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Discussion Starter #1
Five months ago we adopted a one-year-old border collie who was not adequately socialized and tends to be anxious in some situations but does fine in others. The rescue organization got him started at dog parks and he is fine there but we are having a lot of problems at home with him being reactive to the dogs who live on either side of our house.

We have three very noisy Jack Russells on one side and two bulldogs and a mutt on the other. Our dog is reactive to any sound from either side when he's in the house and even worse if he is out in the yard and they come out. He's worse with the Jack Russells because they bark pretty intensely. I understand that he was pretty much terrorized by a small dog in his former home.

I can't move him a comfortable distance from this stimulus since it freaks him out even when he's inside and I can't predict when this stimulus will occur. The Jack Russells go out intermittently; the other dogs sometimes hang out in the backyard.

I have tried feeding him treats when they are barking to create a positive association but it feels like that is just feeding his frenzy.

I have controlled him in the backyard with a long lead so they can't actually fence fight, which our dog has done in the past, lunging at the fencing and attacking the boards. But his anxiety continues to increase weekly based just on the sound of the other dogs alone. He worries about it every moment he's outside to do his business, wound up tight as a guitar string just waiting for a cue to freak.

It's like having a thunderstorm for a neighbor... (he doesn't like thunder or fireworks either) :mad:

Complicating matters... he won't poop while on a leash. I've waited, walked him miles, taken him back in and tried again multiple times... he won't go. Until finally he winds up losing control and going in the house.

I know what I'm doing so far is not working. And as the weather improves, the other dogs will be outside more and more, making the situation worse and worse.

I need help! :eek:
 

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I am very interested in seeing replies on this, as there are three dogs next door. When all the dogs are out, it leads to behavior like you've mentioned. They are divided by a chain link fence. (I was hoping a privacy fence would help and planned to get one this summer, but maybe not?) The neighbor's house is for sale, but you never know who might move in. If the situation persists, I'm thinking of contacting an in-home trainer to advise me. Have you considered one?
 

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This may not be helpful, as it may uspet him more, but have you tried a crate?

In my experience with dogs that are wound tight like that, they are thinking TOO much and taking ON too much. It might help, when he goes off, to put him in a crate where he feels secure, safe, and like he can "drop the reins" so to speak.

I got a 4 month old GSD once, that had been taught this type of behavior by his very nervous and neurotic owner. She had bought him because she was scared, so she encouraged and praised ANY alarm barking. When I got him at 18 weeks, we was barking at every sound, every noise. Within a few months of ignoring the behavior and time "off" in a crate until he calmed down, he quit it and go on with being a dog. :)
 

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From the various things I've tried, I do tend to think that containment and ignoring when he's in the house might be the best approach as anything else, positive or negative, seems to just ramp him up even more.

As the weather improves, I've been considering just taking him outside on a short leash and sitting outside with him while they bark and carry on and see if he can learn from experience that it doesn't mean anything and it's safe to ignore it. Maybe give him something to chew on - though he destroys everything he chews very quickly so that can be tricky - and some treats then dished out over time... I could put his crate out there.

We were originally thinking about blocking the view through the fence - it's wood slats so limited visual - but seeing how much he cues off sound alone, I don't think that will help.

We have also considered putting a large wire kennel - 13 feet by 10 feet - in the middle of the yard away from the two fence sides so he could go out there off leash and at least not physically engage them. But I'm not sure whether that would increase or decrease his anxiety.

One other thing I thought of inside is I could use white noise to "dial down" the intensity of the barking to a level he could manage.

I do think I'm going to contact a behaviorist for help with this but appreciate all input and suggestions here.

Just wanted to note that I get him out of the house every day for an hour of mental and physical stimulation, rain or shine.

He also does not understand "back yard" as a place to go hang out - seems he did not have one or much of one where he lived before. The whole time he's out there, from the first day we got him, he has paced, stolen wood chips, eaten grass obsessively. Even before he started reacting to the dogs, he was not comfortable out there. The first few weeks he ignored the dogs if they were quiet and then started getting more and more anxious about them until he erupted in a snarling lunge at the fence. He doesn't do any of these things at the dog park. Goes in happily and either plays with a tennis ball or plays with the dogs - more the tennis ball recently. Somewhere along the line about a month ago the border collie tennis ball switched got turned on! :)
 

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Try this: when he gets upset or anxious step between him and the distraction....show him that he does not have to handle the problem....you will. That should take a load off his mind. It's going to take some time/consistency before that realization sets in (that you've got it under control....it's not his job anymore) but, it will happen.
 
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