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Hello! First time posting. I have an 11 month old male Border Collie. I have had him since he was 7 weeks old and he has never been mistreated. I am single. It's just him and I most of the time. He does go to daycare once a week or so and he spends a lot of time with his brother (my sister adopted him) and does well with my little nieces and nephews. He's housetrained and never has an accident.

However, when we are out of the house and he sees a person or animal he goes nuts. If we're in the car, he's up against the back window barking his fool head off. If we're leaving day care and another person comes in to get their dog, he's lunging at them and barking like crazy. I tried taking him to obedience class but he cowered by my feet the whole time. I have tried training him with these tiny little noise chains and his tail goes between his legs and he slinks off to curl up away from the noise. When he meets new people in relaxed situations (my aunt may be sitting on the couch when we get to my parents house), he takes FOREVER to even creep close enough to sniff them. I'm very patient with him and will stand quietly next to him while he works up his courage.

I'm concerned he may have some form of anxiety and I've read that can decrease their immune system and cause other issues. I'm not sure what to do next. He's a very sweet and loving dog and I want to be able to take him to dog parks and such but right now I think he'd probably give himself a heart attack freaking out at the strange people and dogs. Any suggestions?
 

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I know when I had borders my male was very sensitive. He hated loud noises the worst. Taking him to puppy school helped alot with the being afraid of people. Also if you have a local dog park maybe you can take him and he can learn to associate other dogs/people with fun. Does he like balls? frisbees ? Borders have to have a job or they are way bored !
 

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Thank you for the reply! One question...I'm not sure what to do when he lunges at people and is barking like a maniac. I hold on to his leash and tell him to stop, but it doesn't typically work. At the obedience class I went to, they said to step on his leash and make him sit/lay down. Is that an appropriate response? He's a medium-sized dog, so I think he kind of scares people a little when he does that.
 

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Does he like balls or food? How did you socialize him as a puppy?

Borders are sensitive, so harsh methods don't usually work that well with most of them.

One thing you can do is start working on him just sitting and taking bits of food from your hand. Start this in the house, where he's comfortable, then move to different rooms in the house, then the backyard, then the front yard, slowly working towards more new places and distractions. This might take a few weeks or more. He might be able to do this for example when there is someone a block away on the street, but not right next to you - so work on the person being closer and closer to him. I would put him in a crate in the car and cover it so he can't see things to bark at too.

You can also start feeding him in new places - starting with easy ones like a quite street with nothing going on, the far end of a parking lot at walmart, places that are 'new' but quiet. Slowly work towards more of a distraction, like closer to the entrance of walmart, as he progresses. Once he's somewhat comfortable with new things, take a book, some really good treats and go to a quiet park and read. Have him on leash and let him chill out, if someone comes near have the treats where they can get some out first and toss them at him (you may even want to post a sign saying 'my dog needs to learn strangers are friendly, please help by taking some treats and tossing them to him but IGNORE him otherwise, thanks!).

If he's ball motivated use the ball as his reward/focus for new situations. I've seen stressed out border collies that have 'never left the farm' herd sheep through a parade downtown because their focus on sheep is stronger than their stress of that setting. If you can take him herding that would be ideal as well to teach him some good ways to burn up stress and think too..
 

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Thank you for the reply! One question...I'm not sure what to do when he lunges at people and is barking like a maniac. I hold on to his leash and tell him to stop, but it doesn't typically work. At the obedience class I went to, they said to step on his leash and make him sit/lay down. Is that an appropriate response? He's a medium-sized dog, so I think he kind of scares people a little when he does that.
Ideally, it sounds like you need a behaviorist. iaabc.org is a great place to find one.

You have to work with him before he's lunging and barking. The point at which he starts lunging and barking is called his "threshold". You need to work with him "below threshold". Once he's lunging and barking, he's "over threshold" and can't learn or even really hear you.

Figure out how close he has to get to people in order to start reacting, now back up. That's how far away you will start training. Go home. Start tomorrow. Every time the dog looks at something that usually sets him off and stays calm, give him a treat. Just keep treating. Stay at that same distance for a few days. Now try moving closer, just a little bit. If he stays calm, give him a treat. If he reacts, you're going too fast, try again tomorrow and move back. Keep this up, just a little close each time, for as long as it takes.

Eventually, you'll be able to tell the dog to sit or down right next to a person and he will.

That bag of chains concerns me. Sit Means Sit uses that device and they are terrible. The techniques they use are borderline abusive (and sometimes just abusive) and when you use those sorts of tactics with fearful dogs, you can create, well, what you've got right now. You need to learn positive techniques, ASAP. look up kikopup on youtube. she's fantastic.
 

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Ideally, it sounds like you need a behaviorist. iaabc.org is a great place to find one.

You have to work with him before he's lunging and barking. The point at which he starts lunging and barking is called his "threshold". You need to work with him "below threshold". Once he's lunging and barking, he's "over threshold" and can't learn or even really hear you.

Figure out how close he has to get to people in order to start reacting, now back up. That's how far away you will start training. Go home. Start tomorrow. Every time the dog looks at something that usually sets him off and stays calm, give him a treat. Just keep treating. Stay at that same distance for a few days. Now try moving closer, just a little bit. If he stays calm, give him a treat. If he reacts, you're going too fast, try again tomorrow and move back. Keep this up, just a little close each time, for as long as it takes.

Eventually, you'll be able to tell the dog to sit or down right next to a person and he will.

That bag of chains concerns me. Sit Means Sit uses that device and they are terrible. The techniques they use are borderline abusive (and sometimes just abusive) and when you use those sorts of tactics with fearful dogs, you can create, well, what you've got right now. You need to learn positive techniques, ASAP. look up kikopup on youtube. she's fantastic.
This, 100%. Some dogs can deal with things like training with chain noises, although I think it's rarely the best way to go. But some dogs are just soft, sensitive and easily scared, and with these dogs, aversive methods just make things worse. You should look into a training class that uses clicker training and exclusively positive reinforcement. Not to mention that training is a lot more fun when your dog isn't running away and cowering fearfully in a corner somewhere.
 
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