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First time dog owner .... lots of questions to ask!

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Lisj86, Apr 15, 2019 at 9:42 PM.

  1. Lisj86

    Lisj86 New Member Registered

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    Hi everyone!

    We are first time dog owners and picked up our gorgeous 20month old Bordie collie cross Newfoundland, Bruno, from the border collie rescue Centre a few days ago.

    Considering the upheaval he has been brilliant. House trained, listens to basic commands and sleeps well at night.

    However, there are 3 main things that we know we need to work on with him.

    1. He chases shadows at night or sunlight coming through the windows or doors during the day. We think this may have been something he was doing at the rescue Centre and we are trying different things to break the habit.

    2. He pulls on the lead while out walking, he’s curious about everything and gets easily distracted. Although, we have started training him to heel which has made a slight improvement.

    3. He lunges at other dogs while out walking. We don’t think he’s doing it to be aggressive as he doesn’t normaly bark or growl, it only happens when they get close. We think it’s because he wants to say hello but with him being quite big and strong he can be quite intimidating. We do warn other dog walkers when they get close but not everyone is pleasant about it.

    Any suggestions to help with our big friendly giant would be much appreciated!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019 at 9:56 PM
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Hi, and welcome. With the issues you have, you could try the following.

    1 - shadow and light chasing isn't unusual in collie types but it can be a compulsive habit and one that can be quite distressing for the dog as he could be constantly chasing things he can never catch. You can buy quite cheap opaque film to cover windows that will help make shadow and light less contrasted and use good lighting in the evening. If he starts, try to distract him and maybe also teach a 'settle' (I will attach a video that might help you). You could also do some play that satisfies his innate urge to chase, like using a flirt pole for example. I read something about this the other day, I will post more if I can find it again.

    2 - pulling on the lead is quite normal, it's an instinctive behaviour to pull away from a restraint (called oppositional reflex if you want to read more about it). Again, I will link to a video.

    3 - lungeing towards other dogs isn't great canine manners; especially with his size. Ideally dogs should be dog neutral. I would train a 'watch me' so you can keep his focus on you when other dogs pass. You will need to train this from a distance far enough away from other dogs that he is aware but not reacting. If he starts lungeing it's too late, a bit like trying to steer the car after you have already driven over the cliff edge. Get him into a sit or similar and say his name - as soon as he looks at you, mark the behaviour with a click if you use a clicker; or a YES if you don't have a clicker; and reward. Once he is looking to you reliably you can add a cue word like "watch me" so you can ask for the behaviour.

    I should say as well though that it's really early days and you might just want to spend a few days bonding before you get into any difficult stuff. That might mean not walking for a few days - so it depends on whether you have a garden that you can play in instead.



     
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  3. Lisj86

    Lisj86 New Member Registered

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    Thank you so much for all your advise. We have spent the day at home and in the garden. He is getting better and is shadow chasing and lunging is getting less each day, which is great to see, we are heading in the right direction!
     
  4. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    .

    I suspect [but of course cannot know] that his shadow-chasing & fascination with glare / dazzle spots from light on reflective surfaces, is a mild form of OCD / Obsessive - Compulsive Disorder; this can be inherited from either parent or from a grandparent, or it can be the result of profound understimulation in puphood.

    For example, puppy-mill pups live on wire floors in small cages, & have zero toys, other than the food bowl, which is usually S/S & not conducive to oral play. They have a very limited view of the world; cages are often inside a building, to help control temps / exposure to weather & limit visibility to passersby. Worst, they have minimal interaction with humans - & most of what little attention they get is negative, as in abrupt cursory exams, injections, hair-pulling to remove hunks of feces or mats, etc.
    Sheer boredom forces mill-pups to use one another or their dam as chew-toys, or they gnaw on the wire mesh or the cage frame, or they eat their feces in an attempt to introduce some variety into their diets / improve their absorption of nutrients. // Such pups grow up deprived of many normal early stimuli, & they constantly search for the few things that CHANGED in their static environs: the movement of shadows [their littermates’, their dam’s, other dogs, passing humans...], & lighting effects as the sun moved, or when lights were turned on - such as glare.


    “OCD”
    When referring to pets / nonhumans, vets & biologists avoid use of the human OCD label b/c it refers to obsessive thoughts in the human’s brain, which then manifest as compulsive behaviors.
    In a dog or other nonhuman, we can see the compulsive behaviors - but we can only speculate about obsessive THOUGHTS, altho as the same Rx medications are often used in both humans & canines to address stereotypies, there must be a similar brain malfunction happening, with or without what we might label as ‘thoughts’.

    Personally, tho it isn’t scientifically accurate, i use OCD as the label whenever any species performs a behavior, or multiple behaviors, that interfere with the individual’s own life functions - such as eating, rest, thermoregulation, travel thru the environs, etc.
    I figure if it waddles like a duck & quacks like a duck, then until proven to NOT be a duck, it’s a duck, in my view, LOL. // Save money, time, & space, & i just call it all OCD. *shrug*


    I’ve worked with dogs who had lick granulomas / acral lick dermatitis, tics about airplanes overhead, dazzle compulsions, & stereotypies such as running a circuit in the living-room, or a habitual pattern in the backyard, whenever they heard another dog barking.
    Some required psych-meds before B-Mod could be effective; others responded to B-Mod only, with the owners managing their environs & offering enrichment to offset the compulsion. :)
    Something as simple as rolling a large ball for the dog to shove around [a ball way-too big to gnaw or carry] can distract them from practicing their stereotypy, & “break the habit” over time.

    NOTE that just as in humans, it takes a minimum of one month of consistent practice of any “new” habit, to begin to make that new substitute behavior robust & fluent; without consistent practice of the new, desired behavior, & immediate interruption of any rehearsals of the old, unwanted habit, the former habit will resurface. :(
    After all, they've been doing it for however long - it is very fluent, virtually automatic, & requires zero “thought” to begin; it just pops up & starts, effortlessly.

    Stereotypies / OCD behaviors are often made worse by STRESS - so changing house may have popped this out & made it more obvious & more frequent. // Once he settles in, if anxiety is a factor in his OCD, it should taper off, & when U see it happening again in the future, that could well be a clue that he’s stressed.
    Stress can be happy as well as distressing - wedding days are super-stressful for the wedding couple, but they are also very happy events, & make happy memories. Excitement / boredom, strangers [human or k9 or feline], children suddenly arriving in an adult-only household, vet exams, welcome visitors in one’s home, can all be stress triggers.

    Let us know how he & U get on, please. :) I hope he relaxes into his new home, soon.

    - terry

    .
     
  5. Lisj86

    Lisj86 New Member Registered

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    Thank you so much for the information. We are starting to get a better understanding of why he does it.

    We had Bruno from a Rescue Centre so we don’t have much history. All we know is he had 2 previous owners, both of which fell ill and could no longer look after him. So we will be his third home before he is 2, poor lad!

    We are figuring out things to do with him to distract him when he does start and his jumping for shadows is happening a little less each day, which is encouraging.

    We know we are going to have to get him socialised with other dogs to help stop him lunging but need to give him a few more weeks to get used to us and ignores the distractions and responds to us.

    All things considered, things could be much worse with him and we know it is still early days. We just want to make sure we are doing the right thing by him, and don’t end making any of these habits worse.
     
  6. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Don't feel pressurised into thinking this. Many people agree that dog neutral is ideal - if you think about it, you don't greet every person in the supermarket. It's much the same for dogs, just having a few trusted 'friends' and politely ignoring the rest is a good goal to aim for.
     
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  7. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    It takes months for a rescue dog in a new home to calm down and let the anxiety of a big change in its life ease. Sounds as if you're taking a sensible approach to shadow chasing which is often seen in collies (and spaniels) and can improve with good management as in the advice already given. As for socialising I think the thing is not to force it, use distraction when you anticipate a problem encounter (I never went anywhere without the squeaky toy he loved and the treat to reward the shift in attention). Also if you have a friend or two with laid back dogs you can practise meeting them and going on your way. If it happens often enough its a good positive learned experience. Best of luck.
     
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