Timid Border Collie

Posted by starman
Jan 12, 2008
I have a 10 month old border collie female. She follows commands very well. Sit, sit say, ect. I take her for walks two to three times a day. plus brush up on her training. But she is still very timid around cars kids and people. But if she see another dog she has no problem with the dog or owner. So will she grow out of being timid or is there something else i can try with her. Any help is most welcome.
Posted by Todd
Jan 16, 2008
HI there and thank you for your email.

Scared dogs are a common thing and they usually get worse unless you deal with them so it is great that you want to make her more confident.

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your dog while she is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making her move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dog tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dog straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dog want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

The best way to deal with fear is to ignore her when she is being fearful. This means no eye contact, turning away from her and not speaking to her. Any attention will only encourage her.
Now ignoring her alone will not work. You must also reinforce her confidence. Wait until she starts to not cower or hide as soon as she shows some confidence give her praise and attention. This with the reprimanding will help build her confidence.

The best way to help her with specific things she is scared of is to introduce her to them in a safe situation like at home. Get a friend you know well to visit your home.
Get her to sit away from them.

Your visitors must:

*Not directly approach the dog at any time, this will only increase its anxieties

*Not stare the dog in its eyes, direct eye contact is intimidating for a submissive, fearful type because it reminds the animal that you are a predator. A predator or potentially threatening person/animal will keep eyes on eyes and quietly approach head on (which is most often how we approach our pets without realizing it).

*Talk in quiet voices while the dog is around. A big booming voice would not help in the beginning, in time this should not matter though

*If your dog becomes agitated, let it into a quiet room.

*After a while have the visitor get down to the dogs level (i.e sit on the floor) and if the dog seems comfortable it may approach the visitor.The visitor should not pat the dog, or look it in the eye unless the dog seems comfortable.

Continue to introduce people in this gentle manner. It may take your dog a few months to become used to strange people or it could take a few years, but patience and perseverance can only help in the end.

Do this the same way with other things. Again ignore and reinforce.

After a while you can try out in public following the same principles. Good luck it will take time. But please let me know how things go

Kind Regards
Todd Field
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 18, 2008
Hi startman.

I have 2 border collies and I just love them! They are so smart and focused.

As I read your posting, it sounds like your doggie is fine with other dogs and owners but becomes timid towards people. When she is timid, would she hide behind you, does she show her belly, or does she growl or bark?

I think what she needs is socialization to people. Maybe she was not exposed enough to all types of people, male/female/young/old etc. during her puppyhood. However, it is not too late and I am sure she will grow out of it with a proper socialization. As she gets used to more and more people, she will build a confidence and she will eventually be a nice friendly dog. But don't waste any more time, sooner is better.

First, please observe her and find out what kind(s) of people she looks uncomfortable with, what reaction she shows, how close she can get without being uncomfortable. You will have to work on her socialization gradually. Never push her too far or too fast. Find some people who likes dogs and have them give your dog some treats. If she does not growl or bark but just hide behind you, have them throw treat towards her and get closer little by little. Don't have them look at her in her eye like Todd said. Don't have them pat her on her head (some dogs don't like to be pat on the head). I don't know how timid your dog is by just reading your posting so what I am writing here might be just too extreme. You dog might not be that timid.

Desensitization is the key when a dog is afraid of something. My rescued border collie was afraid of anything long, like a broom, a roll of wrapping paper, crutches. She used to run away or bark at them with fear. During her training class, she had to learn to accept crutches to become a canine good citizen. The instructor and I laid the crutches on the floor and threw a few treats around them and she gradually came closer and closer and found out the crutches are no harm to her. It took a while but it worked.

If you don't mind, share with me what reaction she shows when she is afraid of people.

Thank you.
Posted by starman
May 30, 2008
Thanks for your note. She does go towards people sniff them and she will sniff their hand and then pull away and try to nip them. She goes to the groomer and she says she is no problem at all. Every day i walk her and she got out of the happid of trying to nip people walking toward us as i always corrected her every time she trys to nip them. But people with other dogs she is ok with can not figure it out. Any way thank you so much for your information and also for todd information i will keep you gys posted untill then Thanks
Posted by kiltedchef
Jun 15, 2008
Hi starman. I've just spent a couple of min. reading over what MaxHollyNoah and Todd have said, and I'd just like to add a little food for thought (and my opinion while I'm at it). I've been breeding, raising and training working border collies for years, so I thought that I'd point out a couple of quirks and thoughts.

First, many border collies nip, even well trained ones. They act very gentle, often times, toward the person, but then take the 1st opportunity when they've got their backs turned to nip. It is admittedly a real nuisance and unfortunately VERY hard to break. Instead as a shepherd, I try to channel it for use in moving cattle. Because of their size, cattle tend to stand down the dogs and need a display of force by the dogs. I condition the "bite" command to get them to do it on command. This is allegory, but what I'm trying to say is that no matter what you do with this problem, it IS controlable. You should forever be hyper-vigilant, though, at watching your dog when it comes behind someone else. I've also noted that they tend to do it more to those who are not as dominant to the dog. So, you'll get to know which people you should watch more closely.

I think that more socialization is definitely going to help, but the coup de grace would be alot more assertion of your position as the Alpha. That, along with solid training and a watchful eye on your part, will give you the ability to read the dog and people around the dog and to control with subtle power the dog's desire to nip, if it looks like it may. Over time, the nipping will become much less frequent.

We breed border collies for intelligence and their alpha tendencies. The more dominant the dog in the field, the better the presence and control it exerts over the herd. This does mean that to control the dog, you MUST prove your Alpha status continually. Obviously, not all make the cut to be working dogs and therefore make better house-pets. The tendencies are still there however and will surface when you least expect it. So will their desire to chase Leprichans and to gravitate toward people wearing plaid.

Good luck and keep working. You can get it under control with effort.