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Keeping my pup occupied

February 24th, 2010, 12:00 PM
I *think* this is in the right area. (If not, so sorry!)

Hey all, I adopted an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix and want to make sure she gets all the stimulation she needs. She's about 7 months old.

I know these types do best when they have a "job"- but we don't live on a farm and have a pretty small backyard. I make sure to walk her in the morning and at night (20 minutes each), we make it to the dog park 3-4 days each week and spend about an hour there. I also do 3 5-minute training sessions with tricks and basic commands most days (depends on how busy the day is). When we leave her at home, I make sure she has treats and stuff to keep her busy.

So basically, I want to know if you have any suggestions for stuff I can do to keep her occupied, if I'm doing ok, or if I need to find someone else who can give her that farm/job that she needs.

Edit: I've read the articles posted here on breed characteristics, and I have to add something. Io definitely likes sleeping and being home more than anything- maybe she's mixed with something else more mellow (those two are just what the shelter guessed at). Or maybe because she's young? She doesn't seem to have the same crazy drive that is described in the posts. Or maybe she's just being under-stimulated? Is that possible?

February 24th, 2010, 01:54 PM
Haipanda, there's always an exception to the rule. Io is happy, relaxed, non-destructive? Are you happy and relaxed with her? I hope nobody ever made you to feel that you have to rehome her because of a guess at her breeds.

Living in the country does not mean that a dog gets all his/her needs met. I've seen plenty high-energy breeds around here tied to barns and dog houses with no stimulation, mental or physical, whatsoever.

If you find Io (love the name btw :lovestruck:) doesn't settle easily when indoors, you can just increase the amount of walking time with her. A game of fetch in the yard for 10 minutes (you can play vertically too), or providing her a space to dig will help expend some extra energy too.

Then there are stuffed Kongs where you can increase the difficulty of her getting the food out by adding peanut butter or salt-free cottage cheese and freezing. There are all sorts of opportunities throughout the day where you can incorporate training and teaching new tricks. Practice stays while brushing your teeth or getting dressed. Teach a new trick during commercials while you're watching your favorite show. Run her through all the cues she knows while folding laundry. Keep it light and make it fun. A reward every now and then eg. a treat or favorite toy will keep her focused on you and worth her while.

Most important though, enjoy her company and she'll enjoy yours :).

February 24th, 2010, 08:41 PM
It sounds to me like your on the right track haipanda and I have to agree with LuckyPenny.

I too have seen farm dogs couped up in cages or tied up until it's time for them to work without additional stimulation or human interactions. :frustrated:

If Io loves to sleep and is a relaxed, calm and happy girl, then there's no need to disturb her surroundings. :shrug:

Welcome to the forum and would love to see pictures of Io. :thumbs up

February 24th, 2010, 08:53 PM
There is always "Hide and Seek" using treats, toys or you to occupy her time and imagination while indoors.

February 25th, 2010, 10:50 AM
Oh whew. I was really worried I haven't been doing enough.

I have gotten the impression from a few people I have talked to/know that Io would be better off with a farm-type job. But it sounds like 'job' just means 'a lot of stimulation' which I definitely can do!

I'm trying really hard, because I adore her :3 and she follows me around like velcro, so it would be hard for both of us to be separated.

It's nice to be reassured!!

Thanks so much :)

(--> and I just posted pics of her in my intro post.)

February 28th, 2010, 04:49 PM
You have a calm pup. :)

See at times I get frustrated with the dog needs a "job". This isn't always the truth.

My sister is on a farm. She had a Border Collie Abbey. Yes Abby was a working dog and came from working lines. When she wasn't helping with the cows, she was a member of the family and was not left outside. Yet I have a friend with 2 Border Collies. They don't have a "job" but are very calm and mellow.

My sister also has Huskies. You hear that they can't be off leash. Well guess what, her dogs are off leash on her property and don't take off. When they go into town, they are on leash and don't pull.

Or Labs being hyper. Have you seen a hyper seeing eye dog? No. Remember these dogs get the initial training from fosters.

I have raised GSD's. You hear that they are high energy. Well 2 were couch potatos, and my current is a retired service dog(police) Yes he was high energy when working. That's because he was pumped and ready to go. Once his shift was done, heck he just wanted to laze around.

What I'm trying to say is, not all breeds are what they are characterized to be. Hope that made sense.LOL. Trying to type while watching hockey.

March 11th, 2010, 02:30 PM
I have a 6 month old border collie and I wish 20 min walks would do it for her or even1 hour sessions at the park. I take her out min of 2 hours per day, sometimes 4 hrs, walking or playing with her ball or frisbee at the park and 2 or 3 times a week we goto the beach or dog park for socialization.
At home what occupies our girl is my cat, he plays with her non stop, or she just sleeps if she's bored.

The training I would do for longer, she's 7 months old and probably can go about 15 mins, I don't mean hard training, just recap of everything she knows and throw in a new thing.:p

The treat balls don't work with Luna, she will just shove it under the couch or another spot and then can't play anymore.

My advice is to wear her out good, keep her on schedule and she'll sleep while you're gone., hopefully

March 23rd, 2010, 03:43 PM
I had a rescued border collie that was super mellow. Sure he'd go for a walk here and there but for the most part he just liked to sleep and follow my dad around. Or go for car rides!

Sounds like you're doing a great job stimulating her. What's really great is that you're not doing just physical stimulation with her but also mental activity (tricks/obedience). I find SO many people try to run their dogs into the ground to get them tired and then all that happens is they eventually get fitter and fitter so it takes them longer and longer to tire out! I had to quit running with my dog since it just made him hyper. We'd go for a 6 mile run and he'd be bouncing around for the rest of the day. Now he gets a 60-90 min walk and lots of mental activity each day and by 8 pm he's snoozing.

When people think of farm border collies running around all day, they're usually just thinking of the physical activity of herding sheep not the mental activity of listening to the handler or thinking about what to do next. It's the combo that makes for a happy, balanced (and usually tired!) dog.

So keep up the good work! If you find she's restless at the end of the day or starts getting more energy (like some do at around 9 months) try to up the mental aspect of it. Lots of good ideas already in this thread.

March 24th, 2010, 02:26 PM
I totally agree that the amount of stimulation needed depends on the individual dog. If I have someone tell me that they have a dog that is exhibiting destructive behaviors, then I'll ask about the amount of exercise & stimulation the dog is getting. I also recommend that people do their research on breed characteristics so that they don't get any surprises - but those are just broad generalities and any individual dog within that breed may or may not exhibit those characteristics. I think getting a border collie that's laid back is probably more of a pleasant surprise than expecting a laid back border collie and getting one that will be climbing your walls and trying to herd flies.