Border collie puppy diary – 18 weeks

Border collie puppy diary – 18 weeks.

Border collie puppy diary - 18 weeks
Ozzy is now 18 weeks old – where has the time gone?!

Puppy biting

His play/frustration biting is now much improved and we’ve been working hard to settle his tummy further, as he’s had very sloppy poos for a couple of weeks now so we’ve given probiotics, wormed him again and now changed his food into a hypoallergenic puppy food to see if that helps calm his tummy. We’ve also tested for giardia, which is a very nasty parasite that puppies can sometimes ingest. Luckily that was clear. There are some other things that we need to rule out so we’ll be back to the vets with a poo sample tomorrow if he hasn’t improved, although his first poo today was much firmer! This How do I stop my border collie puppy biting? article will help with puppy biting. Ensuring puppies don’t have any pain, including tummy pain, is very important, because any pain at all can cause an increase in arousal, which can quickly lead to play/frustration biting, which hurts!!

House training

His house training is coming on, especially since we removed the rug he would sometimes wee on around the corner, out of sight of us when we’re relaxing in the lounge. It’s been a few days now without any accidents at all. Sometimes, if puppies are performing unwanted behaviours, just adjusting the environment is all that is needed. Puppies tend to prefer toileting on carpets or rugs (especially deep pile), so temporarily removing or covering them can help with house training.

Car journeys

Ozzy went through a phase of not wanting to get into the car and although he’s now better, he’d still rather not approach the car. He doesn’t drool or appear scared while travelling and he’s not sick, so I think he either doesn’t like being crated in the back (it’s essential that he gets used to this because he needs to be safe when I’m driving) or doesn’t like being lifted in. So I bought a second hand ramp on market place, and we’ve been doing some training of going in and out of the car. He’s getting much more confident now! We’ve been playing on the ramp when it’s flat in the garden first, so that he’s familiar with it, then lifting it slightly and playing “go up and down the ramp” for treats or toys, which he loves. Now he’s happy to go in and out of the car using it, but I haven’t progressed to using it to get him in the car and driving off yet.

Whenever he has to go somewhere in the car, I’m still lifting him in. This is because I want him to feel that when using the ramp he has choice – when dogs have choices and control, they are much more likely to want do something they previously refused to do. But there are obviously times when we have to take him out, so there is no choice, so this is when he is lifted. The next step is only using the ramp for very short journeys to go somewhere nice with really nice treats in the car, and building it up that way, so that eventually we won’t need to lift him and he’ll be happy using the ramp in all circumstances.


Ozzy is not wanting to sleep for as long and isn’t so keen on his chews now so evenings are becoming a bit more challenging in keeping him amused so that he doesn’t start doing things we’ll have to stop. It’s much better to set things up so that puppies can be praised rather than told off. So I often go out in the evenings for half an hour to do things in the garden or take him for a short walk. Changing the environment in this way helps to keep him calmer and going out and in again works as a “reset” so that he doesn’t get completely over-tired and silly, which can lead to play biting and annoying the other dogs. This border collie enrichment article lists further activities to give puppies to keep them occupied in the long, dark evenings.


Ozzy has been out and about quite a lot now and met other dogs, loads of people and children, and is starting to get used to traffic.

I still wouldn’t take him on a busy road, because that can be overwhelming for a collie, and cause the start of traffic chasing, so he’s still watching from a distance, but is getting used to louder, faster traffic, and we are gradually getting closer without any signs of fear.

With other dogs, we’ve been really lucky and not met any nasty dogs, which is soooo important when they are puppies. Having a horrible encounter with an aggressive dog can cause them to be really scared of dogs for life, so be really careful about which dogs puppies are allowed to meet. They don’t have to say hello to every dog, to get in the habit of playing with all dogs they see. It’s much better to keep them focused on you with treats or play, and ensure that they see dogs, meet a few, but can stay focused on you while other dogs are about. If you start this from when they are very young, it’s much easier to continue as they grow up. Use REALLY tasty treats when they are out, such as cheese or chicken, but use REALLY small bits, to keep their tummies safe. Just a taste of the food is fine. This “border collie puppy socialisation” article explains a bit more about socialisation and how to get it right.


It’s important to build up the desire to play while they’re young and still “into” playing with toys. Tug is the best thing that you can teach your puppy, with some good tug toys, such as these on the Performance Dog website, are great. Play at least once a day, start at home, then start to play in different environments. If you need an alternative reinforcement during training later on, if your dog isn’t so keen on food, or you need something REALLY exciting for sports such as scent training or agility, tug toys are the best. This is because you can play with them close to you, while they are on a lead, and not have them running about all over everywhere, chasing things and probably not bringing them back! And not training your puppy to love tugging at an early age can lead to many months of trying to get them to enjoy it later on. It’s possible, but it takes a while, so much easier to start right from the day you bring your puppy home.

Ball play

My dogs have balls that they play with but not excessively, and not in the house or on walks, so they do not become obsessed. We have a few minutes a day of ball play, but it can be very bad for their joints, skidding around and jumping to catch etc, especially with puppies, so we play find the ball more than chase it, and have small gentle rolls and teach Ozzy to bring it back, by being really over-enthusiastic when he does, giving him lots of fuss and scratches before taking it off him and rolling it again.


Do NOT get your puppies used to playing with sticks – if they pick up sticks, ignore them. They will soon get fed up with them – don’t invite play, and be careful that you don’t encourage stick obsession by trying to get every stick they pick up off them – see this preventing resource guarding article.

Puppy classes

These are going well and Ozzy is able to cope well with puppy classes and stay calm and focused on me. However, I’m lucky with him – not all collies cope well with puppy classes.

If your collie is struggling with over arousal, barks a lot or is really scared, it might be best to give puppy classes a miss. Reward EVERY time they look at you with VERY high value treats, and reward every time they are calm, but if they are completely over-aroused and unable to take treats, and the trainer can’t offer any suggestions that help, it’s best to leave rather than let them practise that behaviour. Focus instead on seeing and meeting some dogs out and about, often from a distance at which they can be calm and gradually getting closer to other dogs over a few weeks. Being in an enclosed space such as an echoey hall, with a slippery floor, with unfamiliar people and dogs, is often more than collie pups can cope with, so don’t put them in that environment if they struggle.


We’ve been doing lots of settle training, which has really helped Ozzy to relax when out and about, at pubs, restaurants and puppy classes. He now knows that if he settles and lies down and relaxes, it’s the best way to get attention, praise and treats in every context.

He offers it all the time (even in Pets At Home yesterday) so I carry treats on me and reward it whenever he offers it. This is MUCH better than only paying attention to your pup when they are doing something wrong – always remember to reward when they are doing ANYTHING that you like. Ozzy gets fuss when he relaxes, when he’s chewing his toys or chews, and especially when he’s walking next to me nicely and not trying to chew my feet or trousers! I’m teaching him sit, down and wait/stay as well as loose lead walking and recall. There’s lots of information on my website about how to teach these. But that’s all the “official” training we are doing – the rest is just general learning how to live, be calm and polite.

I think that’s everything that’s been happening recently! If anyone has any questions or wants to know more, just ask in the comments!

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