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Border collie Jack passed away on February 28, 2022

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  • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

    Alison, how to do you exercise Zac? Neither of us is a runner and Jack is not a good enough leash walker to use a bike plus he freaks out at all kinds of things - kites, flapping trash can lids - and lunges after squirrels and rabbits and sometimes cats.
    I've evolved a rather idiosyncratic way of exercising Zac which involves using one of those dreaded retractable leads(). But I don't use it in the usual hairy and irresponsible way they are usually used. He spends, I'd say, 90% of every walk walking beside me on a loose lead as he should. What I do do with the retractable is use it as a reward for good behavior and as a way of burning of extra energy (Zac's, not mine - I don't have extra energy generally!)

    I'll wait until he is behaving in an exemplary manner and then, when a tree or lamp post is within the length of the leash I say "long line" which is his cue to race off and have a good sniff! (Zac is a particularly sniffy dog, BTW.) The rapid acceleration repeated a number of times seems to get the beans out of him and I tend to use it particularly in the first 10 minutes of a walk for this reason. I also use the length of lead allowed with the 16ft retractable to practice recalls - I say "long line" and then whistle or call him back (I prefer the whistle because it's quicker to deliver) and he spins around and races back for a reward - a food treat or sometimes a toy or a tummyrub - he never knows what he's going to get which makes it even more fun for him. Then I might make him sit (or something else) and then send him off again. He finds this very mentally stimulating and it burns off a lot of physical energy very fast with minimal exertion on my part.

    What I don't do with the retractable is sort of wander along in my own little world with the dog wandering along in his own little world - that is where retractables get really ugly IMO. I use it in a very special way as a training aid and a way of getting him to burn off more energy than I do. Overall the whole situation was so controllable and easy that I'd walk Zac on his retractable and little Mia on a fixed 6ft lead and harness and all three of us were very happy hiking along despite our different exercise requirements - Mia always had a lot more stamina than little ol' me and bounced along happily sniffing here and sniffing there while I had a comfortable walk and Zac got the physical and mental workout he needed.

    I've found that retractables are far from created equal. The one I've got is a "Walkabout" by Aspen Pets and has a very light mechanism so it doesn't encourage and reward pulling - the amount of "drag" would probably be no more than that which you'd get pulling an 6ft long rope along the ground - very light. I also bought a size larger (for weight of dog) than I strictly needed as Zac weighs close to the upper limit for the "correct" size and it's mechanism is still so light that I could use it with Mia who only weighed 9lbs.

    Zac also lunges at "little furries" (very strong prey drive) - we don't have squirrels but we have possums that fill the same "psychological niche" - he's getting much better with cats after a lot of desensitization and counterconditioning. However if one springs up from under his nose - well he can't help himself! (BTW, he actually got attacked (physically attacked!!) by a cat a couple of months ago - it's the third time I've encountered dog-aggressive behavior from a cat when out with a dog but the first time I've ever had a dog physically connected with by the cat - the cats around here ain't "pussy cats" it seems, which is another reason for him not to tangle with them). Zac also reacts with some dogs - usually dogs that are going off aggressively at him (Jack Russells really get him going!). If the other dog is calm then he will be but, oh dear! if the other guy gets all intense and emotional then he's off too. It sounds like Jack is far more likely to actually take fright at things than is Zac - although that can happen. It doesn't seem to be such an issue these days as he's seen more of the world but when he was younger he'd sometimes shy at things just like a horse would.

    We also have problems with some people too - men who look him in the eye and bend over and come towards him from the front (why do they have to do that???) and he's had a bad experience with a child who, in Zac's opinion, attacked him without warning and so he's now predictably unprediticable with kids too. Basically he's a "one family dog" which must be quite a common thing with dogs of his breeding (ACD and what looks like a touch of GSD). He is, however, absolutely fine with his people even if he's still a bit hyper with some of them - which is their fault for rewarding hyper behavior as I constantly have to point out.

    I'd thought of using a bike too. When he was younger and stupider it certainly wouldn't have been an option because if he saw a cat....... I also worry about overheating in our climate here (warm and humid) and for most of the year it would probably not work for that reason - not even at night. You can get semi-rigid devices that attach the dog to the rear hub which would have to be a lot safer than holding the lead in your hand. I've seen some people doing the latter and always wondered what would happen if the dog suddenly lunged either off at right angles or worse still across in front of the bike - or around behind. I think doing that is always a calculated risk with any dog - and with a reactive and athletic dog the numbers don't look good!

    The other thing that burns off energy for Zac is playing fetch and similar games in the back yard. I do occasionally (very occasionally) take him to the dog park when no-one else is there and let him run and sniff but he seems to enjoy walks and playing at home just as much - which is probably why we do it so rarely - that and trying to find a time when the dog park is vacant isn't necessarily that easy.

    I think every dog I've ever had has had a pretty high level of physical energy but Zac is completely different from any of the others with a much more difficult temperament and more "hang ups" and "issues" than all the others put together could have dreamed up if they tried!

    Alison


    Alison

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    • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

      Alison, I can't thank you enough for giving me a detailed description of what you do with Zac. It is incredibly helpful as Jack has many of the same kinds of issues and responses.

      It's quite a challenge going from Chris, who was Mr. Mellow, to Jack, who isn't mellow about anything! And, like Zac, Jack is great at home with us. It's everywhere and everything else that's a challenge.

      I swear it's always something. At the park down the street from our house, there's a guy who has a kite that I think must have a small motor attached. It makes a ton of noise while swooping and diving overhead and of course we can see and hear it from a block away. I find myself wishing that kite would have a fatal accident! Jack goes berserk if he gets too close to it, too close being half a block away.

      I also find it difficult to meld his potty alerting issues with his counter-conditioning to the Jack Russells next door. We have better luck with the poop issue if we use the backyard only for potty trips - no play time. If we even just take treats out with us, he can't focus enough on his business to do it. But then he also doesn't get counter-conditioned to the Jack Russells if we don't take treats out there and loses it insanely when they come out, as they did yesterday...

      Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode from trying to figure all of this out. I know some of it will probably improve as Jack gets a little older. He's won't be two years old until around October. But between his issues and the cats' issues with him and Gus' IBD explosions, I'm feeling a little frazzled!

      Natalie

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      • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

        My dogs went crazy when a hot air balloon was in the area, or when they heard the back up beeps on any trucks nearby.
        Dolly & Niki passed 2010, 45 lb Border Collie Mix 8 yrs as diabetic, 13yrs old. Blind N 10.5 U 2 X * Dog is God spelled backwards*If there are no dogs in Heaven then when I die I want to go where they went. Niki's food Orijen & Turkey & Gr. Beans, See you at the bridge my beloved & cherished Niki, I miss you everyday

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        • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

          Originally posted by k9diabetes View Post
          Alison, I can't thank you enough for giving me a detailed description of what you do with Zac. It is incredibly helpful as Jack has many of the same kinds of issues and responses.

          It's quite a challenge going from Chris, who was Mr. Mellow, to Jack, who isn't mellow about anything! And, like Zac, Jack is great at home with us. It's everywhere and everything else that's a challenge.

          I swear it's always something. At the park down the street from our house, there's a guy who has a kite that I think must have a small motor attached. It makes a ton of noise while swooping and diving overhead and of course we can see and hear it from a block away. I find myself wishing that kite would have a fatal accident! Jack goes berserk if he gets too close to it, too close being half a block away.

          I also find it difficult to meld his potty alerting issues with his counter-conditioning to the Jack Russells next door. We have better luck with the poop issue if we use the backyard only for potty trips - no play time. If we even just take treats out with us, he can't focus enough on his business to do it. But then he also doesn't get counter-conditioned to the Jack Russells if we don't take treats out there and loses it insanely when they come out, as they did yesterday...

          Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode from trying to figure all of this out. I know some of it will probably improve as Jack gets a little older. He's won't be two years old until around October. But between his issues and the cats' issues with him and Gus' IBD explosions, I'm feeling a little frazzled!

          Natalie
          Natalie,
          I have been reading with interest about Jack he sounds like a typical Jack Russell I can assure you he will calm down as he gets older.
          How many are living next door to you? Is there any way you could get them socialised together maybe a walk all together a few times a week, (of course
          with treats) or would this be a no go area.
          I know they are very energetic wee dogs Sean was hyper when he was a pup
          but as he got older he did mellow they are very determined dogs but at the same time very loveable.
          You are right they need plenty of exercise to tire them out he would do fine on the tread mill!!!

          I know it is not funny Natalie but he will calm down and it is frustrating.

          There was a man up the road from us and every time he passed our gates
          he was always reading his newspaper and Sean would run at the gates barking like mad and he always forgot about Sean doing this, we don't know how many times his newspaper went up in the air and he would curse every time. It was quite funny. We knew the man and we always said to him "you should be well used to it by now" he was always so engrossed in his newspaper he kept forgetting about Sean

          Thought I would share this with you
          Margaret & Angel Lucy July 4 2001- May 6 2011

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          • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

            There was a man up the road from us and every time he passed our gates he was always reading his newspaper and Sean would run at the gates barking like mad and he always forgot about Sean doing this, we don't know how many times his newspaper went up in the air and he would curse every time. It was quite funny. We knew the man and we always said to him "you should be well used to it by now" he was always so engrossed in his newspaper he kept forgetting about Sean

            Hahahahahahaha! That's too funny. Paints quite a mental picture!!

            We took Jack swimming today and he had a great time. We let him drag his 30 foot lead so we could catch him once he got out of the water. I stayed onshore and Jeff waded out to where he would have to swim and I'd throw a stick for him out to where Jeff was and Jack would take off to retrieve it.

            Jack wasn't too sure about losing touch with the ground at first - this is only his second time swimming - but then he got comfortable with it and swam quite a bit. That used up a bunch of energy and he was tired by the time we were done. So that worked great. For the summer I think we will try to take him swimming fairly often as the river is just ten minutes from our house and we bought a season pass to the park there so we can go for an hour or ten minutes and as often as we want to. There's a small beach and then it's quite shallow for at least 50 feet out. It was very crowded today but only one other dog and very few squirrels, though Jack looked long and hard for them.

            Natalie

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            • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

              Jack LOVES to swim! His feet are a bit webbed and he's really good at it. We have taken him half a dozen times and now he's very confident. Tonight with his daddy along he thrashed into the water the moment he got to it, splashed around, swam through some wakes, and just generally had a really great time. He likes the water enough that he can mostly forget about the squirrels.

              Friday when we took him there was a pit bull type mix chasing squirrels up a tree that grows at a bit of angle. The dog was so determined that he climbed about 10 feet up the side of the tree! And fell out... they finally leashed him up as he had absolutely no self control.

              We are so lucky to have a great swimming spot on the river just across town. There's a good beach and it's shallow enough for people to wade out 30 feet and for Jack to swim without having to go too far from shore. We bought an annual pass to the park so we can go every day and stay 5 minutes or an hour. It's the perfect way to exercise Jack this summer. The only real drawback is that it's crowded on weekends but I take Jack weekday mornings instead.

              Natalie

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              • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

                It's time for a visit from Debbie Downer. Pip is 9...that's all I'm saying...

                Pam

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                • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

                  I confess, Pam, I did think of Pip when thinking about Jack settling down when he's a little older!

                  I actually wrote a really long reply here the other night and then the website crashed briefly and I lost it!

                  Seriously, though, Jack seems to have improved so much in the past couple of months. We figure it's a combination of all his training and some maturity and the fact that he's now lived with us longer than any place else in his life so is starting to trust that this is his permanent home and a happy place for him. I think he's settling in more. And the "watch me" training has absolutely focused him more on us.

                  When we picked up Gus, we brought Jack into the vet's office to weigh him (53.3 pounds) and even the vet tech, unsolicited, commented on how much more confident and relaxed he is now and how happy he looks.

                  The boy is so spoiled... he'd better be happy!

                  We have discovered his love for plush squeeky toys and they are everywhere. We check each squeeker prior to purchase to make sure it's (1) not too loud for us, and (2) robust enough to keep Jack happy. He has a Hide-a-Squirrel stump and he pulls all the little plush toys out - squirrels, lambiedoodles... and scampers around the house squeeking them and tossing them around. We have to keep a lot of backup toys as once the squeeker is dead, which usually doesn't take too long, he wants a new one that squeeks. Some days there is plush carnage as far as the eye can see!

                  Natalie

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                  • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

                    Natalie - "plush carnage" made me laugh out loud at work!!! We had the same stump toy with the little squirrels in it. As you know, he'd rather get the real ones!

                    Seriously, I do believe you will be successful because you have a handle on training Jack. I have never been good at that...and it shows! Actually my husband used to raise Boxers, but has largely been unsuccessful training Pip. He claims the breed is a stubborn one, but I know Pip was spoiled rotten after we rescued him.

                    What do you mean by Watch Me Training?

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                    • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

                      The "watch me" is a big goal for all of Jack's training exercises - teaching him to look to us for guidance and focus on us, especially in stressful situations.

                      So, for example, we throw a treat on the floor and tell him to Leave It and he gets rewarded for looking intently into our eyes waiting for permission to get the treat or a different reward and ignoring the treat on the floor. He can't go get the treat on the floor unless we say so.

                      Eventually (he's not totally there yet), he will equate leaving something with getting a reward and look at us for his reward as soon as he hears Leave It.

                      On walks, we want him to focus on us so he is walking nicely by our side instead of pulling us down the street at the end of the leash.

                      And when problems arise, like a dog he doesn't like or a guy tossing a cell phone around, we stop and have him look at us for a reward, which distracts him from the problem.

                      Basically, teaching him good things happen when he focuses on us and also rewards him for calm behavior.

                      It's also a variation of Say Please by Sitting and Nothing in Life is Free.

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                      • Re: Jack - SPCA poster boy

                        Jack was hilarious today. We took him to a different river spot - kind of cobbly so he couldn't run around like he can at the sandy beach we usually go to. Jeff decided to throw a big tree branch into the river and Jack thought it was the best stick ever!

                        It was 7+ feet long and a inch or more thick around and Jack cheerfully retrieved it over and over. I swear he was gloating at his accomplishment!

                        Apparently his main complaint about his river toys is that they are way too small!

                        Natalie

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                        • Re: Jack - lumberjack retriever

                          Just catching up over here...
                          LOL, So proud of that BIG stick!!! I bet he was worn out last night

                          Whenever we took Ali boating with us, she had her own life jacket (since we were in the middle of the lake). Every time the boat stopped she wanted to get out and retrieve her bumper. She didn't know how to just float. Her legs would just go and go and go. She'd crashed in the truck on the way home with her head on top of a stack of towels.

                          Great way to burn energy!
                          Patty and Ali 13.5yrs 47lbs diagnosed May '08 Ali earned her wings October 27, 2012, 4 months after diagnosis of a meningioma ~ Time is precious ~

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                          • Re: Jack - lumberjack retriever

                            Natalie,
                            It really sounds like you are having far too much fun with Jack. My suggestion is to get a much bigger toy box to put all these oversize toys in.
                            Jenny

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                            • Re: Jack - lumberjack retriever

                              Originally posted by BestBuddy View Post
                              My suggestion is to get a much bigger toy box to put all these oversize toys in.
                              Jenny
                              Or his own boatshed!

                              Alison

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                              • Re: Jack - lumberjack retriever

                                She didn't know how to just float. Her legs would just go and go and go.
                                Jack's the same way... lift him out of the water and he keeps paddling. It's great that they have an instinct to swim instead of having to learn how.

                                Jack's toes are somewhat webbed and he's got big clod hoppers, which make him a great swimmer. Plus his feet are much more durable than Chris' were. Chris, despite being 60 pounds, had very delicate feet! He didn't like rocks at all! Would have hated that cobbly beach.

                                Natalie

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