Out of Control


My Border Collie's "obedience" is terrible... even after 8 weeks of doggie school. I am the alpha dog but he is constantly challenging me for the job. As to his socialization, I adopted him as an adolescent, so his early months and his first couple of years are a total blank. He goes ape in the house, in the car, while we walk in the park, around the neighborhood... any time - ANY time he senses another dog. It is a tad embarrassing. I can't take him anywhere. What can I do?


Two things:

First you need to get him around some other dogs. Find some close frends with dogs that will allow their dogs to interact with yours. Let them go in a controlled environment and see what happens. (It sounds like he hasn't been with another dog in your presence). There is a big difference between overexuberance and aggression. A dog barking and pulling at the end of the leash could be either. You won't know until he actually interacts with another dog. The treatment for the two are completely different so you need to figure out what you're dealing with first. Either way, more dog exposure and socialization will help things out.

Secondly - irrespective of whether it is aggression or excitement, the dog needs to be under your control, meaning you need to be alpha. The dog will be this way until he is no longer "challenging me for the job". Only when he truly understands that you are alpha will he be manageable in these circumstances. You, as alpha, should set the tone and tempo for all interactions outside the house. The first thing a sub-member of the pack should do is to look to the alpha leader and see how to react to the stranger (dog or person). If you go wild, he can go wild. If you are calm and sedate, he needs to be this way too. Obedience is a beginning to this but also the other things mentioned on this Web site related to gaining alpha status are even more important (going through doors, getting out of the way, feeding order, etc.). Once you truly establish pack leadership, then a quick "hush" or "lie down" should be all you need to calm him down when he begins to get out of control.

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