Ozzy is now 25 weeks old, or 5.5. months. I’ve seen no signs of adolescence yet and he is basically my dream dog. Is this the calm before the storm?!!
This has practically stopped now. He occasionally starts but is quickly stopped with an “ah ah” followed by standing still for a few seconds until we see him physically calm himself. The other day I was busy and when he started chewing my slippers (while I was wearing them), I didn’t want to stop what I was doing, so we had a bit of a game with them to keep him occupied while I finished what I was doing. BIG MISTAKE!! This is how owners often end up with dogs that bark, chew feet or are generally a pain while they are busy working or on calls. For the rest of the night I was having to stop him trying to chew my feet, which isn’t fair on him as I was encouraging it earlier. Think carefully about which games you play with your puppy – think about whether you want them to do that activity long term! Luckily he has now stopped that particular behaviour!
House training is just about done now. He had one wee in the house over the last few weeks, which was my fault for not taking him out enough. I aim to take him out at least every hour when he is awake at present. I wouldn’t expect him to be able to last much longer than that, although he often does when I forget! He was in the house for 3 hours this morning with my husband with no accidents. I need to train my husband, never mind the puppy!!
For the first time, 7 days ago, Ozzy jumped into the car by himself. This is a milestone, as he has gone from being very worried about getting into the car – mainly, I think, because he didn’t like being lifted in. A lot of collies don’t like being picked up.
So we did some work on getting in with a ramp, which reduced his anxiety about car travel, but now he can jump in on his own, which is great! I think the fact that we did a lot of short journeys to very fun places – local walks and puppy training classes – has helped!
Ozzy is now sleeping less during the day. He has a couple of enforced sleeps in his pen during the day, for about an hour at a time. He also has other periods of sleep where he just settles in the house, but not for very long. There are too many people coming and going. In the evenings he now tends to fall asleep earlier and is put to bed (in a pen in the lounge with us) at about 10.30pm where he sleeps until about 8am. He’s always been a good sleeper!
We make sure that we don’t let him out of his pen or respond in any way when he whines or barks, and only let him out when he is quiet. He rarely makes any noise in his pen at all.
I’ve been ill with covid over Christmas, so he hasn’t had as much socialisation as I would have liked over Christmas. However, I took him out last weekend to Pets at Home, where he had a queue of people waiting to fuss him. He is such a good boy – sits calmly and soaks up all the adoration. He sometimes rolls over, which can indicate that he is a little worried about unknown people approaching, so I’m very careful that people are gentle with him, and stand back a little until he approaches them. He rarely jumps up at strangers, but this is more due to his gentle, thoughtful personality than any training!
He is continuing to see other puppies at our puppy training classes, where he is learning to focus on me before the pups are able to interact at the end of the session. I’m still taking him to two different classes, as I know how important it is that dogs receive this early socialisation. If you attend classes where puppies are let off the lead to interact, watch your dog carefully. If they are trying to hide behind you, or are backing off other dogs, take them out of the situation. Not all puppies appreciate running around with other dogs, especially if there are some very rough puppies or very large puppies there as well. Advocate for your dog! Ozzie enjoys it for the most part, but I’m careful to put him back on the lead and remove him from the situation if he starts backing off, or rolling over all the time when interacting with the other puppies. Not all socialisation is good socialisation!!
All my older dogs now play with Ozzy and it astounds me how patient they are with him. Even Flo, who is VERY intolerant of most other dogs, will now play with him. Outside she is fine because she is faster than him and can get away. Inside she tends to try and play tug with toys with him, possibly because it is safer for her than playing rough and tumble type play. I’m careful to interrupt this and separate them before it gets too intense, otherwise it invariably ends in a disagreement, and a small fight.
Because I have 4 dogs, management is a big part of how I make sure that all dogs are happy. Dogs don’t all automatically get on well just because they live together. Gael (8) and Esther (5) get on really well together and can be kept together with no concerns. Until recently I needed to keep Flo (3) separate from them unless I could supervise because she would take everything off them, whether it be toys, treats or chews, if I wasn’t there to stop her. Now that Ozzy is here, they all give up their toys, treats and chews to him, which isn’t fair. So when they have chews, or food of any kind, Gael and Esther share a space, Flo is on her own and Ozzy is on his own. Flo can now just about be trusted not to take things off Gael and Esther – having a puppy about can make older dogs mature much more quickly!
I would NEVER leave Ozzy on his own with any of the other girls yet. Even though they play with him, I can see signs that they would rather not, and I don’t want to subject them to enforced play. Gael and Esther would just put up with it indefinitely. Flo would put up with it for so long then it would get too much and she would erupt and cause a fight. Ozzy is used to getting his own way, so doesn’t give in easily!
I rarely play ball with the dogs – maybe for 5 or 10 minutes a day while I’m poo picking in the garden, and most of that play is throwing balls for them to catch rather than chase. Chasing balls can be bad for their joints, so we play other games. They love hide and seek where I run and hide when they’re not looking then call them. But mainly they just enjoy training, walking and sniffing together.
Because my main goal for Ozzy is for him to be a friendly, calm companion, a lot of my training revolves around getting him out into as many different situations as possible, and ensuring that he is happy and confident. Any time that I can see he is a little worried, we will take him out of the situation, but let him watch from a distance away, where he can experience things but at a lower intensity. This has worked really well.
We’ve also done a lot of work around settle and being calm. He’s naturally calm anyway, and his breeding for show lines has helped with this. All collies have the same distant background, of being bred to herd, but more recently there is a divergence in how collies are being bred. There are the farm dogs and trialling lines (even these are different) where the dogs are very focused on anything that moves, with a high desire to chase wildlife, animals people and traffic. There are agility lines, where the dogs are extremely active – always on the go and wanting to play – very toy driven – which is great for agility or other dog sports. And then there are show lines, where the dogs need to be in a ring with lots of other dogs, and need to be able to cope with people they have never met before running their hands all over them. They therefore tend to be more laid back, calmer and better able to cope with life as a pet. Obviously within each category there is a wide diversity – some show dogs are born unable to cope with the show ring, but may still be bred from due to their looks. Other dogs bred to work on farms have no interest in sheep. But generally, the dogs, on average, fall into these three categories. I would always advise pet owners to go for show lines – but always research the breeders and make sure they do all the required health testing for border collies. There is a big drive at present to breed for unusual colours for very high prices – focusing all their breeding on getting the colours that buyers are after, but paying little attention to temperament or health. Avoid these types of breeders like the plague!
This has been a slight issue with Ozzy guarding his food from the other dogs. However, by ensuring that he is never fed or given chews in the same room as the other dogs, he never needs to worry about them taking his things. Therefore, his anxiety around this has completely disappeared. If other dogs approach while he has a chew in his pen, we’ve been giving him extra treats, so that he sees the approach of other dogs as a good thing, not something to worry about. And after a couple of run-ins with Flo regarding pears in the garden, on the rare occasion that the other dogs do get in while he is eating, they have kept their distance, so it hasn’t been an issue.
Poo eating (copraphagia)
This unpleasant habit has been ongoing with Ozzy, some days worse than others, but it now appears to be largely resolved, and I think that this is mainly due to sorting out his tummy problems – see below.
We finally got to the bottom of Ozzy’s poo issues, after lots of tests and going back to the vets lots of times. It turns out that his runny, sticky poos were due to hook worms. They can damage the lining of the GI tract, so it took a while for him to improve after treating the worms, but he now proudly produces very firm poos – mostly – unless he has had a lot of treats or eaten something strange.
If your puppy has runny poos every day, that can’t be traced back to things they have eaten, keep taking them back to the vet’s until they find the cause. Runny or sloppy poos aren’t normal for puppies and can cause tummy ache. Any puppy with pain is much more likely to get into trouble by biting, being unable to be house trained, not sleeping, and generally being unable to settle. They already have the pain of teething to deal with, potentially growing pains as well, so they really don’t need a poorly tummy on top of everything else.
Anyone buying a collie puppy MUST be aware of how they may react to traffic. So many collies will chase cars, or any other vehicle, and this is often due to fear, not just the herding instinct. Watch your dog, and if you see any sign of being fearful of traffic, or cowering away, or barking, spinning and lunging, get in touch with a collie professional trainer or behaviourist. It’s important that these behaviours are stopped and resolved straight away.
Ozzy showed signs of being fearful of traffic, being scared of a van that passed us going quite fast on a quiet road. Therefore, we have taken introductions to traffic REALLY slowly – starting at a distance away and pairing the passing of vehicles with treats, and getting gradually closer. This past weekend we went into town and he was absolutely fine, but I don’t doubt that if I’d taken him walking next to main road while he was really small, I would now have a car chaser.
Since the first walk, I have been stopping every time Ozzy pulls. As soon as the lead goes loose, and he looks back at me, or returns to me, we then go forwards. As a result we have virtually no pulling on the lead. However, we walk in very quiet places each day, so he hasn’t had anything to pull towards on walks. Therefore it hasn’t become a habit.
He’s also not scared of anything while walking, which can be a cause of collies pulling on leads, particularly if they are walked on roads near traffic.
As well as the management of my dogs that I mentioned earlier, we have lots of stair gates up in the house, a utility room and a conservatory that work as “dog rooms” and a pen in the lounge. This ensures that whenever the dogs need separating, there are lots of options.
It also ensures that we are able to ensure that Ozzy is always right, meaning that we don’t have to tell him “no” very often. So, for instance, if we have meals on our knees in front of the TV, he is in his pen, so that we don’t have to stop him from jumping up. If we have visitors, he can be in his pen until they have sat down and are settled, to stop him from getting in the habit of jumping all over people. This ensures that we are always able to tell Ozzy he is good for getting things right, rather than having to stop him from doing things he shouldn’t be doing. This improves his relationship with us, and just makes life easier for everyone!
This doesn’t mean we don’t have boundaries! If Ozzy jumps up onto the kitchen counter, he is told firmly to get off and gently pushed off. If he chews our feet he is told “ah ah”. Positively trained dogs must still have boundaries – we just try to give them options where they can mostly be right instead of wrong.