Zeke The Border Collie/acd


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Staff member
Zekers came to me almost 7 years ago, somewhat unplanned. I had been searching for a Border Collie, and really had my heart set on a female Border Collie. (This was before Mud came along.) A former family friend took me to the 6666 Ranch where a couple of her relatives worked. We got to tour the breeding barns and meet the stallions (one of the highlights of my life!!!) and then went to her relatives' house. They found out I was looking for a Border Collie and told me about Newt(all the pups in the litter were named after Lonesome Dove characters). He belonged to a 14-year-old boy who was really too busy playing rancher's kid to care for a puppy. :rolleyes: Lol. I was stubborn and said I wasn't interested. He wasn't what I was looking for. But they pushed, and me being a sucker I couldn't keep myself from at least looking.

They owned his brother, Poncho, who was an outgoing, goofy, happy little puppy. Zeke was his polar opposite. Zeke was not thrilled at all to see new people. He was terrified and wanted nothing to do with us. And he was absolutely adorable. Once I got him in my arms, that was it. I couldn't say no. He was due for his next round of shots, so we took him to the Sixes clinic where he met his next terrifying monster of the day--a Corgi puppy smaller than him. Oh my, pee again.

We made it back with him with no more pee, lol. His puppyhood was rocky and he taught me very much. He developed separation anxiety very quickly, and although we're through that, he is still very much a velcro dog. He loved only toys that were snuggly and soft, but was not toy motivated. He didn't like treats of any kind. I could barely even get him to eat enough food to live; he really just did not care about food at all. But he would jump the moon if you would give him attention. When he was about 1 year old, he developed fear aggression towards other dogs, which I am proud to say is no longer an issue.

Once Mudflap came along, she introduced Zeke to the joy of fetch. Zeke became extremely obsessed with tennis balls, which was great because it has allowed me to really advance his training. Now he enjoys a variety of toys, but tennis balls are still his favorite. Zeke was and is very attached to Mudflap. Anyone and anything that was okay with Mudflap, was okay with Z. Since Mud is a social butterfly, she became my training partner to help Z. Zekers has come a very long way, and to most people he now seems like a "normal" dog. We can go to Petsmart and he actually greets people, he pretty much ignores other dogs but if he interacts at all it is with a wagging tail. I could go on forever with the improvements he's made. :)

Zeke is an absolute nutcase. He is super high drive and easily the smartest dog I have ever had a chance to work with. He learns at an amazing rate and is very enthusiastic. Oh, and he loves to have his paw held. He doesn't just shake, he actually holds your hand. Very cute. He will also walk up to his favorite people at random and just hold his paw out for them to hold. :love: Currently, Zeke knows:

Directed Jumping
High Five
Ta-da! (Bow)

Hmm...that might be all he knows right now... I wish that I had figured out how to work with him earlier in his life; he would know so many tricks! But, he still has plenty of time to learn. :)
Here he is!



Honored Member
Zeke sounds like a great dog and he sure is a looker. I just love his spotting. He is also photogenic like Mudflap. I love dogs like Zeke that teach you so much about, training, patience, and so on from working with their problems. It's so rewarding seeing their progress.


Experienced Member
That is an inspiring story. Kudos to you for taking on a pup who you knew would be a challenge. A real diamond in the rough. These are the kinds of puppies all the books tell you to stay away from! But someone has to raise them, and that someone was you. I would love to know more about how you helped him over come his fear aggression toward other dogs. My Brody, now 11 months, has started showing signs of this. He did enjoy playing with other dogs when we first got him, but after a few run-ins with rude off-leash dogs, he has developed a fear.


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Staff member
Thanks everyone! Danielle, when he was a puppy he was afraid of cameras, lol! So I hardly have any puppy pictures of him. :rolleyes: But now he doesn't care and I have tons of pictures of him. :)

Brodys_mom, thank you! I started out by finding out where he was comfortable with dogs. I don't remember now exactly how far that was, but let's say it was 150 feet. So for a long time I just worked 150 feet away from dogs. We mostly played his favorite game(fetch of course!) and ran through his tricks, but my main focus was doing his favorite thing. Once I was certain he was completely comfortable, we moved a little bit closer. (With Z, everything has to be taken in teeny tiny baby steps, so we probably moved in an inch at a time. But in my experience many dogs can move in a foot or so at a time, until you get really close to the dog/person/object they have issues with.) If he showed any signs that he was uncomfortable, we moved back some and spent more time where he was comfortable. We continued this until we could get very close to another dog with Zeke still being comfortable. My thinking was that when another dog was around, he always got to do his favorite thing. I also kept his mind busy so he wasn't focused on the dog, and we always moved at his pace. Once we got to actually be right next to another dog, I didn't immediately try to get them to interact. We just walked. (I had a helper.) Fortunately I had access to a dog who was perfectly fine with ignoring Zeke and just walking, which was good because Z could just get used to being close to another dog without any interaction or anything to make it stressful. I spent a lot of time just walking him with this dog so I was sure he was comfortable.

With each new dog, I started out far away from them rather than immediately expecting him to be able to walk next to them. We worked our way in just like before. (The more dogs you work with, the less time this will take.) We went to parks that were very low-traffic and had plenty of room for us to stay away from other dogs, so that he could see them and be as close as we wanted, but could also get away easily. I figured out the times that Petsmart and other places were the least busy so we were less likely to get trapped on an aisle or bombarded by lots of other shoppers. Then he started getting to interact with certain dogs. I knew a few dogs who were very calm and friendly, and wouldn't overwhelm him. So that's where it started.

With an aggressive dog, you always want to be their biggest advocate--they trust you to keep them safe, and you need to do so. Go at THEIR pace, stay calm, and always set them up to succeed. They will let you know if they aren't ready to move forward yet. Another really good thing to do is to reward him for looking at another dog CALMLY. I didn't do this initially simply because I didn't know much and didn't think to do so. I also heavily relied on calming signals, and still use them for Zekers. When we saw another dog, I'd give Zeke a biiiig exaggerated yawn, blink slowly, and then just act like the other dog was absolutely nothing to pay attention to. I have always ignored any of Zeke's fears--if I react, his fears are reinforced. If I act like it doesn't exist, it's easier for him to move on.

Although the training we did certainly made a difference, Mudflap has done so much for Zeke that I simply couldn't. He relied on her so so much back then. She is a major social butterfly, so her confidence and friendly approach to dogs and people made him feel better about approaching dogs and people. When I started working with the two of them together is when Z really made huge improvements.

Z is still not a dog who loves other dogs, but he is not what I would call aggressive. The only aggression he shows now is an occasional grumble to let Gypsy know she's getting on his nerves, but I don't do anything about this because it is completely called for. Gypsy can be pretty overwhelming, and when Z tells her he's uncomfortable she leaves him alone. In my opinion it's not anything that needs fixed, it's just the two of them communicating. With new dogs he is either uninterested or friendly, never anything else.

Brody is also at an age where he may be testing the waters. He's still pretty young and may be seeing what he can get away with--do I want to be a dominant dog, a submissive dog, somewhere in between? If I try to be dominant is anybody going to tell me off or do I get to run the show? Regardless it's good that you are keeping an eye on the behavior and are willing to work with it. If you know any friendly dogs that have owners who might be willing to help, try scheduling some walks with them or something(one at a time, at first). If he is fear aggressive and not just finding his way, then time to start working. :)

If you don't know any dogs who can help you with this process, you still have options. You can work at the back of the parking lot of Petsmart/PetCo/similar places where he can see other dogs, but you are still a safe distance away. There are many places that people just don't know dogs are allowed, so fewer dogs are there. Places like Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, SOME Lowe's or Home Depot stores, etc. Make some phone calls to find out. If your Petsmart/PetCo is very busy from 11-5 on Saturdays, do him a favor and don't take him.

There are many great books on this too. The Cautious Canine by Patricia McConnell, Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas, and Bringing Light to Shadow by Pamela Dennison are just a few to look for. Shadow, the dog who the last book is about, was worse with people than with dogs, but the book is still great. Pam explains her work with Shadow in detail all the way to achieving his CGC in the end. :)

Hope this helps. :)


Experienced Member
Thanks so much for that excellent explanation. When you were starting out with the other dogs 150 feet away, did you move Zeke closer within the same session, or did you move on the next time out? There is a couple who let their dogs run in the school ground where I run Brody. They tend to keep their dogs away from him, but I usually leave the park when they come, or keep him on leash until they leave if they were there first. If I could get close enough to actually talk to them, I might be able to ask if they would be willing to help me with Brody, but he barks at them so much that we can't talk.


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Staff member
You're very welcome. :) Sometimes we moved closer within the same session, sometimes no. Completely depended on how comfortable he was. If he wasn't showing any signs of aggression or fear and was just a happy, relaxed dog, then we moved in. You don't want to move closer if he's the least bit uncomfortable. He will let you know when he can handle being closer, and if you've moved too fast. Also, each new session you don't start where you worked up to last time. You start further, just to make sure he's comfortable and you can keep him under threshold.
Maybe you could make a trip without Brody so you could talk to them, or have someone stay in the car with him while you talk to them?


Honored Member
Zeke is a very handsome boy and kudos for adopting the one vets and others say you shouldn't adopt. I did that with my late Tiger Lily and whilst it took a while, she had her litter mate bro Zeus to help her overcome her fear of just plain everything, she did like Zeke grow out of her fears and appeared a 'normal' dog to most people.

Love the photos, he's taken after his 'sister/mentor' Mudflap, a very photogenic young man!:love::D