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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How do I get my border Terrier to play. All she does is sleep around the house and walk if i take her on walks
Hello Barbara, Check out the video linked below for motivating and teaching fetch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-uUQE32FuU I also suggest purchasing some interactive toys, like a Kong wobble, puzzle toys, and hollow chew toys, and feeding pup part of their meals via putting the dog food into the toys and puzzles for pup to get out. This will help to create a positive association with the toys, help pup learn to problem solve, and engage them more overall. Some doges - especially ones past three years, are simply content to relax and observe. I wouldn't expect pup to play that much at this age, unless you are actively engaging them in a game or giving them something like a chew toy with dog food. It's normal for a 7 year old dog to want to relax the majority of the day until something initiates the fun for them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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He is very stubborn and doesn’t listen, he doesn’t train well and he doesn’t even potty well, I love him to death but he gets into everything all the time, it is very stressing to keep an eye on him
Hello, start working on obedience at home with Walter: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-pitbull-puppy-to-be-obedient. At the same time, look into obedience classes to help Walter understand that he needs to follow your lead. The classes will also tire him out mentally. He's a breed that needs a lot of exercise - 2-3 walks per day minimum, at least one of them lengthy and brisk. Buy him interactive toys and feed him 1/2 of his meal in the bowl, the other 1/2 in the puzzle feeder. A busy pup is a tired pup! So first, obedience classes and lots of exercise. As for the potty training, take a look here for excellent methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside. Take him out every hour if you have to until he catches on. It is worth the effort once he gets the idea. Always go out immediately upon waking, after meals, after playtime, after naps, etc. Good luck!
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Tess is a rescue dog and is extremely vocal to other dogs. Lunges, barks and yelps.
Hello Kate, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have his mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. The walk should start with him having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if he isn't calm. He should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk he should be in the heel position - with his head behind your leg. That position decreases his arousal, reduces stress because he isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents him from scanning for other dogs, staring dogs down or being stared down, and ignoring you behind him. It also requires him to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive he is - it makes him feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not his around other dogs. Additionally, when you do pass other dogs, as soon as he starts staring them down, interrupt him. Don't tolerate challenging stares at other dogs. Remind him with a fair correction that you are leading the walk and he is not allowed to break his heel or stare another dog down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for him in the long-run. Leading the walk this way can actually boost a dog's confidence in the long run around other dogs because the dog feels like you will handle the situation so they can relax. Once pup can walk past other dogs more calmly, you can carry small, soft treats hidden in a treat pouch or plastic bag in your pocket. When pup's body language stays calm, they remain focused on you, or are very obedient when other dogs are within sight, reward pup with a treat and very calm - almost monotone praise (too much excitement can make the situation harder for pup). If pup does alright meeting other dogs, still be picky about which dogs he greets. Avoid nose-to-nose greetings dogs who lack manners. A simple "He's in training" tends to work well. Be picky about who and how he meets other dogs. Avoid dogs that don't respect his space, pull their owners over to her, and generally are not listening well - those dogs are often friendly but they are rude and difficult for some to meet on leash. Also, avoid greeting dogs who look very tense around your dog, who stare him down, who give warning signs like a low growl or lip lift, who look very puffed up and proud - that type greeting with a dog is likely to end in a fight since your dog doesn't know how to diffuse that situation. A stiff wag is also a bad sign. A friendly wag looks relaxed and loose with relaxed body language overall. A tense dog with a very stiff wag, especially with a tail held high is a sign of arousal and not always a good thing. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Aggressive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Outside of the walk you can work on building pup's trust and respect for you in other ways too. The following commands and exercises are also good for that: If nervousness is ever an issue - Agility/obstacles for building confidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M A long down stay around distractions is a good thing to practice during walks periodically. If pup does well up close with other dogs and you want to practice up close interactions, a good way to do introductions with other dogs is to recruit friends with calm dogs and use the Passing Approach and the Walking together methods from the article linked below. After a few practice session of this, when the dogs can calmly walk side by side finally, take pups on walks together with both in a structured, focused heel. This gives both dogs something other than each other to focus on, keeps their energy calm, and helps them associate each other with the pleasant experience of a walk. Repeat this with lots of different dogs, one or two dogs at a time - you want other dogs to be associated with calmness, pleasant experiences, and boring things - not roughhousing, wrestling, nose-to-nose interactions always, or being rushed by them. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Sometimes you can even find others to practice with through obedience clubs, meetup groups, or hiking groups. When he does greet another dog nose-to-nose, give slack in the leash, relax yourself, and keep the greeting to a max of 3 seconds, then happily tell him "Let's Go" or "Heel" and start walking away, giving him a treat when he follows so that he will learn to quickly respond to that command in the future. Keeping the greeting relaxed and short can diffuse tension and give the dogs enough time to say hi before competing starts. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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