I owned Oorang Airedales for 15 years and after losing both within a year and two weeks, I adopted a mixed breed german shepherd/border collie from a local pound last Fall. I named him Rain because it was raining when I picked him out and raining when I picked him up. The pound estimated his age at 0-6 months but I believe he’s alot older than that. I think he was at least a year old when I adopted him.
I fed my Dales “Taste of the Wild” and homemade treats but this boy suffered through terrible bouts of the runs when I tried their diet with him.
I backed off on the protein and tried him with Kibbles & Bits. It has so far cured the runs but he’s so hyper that I’m suspicious of the ingredients affecting his system. I’m thinking somewhat like a kid on a food that he’s allergic to. When I saw the ingredients and rating on this website I can see that I was correct to have concerns.
So, I need help trying to figure out what I can feed this poor kid without having another physical crisis but still see if I can help him calm him. The Airedales are rumoured to by hyper because of their terrier breeding, but believe me, they had NOTHING on this guy. Sometimes the way he just “goes off” would make an observer believe he’s totally insane. He’s not – he’s actually a great dog 90% of the time. I think I’m causing these meltdowns with what I’m feeding him. I bought a low price biscuit for him two weeks ago and within 36 hours he was completely out of control. That was when I realized I am causing the problem with his diet.
Please, has anyone some guidance or opinion that could help me?
Wow! I would agree with you that it is probably at least partly due to diet, but you just described a fairly typical young Border Collie behavior. They have to learn to turn off and settle down sometimes. That’s why so many of them end up in shelters, unfortunately. He needs a food with no food dyes, no artificial preservatives, and no added sugars. Border Collies, as a breed, were developed on grains, so unless yours have additional problems, you probably won’t have to go grain free. My first suggestion for food would be NutriSource. It is easy to transition to and it isn’t really expensive. See about getting him in an obedience class and working him in the house so he learns that the house is a place for more orderly behavior. And playing games that take mental work are really good for BCs, so teach him to search for hidden toys and teach him the names of his toys to start with.
Thank you so much for your help. He really is a great boy and it’s awful to see him so wound up and not able to settle down. I’ll buy some NutriSource first thing tomorrow morning and I’ll let you know how we’re making out.
I have watched him run, literally all day, and not tire. Keeping him mentally tuned in is a challenge, given his focus and interest on 43 things at the same time. My Dales were much the same way and sometimes it has truly comical results. He grasps concepts and commands easily – it’s a matter of if he agrees with them or not. He’s consistently responding to hand commands as well as voice.
Again, thank you for your advice, I sincerely appreciate it.
He really sounds like a typical young BC. One of the problems with them is that when people get pups, they realize that they are very energetic and they make the mistake of thinking that you have to match that energy level. I haven’t met the human yet who could. But trying conditions them to huge amounts of exercise. Nobody needs an extreme athlete BC. The trick with them is teaching them to settle. Stuffed bones, Kongs, and other toys that they have to lie down and chew for a while help. And as much mental stuff as you can find for him to do. That is the key to wearing out a BC, mental challenge.
They labelled him a Shepherd/Rottie cross at the pound and even I could see that there was no Rottie in him. He’s never been socialized – at the pound they keep them strictly segragated so every dog he meets is an immediate threat in his opinion.
Thanks again for the NutriSource tip, I’m buying some today to see if it’ll help.
Jo, do you mean he goes off when he sees other dogs? This is how my my dog is also, changing her food didn’t help. She is also a great dog until she meets another dog at the walking trail. She is what you call “leash aggressive” and what collar I have on her makes a difference. A halter is the best with a choke collar(cannot use at all!) being the absolute worst. Gentle leader works with walking correctly but seems to spark her leash aggression. If she could just run up to everyone loose, she would be perfect but in the real world, that’s not possible. On the leash, she pulls toward any dog she sees as soon as they are within sight and when the pass she goes CUJO! I MUST put a treat in front of her nose and stand between the other dog and her. Allowed to visit, she absolutely LOVES all other dogs which to my human brain is senseless behavior but that’s how dogs are. You can research “leash aggression” and see if that’s what her issue is. All I’ve been able to do so far is each time we pass a dog is to focus her attention to me with a treat/food. I assume that eventually she’ll get it…I hope so anyway because it’s maddening…UGH! We have been walking at the park since January and still she’s not getting it although she now ignores 99% of the people out walking, jogging, skating, baby strollers etc.
A good dog food is important for sure but it may not help much with the aggressive behavior…socializing baby steps is about all you can do.
Unfortunately, reactivity is another BC trait. Google Border Collies and find the USBCC. You should join and ask questions on the board. There are a lot of peole there with reactive dogs who know exactly what training steps you need to take to help the most. And what situations you should avoid at all costs until you have a good handle on the problem. There are also a LOT of rescuers there who know what you are dealing with and can offer support.
Oops I meant “leash reactive”…sorry…it is common for a lot of dogs. My girl is nothing BC about her but is a rescue that was chained up for the first part of her life.
Lots of dogs are reactive. It has to do with how sensitive they are. But a lot of BCs, as a breed are reactive. They also commonly have OCD issues. Being bred for one purpose and one purpose alone can have good and bad consequences.
Boone is a pbgv & if a dog can have OCD, he does. He is not sensitive at ll, that’s Ginger, my Brittany.
I really appreciate your input with Rain, all opinions welcome.
@somebodysme – he doesn’t just “go off” when he sees other dogs, he “goes off” alot when he’s over-stimulated. Traffic, people, bikes, big trucks, loud noises…..anything new or different. He adores swimming and is absolutely comical to watch in the water.
When I first adopted him I thought he was a car chaser but I quickly came to realize that he was trying to herd them, not chase them. I saw on the BC site that BC’s herd anything so that made alot of sense to me.
I think I’ll be spending some time on the BC site as Patty suggested. He is an honest, good dog and I don’t like people thinking that he’s a brat or I just don’t care enough to train him properly. It’s not his fault that he has to learn everything at once instead of being introduced to new things as he grew.
Thanks again everyone for your input, feel free to send more if something occurs to you.
Jo, I hope you can get the help you need…and you know how children are when they eat the wrong food and too much sugar how they are bouncing off the walls! So hopefully you will have some help with a good quality food! Keep us informed! I always love to hear how rescue dogs are improving. I hope you can get the help you need at the BC site. I think still baby steps with introducing him to a parked bike and lots of healthy treats…that sort of thing then move up to a parked truck…
A Rain update…………he’s come a long way and I can see a significant improvement in his behaviour. He still “goes off” but nowhere near as often as he was before I changed his diet. It usually happens when there’s alot going on around him, such as a heavy vehicle traffic day and bikes or walkers going by at the same time. I think that he thinks, all these things and nobody directing them! He’s a great boy and new things still bewilder him, but his intelligence is outstanding in grasping what he’s asked to do about them. Other than the younger of my Airedales, he’s the nosiest dog I’ve ever owned.
So, thanks again, so much, for all your help and input. We’ve still got some work to do but so far, so good.
I’ve noticed him nipping heels lately. Not very often, twice in the last 2 or 3 weeks at most. Poor kid is desparate to herd something, anything! I wish I lived near a sheep or cattle farm with an owner that would let me work their livestock. I previously owned a mongrel that was an outstanding livestock dog with cattle. He saved alot of work from horseback for me.
Don’t let that become a habit. He is capable of learning that there are appropriate times, places, and things to herd, and people are not one of them. Kick up your heels behind you when you walk past him so he knows if he chooses to move in he may bonk himself. And give him a few sharp words every time he does it, then give him a time out. Make herding people not pay. Work on his down and tell him to down before you walk past him. Or you can try distraction and throw a toy for him befor you go by.
I’ve been doing everything you suggested except the kicking up my heels part. I’m the only one he hasn’t tried to nip at. He’s attentive and obedient 95% of the time. It’s just the odd little character tic that pop up.
Thanks again for your advice, I’ve really appreciated every single tip you’ve passed my way.
You’re very welcome!! He will be the most amzing dog as he grows up, just you wait and see!! I have 2 BCs and they are both very different from each other, but they are both the best dogs I have ever had. And I have had many!
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