3 days ago I adopted a 5 year old male rescue collie called Dash (I've attached a photo - I hope that it uploads OK). He's my first dog, and I must admit that I'm struggling. I work from home most of the time and I'm trying to figure out a daily routine that will work for us both. I thought I would take him for an hour long walk first thing in the morning and then again in the afternoon (each time after his food), and maybe have a half hour training session around midday. But I'm not sure how much contact/stimulation he needs in between those times. I have him on some vet bed on the area just outside my office door (which is also where he sleeps) because I don't want him having the run of the house just yet. But I think he's getting bored - he whines a little, and creeps into the room doing what I think is a play bow, which presumably means he wants some attention. I guess I have several questions:
- what sort of attention should I give him? He loves having his chest and tummy stroked but sometimes when he gets lively I think he wants something more fun and stimulating.
- what mini-games could I play with him indoors which won't get him over-excited? I gave him a tennis ball but he started racing up and down stairs with it - he's very reluctant to release a ball or a Kong (I've had to trick him out of them each time he's been reluctant to let go - I've certainly not tried to take them from his mouth, and don't intend to).
- how often should I respond to (or ignore) what I think are his requests for attention. I do want a dog that likes to be interacted with, but I also need to get my work done.
I don't think he's a difficult dog - it's just that I'm very new to this, and struggling to give clear signals and be consistent. I think I'm in danger of being trained by him to be at his beck and call. I've read a few books and been browsing this forum for months, but the reality of sharing my home with a dog feels much tougher than what I imagined it would be like.
Any advice (or simply reassurance and encouragement) would be much appreciated!
Thank you for rescuing him! Such a sweet face! Here are a few things to remember:
1) He is brand new. His world is upside down, he's lost, he's learning the ropes. He's older so he may adapt quicker but for now, he needs to figure things out.
2) Mental work is more tiring/stimulating than physical exercise. He DOES need physical exercise, walks and maybe an hour of actual play, but during your work day, find him some puzzles to work on. Things like one of his meals being spread out on the floor and under different cup-like objects (things he can push over or pick up to find his food). Another meal could be hidden in the folds of a blanket (another hunting game). There are puzzle toys you can look into too.
3) My Ember can be demanding. I'll interact with her when she wants, but then I have an "all done" signal (trained by saying "all done" and then getting up/stopping interacting). That's her cue to go find something else to do. It may take a while to learn.
4) Don't take things from a reluctant dog. He may not be used to having his own things, and this can very quickly escalate into resource guarding. Someone else may have better input here, but for what I know (I don't really have a guarder), you need to play trading games, and always have at least two of the things he won't give up. This way he can have one and you can have one to toss - he should drop the one he has and go after the second. This is also a good way to teach a recall. There are other methods too - but basically you have to show him that just because you interact with something he wants doesn't mean he's going to lose it.
Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
He will need some time to settle in and adjust to "your" routine.
Rather than doing an hour walk in the morning try to break it up. Walk for 20 to 30 minutes then come back and play ball, since he seems to really like balls. Then after playtime work on some basic commands for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Working his brain and giving him some playtime should help tons.
Get a daily routine going. Around lunch time take him back out for potty time and a short playtime. Then after dinner go for another 20 to 30 minute walk and repeat the mornings activities.
IMO setting a routine for a new dog is the easiest for both of you. Then after you get to know each other better you can start to switch things up. He has to learn how you work so to speak.
I bet if you let him in the office with you he might be happy just to share the space with you after your walk and playtime.
Wecome! And thanks for giving Dash a good home! You'll receive nothing but encouragement here.
Both of you are very much new to each other with only being together for 3 days. Bonds can take months to form and the best thing to do is be kind and patient.
You will want a routine as mentioned above, it will help you both. It will help you both get to know each other faster and help him settle in faster.
For drop it get a good game of tug going with a long rope. Once you do that say "drop it" once and then just sit there and wait. He will eventually get bored of holding it and will loosen his grip/drop it. When this happens immediately reward him by starting up the game of tug again. Don't try to pull it away. Work on it until it's reliable then you can try it with the ball. He should associate the words drop it with you wanting him to drop the ball so you can throw the ball again and continue the fun. If he doesn't drop the ball don't chase him instead just stay where you are. If he walks away from you and proceeds to chew on the ball you'll have to move on to plan B.
Plan B: you have two balls that look exactly alike. Throw one so he can chase it and come back to you. When he comes back start fiddling with the ball you didn't throw and say "drop it". He'll see that the ball you have is WAY more interesting than the one he has and will probably end up dropping the one he has and stare at the one you have. When he does this throw the one you have and he should leave the one he had behind to get the one you had just thrown. If he picks up the ball he dropped and then goes to chase the other ball then what you can do is before you throw the ball have him distracted with the ball you have and quietly step on the ball he dropped and then throw your ball.
If he doesn't run all the way back to you after he gets the ball simply run in the opposite direction of him. He'll run to catch up to you.
If at any point you get frustrated doing any of this just stop. You'll need to take a break from it and come back to it later with a clear mind.
Sometimes, the smallest things bring the greatest joy.
Like others have said, give him time. You have only had a few days together and I bet he loves being with you but is very stressed from being with a new person and in a new place. I would let him be in the office with you. If he is too disruptive then get a crate and train him to be there while you work.
With my dogs if they have something and it is o.k. for them to have and they don't want to give it up, I let them have it. With Mattie (my rescue) she will sometimes steal something from my daughter's dollhouse. She never chews on anything unless it comes from the dollhouse. My response is always, "Mattie! Silly girl, what do you have?" said in a very happy voice. I then distract her and go to the dog toy box and show her all the wonderful toys in the box. I will also ask her if she wants a cookie (dog treat) or a chewy (Greenie) and she prances to the laundry room to get her treat. I could just take the item away because she isn't a resource guarder but I want her to know that I play fair. If I want her to give up something I will give her something better in return.
Brain work will wear him out. Tasha is my daughter's dog and she had been trained in agility. I take both collies to the park a few times a week to play fetch (Tasha fetches and Mattie chases Tasha) and they have lots of fun but it really doesn't wear them out for long. If I take my daughter and Tasha to the park for training (with some basic agility equipment) Tasha will flop down on the sofa as soon as we get home. Brain work/Focus will wear your dog out!
If you can, take a class with Dash. Obedience, Rally, Agility, Nosework. That once a week class will give you something to work toward. Even if you have no intention of competing it will give you skills to work on. And don't be worried about having the right equipment. My daughter competes in agility with Tasha and we only have a few pieces of equipment that are easy to transport and fit easily into my van. Just make sure you get a trainer that is all about fun and positive for Dash.
Mattie was the 6th dog that I owned and my first rescue and she was lots of work but worth it, I wouldn't trade her for the world. Keep asking questions, there are lots of wonderful people here to help.
Thank you so much for the suggestions and encouragement - I really do appreciate it. It's great being able to draw on the wealth of experience here.
It's really helpful to be reminded that it's early days. I must admit I'm finding this whole new experience pretty stressful, so I can only imagine what it must be like for Dash. My understanding that the rescue centre where I found him (very good Border Collie specialists) had taken him 3 days previously from a not-very-nice rescue centre, and that this centre had taken him in from a family 'who had t0o many dogs'. So he's had a very difficult time.
I will try the cups and meals/treats for mental work. I've also tried keeping him focused when walking him by changing directions and pace frequently, which I think also tires him.
I would love to do agility and training with him. Hopefully we'll be able to go running together at some point - I live near some beautiful countryside.
I definitely need to find a way for us to play together. At the moment, if he has a ball he just wants to take it away and chew it, so I'll give the two balls exchange a go. I wonder if he may be so wary of having it taken because he's had to share toys with other dogs (though he's fine about food, and seems good with dogs that we meet when out on walks). I also think the long rope tug game may be worth a try. My concern (as a first time dog owner) is how you know if your dog is getting over-excited?
I think we're starting to find a routine, which is really important for me and sounds like it'll really help him too.
With all my questions and worries, I'm in danger of forgetting all his good points: he loves being stroked, is completely unfazed by traffic including noisy lorries and beeping road diggers. He seems fine round other dogs. And we've already made lots of progress with getting him to wait before going through doors, not pulling on a lead, staying upstairs sometimes while I pop to the kitchen to make a drink.
Thank you again for all the advice - it's very generous of you. And I'll no doubt be back with more questions.
Glad to hear Dash is doing well! Sounds like he's already starting so settle in. The first few weeks of owning a new dog (for the first time at that) are always a little stressful but it will get easier. Once you get a good routine going you'll know what to expect and when to expect it.
Sometimes, the smallest things bring the greatest joy.
Well, I think we're making progress. Today we played with 3 big balls and Kongs at the same time (two will fit in his mouth but he doesn't have room for a third so I can move it around and get him to chase it).
I do have one problem that is starting to worry me though. At the moment I don't want Dash to be on the sofa, or my bed. I take care to close the door of my bedroom whether I'm in or out of it, but today he sneaked in. I tried saying 'out' which is what he often responds to when I want him out of the office, but he simply leapt on the bed and lay down (looking very pleased with himself I might add). I tried running up and down the stairs with a ball making excited noises, but he stayed put (I'm beginning to suspect that he's pretty good at sussing when I'm trying to lure him somewhere as opposed to genuinely playing with him). So next I took him by his collar and led him out. I've done that a few times when he's been on the sofa, but I'm not sure it's a good thing to do with a dog. I'm concerned that he might react angrily, as he's clearly not thrilled about it.
I'm working on reinforcing him for staying on his rug in the lounge (and not jumping on the sofa) when I go into the kitchen and I think we're having some success. It's just how to handle it when the positive reinforcement doesn't get him to move.
I get the sense that he's getting more comfortable and wanting to explore boundaries a bit, which is OK, but I do want to remain in control in my own home!
I'm assuming you have a concept of high/low value treats - grab the highest value treat you have on hand, kneel on the floor. Put it by his nose and then move it to the ground. When he jumps off the bed to get it, say "off" (naming the behavior). Do this many times. It HAS to be highest value - it has to pay to leave the bed. Switch the treat to your other hand, and try the same luring motion without the treat. If he complies, JACKPOT (lots and lots of treats really fast in succession). Practice this whenever you can (will require you letting him get up so he can practice getting down). At least this way you have a way to tell him to move without having to lure/reward (eventually).
As for KEEPING him off, that's going to be a different battle. Ember is allowed on my furniture so I don't really have a suggestion there.
Ember also runs to my bed as a comfort zone and does NOT want to move from it. If she's on it and I even ask her to move over she does so in a motion like I swatted at her (and I just point where I want her to go). She can handle the pointing in any other scenario except on the couch/bed. I haven't figured this out yet, but I do always reward even/especially if she does it unwillingly.
Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
Hello. You have a pretty dog.
In order to keep my dog off furniture he is in the same room with me. All the time. Then he does not have the option of failing to do what I would rather he do. Which I should stay in a designated spot. I take the mat with me. He does not understand stay off means ALL the time. Even if i am not there to praise and reward. I also don't give him free roam when out as i a man not there to reward positive.
“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”