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Obsessive Behavior

October 15th, 2011, 06:02 AM
Any suggestions. I have a 2 1/2 year old mutt - I think he's a border collie/springer spaniel. We we got him as a puppy, he was very high energy. In fact, the only way we found to wear him out was to use a laser pointer and run him up and down the stairs for about 20 minutes at a time. We'll this has caused him to be quite obsessive. All he wants to do is stand at the top of the stairs waiting to chase the laser pointer. Now, having learned our lesson, we haven't used that darned laser pointer for over 2 years. Now he has started the behavior of barking at me whenever I'm around the house. I can't even sit down on the couch or enjoy a meal at the dinner table. He just barks. If I make the slightest movement, he quickly darts for the stairs. Then seconds later, he'll return to bark more at me when he sees no laser pointer. I don't mind him hanging out on the stairs, but I need him to at least STOP BARKING. I give him about 45 minutes of exercise daily. That's him running next to me while I ride my bike. Finally, I'm able to wear him out a bit, but when we get home - more barking and crying - I make a movement toward the stairs - and he darts that way to search for laser. Please offer any suggestions. Thank you so much!

October 15th, 2011, 06:46 AM
Welcome to the site! Sounds like you have a pup that has a lot of the border collie energy!

I think in my opinion you dog is definatley not getting enough exercise based on the border collie in him..they need alot more excercise than you are currently giving. Can you try other types of things for him to use his mind? Maybe an agility class or tracking. Is he left alone in the home at all? how is he with that? maybe you could block off the stairs so that he cannot obsess over them. When he barks at you you need to encourage him not to do it. Does he listen to you if you correct his barking behaviour?

There is a saying I heard once and it really rings true! A tired dog is a happy dog! so lots of excercise really helps with that.

October 15th, 2011, 07:08 AM
However annoying (and i have a YAP YAP I know)
His barking is saying "i want to play" and since he remembers "laser pointer" as fun (play)..thats what he is going back to. (and he's a smart fur critter because he "remembers" it being on the stairs..two years later :) )

Dogs will tell you "i need more attention" if you listen to thier suttle cues, and bark like mad if you dont. (as you are well finding out)
I suggest a tug toy, or something interactive for you and him to do together (besides the bike ride, which by the way the bike ride is great..most people dont even bother with that).

When YOU absolutely need a break...give him a busy bone, or a chewy, I've found penut butter inside a kong toy is and instant "shut up" and "go play by yourself" toy around here. Keeps em busy for quite awhile.

You may have to put him in a "quiet zone" (kennel, other room ect)...for some "down time". at some point..if he just insists you "play" even though you've played yourself out.
But I think if you spend some more "interactive" time (besides just the bike ride)..he will likely stop obsessing over the stairs.
Baby gate it for now would probably be good too as winston suggested already. (they make em with a door now, so you just open and close it).
And I know this may sound counter productive but if you dont have as much time with him as He'd like...maybe hire a neighborhood kid to come play and romp with him in the back yard.
Kids will do anything for a little pocket money, and doggie benifits from it greatly.

October 15th, 2011, 07:22 AM
I agree with the others, I have a lab/shepherd and beleive me, I know it if I miss a walk with her, she tortures the kids (daycare) grabbing their toys and making them chase her, stares at me and barks, and generally makes a pest of herseslf, try maybe going to agility with her, a dog park, putting her through her training paces (that tires them out fast)....

October 15th, 2011, 08:33 AM
You've got an extremely high energy cross there. BC and ESS, even more so if the ESS part is field bred, are bred to work HARD all day. All day, so a mere 45 minutes is not going to cut it. At that age my Lab, whose high energy pales in comparison to our ESS, needed an hour in the morning and another hour at night, at least, of free running off leash. As well as working on obedience.

Exercise alone can actually make things worse. The dog just gets fitter and fitter and able to handle more exercise than a person with a normal life can reasonably give a dog. Mental stimulation tires a dog out just as it does us. There is a reason BC excel in agility. It's because agility training works the brain at the same time it gives exercise. BC also excel at obedience. Heck, BC excel at just about anything they do.

Whatever venue you choose to pursue (hoping you do) that laser is going to come in handy as a reward. I can just see you guiding your dog over an agility course with the laser while you stand still in the middle. LOL, only partly kidding, but you can make it work for you.

ETA: Running beside you on a bike is not the best exercise. Not if you do it every day. Hard on his joints to keep going at the same pace in a straight line on a hard surface. Only marginally less hard if one or more of those situations don't apply to you. Think of repetitive strain injury.

October 16th, 2011, 03:23 PM
Agreeing with Longblades, it's nice to mix up the exercise. Running up and down stairs repetitively or road running is very hard on the knees and hips. Tug toys are great, ball chasing on grassy areas, and maybe you have a basement where you can set up a few agility type of activities. Swimming is amazing. Busy type dogs love to learn brain exercise also.

October 16th, 2011, 03:30 PM
Thanks to all of you for your reply. Lot's of great suggestions. More exercise and agility/more obedience training are ahead. Thanks again.

October 27th, 2011, 05:37 AM
I agree with all of the above.
Just want to add some activity ideas.
Throwing balls, throwing sticks.
Do something that he enjoys, like belly rub. Lots of touching.
Let him know that there are other enjoyable things than just laser pointer
Teach control, obedience training, positive re-enforcement. :thumbs up