2 min read
Living with dogs teaches us many things when we are open to learning. One my early collies used to watch for approaching cars from over my shoulder when I was driving. Apart from needing a towel for the dribble, I firstly considered this quite amusing in a 12 week old pup. By the time he was 2 years old any single movement when he was in the car needed to be worked, read: chased. If there was no traffic the need transferred to the white lines emerging from underneath the back of the car. He looked like a real nodding dog. With hindsight vision I should have never let this begin and restricted his travel to a crate covered in a blanket, or settling him down in the passenger well. He needed to be blocked from seeing any movement. He only did this when in the car, he had little interest in traffic on the street.
Two points of interest
Young collie brains are like empty drawers waiting for the right items that belong. These items are normally mobile stock such as other dogs, sheep, chickens and their brain will develop excellent skills in organizing this drawer. But if the only items to place in the drawer, and for some dogs their drawer cannot stay empty, are moving cars, skateboard, moths, flies, then that is what their drawer will become filled with. I also note that the drawer is in a very specific cabinet, and it only tends to fit in that cabinet.
Jack never chased traffic unless he was in the car.
Zip does not chase anything when in the car she settles well but is as yet untested on the street.
She chases moths in the garden, but not in the house, and this is likely to be seasonal.
When they are young we have the chance to suggest certain items for this drawer and discover which cabinet it belongs in. This is not restricting them and never letting them chase, but making sure that it is channelled towards something that cannot cause harm. We do not follow the “never” protocol, but choose this, not that.
We have bred these dogs to urgently fulfil a need to prevent movement. When they can control movement they feel complete and fulfilled, when movement cannot be prevented they will endlessly chase.
Whilst we are in the draw shopping stage I will carefully control her exposure to movements. I certainly would not let her watch other dogs racing around such as agility classes or flyball, I would certainly not take her anywhere near football practice or parks with skateboards.
Once we have the right sort of items already in her drawer, sorted and organised games such as sheep-balls and sausage chasing, she will be allowed to browse these other moving items and will find them unsatisfactory in comparison her existing, fulfilling drawer. She may be over 12 months old before such browsing is arranged.