Why are Border Terriers so good at escaping? Border Terriers were bred to hunt vermin. Because of this, they are intelligent problem solvers that can squeeze through tight spaces. All the makings of a good escapee!
Border Terriers are outdoorsy and highly motivated to investigate squirrels, birds, the neighbor's cat, whatever moves! So whether your Border Terrier is behind a fence in your yard or out on a walk, he is likely to want to investigate and run after small animals. Because he is a slender-bodied hunter, he is fast--he can be gone before you have time to react--and can fit through small openings in a fence or gate.
Because they are high energy, independent dogs, many owners of Border Terriers like to be able to exercise their dogs off-leash or let them have outside time in a yard. But because of their natural tendency to become distracted and run away, this can be hazardous if your loose Border Terrier decides to head for the hills! To make things a little more complicated, Border Terriers are expert diggers, something they developed as a way to go after rodents and other small prey that might hide in burrows or holes. Border Terriers can apply this skill to burrowing under fences--think Steve McQueen in the Great Escape! So how do you train your Border Terrier not to run away?
When teaching your Border Terrier not to run away, good off-leash recall will be your best tool. Remember, however, that off-leash activity is inherently self-rewarding. If you leash your Border Terrier every time you recall him you are inadvertently punishing him for coming to you. You will want to avoid this--call your dog and reward him with play or more off-leash time, do not always leash and leave an area your dog is enjoying. Establish that coming to you is a good thing, and that you are the pack leader, will be the most effective way to get your Border Terrier to respond to off-leash commands and not to run away.
By practicing obedience commands and setting boundaries you help establish yourself as the dominant pack member, making your Border Terrier less likely to run away from you, and more likely to follow you or stay nearby. This is how your dog is wired--to stay with the pack leader. You want your Border Terrier to stay with you when off-leash and obey your recall commands, but also to stay in an enclosed area like a yard or house. This will mean setting some boundaries, teaching your dog to only exit gates and doors when invited, and providing alternatives to escaping and digging behaviors.
Make sure your dog is microchipped or well identified with a tag before working off-leash, in case you accidentally become separated. Ideally, train in a safe enclosed area that your Border Terrier cannot escape from. You will want to use treats to reward not running away, and also provide toys and activities to act as an alternative. Figure out what motivates your Border Terrier and tap into that; does he like to play tug of war with a rag, chew on a Kong or rawhide bone, play fetch? Use these props to provide alternatives to running away.
Hi We are having issues with Hooper barking at everything from people to tree stumps and whilst it is not overly aggressive (tail wagging constantly) it is so frustrating especially when passing by families with children.He has met our granddaughters and is fine, it's almost like a protection thing at times bless him but we are at our wits end and all other aspects such as toilet training, sleeping through the night he is brilliant
James & Gail
Hello James, It sounds like he has become overly sensitive to new things. Work on teaching him the Quiet command from the article linked below and also work a lot on desensitizing him to his environment. The Quiet command will give you an off switch. The desensitizing will help prevent him from constantly starting the barking. Also, be aware that the more a dog barks the more encouraged a dog is to continue to bark because of chemicals released in their brain. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Desensitization 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp_l9C1yT1g&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Desensitization 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5BjvNScFPs&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=2 Desensitization 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=3 Desensitization 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXCELHDT2fs&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=4 Desensitization 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxPrNnulp5s Once you have desensitized him to things in his environment and taught him the quiet command, if he barks at something you have already desensitized him to and disobeys you when you tell him Quiet, then you can use a pet convincer sprayed at his side (which is a small canister of pressurized air - do NOT spray him in the face) to snap him out of it (which will give you an opportunity to reward him if he stays quiet so that he is reminded to do that instead). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Bailey has been off the leash since being very young, he is usually not bad with his recall and we always reward him for coming back and do all of the above. The past week - he has ran off 3 times - and I’ve had to look for him for up to 30 minutes, I’ve then found him around dogs and running after them. How do I stop this? Has he hit puberty and is starting to smell dogs in season?
Hello Laura, Age could certainly be part of it. Whether its other dogs in heat or just hitting a more independent stage, either way he needs to be given less trust right now as you work on off-leash reliability. Most young puppies will stay close because you are their security. As they hit puppy adolescence they get bolder and more curious and if off-leash obedience isn't strongly in place, come and following can become issues then. Most people assume their dog is fully off-leash trained because they naturally came well during puppyhood, but there were less things to compete with at that age, than the exciting things he is noticing now. For off-leash reliability you need to practice off-leash commands a lot on a long leash around various types of distractions, so that pup learns to come around distractions and coming isn't negotiable - he has to come even if he doesn't want your reward more than another dog. If there is a female in heat nearby that could certainly be contributing too. If that's the case and you aren't planning on showing him in conformation or needing him to be in tact, I do suggest speaking to your vet about neutering him. Neutering doesn't fix a lot of behavior issues, but that desire to seek out females in heat should improve if he really is going after a female in heat and not just lacking a recall and boundary training. Know that seeming to backtrack in obedience is normal at this age because puppies do care more about distractions at this point. This is the age where intermediate obedience, where you practice commands intentionally around distractions, is important. Check out the Reel In method and practice it around a lot of distractions. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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