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Canine Behavior/border collie


My Border Collie Holly is obedient and knows all the basic commands and follows them. She also loves to chase familiar dogs (three to be precise) that are chasing a ball(she does the herding thing). She does not hurt the dogs and the other dogs are not bothered, so it's a great way to exercise her. The owners are also fine with this. She still comes when called with two of the dogs, but with the third she will run across an enormous park to get to this dog, and ignores my recall. Only when I get up close will she come when called. I have tried to encourage her at great lengths to play ball, used a long line, hidden from her, used treats and run in the opposite direction, all to no avail. She is not interested in treats when out for a walk, even though she would jump through a burning hoop to get one a home. She will also do this with Rabbits and Squirrels, so taking her to wooded areas is a no, even though I would love to be able to do this with her. She went missing for half an hour once and I was frantic. Unfortunately to add to this problem, the owner of the dog she runs to has made inappropriate remarks to me. So as you can imagine I do not want my dog to charge over to them.

Hi Nicky -

It sounds like you have tried all the appropriate training measures with your dog.  Border Collies are brilliant dogs, however they have high energy needs, and yes, they LOVE to do the herding thing.

Some things to try and think about with practicing your recall...

1. Never yell at her or scold her when she does finally come back to you.  She will not want to come back to you if she knows she will be punished.

2. Practice the recall in an area with fewer distractions until you can get it more reliable. You may want to use the long line to reel her in if she is ignoring you.  Lots of praise, petting, treats when she does come.  Make sure that when she comes to you that you get her to come all the way between your knees and give her lots of petting on the collar.  If you make touching the collar positive she won't have a problem with you reaching down to grab it if you ever needed to.

3. Never say the "Come" command more than one time.  Repeating commands teaches the dog that they can ignore them.  If she does not repond to the command then say her name, clap, make kissy noises, squat down with open arms encourage her to return to you.  It's better she that she ignore these gestures if she's going to disobey than the command.  You want her to learn that when you say "Come" you mean business and it's right now, not when she feels like it.

4. Running in the opposite direction works with bonded owners and dogs in most cases unless the stimulus that caused your dog to run away is too great.  The key to this technique is to runn the opposite way but to make yourself interesting.  This basically means the more weird and crazy you look to the dog, the more interesting you will be and the more likely the dog will be to come investigate you instead of whatever she was chasing.  Wave your arms in the air, kick your feet up, make a funny sound, drop and roll on the grass etc.

5. Consider keeping her on a leash, especially near wooded areas.  Perhaps you could speak to the dog owner that has the dog she likes to play with and get an idea of their schedule.  If you bring Holly to the park when that dog is not there you could practice the recall work.  

6. Border Collies just love people so of course she is going to want to run and bounce over to greet them.  Make sure your dog greets people appropriately by never letting her jump, mouth, or be overly excited.  You can do this by ALWAYS making her sit for greetings.  No sit, no greeting.  This type of punishment works because you are removing the dog's opportunity for a reward (in this case new person to sniff and receive affection from)If the owner of the dog run doesn't want to interact with your dog than he/she can shun the dog (remove eye contact, turn their back on the dog) and she should get the message that the person doesn't want to be bothered.  I can't understand though why someone who doesn't like dogs owns a dog run!

Best of luck with your pup!  Keep me posted...

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Jennifer Ganser, LMT, ABCDT


For canines I can answer questions related to behavior, obedience training, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) For equines I can answer questions related to behavior, barn management, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) I am not a veterinarian and it is not within my scope of practice as a licensed massage therapist or certified dog trainer to diagnose health conditions. Please contact your pet's veterinarian for illness related questions and emergencies.


I am a licensed massage therapist for people, horses, and dogs and a certified dog trainer. I teach group obedience classes as well as private lessons. I also work with horses and help barns establish good management practices.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) National Certification Board of Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

2009 - graduate of Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy 2010 - certified in canine/feline first aid + CPR by Red Cross 2012 - graduate of Post University equine program 2012 - graduate of Animal Behavior College Obedience program

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