Ozzy border collie puppy diary- 16 weeks!
So for the last few days I’ve been concentrating on getting him out and about to see traffic, dogs, children and people. We’ve been to more built up areas and walked in parks so he’s experienced emergency services sirens, children screaming and playing and traffic going slowly in the car parks. He’s also been out a couple of times with us to a cafe and a pub for lunch. Getting puppies used to going to places where we are just sitting still is very valuable in helping them to get used to novelty and being able to settle. It’s one of the most important aspects of border collie puppy training. See my border collie puppy socialisation article for more information.
I’m still not taking him out next to roads with a greater speed limit than 30mph – you have to be soooo careful with collies, and getting scared by loud, fast-moving traffic can initiate car chasing behaviours. I’ll continue to build this up slowly over the next few weeks.
He started puppy classes and was suprisingly calm. Some collie puppies don’t cope with puppy classes. Their arousal goes sky-high and they are so completely over the top that they just can’t cope and bark constantly. They can’t pay attention to their owners, who also become stressed, and it’s an unpleasant situation for everyone. This isn’t good for them so I always advise people with puppies like this to ask if they can watch the training classes from a distance or avoid the classes altogether and go out and watch dogs from a distance instead. There is literally nothing better for a puppy of this age to go out to places where they can watch people, cars and other dogs at a distance at which they can just relax and feel safe. If you’re not sure what that distance is, it’s the point at which your puppy is away of the triggers around him, but can look back at you when you say his name. If he can’t switch off from staring at the triggers and pays you no attention, he is too close.
When I’m seeing dogs while out and about now with Ozzy, I’m focusing on teaching him to sit nicely and take treats while they walk past, unless the dogs are clearly going to be very friendly with him, in which case I will let him greet them. How do I know other dogs are friendly? It’s not always easy but look for loose, relaxed body language, a happy smiley mouth and a relaxed tail. Dogs likely NOT to be friendly have a stiff, upright stance, closed mouth, erect ears and an upright tail. Also look at owners – if owners look anxious, are pulling their dogs close to them and the dog is on a lead, don’t let your puppy approach. Be especially wary of people that warn their dogs to “be nice”!!
Ozzy has gone through a stage of being very bitey, and had been having loose stools, so we focused a lot on getting him into a regular sleep routine and trying to keep his diet consistent to keep his tummy settled. We’ve also provided ldifferent chews, such as pizzles, lamb braids and ostrich bones, all of which can help to ease any teething pain that he might have had. We rotate these round so that at any one time there is only one chew out and we put it away as soon as he has lost interest. This helps to keep him interested in the chews. Leaving them out all the time is the fastest way of making them boring! This How do I stop my border collie puppy biting blog post offers more information on managing biting.
We’ve now taken down the main room divider in the lounge, becuase all the dogs are doing really well. This means that they need to share resources, such as water and sleeping spaces, but all is going well so far. Note: we would never feed Ozzy near the other dogs at this stage. He has his food in peace without having to defend it from anyone – this can cause resource guarding, when dogs worry about another dog or person taking their food.
Now that Ozzy is out and about and starting to pull on the lead a little, I am implementing the lead training straight away. Dogs pull on the lead beause they learn that pulling on the lead gets them to where they want to go. We want them to learn, right from the start, that pulling will NOT get them to where they want to go. When he pulls, we stop dead, until the lead goes loose again. It’s dead easy – you pull, we stop: you keep the lead loose, we go forwards. He is showing signs of understanding this already. 😃