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Discussion Starter #1
Please, please tell this that this behavior is normal for a young border collie. And if it is, assure me that things will get better.

I got my little border collie baby at 6 weeks. Yes, I know. Too young to be removed from mama, but it wasn't my choice. Mom's owner said pups needed to go at 6 weeks, so we took her. She is 7 1/2 weeks now, barely out of infanthood by doggy standards. Mama dog is a very gentle, super sweet dog. She is the family's house dog, good with kids, friendly to strangers, etc. It was mama's temperament that convinced me to go with a pup from this litter.

But my pup is like an infant Jekyll and Hyde. She can be the sweetest little thing. She will lay in my lap and let me massage her feet and her ears. She was (still is) super mouthy, so we started saying "ouch" to get her bite to soften. Mostly, it has worked, unless she gets really riled up. That's when we either put her in her kennel or, if we're in her playpen we just walk away. We recently got her a couple new chew toys, softer kind that's made specifically for young puppies, and a bully stick. Those seem to help a lot.

But the real problem is that she hates being picked up and brought inside after going potty (or an attempt to potty). I scoop her up and she squirms, growls and today she snapped at my face. Yesterday, she did the same thing to my 31-year-old son and caught him on the lip. He is convinced that she is vicious and won't take her out to potty anymore. Once I get back inside, she calms down and becomes a regular puppy again.

Is this normal for a 7- almost 8-week-old pup to throw a puppy fit every time she needs to leave the yard? FYI, the problem is not with picking her up. She's sweet and calm most of the way out. She becomes a real wiggle worm when we have crossed the patio and are almost to the grass. I always figured that it was because she really had to go potty. Sometimes she goes, and sometimes she doesn't. We are working hard and making potty time, potty time only. No playtime. So, when she starts attacking my feet or my pant legs, I pick her up and bring her inside. If she didn't go potty, I try again a few minutes later. Every time, she is good going out but a mean little girl as we head back inside.

I've been reading up on puppy biting and know that biting itself is normal, and that border collies in particular are a nippy breed. But I've also run across some very scary posts about border collies who are neurologically broken and get so bad that people -- even other border collie owners -- recommend euthanasia as in this thread: http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/topic/36152-please-help-scary-puppy-aggression-issues/

I love my little girl. I want her to be healthy and happy. Any advice (aside from rehoming or euthanizing) would be very helpful. BTW, there are no other animals or and no children in my home. My son works but I'm retired and home 24-7 so I have the time to put into helping her if I can just figure out what to do.
 

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It isn't abnormal and a sign that she's going to be broken.

It is a pretty good sign that she's a border collie - being easily frustrated, having strong ideas about how things go, and pushing back to make those things happen is common. Being growling and bitey is also just plain common puppy behavior, especially when tired. She's a baby/toddler. She's doing the equivalent of saying 'no' and throwing a fit from a combination of overwhelmed, not liking what's going on, and being, well, a young dog who has yet to learn to communicate with people (ie: communicating with another dog hat growl and snap would mean, and be read as, 'back off!'.

Don't carry her out of the yard. Put her on a leash, walk her in and out and don't be in range. Reward when she comes toward the house and then inside it.

And, um, except more growling, barking, snapping and intolerance at assorted things for a good few years. Fear issues and irrepairably broken are not typical but strong opinions, expressing htem and responding strongly and nearly instantly to things is absolutely normal and can quickly escalate to serious trouble. Being brought home too young won't help that.

Get in touch with a professional trainer to help you, as soon as she's old enough to go to class. Your son is being ridiculous, but I think you're going to need help. That doesn't mean you're terrible but you sound intimidated and overwhelmed and that's not good. So, get help before things spiral between the two of you.
 

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Totally normal puppy behavior. Some puppies are just not very tolerant of being picked up, and some puppies flat out don't like being cuddled or handled. Though, it sounds like your girl is super sweet in many situations. Why does she need to be picked up so much? Why are you picking her up when she is being too rowdy? I'd recommend working on leash skills with your pup so that you can easily lead her in and out. That, and use treats to lure instead.

My pup hated being picked up, even though I did a TON of positive handling exercises. It was to the point where I felt I was totally undoing my training. And in my case, I absolutely had to have my pup reach heights (up into car crate and up into work crate on a filing cabinet since no space on floor, multiple times a day because potty breaks) multiple times a day. Here is a work-around I had to the car problem: https://youtu.be/O9I32RBmh0Q
I'm really not trying to make myself seem super grand. I'm just saying, I'm a real person who really had the same problem. My pup got better about handling and being lifted when he matured. But it's good to think of other ways to minimize handling instead of 'making' a puppy better about handling at this stage.

I didn't even read the link you posted because I think your puppy sounds like a totally normal puppy. Not even 'normal BC puppy' but... normal puppy. No need to bring euthanasia and neurological problems into the picture. But if you truly think there is something wrong with her brain, a vet visit should be top priority.

An aside from your questions, but why did you decide on a border collie puppy, which is pretty much the total opposite of the dog you seemed to be looking for when you posted that thread a while ago? Did you meet the father (if the mother was sweet but the father was standoffish, very working type dog, you could really get anything no matter what)? I know you wrote a couple times your breeder NEEDED to get rid of the puppies at 6 weeks, why is that? No need to answer the off topic questions if you don't want to. I just feel that you are a bit overwhelmed by this 7.5 week pup (forgive me if I'm wrong), and well, I hope you get a handle on these things before 10, 12, 16 weeks of age when this puppy will really 'wake up' and show you her true mettle.
 

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I agree with CptJack's and Canyx's assessments. Border Collies (any many herding breeds) are very...opinionated. If they don't like something, they will tell you about it. They were bred to snap and nip at livestock to make them move! Expect more of this behavior! I would stop picking her up, as it seems to make her uncomfortable. Instead, use a leash and a treat as a lure to guide her where you need her to go. Invest in a nice slip lead so you can just loop it around her head when you need to take her somewhere. Also, make sure she associates the slip lead with good things! I mean, you won't be able to pick her up when she's full grown to make her do things, so why get into that habit now?

I would also start working on handling, like nail clipping, brushing, looking at her teeth. Many dogs, not just BCs, do not like having sensitive areas like paws, ears, and mouths handled! It's a good time to start building positive experiences with having those areas handled now, so she at least tolerates it and understands there will be a reward later!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks again, everyone. I am relieved that you all think her tantrums are normal. I don't recall my last pooch having such fits when he was a pup. But maybe I just blocked those times out of my brain. BTW, she's been to the vet and has received a clean bill of health.

I'll probably miss answering some of the questions, but here goes.
** My last pooch was a 6-week-old shelter adoption but I still questioned getting a pup from a breeder at 6 weeks. She told me that bc pups are smart, mature fast and need to bond with their new owner instead of her. I had no reason to disbelieve her. <says the poster with SUCKER stamped on her forehead.>
** I carried my pup to the lawn because I read several how-to articles and watched a couple of videos that said to carry them to their potty spot. One time when I didn't, she walked out of her crate and immediately peed. I thought that was the reason for carrying them.
** I am indeed a little stressed about the pup. It took me two years to convince my son to get a dog after our last one passed away three years ago. So, I suppose that I'm feeling extra sensitive about making sure this little girl fits into our family.
**Reason for a border collie: I wanted a GSD or GSD mix, same as our previous two. My son wanted a beagle. I wanted a larger, more protective breed. He wanted a smaller, more playful breed. And so the negotiation started. We settled on a midsize breed, watchful, keen to learn, playful, fewer known genetic issues than many other breeds. I thought our only challenge would be exercise but we put together a plan for when she gets older: walks, flirt stick, fetch, tug, backyard treiball (ball herding) and maybe even a little playing on a DIY backyard agility course. (I'm not interested in competitive agility)
** My pup is very sweet when she wants to be. Gentle finger licks, settles onto my lap to chew her bully stick, and today she sat on my lap as we played a silent game of "leave it." (I held her kibble in my hand. Closed hand when she went for them. Clicked and fed her kibble when she waited like a good girl.) She was quick to catch on and was happy to let me click and feed, click and feed. Generally, she doesn't mind being handled, except when she wants to explore or doesn't want to be removed from something she is doing (like chewing on sticks and leaves in the backyard).
**As far as fear goes, so far she doesn't seem to be afraid of anything except riding in the car. No problem with loud motorcycles, teens on skateboards, or the trash truck which she heard stop at our house today. She stops for a moment, listens and then goes on as if it's nothing. During her wellness checkup, she was oblivious to the other two dogs in the waiting room, and she showed no fear of the vet or his assistant.
**After she gets her second set of shots, she'll be attending a puppy group that is overseen by a trainer/behavioral therapist. If my girl acts up in the group we'll talk to the therapist about a formal one-on-one consultation. The woman helped a friend of mine with her adult dog and apparently knows her stuff.
**My son truly believes the pup doesn't like him. I think she's more aggressive with him because he was her rope tug buddy, her play pal. Doesn't help that he took my "ignore her bad behavior, reward the good behavior" comment much too literally. When he took her potty, he allowed her to chew and tug on his pant leg because he thought that was how he was supposed to "ignore" the problem. I don't want him to develop a dislike for her and I don't want her to think she can continue to bite him. So, for the next couple of weeks, I'm taking on all the responsibility for the pup in hopes that their break from one another will give them a fresh start.

I've done lots and lots and lots of research on raising a puppy. I've come across some slightly conflicting information, as well as some really horrible stuff. Maybe it's time to cut back on the research and just come up with a plan and stick to it.
 

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I am going to tell you now, as gently as I can, that exercise is the least of your issues with meeting a BCs needs. There is a lot of emphasis on that online, but it's generally bullcrap. Most BC (and many other highly intelligent herders, but BC more than most because of their tendency toward OCD like behavior) will become annoying nags if they *expect* to have a lot of exercise, a lot of exercise becomes routine, or their owners believe that exercising them into the ground is how you get a well behaved dog/give in to a lot of nagging. Sometimes all of those things come into play and it can be bad. Most, however, have a pretty good off switch and will sleep 22.5 hours a day if there's nothing else to do.

Your biggest problem is probably going to be her brain. They don't have many genetic illnesses, but they are predisposed toward: Noticing everything in the environment, forming associations quickly, and reacting first and asking questions either. Those are the normal ones. That's what they're supposed to be. Ideally that means they're sharp, eager, and learn a lot. Do things 'wrong' or have one negative experience with the fire alarm going off when they walked into the kitchen and they scream at all beeping noises and refuse to go into your kitchen. Mistime one maker and the dog believes that your 'sit' request is actually for them to sit and then bounce up and you've got 6 months of perfect timing before you get that fixed and meanwhile they're going to bark at you every time it doesn't get them a reward because you're wrong.

They're not hard dogs because they're active. They're hard dogs because they notice all the things - down to a piece of trash blowing by 50 feet away - respond super fast, form associations super fast, and typically have some degree of dog selectivity and stranger danger. And because when not mentally stimulated/trained sufficient to their needs they make trouble.

Exercise and teaching an off switch is easy.

A very soft, sensitive, observant, SHARP, fast responding, dog who takes offense to 'rude' (and weird) behavior from dogs and people and is quick to correct or overreact or shut down n your life is not.

I'm not saying that to scare you but seriously - take some time, take some breaths, and find a good rewards based trainer (because soft! most BC can't handle corrections of any real harshness even if you don't mind them yourself) and settle in. You're going to be in for a ride and to do a whole lot more *training*, learning and managing than you expected. Good news is, it won't require as much physical activity as you were worried about.
 

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I carried my pup to the lawn because I read several how-to articles and watched a couple of videos that said to carry them to their potty spot. One time when I didn't, she walked out of her crate and immediately peed. I thought that was the reason for carrying them.
If your puppy can't make it to the potty area without peeing, then yes, carry her to the spot. That would be the only time it should be necessary and she should outgrow this fairly quickly. No need to carry her back inside - lure with treats instead.

Generally, she doesn't mind being handled, except when she wants to explore or doesn't want to be removed from something she is doing (like chewing on sticks and leaves in the backyard).
Lure with treats instead. You need to be more interesting/rewarding than the leaves/sticks.

My son truly believes the pup doesn't like him. I think she's more aggressive with him because he was her rope tug buddy, her play pal. Doesn't help that he took my "ignore her bad behavior, reward the good behavior" comment much too literally. When he took her potty, he allowed her to chew and tug on his pant leg because he thought that was how he was supposed to "ignore" the problem. I don't want him to develop a dislike for her and I don't want her to think she can continue to bite him. So, for the next couple of weeks, I'm taking on all the responsibility for the pup in hopes that their break from one another will give them a fresh start.
This is probably a good idea. After a bit of a break maybe give him a chore that's rewarding and positive to the puppy - like feeding her.
 

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Oh and I would continue to lurk and visit the border collie boards. They're working BC centric and the politics can be a bit much, but they generally know their stuff.
 

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CptJack pretty much nailed a typical Border Collie. You can't tire them out! Commit to spending an hour of your time with the dog exercising and playing and training every day, and then expect the dog to chill. My dog gets 45 minute to 1 hour walks every day that we don't have class, and we do an agility class at least once a week, as well as longer "hikes" on the weekends that last 1.5 - 2 hours. That's it. The rest of time, he's following me around the house, sleeping, or laying outside watching the world go by.
 

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Yeaaah, the breeder did not make those placement choices based on actual knowledge of puppy development. But, it is what it is. I'll offer advice on this piece:

"After she gets her second set of shots, she'll be attending a puppy group that is overseen by a trainer/behavioral therapist. If my girl acts up in the group we'll talk to the therapist about a formal one-on-one consultation. The woman helped a friend of mine with her adult dog and apparently knows her stuff."

Make sure the puppy group is well managed and that your pup has a good time. Do not fall for "puppies will teach each other" or "let them work it out" if your pup isn't having a great time or being pushed too hard by other puppies. Most herding puppies I've seen in classes are fine with other puppies and play with well matched ones, but are very handler oriented and really 'talk back' if rubbed the wrong way. Or, they can be overly aroused and target/herd a specific puppy. If the instructor is too focused on 'making puppies play and interact', do not go back. Socialization and puppy play groups should be about creating safe and positive experiences for ALL. Another big red flag is the other end of the spectrum...repeated and/or firm corrections to stop snarky puppies. There is absolutely no need for that with young puppies especially. Tiny pups are easily redirected or interrupted by a quick whistle, clap, squeaker, food lure, etc. If tons of snarking, rolling, fighting is happening, the instructor needs to do a better job. If any pups need to be interrupted, the next step should be changing the environment so that those puppies aren't able to repeat the behavior.

I only mention this because I see no reason why your pup should "act up in the group" unless the group was poorly managed.
 

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I am on my phone so I will keep this brief. We had the exact same behavior with our bernedoodle puppy. She is now 6 months old and a delight. Okay she eats socks but still.

We got her late, about 16weeks. For the first week or two whenever we would take her out she would settle in the garden and refuse to move. If we picked her up she got extremely snappy!

Our family went through the same turmoil that yours is going through. Is this a vicious dog? Will it be impossible to socialize this little monster? Of course when she was in the house she was great, but then when she needed to go back outside and it was the same torment and fight all over again.

Within a couple of weeks she was over it.

The only thing that helped was taking her to the backyard where there are no garden plantings; she found it less interesting. I do not know if that is an option for you. If there is a place she really likes to settle in and you are struggling to get her out, you might try to just not go there.

Either way, I would bet this is just a temporary behavior.

Good luck!

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the replies. I'll keep my eyes open for any signs of excess firmness or lack of structure in the puppy class. I'm bummed that we have not been able to attend yet. We paid two weeks ago but have not yet attended and won't be able to go for another two weeks because my little girl is having urinary tract issues.

Initially, she had a bladder infection. After a round of antibiotics she is doing better but still squatting multiple times during each potty break. Our vet referred us to a specialist. As of yesterday, she's been diagnosed with struvite crystals, which I've read are common but not always problematic. We are still awaiting results from a different culture test to see if there is anything else abnormal in her urine. The specialist said our regular vet might want to switch her to a special prescription diet for pups with UTI issues.

Dave, it was good to read about your bernedoodle pup growing into a sweet (but sock-eating) puppy. It gives me hope!

It is possible that my girl is acting out because she isn't feeling well. I know I get cranky when I've had UTIs. She is a little Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. She is a mix of high energy puppy that likes to nip at anything that moves, especially hands, feet and pant legs crossed with a sweet mellow pup that wants to be snuggled and stroked as she naps in my lap for an hour every morning and some afternoons. It's like I have two different puppies in one little body with needle teeth and cat claws.
 

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When my Doberman puppy had a UTI, and had struvite crystals I was told my Vet to not change her diet. She phoned up the place they get their prescription diets from and they said since she was a puppy, not to put her on the prescription diet. If you look up struvite crystals, the all say the same thing, you do not have to change their diet.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I thought I should give a follow-up post in case new puppy owners have a similar issue to the one I originally posted about.

My girl is now 15 weeks old and is doing MUCH better! She's still a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde. She loves to snuggle after her breakfast but she still gets super nippy in the evening. Thankfully, she no longer throws a snarling, snapping temper tantrum when she has to leave the backyard and come back inside. When she's reluctant, all I have to do is say, "let's go" and give a gentle tug on her leash. That's not to say she never throws a tantrum. Once in a while she'll thrown a fit (honking sound & biting) when she's forced into her playpen during a time out but those outbursts are rare and the bites she gives those times are generally mild compared to her playtime biting. She understands the concept of "be gentle" (when mouthing) and I'm pretty sure she now has an idea of what I mean when I say, "no bite." Unfortunately, she has very little self-control when she's excited. I'm guessing that has something to go with her being 1) a border collie and 2) a puppy. We have seen some improvement since we implemented time-outs. She's smart. I have no doubt that in time our little vampire puppy will grow to learn better self-control and will turn out to be a wonderful dog.

FYI, her UTI is gone and the crystals do not seem to be a problem. We were referred to a specialist because she would squat to pee two or three times during her potty visits, even after completing her round of antibiotics for a UTI. The specialist found struvite crystals but no other issues, not even any signs of continued infection. We were charged almost $600 and told to contact our vet for more tests, x-rays and possibly dietary changes if she continued to squat multiple times. But first, I decided to try something else. I stopped rewarding her for every pee and only rewarded her after the first squat. Within three weeks, she started to relieve herself once during her potty visits. Was the multiple squatting a learned behavior? Or did something in her urinary tract straighten itself out as she grew? We'll probably never know.
 

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It sounds like your girl is doing a lot better and settling in pretty well. That's great! I did want to point out this:

She loves to snuggle after her breakfast but she still gets super nippy in the evening.
Is a totally normal thing. Both of my puppies did it. So consistently that I can tell what time it is (give or take ~10 minutes) based on whether they're laying/playing calmly or not. If they're not, it must be about 9 PM. The older "puppy" (who will be 4 next month) mostly grew out of it.... until we brought home a new baby puppy and now they act like midnight demons together (although the older one is less intense about it, and will go lay down, etc. if you tell her to).
 

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Mistime one maker and the dog believes that your 'sit' request is actually for them to sit and then bounce up and you've got 6 months of perfect timing before you get that fixed and meanwhile they're going to bark at you every time it doesn't get them a reward because you're wrong.
OMG this! I have a BC mix (BC/Springer) and this is EXACTLY IT. I once was working on getting him to lie down on command. He was doing great with it by hand signal and the first time I faded out the hand signal and just said "Down" he laid down and immediately barked. Me, in all my BC/Retrieverness (with a dog who had herding drive while the rest of her was very retriever), rewarded it.

And he STILL thinks that "down" means "lie down and bark."

I haven't even begun trying to fix it.
 
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