stupid border collie

I have a dog that i got from the spca. Its a border collie.
The dog is about 8 months old. We have a long driveway and the dog insists on trying to herd the car. This is turning into a real pain in the butt. I don’t want to run him over,
(the wife already did once— unbelievably he was ok). He runs in front of the car and does circles, I think he is trying to stop the car. My wife likes the dog and does not want to get rid of him. Does anyone have any ideas on how to break him of this behaviour? Thanks very much.

Maybe get some sheep and turn them loose in the backyard?

I think he is trying to ‘herd’ the car. It’s what they do.

I would, but the non-herding dogs would eat them.

He’s a BC; that’s what they do!! They have been bred for many years just to be darn good at this. I once read that the best way to punish a BC is to disallow herding!

A friend of mine has a BC (they are SUPER with kids) and has to crate him during a part of the day. The dog (Montague) doesn’t seem to mind this too much, as long as he gets to crouch around the back yard later.

Perhaps you could buy 50 or so cats. The BC will try to herd them and might get so frustrated that he gives up herding forever and becomes a German Shepherd. :smiley:

I’ve read, more than once, that border collies are the most intelligent breed of dogs (followed by the French poodle!!) That said, maybe an urban environment (don’t know if that’s your case, biggestdog) is not the best setting for them. Given the relatively young age of your dog, perhaps you could consider some form of training course.

OT: Welcome to SDMB, by the way. I must say I find your style…refreshing:D.

We have a miniature Shetland Sheepdog that does the same thing…We got really really stern with him several times he did it and now he’s more reluctant when he does it, so he stays further away from the car. We could not break the habit completely, but now at least he knows he’s doing something we don’t want him to do, so he stays out of the way for the most part.

Kill the dog now, and save yourself and the dog a lot of grief.

Contrary to your OP, Border Collies aren’t stupid. The first mistake you made was getting an animal you know nothing about.

Border Collies are the most intelligent breed of dog. They are also a larger responsibility than other dogs because they have special needs which must be met to keep the dog healthy, happy, and sane. Unfortunately, a lot of people get them becuause they look cool, and they see these dogs often in commercials. They are in commercials because their intelligence makes them supremely trainable.

You really need to do a little bit of research before you commit to owning one of these dogs.

Border Collies are working dogs. What is called the “herd instinct” is very strong in them. The “herd instinct” is actually a misnomer. It is really the hunting instinct.

The intelligence of the dog needs to be stimulated in terms of this instinct in order to modify it. Examples of this are: Sheep herding, frisbee, obstacle course training, etc.
So what does this mean?
Right now you have a cute border collies who is beginning to express his herd instinct because you have not addressed it through your inexcusable ignorance.

This dog will soon become an adult, and he will have his own ideas about what to do with his instincts since you have failed to provide him with any. Remember this is really a hunting instinct we are talking about.

Soon, not only will he be attempting to herd the car, he will atempt to herd you, the kids, you S.O. etc. Doubtless you will find this cute, and reinforce the behavior.

But, what he is really doing is hunting you. You probably won’t figure this out even when he starts nipping and biting. You probably still won’t understand what happened after the first all out attack.

Then of course, a fine dog will have to be destroyed due to your ignorance and neglect.

You need to challenge and train this dog. I don’t think you are capable of doing so, based on your actions so far. I’ve raised and trained these dogs for 20 years. You are setting yourself up for trouble. These dogs are very quick, strong, and serious. They are capable of doing a tremendous amount of damage to yourself and property, and you will not understand the warning signs.

Your story is a familiar one. Return the dog to the shelter where perhaps somebody with competance will adopt it before it’s too late.

If you keep this dog, I can almost guarranty that it will end badly.

Get rid of the dog.

It is not stupid. It is dangerously smart.

The owner of the dog on the other hand…

First off,Mr nothing better to do except look like a jerk, the subject of this thread was tounge in cheek. Second of all how exactly would you know how much experiance I have with dogs anyway? If you know so much about border collies, then maybe you might trouble yourself to volunteer a workable solution to the question. As I said in my original message we like this dog, and the dog likes us. We are dog owners, and dog lovers. The dogs live in dog heaven (woods, open fields, ponds, lots of little rabbits to be duped by, etc… Your arrogant post makes alot of assumptions about who I am, and never does really address the question, except to say ‘go ahead and run him over’. Maybe you should have said ‘go ahead and shoot him’, it would make less of a mess. Go back to congradulating yourself on how smart you are, and pay no attention to people who point out your cynicism and bitterness.

My neighbor also had a border collie fixated on herding, a situation had been made worse by the fact it had been praised early in life for the activity (it had been allowed to ‘herd’ her three then-toddlers and had even had a special bark warning when one wandered too far astray).

This eventualy got bothersome as the children grew up, so the habit was broken through the use of a particularly loud whistle. When the dog demonstrated the herding behavior (it mostly just got in front of the kids and weaved back and forth) it got a glare, a scold, and a blast from a whistle.

If you like I’ll ask her how well it worked and what kind of whistle when I get off work.

Geez, Scylla, cut the guy some slack. I say kudos to him for rescuing a dog from the SPCA. What he’s looking for is advice on how to train the dog’s behavior . Since you’ve “raised and trained these dogs for 20 years”, you should be most qualified to help him out, which was what he was looking for, not a “you aren’t worthy” response.

What a heartening statement.

that sounds like it might work FPS, yes please ask her.

The fact that the dog has been doing this long enough to already be hit once, without your taking steps to solve this problem along with the fact that the dog is already 8 months old tells me you will have a difficult time changing this behavior.

If you wish I’ll try to help.

How old was the dog when you got it?

Do you have other dogs? Outside pets?

Do you know anything about this dog’s particular breeding? Is it directly derived from working stock, or has it the offspring of “companion” animals?

How large is your property?

Is it enclosed?

Do you have children?

Is the dog an inside or outside dog (does it come in the house at night?)

Male or female?


What sort of training have you done with the dog? Do you work with it every day? What do you do with it?

yes, any help is appreciated…

The dog is about 8 months old.

It was about 7.8 months old when we got it.

yes, we have 8 other dogs, all outside dogs, 1 large hound, 5 pitbull/shepard (all very well behaved) and two mutts.

I believe the dog is from working stock

20 acres, backs up onto 600 acres of woods.

It is enclosed, but not completely secure.

no kids.

dog is an outside dog (except when it it less than 25 degrees and wet outside, then they are allowed in the garage)


Have tried to work with the dog, but it doesn't seem to get it, and the dog is very timid. Someone told us that people who breed border collies will send the dogs out to herd, and the puppies that don't do very well are discarded. I don't know if this is true or not. This dog will not go after a ball or a frisbee, it just wants to herd (hunt) cars, tractors, ATVs,,, etc. The dog has a strange habit of constantly moving its head from side to side, is this normal with border collies?

P.S. I am not opposed to destroying this dog at all, I am a dog lover, but I am not someone who is beholden to dogs. We enjoy seeing the dogs enjoy being dogs. every morning is a very entertaining tag team match.

I think I understand Scylla’s reaction to the OP.

Breaking a border collie of his herding behavior is breaking his spirit, the very essence of who he is. Think of it like this- if you have a barking dog, and you beat him until he stops, you may feel that you have solved the problem. But what you are left with is no longer a dog.

You cannot “break this habit.” What you can do is learn about training this particular breed and what options you have. I hope that you have already sought advice, but if not, see if Scylla can help. It is vitally important for your dog.

It would be unbelievably cruel to continue to deny this dog’s nature and try to “break” him of what he was born & bred to do.

The head motion is normal. The timidness towards you disturbs me though. It suggests that the dog does not recognize and trust you as family. If you don’t spend a lot of time with it, that’s probably why. It’s also possible that it may be a reaction to a bad experience (i.e beating,) from its previous owner.

Before you can hope to accomplish anything, the dog is going to have to become accustomed and comfortable with you. It will need to recognize you as family, but also as a superior. If the dog is getting most of its socialization from just hanging out with other dogs it will resist you in this. You will have to isolate it from the other dogs during those times you are trying to socialize it to you so there are no distractions, and perhaps isolate it generally, so it will need you.

Last couple of questions.

Is the dog destructive? Chewing or tearing stuff up?

Can you describe how it’s getting along with your other dogs.

Are your dogs just generally loose companions, or are they trained? How?

I don’t know why the dog is timid toward me, I have not been mean to it at all. I do think it was the way he was previously treated. The other dogs pretty much ignore him. He is also the lowest in the hierarchy. At first they seemed to try to include him, but not so much now, he does try play with them sometimes but generally he is off by himself. We live in the middle of nowhere (double edged sword let me tell you), so the only people he ever sees is us. We also work here on the property, so he knows we are around and has access to us. He is not destructive. The dogs are generally loose companions. I think he would be a great dog if i could just convince him that tires are not for biting. Also, he does not ‘herd’ other cars that come in here, only ours. Maybe I need to get him a couple of goats to play with.

I second the question about whether it was abused… You might be able to contact the Border Collie Rescue folks and get advice on training, as well. The only really timid border collies I know have been abused. The rest are just watchful.

The border collies I know all came from working stock. They don’t chase frisbees unless they are specifically trained to do so. They ‘naturally’ herd frisbees (that is, frisbee gets thrown, dog crouches and waits for it to hit the ground, dog stands up to get in eye-line of frisbee then crouches again, stands, crouches, creeps forward, stands… all trying to scare the frisbee into moving again…). The ‘instinct’ bred into them would, in a human, qualify as an obsessive-compulsive disorder (as with all the working dogs). They can’t be stopped from doing it, but the compulsion can be managed. If they don’t get to use it under your direction, they will use it at their own discretion, as already noted. I’ve seldom heard of border collies getting as far as the all-out attack, but I have heard of them ending up what many people would consider functionally insane if they are not given an appropriate outlet for the compulsion to herd/hunt.

A competant training program will help. Obedience training is essential, and some kind of working training (like the obstacle course thing, whatever that is called) would be useful, too. If you want an effective ‘late-start’ program, the ‘click-and-treat’ approach has been really useful with the folks I know who adopt abused dogs (including border collies). “Click-and-treat” is “Shaping” training, rather than punishment-based training, is very useful with dogs who have been abused, and also works fairly well on dogs who have made it to adulthood without any training (so if your other dogs haven’t had much training, you could easily apply it to the whole bunch). You have to be committed to it, but I’ve seen a not-so-clever dog be taught to carry a bucket by the handle in less than 15 minutes using that method, and it really works. Other training approaches will probably be helpful, as long as some real training happens, as soon as possible.

Good luck. I don’t exactly agree with Scylla’s original ‘shoot it now’ answer, but having seen the difference before and after a working dog is encouraged/trained/guided to work, I understand the deeply felt frustration, heartbreak, and anger behind the words. We had originally planned to get a (working-type) dog by now, but we have decided not to do so until we can dedicate the appropriate time to working with it. It is simply unfair to them to do anything else.

Good luck with your border collie. They can be good companion dogs, but you do have to keep their brains engaged. Just like an extrememly gifted child, if their brains are not challenged, behavior problems result.

Last note, if you find that your household is not a suitable environment for the dog, contact the Border Collie Rescue folks - especially since it sounds like the dog had already been abused before you got it, they might be able to take it in and give it to someone who actually WILL be appropriate for it. And they will make sure it has an appropriate home - they keep tabs.

Your car gets bit because it belongs to the dog (part of the flock). Other cars are strays from someone else’s flock, and can be ignored. The very best, most talented dogs can tell which sheep ‘belong’ and which do not.

Got yourself a talented as well as smart one.

I’m sorry I lashed out earlier, but I think you have a couple of problems with this dog.

Think of this: at 8 months old, the dog still has a good opportunity to find another home, and get what it needs.

Effectively, it has one chance now.

You need to decide whether you are commited to keeping the dog. If you do keep the dog, and don’t give it what it needs, you’ve wasted it’s one chance, so don’t do this frivolously.

The dog may have been abused in the past.

This is what I think you need to do if you are going to keep the dog and give it a good home:

Go to the pet store and buy a good sized crate for the dog. Find a quiet corner inside the house, put some food, water, a blanket, and a toy into the crate. Put the dog in the crate every night and lock it. Have the dog out in the house with you, but leave the crate open so it can retreat there when it feels the need. The dog will think of the crate as his safe place. Never force the dog out of the crate. Let it come out on its own.

Let it play on its own or with the other dogs during the day. I’d urge you to play with the dog as well. Keep trying. Bring the dog in for feedings, and every night. Hopefully you have the crate in the TV room, or wherever you hang out.

Try calling the dog out of the cage to be petted and reqwarded for listening. Use food if you need to. Otherwise sit near the cage and tell the dog he’s a “good dog.” So whatever you can to get the dog’s confidence so it likes and trusts you. Work on training the dog to retrieve a tennis ball. Challenge him by hiding the ball, pretending to throw it, etc.

I have one border collie cross but near to the whole thing and another which is much less so having a goodly amount of whippet or greyhound.

They seem to have developed a common relationship, the same pack but they look what the other is doing there is a high degree of co-operation between this type of animal.

What yours is doing by not mixing much with the others is the classic symptoms of trying to ‘prove’ itself within its pack.It does appear to me to be insecure, this is not something wrong you are doing but more the nature of the dog.It is as if it were overcompensating in order to be accepted into the pack.

Far from exhibiting odd behaviour the reality is that all your other dogs have become so domesticated they have lost some instincts.

Scylla is right in the sense that your dog shows true pack behaviour. This is not neurotic this is closer to real wild dogs than virtually any other domesticated animal.

What your dog needs is a defined role in your family/pack.This would be helped by training and would likely revive instincts buried in your other dogs.

Favourite regimes would be agility training or hobbyist herding training.They can be taught to search.

These dogs really get a kick out of it, it is what they were created for.

In the UK there are clubs devoted to this cause, typically they round up geese but some clubs can get sheep.

They are easily trained for almost any task, like retrieving as they are so eager to contribute to the pack.

Get yourself off to dog training school, in three weeks you will be amazed, at least half of it is about training the owners rather than the dog.