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We got a pure border collie last year and he is turning 10 months old. We had him since he was a 8 week old puppy. The problem is that it seems he can't get tired when there are dogs around. He also had a puppy training course and first time day care (more like a mini dog class) when he was 14 weeks.

He started to love people and dogs, which we initially thought was great. However, he started to get very/over excited and not listen to our commands by pulling the leash when he saw any people or any dogs on the street. My partner lost two incisors and hand fracture due to his pulling when he saw another dog on the road. We really learned it from a hard way and wanted to improve his on-leash walk.

After my partner got recovered (4 weeks after), we attended one on one training to make sure we were doing the right thing to train him not pulling the leash. He did well with training sessions in general. We do training sessions as suggested every day about 15-30 minutes to keep his mind challenged and regular walks at least 30 minutes +30 minutes different interactive games. We made a sign that sticks to his collar saying "Do not Pet" since everyone seems keen to pet a puppy. Gradually, he gets used to people passing by and started to get very calm if the person is not giving him eye contact or attention.

However, it's not the case when he sees a dog. He always wants to play when he sees a dog and pulls the leash. We started training as instructed, trying to distract him by giving him treats or giving him command to do tricks (still improving these days). He behaved really well (friendly) when he was in the dog park and recall was good.

We decided to take him with another border collie puppy (and his owners) together for a three day camping trips last week. The other border collie similar age was calm and knew how to take breaks. My dog literally just kept running and playing for three days unless we had to put him on leash. He almost fell asleep when standing in the car but still kept excited as much as he can. We were really afraid that he passed out because literally he was just completely crazy and also whining for the other dog to join him to play. The other dog even barked and bit him off to refuse to play with him. He was just whining and even barking to invite. We stopped him in between many times by keeping him on leash and he whined almost the whole time.

The same thing happens at the day care. The person who looked after my dog said my dog didn't have a rest the whole time (8 hours). Same thing happened when we took him to friend's place with dogs, playing without stops for 8 hours. I have never seen other border collies that excited before for such a long time. I am just wondering whether he does need a balance trainer for the impulse control or is this a border collie thing plus a puppy thing.

We are still taking him to a regular training session every week and dog park twice a week. But at this stage he can only do trainings with other dogs in a distance (5 meters at least) because he is over excited and doesn't listen if it is too close to other dogs.

In other words, does anyone think we should reduce time to let him play with other dogs or rather increase the time? We are very frustrated and have done a lot of work to train him but doesn't seem to improve to control his impulse.

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  • Welcome to pets.SE! You seem to think alots about your dog's happiness :) Maybe this post would be interesting for you too: Alternatives to walking a dog - for example for high maintenance dogs (Btw: I can understand your thought, for me it would also be difficult to decide "more dog contacts to fullfill the needs which cause whining" against "less dog contacts until the behavior is good enough". Would a dog understand "non training times" like children or horses? (horse: no rope = free time, wear rope = work) Aug 2 at 21:35
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From what you wrote, it sounds like your dog is more interested in playing with other dogs than you or your partner — they are the most fun thing around. As you mentioned he started to love people and dogs right away, he probably associated 'fun' with other dogs. If he's not listening to your commands while around other dogs, it's likely because he's choosing to interact with them over you. Very frustrating and hard to move forward.

Things you can try

  • Teach the art of engagement: this is a common practice across multiple dog trainers, seems simple but can be very effective once you're in real life situations. You essentially teach your dog to 'check in with you' before doing anything. You should be the MOST interesting thing in your dog's life. For myself, I found this really helped form a good foundation with my dog for everything else I trained afters. She got into the habit of looking at me every time she saw something that made her nervous or excited. And that allowed me to redirect her energy elsewhere. I recommend looking at a few videos on this but here's one that can get you started. And another one on how to be more interesting to your dog.

  • Practice just being: take your dog to an area that gets some traffic by people/dogs and just sit for 10-15 min. You want to be far enough from the action that your dog won't start barking or reacting. Every time your dog looks at you, reward. Every time your dog disengages with something going on in the distance, reward. The goal is to get your dog used to people and dogs being around without needing to interact with them. You don't want to try and distract the dog from the action, he has to learn to make the choice himself. You might need to start really far way at first and then slowly move closer if he's doing well. If you dog starts barking, you may need to give him more space. Try parks, fields, street corners — anywhere that can give you the right amount of space but still gets some public traffic. I used to go and sit on the outside of a fenced-in dog park. This will take some time but can teach your dog to calm themselves down.

  • Leash hold: this might take a while to fix, so if you're not already, I recommend holding the leash with a thumb lock. You could also try alternate leash options like a slip knot leash (depending on your training type preferences) to help with pulling.

  • Give him a job: all the border collies I've known have some kind of toy obsession. Either a ball or rope or frisbee that can be thrown by the owner. This gives them a 'job' and keeps their focus on the task. Teach your dog to catch and retrieve something (ideally a favourite toy). If they like this activity, you holding the toy while around other people/dogs might keep your dogs attention focused on you. Small warning: you might have to throw this toy A LOT for the rest of your life :)

You may need to avoid or limit your dog from playing with other dogs too much until he learns that you are more interesting. Hope this helps!

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  • Thank you so much for the response and tips for training. They are so helpful. We have been told to put our dog on leash when there are guests coming over and let guests have no contact with my dog unless my dog is quiet. That helps a lot with calming down. I will have a go as suggested to let him make a decision and not distract him from our side. My dog loves retrieving the frisbee and balls. We do play these interactive games every day with him and it works perfectly if there is no one or there are no dogs around.
    – Meredith
    Jul 26 at 5:36

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