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#1
Old 10-25-2010, 03:22 PM
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What does giving a Working Dog a "job to do" really mean?

In my other thread about our new 6 month old Siberian Husky\Border Collie mix, I mentioned some anxiety about leaving him home during the days as we don't want him to rip apart everything in the house. We live in 2.5 acres of Mountain meadow so he's got all the space he needs with a 5.5 foot fence around the whole thing.

Today I took half a day to work from home and when I got home, all of our living room pillows were in the back yard, and the table runner and gourds on the table were yanked off and half eaten. He left the leather couches alone - thank Og.

So, can some of you who responded to the other thread about giving a working dog a job to do, tell me what you mean by a job?

And can some of you dog trainers out there let me know the best way to keep a puppy busy while we are at work, so he doesn't tare the place apart? We have bought all kinds of chew toys, and other stuff that he certainly plays with, but in the end there are still pine cones and outdoor stuff in our living room, and all the pillows outside strewn about the back yard...yes we have a doggy door.

Obligatory pics here, here and here.
#2
Old 10-25-2010, 03:43 PM
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Erm...that dog needs to be in a crate during the day. My dog is of the "I will happily get your ducks!" working variety, not the "omg omg omg omg sheep!!!" variety and even she was in a crate when left alone for about 2 or 3 years.

Usually "jobs" refer to walk time or exercise time, not alone time. For example, I've seen Cesar Milan give poor walkers a backpack to carry as a job during a walk, or an anxious beagle a specific "find it!" game during play time.

There's no job any dog is going to do while you're away because dogs will only do jobs to please you. If you're not there to be pleased, there's no job.

He needs to be tired out with exercise before you leave for the day, left in the crate, and exercised at night. If you can manage mid-day walks then ALL THE BETTER.
#3
Old 10-25-2010, 04:00 PM
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I second the crate suggestion above. I have a border collie who is crate trained and it's his den, he feels safe there and can't get into any trouble when he has to be left on his own. As to the "job to do", it can be anything from obedience training, to walks, to playing fetch in the yard. If your dog doesn't like to fetch/retrieve, try a soccer ball or basketball you can kick to him that he can push around the yard with his nose or legs, mine loves that. Get a Kong and stuff it with treats for him, that will keep him busy mentally trying to figure out how to get the treats out. Do obedience training 2 or 3 times a day for short periods, his attention span isn't long at 6 months old.
#4
Old 10-25-2010, 04:11 PM
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Unfortunately, crate training is not an option, as we are gone from the house 8-9 hours a day, and I personally do not believe in keeping a pup in crate for that period of time. If we had someone who could come up and take him out that is a different story, but we don't.

I am understanding the "job" thing a little more. I was thinking of appealing to his Border side and starting him on frisbee training.

Don't people have puppies that are not in crates that DON'T destroy things? Do we have to go through a period of acceptable destroying first?
#5
Old 10-25-2010, 05:27 PM
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I think it's too much to ask that a puppy not get into things while you're away, and it's not like he's going to learn not to do it, or grow out of it, if no one is teaching him that it's unacceptable, which can't be done if you're not there. If you won't use a crate, can you block off a safe area of the house for him?

A buster cube is a good toy that is like a job, but it's not going to solve your problem.
#6
Old 10-25-2010, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega Glory View Post
I think it's too much to ask that a puppy not get into things while you're away, and it's not like he's going to learn not to do it, or grow out of it, if no one is teaching him that it's unacceptable, which can't be done if you're not there. If you won't use a crate, can you block off a safe area of the house for him?

A buster cube is a good toy that is like a job, but it's not going to solve your problem.
That's the thing, he's an angel when we are home. We have been obedience training, and taking him for long walks...I think perhaps the lower level of the house needs a dog door, because there is less for him to get into down there, we'll see.
#7
Old 10-25-2010, 06:27 PM
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He's an angel when you're home because he's not bored. When you're not home, he's bored. He's going to find himself something to do, and that usually involves chewing, digging, or otherwise destroying.

You either need to have someone come and let your dog out during the day and crate him (i.e. hire a dog walker), keep him in an enclosed room in your house where there's nothing to destroy, or have a house that's destroyed. There's not really another option. Giving a working dog a job to do entails you being there to give direction while he's doing it - retrieving, herding, etc. all require human involvement. He's not going to occupy himself with something productive while you're not there.

It wasn't until my dog was around 2 years old that I was comfortable giving her the run of the house when I wasn't home. Until then, I supervised her in the house and crated her when I was out. It helped that I'm a stay at home mom right now, and was never gone for more than a few hours at a time.
#8
Old 10-25-2010, 07:09 PM
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You might think seriously about getting him a playmate; also, maybe think about an outdoor run with a shed where they can hang out safely during the day.

At six months, he's still learning what he can and can't do. If he's able to chew up the house items during the day, he'll just get confused when you try to stop him. Scolding him after the fact won't get the point across. You need to puppy proof your house now (or maybe just "his room" and then you can reintroduce things to him a little at a time. He sounds smart. He'll get it eventually. But he's got some growing up todo.
#9
Old 10-25-2010, 07:16 PM
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This
"Dog plays fetch with himself"
http://youtube.com/watch?v=2MEX3mP1bYk
#10
Old 10-25-2010, 07:44 PM
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I endorse pretty much everything that people have said so far.

Okay,,,up until the Youtube video. Don't leave any animal alone with a machine with moving parts.

Last edited by Sailboat; 10-25-2010 at 07:45 PM.
#11
Old 10-25-2010, 08:02 PM
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Your dog does have a job - it's to herd all the cushions outside and chew everything else up it can find.

I'm not sure why you're personally against crating him. Do it for a week, and see how he reacts. Tilly took 6 months of crate training before she was allowed to free-roam, and now she's fine. Toby took 4 months (helps to have that second dog around to teach the new guy).

Last edited by Munch; 10-25-2010 at 08:02 PM.
#12
Old 10-25-2010, 08:16 PM
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As long as the crate is sufficiently large, there is absolutely no problem with crating for 8-9 hours a day. My roommate rescued a mutt (looks similar to a lab but smaller) and she crates it to sleep at night because it tears up her stuff if not attended (she tried letting it sleep with her and it ate her pillows). During the day she blocks it in the kitchen with a baby gate. Either of those would be fine options.

You absolutely cannot give a puppy the run of the house when nobody is around. They're not cats. They're not content to sit lazily on the heater for hours.

So if you're still opposed to crating for whatever reason, barricade it in the kitchen or basement. Without expensive fluffy things available to be ruined. If you allow the situation to continue, you will get exasperated and give the dog to a shelter (I saw this happen too many times among friends in college). And crating, no matter what your take on it, is far preferable to THAT.
#13
Old 10-25-2010, 08:27 PM
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That is one beautiful dog you have. He looks smarter and more alert than most people. Unfortunately, the fur and eye color combination mean that is will probably pure evil which isn't a bad thing in my book.

I am strongly against crate training a dog like that and I am not a PETA member by any stretch. How would you like to be put in solitary confinement many hours a day. That isn't fair to a dog like that. You chose him so you have to make it work or give him to someone that can. Have you considered a herd of sheep as an accessory?

I don't understand the problem with the fence. Can't you just leave him outside with a nice doghouse? He will probably dig but husky mixes aren't scared of the cold.

My main advice would be to get another dog that likes to play but can also take care of itself like my dearly departed Samoyed Bear. The combination of high stamina and hyperactive intelligence means this one is going to take some work on your part like raising a gifted child. If you wanted a dog to lay around, you need a greyhound or a hound dog, not a border collie mixed with a sled dog.

The border collies I have known herd things by instinct but also like to learn complex tricks. One was a fiend on a swimming pool diving board and slide and could do any trick you could think of and then some. They like outsmarting other animals and people and to play games like Frisbee.

I would like to know if some of the people that answered before have ever known any border collies or huskies. Neither of them are just regular dogs that you can just lock up until it is convenient for you. Don't try that with Jack Russell Terriers either. It is cruel and unusual punishment for them and will drive them even more insane.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 10-25-2010 at 08:29 PM.
#14
Old 10-25-2010, 09:35 PM
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When I think of "give a dog a job" it generally means "provide mental and physical exercise." Obedience training is a good one, as is a nice game of fetch. That keeps your dog from getting out of control when you're around, but a young, energetic dog like yours is going to get into trouble home alone for an extended time.

I'm a fan of crate training. My dogs have always loved their crates. But, if you don't like crates, try dog proofing one room and putting the dog there when you leave (as a previous poster mentioned).

When my dogs got older, they were fine left outside of their crates if I provided them with a stuffed kong toy or hid treats around the house. Then again, my dogs have never been canine geniuses. What kept my lovable doofuses busy all day may take a border collie mix busy for 15 minutes.
#15
Old 10-25-2010, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlosphr View Post
In my other thread about our new 6 month old Siberian Husky\Border Collie mix, I mentioned some anxiety about leaving him home during the days as we don't want him to rip apart everything in the house. We live in 2.5 acres of Mountain meadow so he's got all the space he needs with a 5.5 foot fence around the whole thing.
So don't leave him in the home!

Leave him outside during the long day when you are away. Get an appropriate doghouse for him, where he can be sheltered from rain, cold, & heat, and just let him have the whole 2.5 acres to roam. That doghouse will become his crate, his safe space that he will return to when he is tired or roaming. Except in extreme weather, he will do fine outside, and no damage to your house. And he will see being inside the house as a treat that he gets when you are home with him.
#16
Old 10-26-2010, 12:03 PM
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Have you looked in to doggy daycare in your area? It's quite popular here.
#17
Old 10-26-2010, 02:07 PM
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Can you gate off the kitchen and put a doggy door in there to the (fenced) back yard? Then all you have to do is dog-safe the kitchen and he can go in and out as nature dictates.

Re: the original question -- while people are right in saying "a job" usually includes interaction with you (with the possible exception of livestock guardian dogs, but that's a special case), I want to emphasize that what makes an activity "a job" is that the dog learns that the behavior pleases the pack leader(s). The dog can then perform the behavior to win approval in the pack and to feel confident in his or her position. This is an important part of doggy psychology; it helps them to feel secure and successful. It gives them a little bit of control in a big complex world they don't entirely understand.
#18
Old 10-26-2010, 02:17 PM
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Doggy daycare might be another option, depending on your budget. When my dog was in her anxious, chewy stage (lasted until she was 2) I put her in daycare once a week -- on Wednesdays. Getting so much exercise and stimulation seemed to help her be calmer for her home days.
#19
Old 10-26-2010, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
How would you like to be put in solitary confinement many hours a day.
Everybody repeat after me: "Dogs aren't people." "Dogs aren't people." "Dogs aren't people." "Dogs aren't people." "Dogs aren't people."

How would you like to eat cat poop and roll in dead skunk? How would you like to eat the same kibble every day and be forced to perform menial and degrading tricks for a tiny bite of poached chicken? How would you like to walk on all fours all day? Go around naked? Greet your friends by sniffing their asses?

Dogs and people are different and have different wants and needs. Dogs are OK with crates. Really, they are.
#20
Old 10-26-2010, 04:53 PM
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He looks like he would make a great frisbee dog!
#21
Old 10-26-2010, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Bird View Post
Everybody repeat after me: "Dogs aren't people." "Dogs aren't people." "Dogs aren't people." "Dogs aren't people." "Dogs aren't people."

How would you like to eat cat poop and roll in dead skunk? How would you like to eat the same kibble every day and be forced to perform menial and degrading tricks for a tiny bite of poached chicken? How would you like to walk on all fours all day? Go around naked? Greet your friends by sniffing their asses?
So, anythings human don't like is okay with dogs because dogs aren't people?

I'm not saying you're wrong, but this is not a valid justification.

Last edited by Absolute; 10-26-2010 at 05:23 PM.
#22
Old 10-26-2010, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
I am strongly against crate training a dog like that and I am not a PETA member by any stretch. How would you like to be put in solitary confinement many hours a day.
I think most people on this board were probably kept in a small gated confined area by themselves for hours at a time at one point in their life, including you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Absolute View Post
So, anythings human don't like is okay with dogs because dogs aren't people?

I'm not saying you're wrong, but this is not a valid justification.
What? I am having trouble parsing this sentence.

He is saying you cannot think that humans and dogs have exactly the same needs & wants and behave the same way. They don't.
#23
Old 10-26-2010, 05:50 PM
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I think dopers have correctly assessed the options:
a. alter your work schedule to one that would permit mid-day visits or part-time work-from-home
b. provide a secure outdoor pen with appropriate shelter for when you are gone
c. puppy-proof an enclosed area of the house where the dog remains while you are gone
d. crate for the duration of the workday
e. hire doggy caretaking of some kind (dog walker, doggy daycare, etc)
f. allow your dog to destroy your home at will while you're gone

If you are unwilling or unable to do any of those things, then this dog is not a good fit for your household at the moment.
#24
Old 10-26-2010, 06:11 PM
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Getting him a friend is not necessarily a good idea. I have 2 dogs and they absolutely love to destroy my house.

If we're only going to be gone 2 or 3 hours and the weather is crappy, we'll crate them. If we're going to be gone longer than 3 hours and the weather is crappy, we barricade them in the kitchen. My boyfriend sucks at barricading though and they usually break out when he does it. When that happens, something gets destroyed. If the weather is nice, they go in the kennel outside.

They will be a year old on Thursday.
#25
Old 10-27-2010, 10:36 AM
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First of all he has a playmate, we have another dog who is 2, and does not destroy the house - he's a lot smaller, and not as smart, but they are getting along great.

Day 1 - Grady and Not-so-smarty were left in the lower level of our home, it was completely puppy proofed, they had tons of toys and two very old couches.

Grady tore up one couch and shat everywhere. NOT GOOD.

Day 2 - we try different tactic. We keep them up stairs in main living area, where we always play, where they always sleep - it has the best furniture - leather - and the most expensive things...however, it also has a dog door and they have full access to the outside.

I come home, creep into the house, expecting the worse ... ... ...

All is good! the toys are every where, the couches slightly ruffled, but nothing is torn apart and the place pretty much looks like they slept and roamed outside all day.

I think the confinement of being downstairs with zero access to outside was the problem. I hope. Giving them access to the outside seemed to have quelled his need to destroy. We also got him some hard chew toys, not the soft ones, and it have been gnawing them like crazy...

Maybe this will continue. If not...I think we will put a dog door downstairs where there is less stuff to destroy...but for now, he's good having full access to the back yard.
#26
Old 10-27-2010, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Absolute View Post
So, anythings human don't like is okay with dogs because dogs aren't people?

I'm not saying you're wrong, but this is not a valid justification.
Well, you have a point, but you've missed the implied part of what was said.

The unstated part is "...and I believe dogs are comfortable denning in a small space, and they sleep much of the day, like other terrestrial predators, and if the crate is a safe "den-like" place they won't mind staying in it...because they are not like people in this way."

Last edited by Sailboat; 10-27-2010 at 12:45 PM.
#27
Old 10-27-2010, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
The unstated part is "...and I believe dogs are comfortable denning in a small space, and they sleep much of the day, like other terrestrial predators, and if the crate is a safe "den-like" place they won't mind staying in it...because they are not like people in this way."
But not the dog in this thread. Have you ever been around Border Collies and other working dogs? You can't just lock them up like you can some dogs. It drives them even more insane. They are bred to be smart and hyper. A six month old working dog is also a lot more developed than any human child that you would just stick in a play pen or baby bed.
#28
Old 10-27-2010, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Gilliver View Post
He looks like he would make a great frisbee dog!
I take my Black Lab out every night and throw the toy for 10-20 minutes. If I don't, she finds things to do. A dog like that needs exercise and a lot of it.

If the dog does not play fetch, try taking him for a walk on a daily basis but with a loaded backpack to tire him out a little.
#29
Old 10-27-2010, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
But not the dog in this thread. Have you ever been around Border Collies and other working dogs? You can't just lock them up like you can some dogs. It drives them even more insane. They are bred to be smart and hyper. A six month old working dog is also a lot more developed than any human child that you would just stick in a play pen or baby bed.
I have an Australian Cattle Dog - the very definition of working dog. She LOVES being in her crate. You can absolutely crate them during the day.

Edit: She gets free range in the house now - but has absolutely no problem being in her crate for 8+ hours. Since I stopped crating her, she now sleeps under the bed at night where there's all of about 4" of clearance.

Last edited by Munch; 10-27-2010 at 01:27 PM.
#30
Old 10-27-2010, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Munch View Post
I have an Australian Cattle Dog - the very definition of working dog. She LOVES being in her crate. You can absolutely crate them during the day.

Edit: She gets free range in the house now - but has absolutely no problem being in her crate for 8+ hours. Since I stopped crating her, she now sleeps under the bed at night where there's all of about 4" of clearance.
Our very close friends have an Australian Cattle Dog, mixed with Blue Heeler and she is crated...Amazing dog, very smart!

It is looking like the doggy door thing to the outside is working well, and my SO just told me she asked the 10yr old kid next door to come over and play with him when he gets home from school....so that ought to work out well. I hope

There is no doubt this dog needs something to do, and I think I am going to work with his natural abilities. Our back yard is Alpine Meadow, and it full of voles. Grady can hear them scampering around under the brush and will do anything to find them. Our other dog already knows how to catch them, so it's becoming a game for them to track them in the yard.

I'm going to try frisbee training - bit I've never done that before and as of right now, the other dog is the better fetch dog. I'll try and separate them and see what I can do about some separate trainings.
#31
Old 10-27-2010, 05:24 PM
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Honestly, I would have said that the doggy door to the outside is overkill; lock them outside all day. He's a Husky mix, and if there's not several feet of snow (and sometimes even if there is) he'll prefer to be outside where there's squirrels for chasing if you're not home to entertain him. Then again, I have a strong "Dogs are animals, and thereby mostly belong outside" mentality. We had a big German Shepard mix as a kid, and when he was allowed to stay outside most of the time, he was best behaved.

ETA: Had you asked me what a dog would do given the first situation, with no access to outside, I'd have said "destroy the place". Only old or very calm dogs can really be trusted indoors and alone for that long, and never puppies.

Last edited by appleciders; 10-27-2010 at 05:26 PM.
#32
Old 10-28-2010, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by appleciders View Post
Honestly, I would have said that the doggy door to the outside is overkill; lock them outside all day. He's a Husky mix, and if there's not several feet of snow (and sometimes even if there is) he'll prefer to be outside where there's squirrels for chasing if you're not home to entertain him. Then again, I have a strong "Dogs are animals, and thereby mostly belong outside" mentality. We had a big German Shepard mix as a kid, and when he was allowed to stay outside most of the time, he was best behaved.

ETA: Had you asked me what a dog would do given the first situation, with no access to outside, I'd have said "destroy the place". Only old or very calm dogs can really be trusted indoors and alone for that long, and never puppies.
I agree, but our Beagle mix pretty much does whatever the new pup does, so if they are outside all day, the husky would be fine, the beagle would be a Popsicle. We'll see how the winter goes, we are already getting flurries every night, and there is a bit of snow in the shady parts of the yard, which grady quickly finds and rolls in.
#33
Old 10-28-2010, 12:52 PM
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Count me in as another 'dog loves crate' voter. All my poodles have loved their (sufficiently big) crates. Before we had crates, there was a long, low, stone-topped table that they barely fit under that they would live in as a burrow.
#34
Old 10-28-2010, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by appleciders View Post
Only old or very calm dogs can really be trusted indoors and alone for that long, and never puppies.
Eh, our pit bull and pit bull mix are home indoors all day (separately, for safety) aside from getting walked at lunchtime, and neither one of them has done any damage to the house or furnishings over the years. The mix, Sadie, used to steal socks and take them to her bed, but she never chewed them, she just kept them for comfort. The full APBT, Simone, has been kept indoors since we took her in off the streets at around six or seven months old.

But they're intensely human-directed dogs, not independent outdoor types.
#35
Old 10-28-2010, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Phlosphr View Post
Our very close friends have an Australian Cattle Dog, mixed with Blue Heeler and she is crated...Amazing dog, very smart!
"Blue Heeler" just is a nickname for an Australian Cattle Dog. The same applies to the term "Queensland Heeler," a now-obsolete term for a certain line of ACDs.
#36
Old 10-29-2010, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by araminty View Post
"Blue Heeler" just is a nickname for an Australian Cattle Dog. The same applies to the term "Queensland Heeler," a now-obsolete term for a certain line of ACDs.
...I did not know that. It's funny, because the Boulder Humane Society advertise Australian Cattle Dogs and Blue Heeler mixes... Ahhhh, Americans!

Last edited by Phlosphr; 10-29-2010 at 11:29 AM.
#37
Old 10-29-2010, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Phlosphr View Post
...I did not know that. It's funny, because the Boulder Humane Society advertise Australian Cattle Dogs and Blue Heeler mixes... Ahhhh, Americans!
Yup - the guy I "rescued" Tilly from insisted she was a "Blue Heeler" not an ACD. He's also the moron that didn't fix her and kept wondering why she was jumping the fence and getting caught by animal control all the time... (She's actually an ACD/Catahoula mix, but that's another working dog as well.)
#38
Old 10-29-2010, 10:20 PM
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It just depends on the dog. In the last 6 years I have shared a small living space with 6 different mostly-indoor dogs for a year or more, including my two, and none were ever particularily destructive, except towards the dog beds.

Sounds like Grady is bored during the day, there's no much you can do about it if there's no one home. Just try to mentally and physically exhaust him as much as possible while you are with him! Sounds like he is running around all day and moving things from place to place, and that's not enough. Frisbee is a great idea, as is anything else he can focus obsessively on that's physically strenuous.

Last edited by rhubarbarin; 10-29-2010 at 10:20 PM.
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