How to tire a working dog (that isn't working)

(14 Posts)
suzy264 Wed 09-Jan-19 22:03:53

Hello, I'm looking for any advice on how to help stimulate/tire my mums border collie. He is 5 years old and was bred to be a working sheep dog, however it was noticed at 10 weeks old that he had a hip/knee problem. The farmer was going to shoot him but my mum said she would take him in instead.

He has since had a couple of operations on his leg and although he gets 2 walks a day, my mum has to be careful as he ends up limping for days if he runs or walks too much.

He has a very active mind and is only interested in his tennis balls. He wants you to throw them so he can line them back up all day and all night. He also whines to get my mums attention constantly. I suggested getting him a puzzle game to mentally stimulate him but he is not very interested in food so I'm not sure he would even take a look at it.

Does anyone have any ideas? X

OP’s posts: |
HarrietSchulenberg Wed 09-Jan-19 22:10:24

Any sort of training knackers my hound. From teaching him to roll over or "leave it" to playing hide and seek with him. 10 mins of constant mental stimulation and he's zonked for a couple of hours. We do it on wet days when none of us fancies going out. He's a lurcher, though, so doesn't need as much stimulation.

MrsPMT Wed 09-Jan-19 22:14:18

Hi, I have a non-working Border Collie too. She also really likes her ball and not especially food oriented. Hide and seek is good, get dog to sit and stay then hide their fav toy/ball in the next room, start with easy places and give some pointers to start off. I have a treat releasing ball which she loves to play with too. I had a previous collie that I trained to fetch a lot of different items. Brain work is much more tiring than exercise for a BC. Look up absolute dogs, they have lots of game ideas for dogs.

MrsAird Wed 09-Jan-19 22:15:52

I agree with you that mental stimulation is the thing he needs.
This book has loads of fun ideas. It sounds as though he would enjoy the human interaction even if he's not interested in food.

Nesssie Wed 09-Jan-19 22:17:32

Make the food high value treats mixed in win his normal kibble. One piece of chicken/cheese in 10 pieces of kibble should still keep them interested.
If he’s not interested in food then can you substitute it for tennis balls?
So wrap a tennis ball in lots of layers of fabric that he has to unravel
Hide tennis balls around the house
Hide tennis balls under cones
This game involves tennis balls:

Nesssie Wed 09-Jan-19 22:18:52

^that link is to the seller, the game is called ‘Outward Hound Tennis Slider Interactive Dog Game’

Ethel80 Wed 09-Jan-19 22:31:20

Mine love hide and seek.

They also seek the treat but if he's not interested in food, you can hide a favourite toy.


XmasPostmanBos Wed 09-Jan-19 22:34:24

Swimming is good if you have a dog pool nearby.

Whoseranium Wed 09-Jan-19 22:38:28

Have a look at the FB groups Canine Enrichment and Beyond the Bowl - Canine Enrichment.

Both are absolutely packed with all sorts of enrichment ideas for dogs that enjoy all sorts of different things. The latter is more food focused but it’s worth trying mixing up how he’s fed, some dogs are actually more interested in food if there’s some challenge involved.

Training life skills (in this case it sounds like he might benefit from being taught to settle), tricks or even tasks he can help with (tidying his toys away, unloading the washer, finding specific objects, etc.) is another avenue worth exploring. Kilo pup on YouTube has loads of brilliant training videos.

Eifla Thu 10-Jan-19 11:18:10

I have a non-working Worker Cocker. You need to give them an alternative job to do, or they’ll climb the walls.

Scent games are always good fun. I hide small morsels of food around the house and garden and mine hunts them out. You can do the same with tennis balls, or a rabbit skin. Vary it up but teaching the dog to sit and alert when he’s found the item, rather than just grabbing it.

Look on Facebook for the mental enrichment group. Endless ideas.

Trick training is another good form of enrichment. Copious amounts you can teach them that are gentle on the hips. Look on YouTube for inspiration.

Meals fed in enrichment toys. Kongs, Green feeders, Maze bowls.

Hydrotherapy is a brilliant form of exercise. Low impact on joints, excellent for wearing them out physically and mentally.

Doggydoggydoggy Thu 10-Jan-19 13:38:33

I have a non working border collie.

While I agree that brain games and scent work are really brilliant, some of these dogs really struggle to wind down and relax.
They are go go go and constantly searching for something to do and get frustrated without it.
In my opinion, the answer is not to up exercise and/or brain games but instead to teach them how to wind down and relax.

suzy264 Thu 10-Jan-19 17:08:26

Thank you for all your ideas I am going to look at all the links and suggestions now and will report back when we have tried a few!

@Doggydoggydoggy how did you teach yours to relax?

OP’s posts: |
Whoseranium Thu 10-Jan-19 17:15:12

Kikopup on YouTube has a really good series of videos called 'Capturing Calmness'. This is the first one and there are a couple more as well.

I also really like the first in Beverley Courtney's 'Brilliant Family Dog' series of books, Calm Down!: Step-by-Step to a Calm, Relaxed and Brilliant Family Dog.

Doggydoggydoggy Thu 10-Jan-19 17:19:26

The only difference is Dogs Trust advocate ignoring if the dog moves and rewarding when they decide to settle again.

Personally, if she started to try and get up I would gently push her back down and repeat ‘settle down’ and calmly treat.
All done very calmly - no talking, minimal eye contact etc so as not to get them excited again.

There are lots of articles about teaching the ‘settle’ but the method is basically the same for all.

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