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Our dog is restless, despite the fact that we walk him and play with him for several hours a day. How can I get him a bit more restful?

Our dog is very restless and shows compulsive playing behaviour, despite the fact that we walk him and play with him several hours a day. He failed his Elementary Obedience exam, because it bores him in my opinion. Should we continue this class or can we do something else?
Borders are said to be very intelligent and easy to train. This often has a downside: they get bored pretty quickly and their minds need to be kept busy. Taking a walk is not a very inspiring occupation for a BC. Fetching a ball is nice for a while, but a Border needs more variation. Every time the ball seems to be thrown something exciting and unexpected should happen. You can vary the direction in which you throw the ball, throw the ball up in the air, hide the ball, throw it backwards, etc. Your behaviour in this should not have a pattern. You can also use the ball as a reward for other exercises (down, sit, stand, flat, etc.).

Having such an intelligent dog can be hard, because you have to come up with new games time and again. You can play fetch with multiple object and give every object a different name. The main thing with all exercises is that the dog needs to think what to do. A rather extreme example is the hearing dogs for the deaf. Often BC's are used for this. Their job is to watch all day long for a doorbell ringing, a telephone ringing, someone calling the deaf people's name, etc. The dog has limited physical exercise, but his mind is kept busy all day long.

The Elementary Obedience class is apparently very boring to him. Every time the same exercise without anything interesting for him. Depending on your own interest there are lots of alternatives. Agility and flyball are very popular among Borders as well as herding sheep. Remember that your dog needs to be older than 12 month to participate, because his bones have not grown enough to deal safely with all the movements. If obedience is more your cup of tea, you could consider switching to English Obedience. The exercises are generally the same, except that you try to achieve total perfection, while the training method requires more contact and interaction between the dog and the handler. Often the award is a toy or a piece of food. The contact between handler and dog and the mental activity of the dog are much more intense than in 'normal' obedience. There are no exams, you just move to a higher level when you and your dog are up to it. This could happen after a few weeks, but could also take several months. Anyway it doesn't depend on the length of a course/season.

My advice would be not to continue your current class in the way it goes now. In my opinion the instructor should let you move on, despite you having failed the exam. He/she should see that your dog is bored and that repeating the class would only make it worse.


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