We have a rescue dog who wasn't socialised at all and so has a few behaviour problems.

The most difficult problem at the moment is that whenever my partner isn't here she seems very anxious and barks a lot. I can't relax in my own home when I'm alone at the minute.

When he is here she can still be pretty unruly, however it is clear that she respects him a lot more than me and will listen to his stop, stay commands etc.

She humps her bed a lot when it's just the two of us and obviously sees us both on the same level so I think it may be a dominance issue? She is a jack Russel border collie cross.

If anyone has any advice I would be greatful. It's getting really unbearable to the point where I'm becoming severely depressed as I'm not able to relax in my own home or have any downtime. Giving her up isn't an option as I'm sure she'd be put down due to her issues and I love her so much :'(

  • How long have you had her for and did this worsen over time? How old is she and is she desexed?
    – user6796
    Aug 11, 2017 at 1:40
  • I stumbled across this question while doing online research. I am wondering, were you able to resolve the issue? I am experiencing the exact same thing with our 2-year-old rescue German shepherd…
    – Cindy
    Feb 5, 2023 at 22:04

2 Answers 2


I suggest the humping is a compensation action rather than a sexual one. Also the barking and not being relaxed with just you around sounds like a mix between separation anxiety and pent up energy which could then result in humping to compensate that. That's not unlikely considering it is a JR and Border Collie mix, dogs of both breeds tend to have high energy levels. Maybe considering these questions will help you find a solution:

  • Do you think the dog respects you as a leader? It doesn't sound like that reading your question. You might want to work on that. It's probably best to work with your partner on this. Have him show you how he gets the dog to listen to commands and observe him. What does he do different to you? Can you work on yourself with the dog practicing those commands?
  • Does the dog get enough physical and mental workout? Try to extend the walks (especially before your partner leaves) and see if that helps at all. Maybe you should take a big part in walking the dog as it would help you bond. Try to mentally stimulate your dog. You can for example play the shell game (I introduced this using just one cup, having my dog lay her paw on it, reveal the treat,... If that works 99.9% try 2 cups, then switch them,...), sniffing games are always fun (hide a toy and let your dog search on command), there are also puzzle games that you can buy. Do whatever you think your dog will like. I think games where she has to interact with you should contribute highly to your relationship.
  • In what mental state is your dog when your partner leaves? Always try to leave the dog when she's in a calm and relaxed state e.g. laying in bed, observing quietly etc. That should help your dog to keep calm even when your partner has left. (Taking the dog for a walk before leaving should contribute to this.)

Without the judgement of an experienced dog trainer/behaviorist many things are trial and error. And I am obviously neither. I would give the workout idea a chance especially and see if that helps (you can't really do anything wrong with that, can you). I recommend consulting a trainer if there is no improvement. This is not a situation anyone should have to live with and a trainer who sees the dog in action could come up with an entirely different explanation than me.

  • Great answer - wanted to add that a JR and border collies are both very anxious breeds naturally, so your dog likely needs tons of mental and physical stimulation. This is a smart dog who would benefit from daily training (tricks, obedience, agility, etc) and at least 1 long trip to the dog park plus walks daily.
    – LMGagne
    Aug 12, 2017 at 23:20
  • @Sambovi She is 3 yrs old. She is currently walked 3 times a day, usually at least an hour and a half in total through the day and I walk her 99% of the time. Curiously she actually behaves better outside with me and is much more confident on her walks with me. I agree that the humping isn't sexual, seems to be more of a dominance issue as I do think she believes she is above me in the pecking order perhaps. She is great in other ways and knows all of her basic commands as well as a few tricks.
    – spbrad
    Aug 18, 2017 at 17:05
  • I think that humping things is rarely ever a dominance issue. But I do think that she doesn't trust you as a leader or feels that you are a source of security. Question is, does she know which behavior you expect from her? Are you clear communicating that? Also, are there certain situations or ways you act that trigger the humping?
    – Sambovi
    Aug 21, 2017 at 11:02

I agree with user 10126. Real good advice there.

Rescue dogs will generally suffer from anxiety. They understand when they have something good and get attached very strongly.

Basically you need to train the dog to be left alone.

I assume that you already work with the dog with the basic commands. If not, it's really important you start. It will create a bond, a trust between you, as well as tapping in the dog's natural instincts which is "to work".

Training the dog to be left alone starts in the house:

In one room, teach the dog to sit and stay. Walk a few steps back. If the dog moved or display anxiety, you've gone back too many steps. Work on length of time. Again, if the dog moves, you've waited to long, just go back a step.

Reward when the dog stays as you wanted. Start again and again. Each time, increase the time and distance.

When ready, move to another room or the edge of the room. Continue to increase distance and times(like going upstairs or outside with the door open).

Then the same but close doors... for a few seconds then increase time. Continue to reward good and wanted behaviour.

Dogs are very clever, they soon work it out. Plus if you train this way, the dog will think he's being left alone to work. And they love that.

I have rescued a lot of dogs and this has worked on all of them. Training is paramount for trust and understanding. Dogs love to please humans and vice versa.

Understand this:

Historically , dogs are descended from grey wolves. There daily lives are to get up, go hunting, if successful, return to the den and sleep all day. Go out at dusk for possible further hunting then return for more sleep.

Mimicking nature is the best. Get up, walk the dog, feed it, leave it, return home, walk it, feed it, settle for the night. Dog love routines, it makes them feel secure.

Good luck!

  • She is generally fine when left alone, i.e. Neither of us in the house. When I'm there she is quite sensitive to noise though and the smallest noise sets her off. She does get plenty of exercise and stimulation so I do think it's perhaps an anxiety issue, even perhaps picking up on some of my anxiety.
    – spbrad
    Aug 18, 2017 at 17:08

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