Aggressive Border Collie. HELP!

Posted by verabm
Mar 11, 2008
We have a 5 year old Border Collie who is well trained but the only problem is that he is unsocialized and has never had much contact with strangers and other dogs as he is only ever indoors or playing with the children in the backyard. He is fine with family members but becomes very stressed and aggressive when in contact with strangers. It is very stressful to take him out of the house, and we would really like to be able to take him for walks. He loves going for drives in the car but when parked you can see he becomes very domineering when people pass.
We have just purchased the SitStayFetch book and can't wait to try to socialize him and get him out in the world having fun. He is very intelligent but obviously very afraid of new things and people as he has tried to nip a few people we know. We would love any advice on the best way to approach his re-training.
thanks! Vera.
Posted by Todd
Mar 12, 2008
Hi there and thanks for your question.

Socialising a dog at this later stage can take a lot of time and tolerance but it sounds as though you are very commited and are taking this seriously so you are already half way there

It does sound like he needs some more socialising but before we get there we need to go through some basic ideas.

Before we try and stress him out i think it is vital that he is well trained and obedient. I want you to work with him for 15 minutes twice a day on the basic sit stay and come commands. Choose a quiet secluded area so that you have his full attention.
You need to be sure that when he is being socialised he will behave so this training is very important

OKay now that we have got that out of the way lets work on how we are going to socialise him.

*Get an adult friend to come and visit (make sure that you tell them what is happening!).

*As your friend knocks on the door or rings the doorbell, make your dog sit and give it a treat. Then put your dogs collar on and take it to either a crate or a secure room. If your dog is too much of a handful at even this stage then you will have to put your dog away before your visitor gets to the door.

*Sit your friend down in a room that is not often use by your dog. Give you friend some treats so that they can give them to your dog.

*Go to your dog and make it sit. Put a halti or muzzle as well as the choke collar on. Get your dog to heel then take it into the room that your friend is in. Make sure that your friend does not give any eye contact. Act as happy as you can while petting your dog.

*If your dog growls or disobeys your commands at ANY TIME then squirt it with water or shake a pebble filled can to startle it. Have the water pistol or can in your dogs view at all times. If on the other hand he gets fearful and hides then you need to completely ignore him. This means no eye contact, no talking to him and no reassuring him. But the second he shows some confidence then you need to praise him to reinforce non-fearful behaviour.

*Make your dog sit quite a long way from your guest, perhaps in the doorway of the room. When your dog is calm get it to heel and move it closer, then get your dog to sit again. Praise your dog when it sits and heels properly.

*When your dog is calm and you have moved it and made it sit within 5 feet of the guest then get the guest to give your dog a treat. Make sure that the guest does not look your dog in the eyes.

Preferably you will repeat this twice a day for several weeks. Once he is happy in this situation you need to try him outside in the yard with more strangers.

From here you need to try him out in the public. Follow the same principles of either ignoring, telling off or praising. With time and patience he will learn.

I think it may be good to try a product like DAP or Rescue remedy during your training sessions to help him relax and not get stressed out.
This program will need you to get him to interact with people, other dogs and anything else he may be scared of. Take it slowly and with time he will improve. Please let me know how things are going and if i can help anymore

Posted by verabm
Mar 14, 2008
hi Todd,
thanks so much for the very helpful information. we are keen to start this training as soon as possible and will let you know how it goes.
thanks so much again!