed to greet politely - if she can do that then maybe she gets off lead but not if she does anything remotely naughty like licking or jumping or growling :S or barking.

    If I have to do stuff with the guest that means I can't keep her with me on lead, then she goes in the crate with the door shut. If she gets noisy in there - I cover up all the windows until she's quiet. If you don't have a crate - just put him somewhere he can't interact with the guests.

    Same rules at the dog park - my dog has to hold a calm sit before she gets off lead. But the way your dog is at the moment, I would be doing basic obedience work with him on lead outside but near the dog park - just far enough away he can pay attention to you, practice that and recalls on lead and etc - then in a few days - work on the exercises closer to the dog park or further - ie push the edge of the distance of where he can be near the dog park (or guest) but still paying attention to you.

    What you've been doing is letting him get heaps of run and joy and reward (Dog money) for ignoring you and playing with everybody else. You've got to lock up the joy bank for now and make sure all comes from you not elsewhere.

    A nothing in life is free (NILIF) program is what I'm thinking you need to do - for at least a month.

    Digging while you're sleeping? You wouldn't happen to have chooks or neighbours with chooks or a bird aviary nearby? Cos he could be looking for rodents. My dog also used to dig up crickets.

    I put besa blocks of concrete into the holes my dog digs around the fence and in the garden, and fresh dog poo in to the holes in the lawn. You could also try a few drips of eucalyputus oil into the lawn holes if poop doesn't bother him. Are you doing a poop clean up at least daily - because that will help your dog be less inclined to dig his own poop. As might feeding him a tiny bit of pineapple (what you do to stop another dog from eating it). If the whole yard smells like his poop then putting poop in the holes won't help.

    My dog digs more if she gets lots of attention (HEY YOU STOP THAT) for doing it.

    Doesn't really explain your dog digging at night. Is probably boredom. You could try making a sand pit and putting toys in it somewhere in the yard. Or having him sleep inside at night.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 03-23-2014 at 03:31 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    I read the post and thought hmmm sounds like a one year old border collie ... Gotta laugh I then looked and realised oh it is!!!
    I have one very similar and she has had to learn that every time someone including us comes in her job is to sit politely and WAIT. Is very hard but is working.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    Sleeping inside would solve the night problem, may be anxious and trying to find company. Maggie is. And always has been scared of the dark.

    Aha I just realised that this is the second post, hah you have a border collie. Sounds soo much like mine. That is why I got surprised by the thread name
    Last edited by farrview; 03-23-2014 at 05:38 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Geelong, Vic


    Have a look at Leerburg Dog Training | 17,500 pages of dog training information, 750 free dog training streaming videos, free eBooks, podcasts, by Ed Frawley and Michael Ellis about the puppy basics of focus and your own value as a reward. High value treats dont mean squat if the dog can still exhibit the bad behaviors. Have him on lead, and make your own attention and treat giving hard to get. Don't force attention or treats on him, if he can't access the other dogs or run off your value as a fair handler who gives out rewards and lavish attention will actually be valued.

    As for the jumping on guests, put him away or have him on leash. If he cannot calm down he cannot access them until he does and does it nicely. If he doesnt want to listen, away until you do.

    As for boredom, your dog is in the yard 24 hours a day. You play with him for a couple, then walked for maybe a handful a week and a couple of runs. There are 168 hours for a dog to fill in a week. How many do you actually fill for him with mentally stimulating and challenging exercises? A teeny proportion. So a working dog is going to want to stimulate his own senses.

    Scatter food about the yard for every meal for him to find, make it hard. Get the kids there too helping him find the food so they're working together as a bit of a team. Do obedience, trick training etc there are squillions of videos on youtube to help you with how to do them. Keep your parameters for reward firm and ask for focus with every command or action you do before he gets his reward and learns respect. The mind of a border collie is an incredible thing, don't waste it.

  6. #6


    Thanks for all the great replies. Yes, I agree that we need to tighten up on his training. I try to teach him a new trick every so often and we practice those frequently but I will put some more effort into some mental stimulation for him.

    I will investigate the links provided and put some extra training in place (including for my husband…!).


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Fiashco

    Practicing known tricks - does not have the same mental tiring factor as learning a whole new trick (maybe spread over a week).

    Sometimes practicing known tricks with increasing levels of distraction and difficulty can help. Eg great retrieve at home - can it be done past a bowl of food? Fast? with other people running around or ringing the door bell? or next to the dog park? Note you can practice short distance retrieves on lead if you need.

    I see a lot of people with ball obsessed Border Collies but they never ask their BC to do anything to get the ball thrown - some don't even have to bring the ball back - they just chase it and then lie down next to it until the owner catches up.

    Make your BC work for every throw or release or game or whatever joy he loves.

    I make my dog sit next to me facing the direction of the throw and then I might try faking her out. We haven't really gotten to the stage where I can throw the ball, have her sit and wait until I release and then go driving hard out to the ball and driving hard back again. That's where I'd like to be. Currently if I make her sit and wait for a release - little miss ADD forgets she was supposed to be retrieving the ball. It's better at home but we can't yet do it at the park. So that's a "new trick" for us to work on.

  8. #8


    That is really true, I certainly haven't invested enough time into new tricks so that will be a focus for sure. It's funny, part of me knew I had to do these sorts of things but sometimes it takes getting told to do it specifically that spurs us into action!! I had made the decision to stay away from the off-leash park until I felt I had more control and will reintroduce access as suggested (expecting him to sit etc before being let off the leash). Not sure if it would be any different had we done it earlier but we only had him desexed at 10 months and prior to that he would chase the dogs at the park to hump them…

    So good to get lovely replies and people with similar behaviours from their dogs too. Thanks again.

  9. #9


    Hi guys, I thought I'd give you an update. We have been more consistent with our approach to managing Milo's behaviour and have had great progress. When visitors arrive I have held his collar and instructed him to sit and he isn't allowed access to the guest until he is able to sit without pulling away. This has resulted in him calming down much quicker and once released he doesn't jump on guests.

    I have also found a general improvement in many areas, to the point where I have actually let the lead go for the last few walks as he has been staying with me and following commands. I wouldn't venture without a lead totally yet but we are heading in the right direction. I haven't been back to the off leash park as I want to get things better under control before tempting him in that environment.

    As for digging, I can't say we have had anything to do with that and while it hasn't stopped it doesn't seem to be as often. I think the comment regarding him wanting to be with us is probably close to the mark from what I can deduce but it's hard to know without being able to observe the antecedents etc.

    Thanks for all the tips and advice, it has helped us to approach this more objectively. :-)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010


    noticed u desexed at 10month, well i think what i said still relevant. but hormones would be settling down.
    trick training a border collie just makes them smarter, but yes can give extra control hence results.

    wrote this before reading replys, but will leave here

    well answer was first thing you said.
    12 months old.
    is pritty much the worst age for dogs.
    was told by a very experienced and knowledgeable breeder long time ago that most dogs have highest hormone levels around 11 months.
    is the time they start really testing boundary's and working out there place in the pack.
    equivalent of a emotionally confused teenager hitting adult hood.
    so that answers the first 2 questions.
    for third, what toys ect does he have , if he up early and wants to do things could be lack of things to play with?
    recommended to a friend who had dog around similar age chewing his blankets over night in crate before they woke up to let them out, is try getting a kong and fill with food at bed time, will keep him awake longer and busy at bed time, that he will goto sleep later and wake up later hopefully giving enough time to avoid

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