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Border Collie scared of his Welsh Collie pup brother

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Samuel Conway, Feb 15, 2021.


  1. Samuel Conway

    Samuel Conway PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone,

    I have a two year old Border Collie and an eight month old Welsh Collie (Border Collie x Welsh Sheepdog).

    Myself and my partner are struggling with them at the moment because our Border (Douglas) is very nervous of our Welsh (Bjorn). I'll provide some context and then a description of the issue. Please, any advise is welcome and much, much appreciated.

    Douglas:
    Dougie, his good boy name, was born into a farm and for 10 months, he was kept outside and without human interaction. This lead him to be a very nervous boy. But, after some time, he approached me, laid down on my hand and I softly smoothed his head with my other hand. That was the moment I knew he was my dog.
    When we got him home, he was terrified, didn't want to go in the house, cowered from any noise, feared the tennis ball and didn't know what to do. For a year, he nipped, barked, growled and bit strangers and even family and friends. He's not completely trusting of people yet but he draws confidence off me and my partner now, so we can reassure him with a "go say hi". Completely different dog now, he's happy, content, LOVES his ball and toys, loves his doggy friends at the park and cuddles and wrestles with his mum and dad. This confidence has grown and grown in him.

    Bjorn:
    This is our Welsh Collie pup, who is now 8 months old. At first, when he arrived, Dougie loved playing with him, wrestling and tugging on a toy, chasing the ball.. But all of a sudden, Doug became nervous of him. He avoids him at all costs. We find Bjorn is a starer and if that stare doesn't lead into a rare play, Dougie just turns his head away and cowers. All the fun things we used to do, playing with toys and wrestling, we can no longer do.
    Bjorn is a nice dog. He is playful, enjoys his brothers attention and I think his intentions are mostly good. Though, Bjorn is a bullish dog. He is clumsy, scatty and will not consider space. He'll run around, knocking into Dougie to get where he wants to be, and Dougie takes the backfoot. Also, he has a mouth on him in a big way. If left alone, he will BARK relentlessly and if he isn't getting his way, he whines and groans. It sounds like a mix between an old man standing from his chair and a kettle boiling. The noise, bullishness and confidence seems to be causing Dougie to withdraw. So much, he will not go near Bjorn in the house except from when he starts to play (he loves to wrestle with dogs) although this play is becoming more and more rare.
    The interesting thing is that, outside, Dougie will run into Bjorn and tackle him, they will wrestle and have endless fun. But at home, it's entirely a different matter.

    I've highlighted what I think are the problems:
    - Dougie is very sensitive
    - Bjorn is quick, bullish and loud
    - Bjorn will stare at Dougie for a long time (I think he wants to play but it is a fixed stare)
    - Dougie is very sensitive to moods. If we correct Bjorn or tell him off for something, he turns his head. We are no longer telling Bjorn off unless we absolutely have to. Previously, we were stern but are trying to be very calm. We are also only rewarding Bjorn when he is calm and not rewarding excited behaviour. But the problem persists. We cannot tempt Dougie to play anymore, which is heartbreaking since it took so long for him to come out of his shell and be happy.

    Another point to add is that Dougie will give up a toy or food to Bjorn EXCEPT a bone. If he's gnawing on a bone and Bjorn comes too close, he will let out a little growl. I don't want to correct this as it is the only time he seems to tell Bjorn not to push his luck, and Bjorn doesn't. Dougie used to tell him off for all the silly puppy behaviour but this has stopped now other than when the bone is involved.

    All in all, we want both our dogs to share a bong and be as happy as can be. Bjorn is a very lovely boy and he's become strongly obedient when he's on his own. But excessive noise, clumsiness and staring seem to be his main problems at the moment.

    Due to Dougie being apprehensive of people, I am not yet considering a trainer for this specific situation, so again, I very much appreciate any advise anyone can offer. And if there are any follow-up questions I will answer.

    Thank you,
    Sam.
     

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    #1 Samuel Conway, Feb 15, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
  2. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Hi and welcome to the forum. Are either of your boys castrated? I think the issue is that Bjorn is no longer a puppy and is becoming a bullying teenager. Is sounds as if your dogs are polar opposites - one very sensitive and one a confidant bully. I've had both too over the years although mine are always bitches. Really it's down to management ie intervene if Bjorn persists in staring at Dougie, if the play starts to become a bit too frantic, and don't give them bones unless they are both in a different room if either of them are likely to growl.
    I know how difficult it is when you have a dog who has a nervous and sensitive disposition (I've had more than my fair share of sensitive collies) as you can never even slightly raise your voice, etc.
     
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  3. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    I agree with @Twiggy your welsh boy sounds like a teenage bully who with a different dog would be knocked down a peg or two and told in no uncertain terms to knock off the staring, space invading, and barking. I can't tell you how many teenage herding dogs I've known over the years who get themselves in to a lot of trouble over the staring. Herders can have a very hard 'eye' and most (all?) dogs don't like it at all. It's confrontational and yes, bully type behavior. So is the bumping in to other dogs and demand barking. He's not that clumsy, he knows perfectly well where his body is, and he can easily choose not to crash and fall in to your BC, but he simply hasn't been told not to. Too bad you don't have a nice, mature, no-nonsense bitch around to teach him what's what. :D

    But honestly, your BC shouldn't have to defend himself or teach the welshie not to be such an oaf. You need to step in, and firmly IMO and let Bjorn know in no uncertain terms that his behavior is not okay and will not be tolerated. For example with the staring. I would give him one warning, say something like "Bjorn, that's enough" if he breaks the stare, tell him he's a good boy and encourage him to come interact with you. If he doesn't stop staring, I would simply repeat "that's enough" and march him out of the room for a quick time-out away from you and Douglas.

    Douglas needs to know that you will intervene and protect him, Bjorn needs to know that he has to check himself or he's going to lose privileges, like hanging out with you and Douglas. He will learn, it might be a bit of an uphill battle initially since he has had some opportunity to practice being an oaf, but once he understands what the boundaries are, he will settle. I spend most of my mornings and evenings telling our current youngster not to harass our old guy. And my oldie will tell her off. But he shouldn't have to. The youngster is getting better, but it's a slow process, takes time for those neuron connections to form ;)

    Make sure in the meantime that Bjorn is getting plenty of outlets to use his brain and fulfill his drives.
     
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  4. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

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    I’m not sure if anybody said this exactly but, if you have one brash and one very sensitive dog in the same household then if you raise your voice to the tough dog (where it’s water off a Duck’s back) it will have an effect on the other dog who won’t know that it’s not directed at him.
     
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  5. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    Yes, but the way Welsh Sheepdogs naturally work is to bark, charge and and body slam if the stock don't move as required. It's not a fault in his character, but what that side of him is bred to do. My full Welsh did it from a puppy, and one of my Welsh/BC crosses does.
    It's unfortunate that Bjorn seems to have inherited the stare from the BC side. All of mine have been soft-eyed.
    A bong? How very seventies! If you mean a bone, sharing between ANY dogs is a tough ask. One each is more likely to be harmonious.
     
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  6. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    I don't consider it a character fault at all! But it's totally inappropriate to treat another dog like stock to be moved, and I can't think many dogs, herding or otherwise would happily tolerate being treated like stock. Would your mature girls not set a juvenile set a juvenile acting like that straight?

    The worst dogs I've known for hard eyes are aussies.
     
  7. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    Yes they would, but they're confident dogs. And as it's a behaviour inherent in them, they understand it. And it doesn't seem to me that any dog on the receiving end would think it was being treated like stock. Collies as pets not working dogs may only have a vague concept of livestock, they just have an inbuilt drive to move/round up anything that moves and even some things that don't. Look at all the threads we get about collies lunging at traffic.
    When Kite bumped Ziggy (collie/terrier cross) as a puppy to get Ziggy to drop the ball, Ziggy didn't set her straight. Ziggy wasn't timid, but always avoided confrontation, just used avoidance.
     
  8. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    Yes, of course it's inherent behavior. Like I said I don't find it a fault in any way, but I certainly wouldn't allow it with this dog in this case as it's causing the problems it is.
    I have two dogs who are inherently prey driven, happy to hunt and kill. I don't find that a fault at all and in fact find it useful for training, but I don't allow them to practice they prey drive at-will.

    So with a dog who likes to slam in to things, I may use that as a reward in a training session (let you bounce off me getting a toy or something) but I wouldn't just let them do it to whoever, there has to be control over the inherent behavior.

    Bates is a body slammer and with some dogs it was fine, with others I had to tell him to play gently or simply not play at all. With me he was only allowed to body slam me if invited. And even then it was painful!
     
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  9. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    The collies lunging at cars rang a bell. There used to be a collie in the village that did this and his owner spent a long time training him not to fling himself into the road whenever he spotted a car coming along. He was on a lead all the time as she couldn’t take the risk of him seeing a car some distance off and running after it much like a collie spotting sheep in the distance.
    It took a lot of time before she was able to make his behaviour into something acceptable, it couldn’t be eradicated as it was so innate in him. She was able to get him to immediately lie down on seeing a car either coming or going and remain absolutely still until she released him once the car had gone from sight, tedious but it did allow him to be offlead as his lying down at the sight of a car and waiting for her to release him became a conditioned response and he didn’t need to be told.
     
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  10. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    I wouldn't raise my voice at the offender anyway as the goal is to encourage calm and self-control and I find that message sinks in better if I model calm behavior myself.
    With Penny I just tell her to knock it off while scooping her up and removing her from Bates' head. I don't raise my voice, but I am matter of fact about it.
     
  11. Samuel Conway

    Samuel Conway PetForums Newbie

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    I actually meant bond haha
     
  12. Samuel Conway

    Samuel Conway PetForums Newbie

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    This is EXACTLY my problem. I'm not able to be stern with Bjorn because Douglas becomes nervous, it's difficult in this case because correcting Bjorn is fundamental at this stage.
     
  13. Samuel Conway

    Samuel Conway PetForums Newbie

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    Both are castrated, Bjorn only very recently (still in his cone). They are opposites indeed. Bjorn known when he's misbehaving at this point, so he will listen but, being young, very quickly forgets. So we are trying to be consistent and calm, using hand gestures and facial expressions with him more than our voice. I'm not sure if this is the best thing to do. I usually give them treats separately but I was wondering if letting Dougie growl at him a little is teachable.
     
  14. Samuel Conway

    Samuel Conway PetForums Newbie

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    Bjorn has definitely been told off at the park on a fair few occasions and if Bjorn REALLY pushes it, he gets a little growl but he is sooooo confident, he doesn't much care. I do agree it should be us teaching him and not Douglas but it's just the difficulty of doing so without scaring Dougie. My only issue with Dougie thinking we will protect him is that he will do anything to avoid Bjorn and get to us, and seems to lose his own confidence in the house, unless his head is under our arm or he's trying to sit on top of us. I wonder if it's possible for Dougie to learn to assert himself a little more. If I'm involved, he does also seem to worry it's him who's in trouble, which can be counter-productive. My hope is as time goes on, things will balance and they will be happy together
     
  15. Samuel Conway

    Samuel Conway PetForums Newbie

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    This kind of conditioning is what we need to do for Bjorn, but for different reasons
     
  16. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    Yes, sure. But understanding the origins of the behaviour can be influential in how changing it is addressed. And as it's a behaviour not normally found in border collies, Dougie may be more intimidated by it than if it were also in his breed make-up.
     
  17. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    You don't have to be scary about it, or even that stern. Just be matter of fact, and physically remove Bjorn.
    Dougie will gain confidence from seeing that you are backing him up and defending him..

    When Bjorn is pushing it with Dougie and you see Dougie start curling in to himself, (ideally a few seconds before this), literally grab Bjorn by the collar, and lead him in to another room and lock him away from Dougie for a minute or two.

    The first few times you let him back out he will very likely make a bee-line to Dougie again and you will just grab him again and let him know we're not doing that. Back in another room away from the fun. Rinse and repeat. No need to scold anyone or raise your voice. Just repeat until he gets the hint.
    It will take a lot of repetitions so make sure the first time you decide to go this route you have a wide-open window of time to make sure he gets the message.

    And then he will wake up the next morning and need to learn the routine all over again. Like I said, I spend about 15 minutes every morning telling our younger dog to stop chewing on our older dog. He's still sleeping and I need a cup of coffee. I've been known to drink my coffee while holding the little terror under my other arm until she settles. I don't have to do that as much lately, but it's still a very labor intensive process. She's young and an idiot. They do grow up though :) You may have to keep a leash or light house line on Bjorn until he grows some more brain cells.
     
  18. LotsaDots

    LotsaDots PetForums Senior

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    Would it be worth putting a house line on the younger dog for now so you can quickly remove him if he does start bullying the other? f the consequence is immediate they tend to learn faster.
    I have a 7 month old pup who is confident and bolshy but my other dog is a 5 year old bitch who will take quite a lot from him but will also give him a good telling off if he pushes it too far. She is, however sensitive and we have to be careful about raising voices as she thinks it's her being told off..calm redirection is probably the best way forward I guess?
     
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