Thursday, December 15, 2011


Considering that Secret was my first border collie, it has been very interesting to have Joe in the house. He is close to the same age Secret was when I adopted her, so it is fun to compare & contrast their similarities and differences.

FYI, I had to Photoshop the side-by-side photo because I was unsuccessful in getting them to pose next to each other this morning. lol Secret was a very good girl and held her pose like the glamorous model that she is, but I couldn't get Joe to stay by her for anything. Part of it could be that he just hasn't learned the "wait" cue yet -- Or, well, part of it could be that Secret showed her teeth if he showed interest in the bait I was using to get them to pose. Thanks for your help, Secret. This was the most successful shot I got....

I would say that Joe is more outgoing than Secret was when I got her. He is pretty fearless about most things and has a "barge right through it" attitude. Take puppy gates, for instance. lol They are merely a suggestion for Joe, and a poor one at that. I only prop gates up at doorways and don't fix them in as they are intended to be used, so it's pretty easy to pull a gate over. My three dogs are horrified at the thought of a falling gate and if one comes crashing down in front of them they dare not cross it. Joe pulls it over and jumps over it to get what he wants (ie: treat from the UPS man, to follow me to the lunch room, etc.). He respects the gates the majority of the time, it's just those moments that require some impulse control that we're working on. :o) But my point is more that I find it interesting how he is not phased at all by the noise or action of the gate crashing.

I have introduced Joe to the clicker over the last few days. His learning style is so very different from Secret's. I always said from day one that she is a "thinking" dog. She thinks things over, processes it, figures out how to do it and then she's got it. In some things (take agility, for example) I do not find this desirable because she's so serious about everything and this makes her slower -- But it's definitely beneficial for trick training and other behaviors.

Joe is a smart boy, but he's definitely more of a "do-er" than a thinker by nature. It's keeping me on my toes. It's been two years since I've gone through the beginning stages of clicker training with Secret and I swear she made me feel like a genius because it was so easy. That thinking side of her personality made clicker training very natural for her and because she was not super fast, it was fairly easy for me as well.

Joe does everything so fast that I find it hard to keep up. He is VERY excited when the clicker and food bowl come out. In the first two sessions I did nothing but load the clicker and reward him for offering sit & down (and as a by-product, self control, because he couldn't be trying to get into the food bowl if he was performing one of the behaviors). Joe is doing well with these and is transitioning them into different settings, but we are working on increasing his reaction time -- as in, please don't wait 10 seconds before you sit because you are so busy jumping onto me.

Last night I decided to test how much Joe really understands shaping with the clicker. I thought an easy way to do this would be to use the same touch light I used with Secret -- You can see that post and watch the video in my post from two years ago. I suppose it would have been helpful to video Joe's session last night for comparison, but I didn't have the camera at home.

The main struggle is that Joe is such a complete spaz around food. If I toss the treat on the floor after a click he often doesn't even see it because he is so busy sniffing around looking for a treat. Because his nose is always in hyper-drive, my clicks seemed to be rewarding the sniffing more so than targeting. I did sense improvement when I started to deliver treats directly to his mouth, but then his focus shifted to my hands and I struggled to get him back on task.

So sadly, I did not have the same accomplishment with Joe of getting him to target the touch light in one session as I did with Secret. It did make me feel like a bit of a failure, but I know that Joe just learns differently than Secret did and I have to learn how to train this type of dog. After all, have I not said that I don't want my next dog to be as serious as Secret? That means I'd better learn to teach the "do-er" type of dog. :o)

Secret has been acting like her feelings are hurt that Joe gets to do all this fun training with me, so I let her come into the bedroom to show him how it's done. We all know that dogs learn by watching, right? Secret has not seen the touch light since our original training with it, but she was all over that thing, turning it off and on, off and on. She just feeds off clicker work, so much so that I wonder if I need to start teaching more tricks to her this winter. It would be interesting to see how much faster she picks up on stuff now that she is matured. I never did actually get around to teaching her to do the handstand!

Meanwhile, I will give Joe another session with the touch light tonight to see how much progress we can make. I am training myself just as much as training him at the moment.

Joe's been doing super awesome at work! He settled right in to the whole office setting and isn't affected at all by the different sights & sounds. He loves meeting all of the new people who come in (especially our UPS man, Charlie). Joe wasn't so sure about Lexie (my parent's dog) at first -- he thinks she's a little odd, but on our walk yesterday he did start to play with her.

He has been completely trustworthy off leash and enjoys running with the other dogs on the trail. His recall is impressive, but so was Secret's at this age and heaven knows we went through a period of time where it became a struggle as she became more independent -- but right now he's about as perfect as they come. :o) I put him on leash when trains go by, but he doesn't seem to be reactive to motion (hasn't really noticed cars, either).

He pretty much came potty trained -- We're not entirely sure how that happened since he'd never been in a house prior to entering foster care, but there hasn't been a single accident yet. I keep a pretty strict "puppy schedule" and we go outside a lot, but even Secret had a few accidents to start with. Good boy, Joe.

Joe has WAY more interest in toys than Secret did at this age. WAY more. I love that about him for sure. I have to be careful not to tug much with him right now because he's teething and I can tell it hurts if something hits his teeth wrong, but he does offer it. Joe likes frisbees already and will chase/grab rollers! That's like a good year ahead of where Secret was with the disc. lol He also likes to chase tennis balls and our Holee Roller that has a Kong squeaker ball inside it. Joe also likes to chase the dogs who are chasing toys, but he's been appropriate about it thus far (unlike previous foster, Max, who would rudely use teeth...).

We started to work on stairs last night. I had to carry Joe into the basement to introduce him to the play room -- He seemed a little overwhelmed by it at first, but then he found a tennis ball and I even got him to play with a fuzzy tuggy for a bit. He figured out how to get back upstairs on his own, so we'll keep working on that whole "going down" part. That one took Secret a while to learn, too! :o)

As I type this, Joe is enjoying his first bully stick! I'd say it's a hit. Then again, anything he can chew on is a hit right now!


  1. I'm glad you are posting all this updates on Joe - they are fun to read! I've always thought fostering seemed like an interesting adventure - I would like to try it some day, but I'm afraid I might not be very good at it!! :)
    It's very neat to see how Joe fits in with your other dogs.

  2. Oh come on, is Joe going to be a new member of the pack? ;) So fun to get to hear about him!

  3. No, no, no. No worries there. I already have one gargantuan border collie and don't need two -- Or one more "over-sized" agility dog, considering I already have two that need regular chiropractic care due to their size and the stress that I put upon their bodies for sport.

    He is the right sex and the right color and the right breed -- but I want smaller & prick ears. :o) But even that is a long ways off. I don't see that I'll be able to add another dog for quite a while -- Hence why I'm playing the role of foster mom!

    Joe actually already has an interested party, but with holidays and whatnot it doesn't sound like anything will happen until after the new year. I'm not sure if the rescue is entertaining other applicants at this time or holding out for the first one to meet him. I just wait to hear stuff, and until then I play with the puppy. :o)

  4. I'm a sucker for prick ears too. Hence, Legend.