Koto is turning to 6 years old in few weeks.
And I want to look back again and think about why did she became "dog aggressive"
and "anti-social dog". In fact, she was quite social dog until about 2 year old.
She could go to public places, dog parks without much problem until she was 3.5 years old.
But recent Koto is very different. We can't let her off lead when dogs are approaching her,
we are afraid of dog fight occurs and she will hurt some dogs.
When she grown up into mature age, she started to ignore dogs and only focused on us.
I was told that it is just a natural working BC's behavior, Nothing to worried about.
Puppy searching story:
I moved to Australia in 2006, then we've got Koto in mid 2008.
I had no idea how to buy a puppy in Australia, also it was the very first dog for Dean, I grew up with many dogs but never properly trained. She was our very first dog.
I started to research on google, I was looking at rescue group puppy, e-news paper, local trading post. We researched, and also went to see dog show and look at different breed and temperament to understand what breed will be suitable for us. We were still young and very active couple without children. We thought we can handle high energetic dog who loves exercise / hiking /camping.
"Border Collie" was one of my dream dog to own since I was young and really wanted to try sheep herding with Border Collie. So I knew that I didn't wanted to get a show line Border Collie.
We started to search working dogs, traditional Black and White BC.
We went to see few puppies, but we didn't like them all..
But when we saw Koto's litter photos at trading post, which was short hair puppies posing on top of the farm truck. It certainly looked like very intelligent farm working BC with full of energy.
We felt in love with Koto's litter.
Unfortunately, Koto's breeder was awful. I surely realised that breeder's wrong attitude to breeding dog very soon, but we were thinking BC is a very intelligent dog, We could teach anything to puppy.
So we've bought her even though the breeder didn't let us to meet her parents...
Puppy called "Kiara"
She was separated from her mom at 4 weeks old because she went back ito herding work just after 4 weeks of giving a birth.
So the breeder put Koto's litter to another person who brought Koto to us.
She was also a BC breeder and was breeding Koto's relative dogs who also just had a litter. Koto was separated from her litter mate at 6.5 weeks old, to came to our house.
She sure didn't learn much important skills from her mom and didn't even have enough time to play with litter mates.
I don't know how much this fact affected on her socialization skill..
But I believe 6 weeks old is too young to start to live without mom and litter mates.
I would never get a 6 weeks old puppy...
The breeder should have spay Koto's mom if she wants to use her for full time working dog.
When she just arrive to us in the city Unit, She was tiny little pup.
Tiny but naughty! She was nipping our ankle all the time so hard with her sharp puppy teeth!
She loved playing with dogs but she was rough and not gentle:
While she was playing at puppy school, she often gets too serious,
I was always breaking up puppy fight with this Jack russell terrier pup.
We had no idea how to stop her nipping.
She plays with other dog a bit rough and not gentle.
Koto playing with good friend's dog Jyu. Koto made my friend worried badly because of her sharp teeth can damage sensitive Jyu's eyes and skin.
Puppy Koto playing with staffy puppy. They played well, but it was rough..
We break them up so many times.
Greeting Young BC at the beach. Puppy Koto had this quite hyper tension to meet other dogs. She was full of power, a energetic and high drive farm dog that we were searched for......
Socialization list what I've done with Koto:
- Daily walking at Rathdowne street's cafe area, I choose busy street environment everyday to talk her.
There were dogs sitting at outdoor cafe table while owners are enjoying their coffee.
She was always pretty good. we practice passing calmly in front of aggressive barking dog behind the fence regularly.
We learn how to teach social manners and obedience at various dog schools until she was about 3 years old. We didn't know where is good dog school.. so start with local obedience dog club but they were using old method and we just hate it.
The lesson they let us to practice was "deep and angry voice to say strong NO to puppy." We kept look around different schools, but didn't really know where to go.
We finaly found the one when Koto was about 7 month old, which was great organization and there were some great instructors. We learn heaps of basic of dog training but unfortunately, we didn't have a choice of instructor which made us a little confused by following slightly different teaching method every week.
Obedience at Four Paws dog school
Socialization class at Croydon
We again changed club. One of the reason was I wanted to start agility, So we attend Croydon Obedience club, which has agility club. It was a great class. I really loved my instructor and she used 100% positive reinforcement method, always happy classroom.
We decide to let Koto to wear "Yellow bandana" which means "I need space"
She had a great focus on me or Dean. She was great at obedience, but she often lost focus when dog come too close to us. I always learned lots of tips there, and socialization class was great.
Unfortunately, We couldn't attend agility class there because the club was right next to train line. Koto was willing to chase the train and we couldn't get her to concentrate on agility lesson..I apply for another Agility club but there was 1.5 years of waiting list.
Meanwhile, I kept searched for Dog owner friends who can hang out with Koto.
I used to be a member of dog socialization group page and I made many dog owner friends. Molly was one of them. She was just 6 month older than Koto, still young but very gentle and kind BC girl. She was perfect and I soon felt in love with Molly and Kerry straight away. They were so sweet and beautiful girls.
We meet up at the park sometimes, and I also look after Molly once a week while Kerry was at work all day. so that they could hang out and Koto can socialize.
I took Molly and Koto to the dog park every thursday, They were so happy being together. Video here
We also did travel together with BC pack, let her to expose to "one to one" and "dog pack environment". Koto was the youngest, but soon she became dominant in the pack environment but she was fine to hung out with dogs.
I used to like finding new park and walking tracks that allowed dog off lead.
We always kept her distance when we were playing with her. She was only growling at very young hyper active dogs running in front of her face, but she wasn't too bad.
She was not social, but she could greed with dogs nicely.
She was just not interested in playing with dogs, And it didn't bother me at all.
- Her behavior started to changed from just showing teeth or sending sign of "Go Away" light snapping when she turned around 3 years old.
we didn't wanted this happen to her regularly, so decided to change our daily exercise park to spacial and peaceful Yarra Bent Park. But I didn't give up going to the dog park environment. She was fine to play near dogs as long as she had some space.
During this period, at age of 1-3 years old, We were mainly focused on
"Chasing behavior "
She was happy, hyper, sensitive and timid.
She became a serious chaser at age 1-3.
When something move fast, it switched her on, She suddenly disappear from us in full speed to chase after cars/bicycle, train, tram, Foot baller, skateboarder,
Anything moves faster than her.
She break my heart.. because we were living in the city, on the very busy road.
One day, we were invited to our friend house Backyard BBQ party.
Koto came along with us. When we were chatting with our friends, Koto came back to me with anxious behavior. I looked at her and noticed that she has a scar right above her left eye.
Then some very generous person knock on my friend's door,
"Is that your dog? I just hit your dog, please take him to the vet."
Can you imagine how shocking/heart breaking hearing this from stranger man?
And we found that there was small gap at my friend's house fence.
Very small.. and we didn't even know Koto went out side of the fence.
Apparently, she suddenly run in front of this man's car with barking,
Car stopped but couldn't make it.. she was hit, she fly on the air and hit her forehead on bonnet.
Then she run off. Nicely, Car driver chased after her and told us the story.
The party was over, We rushed into the vet after this.
Luckily... she was totally fine.
Just one scar on her forehead.
I did many reading and research to understand her behavior.
We did everything we could think of to stop her chasing and it was huge pressure on me.
because simply, we didn't wanted to loose her.
We started learning sheep herding,
(Video explaining Koto at herding school here at 2:05)
We finally could started agility, when she was around 2.5 yo.
and daily obedience such as
"Look at that games" "Self control exercises" "Off switch games"
After numbers of tears and terrified experiences,
Her chasing behavior started fade out at the age of 3.5-4 years old.
she started to calm down a little..
Age? Obedience? Herding? Agility? Self control exercises?
Who knows! but it worked!!!
My summer holiday was coming up in the end of the year and I knew about dogs much better. And we finally felt that we can consider to look at Koto's socialization skill.
We thought getting another dog to play with will improve her socialization skill
Dean and I are also getting into agility, if we have another dog,
we thought we could both do agility together.
I also wanted to try to raise puppy again from the 8 weeks old.
This time, I wanted to make sure we have very social dog. So I searched for the best Border Collie breeder in Australia. I needed to make sure breeder who can raise social and
good puppy with full of mum and litter mate's love.
I have been stalking Niah's breeder for many years and when Dean agreed to get a puppy, I straight away emailed her.
When I first time talk to her, I was very excited about how she raise puppy up to 8 weeks old, and learned so much about BC. She had enormous knowledge of BC and long breeding experience. I had 100% positive feel and respect to Niah's breeder.
We request gentle personality puppy for Koto and sure little "Sable" (Niah's puppy name) was a 100% right choice for Koto.
Koto suddenly became a happy older sister when we got him.
She loves him, always following him around, looked after him, played with him, sleep with him and bossing him around and educated him. To me, it was an amazing experience raising a puppy with Koto.
We helped each other, care each other.. full of love and cuteness!
My life has fallen into joy with living with dogs in deeper level and soon, we felt very comfortable to leave them in the court yard when we were at work or school.
Koto was such a good puppy keeper!
But since Niah grown up, Koto's
anti- social behavior gets worth and worth.
They were both very good in public places when he was a pup.
We took them to Quiet and large parks. but also took them to the park separately to make sure Niah gets to chance for socialization.
But when he turned to the age he can really run,
He wanted to greet every dogs at the park, I let him socialized most of the time if the dog seems okay for young dog.
During this time, Koto was usually with Dean, waiting for the toy come out from our bag.
When Niah is busy playing with other dog, Dean start play with Koto, If Koto run,
then Niah must chase her. This is the daily routine and Niah's life time mission.
He often brought back many dogs to Koto, following him.
But if Koto has a ball or frisbee, She never wants to greed dogs and
Koto's started Growl, show her teeth, then this behavior soon changed to attack position as soon as dog approaches her at the park.
Luckily, She never hurt dog yet, but we seen many dogs scream from the fear and run away after Seeing Koto.
Koto hasn't yet hurt dogs but she surely did hurt her self quite often.
She run into stranger dog and injured her shoulder badly in 2012 December.
Owner was miles away and this dog appeared us suddenly, run into Koto's face and
they crushed in full speed. a BIG vet fee and Big injury.
All of these small incidents made her aggression even stronger.
We felt that we can't take her to the public dog offlead park anymore.
In fact the behavior gets worth and worth in the last 2 years.
What did I do in the last 2 years?
- We changed park to even more quiet park, Under the Bridge park can see it here. It is very large and can see so well if the dog approached to us.
- Kept her in distance from dogs at agility, but always took her to dog event environment. Played tug with her at dog event or dog school.
- Kept working on on/off switch games, look at that games
- Exercises from the book called "Click to Calm" and "Control Unleashed"
- We moved house from the city unit to suburban house with backyard.
- We take our dogs to the park separately, not often but regularly.
What trigger Koto to become Aggressive?
- Possession a ball and Frisbee
- During walking on lead with us, Dean and Emi
- Total stranger dog approaches her right in front of her face.
- Small fluffy dogs like Maltese terrier, poodle, she goes frantic, react to them extremely.
- People walking with Big long "thing" like ski bag or golf bag makes her very anxious and bark at them.
Another way of thinking is
She just thinks she is doing what she supposed to do.
She looks working for us, but she is working in over threshold..
She is the most difficult dog ever, but she is very sweet and affectionate in general,
intelligent and loving dog.
Many people ask us if she is a "Rescue dog?"
I need to face her dog aggression right now and I have to find the way of
relax her near dogs..It was such a long journey but we achieved to stop her from chasing behavior.
This will be another long journey, but I believe there is a solution..
We must try something..
I wrote this to my blog to ask dog behaviorist or personal trainer to lead it.
But if you are not them,
Thank you very much for reading a long story and please understand our love to Koto..
Living with her require strong patient but we also have strong joy,
We love her so much whatever she is.
I will report my training towards to Koto's aggression in here regularly.