Ignore Bad Behavior & Teach Focus on Leader
Question:
I have a 3 year old female border collie. We have stopped going for walks because of her atrocious behavior, which ranges from screeching like a pterodactyl, to whirling like a dervish. This is with a Halti leader. We have tried BAT. Other dog owners give us dirty looks or worse, make comments. She is such a wonderful dog at home. She does have 2 very good dog friends.

Dr. Nichol:
I feel your pain. The Nichol family is also afflicted with a socially challenged but well-loved Border collie. Our “Miss America” is a work in progress; Cuki will never be cured either. A head halter is essential for dogs like this. BAT (behavioral adjustment therapy) is also valuable. Both must be applied correctly.

A big part of Cuki’s struggle is “barrier frustration”. She has a strong need to engage in natural canine greeting behavior but she’s trapped in place by that @#&% leash! She plays well with her friends because, with them, she’s free of constraints. Correcting or reprimanding your girl when she acts out would actually reinforce her agitation. Instead she needs to focus on her reliable leader.

At the first hint of arousal ignore Cuki’s bad behavior as you lead her away by her head halter. When she relaxes a bit stop and pivot so her rear end is oriented toward the other dog. Then steer her attention toward your face and tell her to Sit or Down. Reward with praise and a treat. Repeat hundreds of times.

Reliable voice control will be essential. You can accelerate Cuki’s education by adding targeting to your hand followed by a click. BAT would be the final step. Antianxiety medications like paroxetine and clonidine make it easier for some dogs. Contact my office if you need help.

Dog Behavior Help
A dog who plays nice, respects authority, and understands that the restroom is outside is priceless.  I’ll address out-of-control behaviors as well as the dangerous in my seminar at the Animal Humane Adoption Center, 9132 Montgomery Blvd. NE from 6-9 PM Monday, November 19. Cost: $40. To register go to facebook.com/drjeffnichol and click Events and then Join or call 792-5131. Bring plenty of questions.