Miscellaneous Behavior Issues -- Anyone want to offer some tips?

As a note, none of these are severe issues that I don't think I'll be able to solve on my own with time, but nonetheless there are a lot of knowledgeable people here and I figured I'd see if I could get some tips! Apologies ahead of time if I get a bit lengthy.

The first issue, and one I'm most concerned about, involves our border collie. Hana is a hyperactive but sensitive nearly-three-year-old border collie who we've had since she was a puppy. Her previous friend, who passed away in March, was a lab mix who was dog aggressive with all dogs except for her. They played like crazy and enjoyed each others' company, nonetheless, and Hana was raised with her. Hana seemed lonely after we put Tia down.

We adopted our two corgis about four months ago, I believe, and she is very intimidated by them even though the three mostly get along well. Hooch, our male corgi, growls a little when he's going after balls, and as a result Hana won't even go after a ball if Hooch is going after it, even though he would never hurt her. This results in fairly obnoxious behavior by Hana, where she'll bring us the ball, we'll throw it and Hooch will go after it and bring it back, and then Hana will bark incessantly because Hooch went after her toy and she's too afraid of him and his little tiny growl to go after it as well. The only method I've found is to throw one toy for Hooch to get, and then immediately throw one for Hana, but even then there's a problem because she doesn't bring it back (thinking Hooch will get it if she does), so she just stands by the ball and barks.

Honey, who is our female corgi, can be a little snippy with dogs bigger than her and is sensitive, too, so if Hana growls for any reason, Honey starts growling, too. This just escalates into both dogs growling at each other, even though neither of them are aggressive. As a result of Honey growling, Hana is now afraid of Honey and spends much of her time sitting stiffly (literally) on the couch or under a table if Honey is around, and watches her closely. She's obviously not truly terrified of the corgis because she runs with them outside, will hang out with them peacefully in the car, and overall gets along with them, but her stiff, intimidated behavior in the house saddens me because she was here first. It's just silly because she's clearly being overly intimidated by dogs who are harmless and half her size, but because they're feisty and sometimes growl she seems to feel challenged by them.

Any ideas how we can make her more comfortable with the corgis, so she can be herself and not do this whole stiff and growling thing? Like I said, she overall seems to get along with them, but acts peculiar some of the time.

The second one is Honey's sensitivity. She is wonderful most of the time, but has three particular quirks. The first is that, when she gets scared by a sudden noise/something falling down, she will take off running in whatever direction she can as fast as she can and ignore all calls to come back. She's only done this in a serious manner twice, going across streets and not returning for over a half-hour, but it still scares me that she does this. Our gate at our house falls down sometimes, and that caused the first run-off, and now--even though it's been at least a month or maybe even two--she is still scared of the area around the gate, and won't go near it with any amount of coaxing, treats, going slowly, or anything. I've been careful with when she's off the leash since she did the whole running off thing, but I still worry she'll do it again when I'm not on guard.

Her second quirk is that she is completely obsessed with my car, to the point where she has trouble leaving the car behind when I'm taking her outside and she spots the car. I think she's just paranoid I'm going to leave without her, but this has gotten to the point where a few times she's run down to the car (from across a one-acre property, mind you, and my car is parked near the street) at 3 or 4 AM when I was taking her out to go potty. Just dashes off to stand next to the passenger's side of the car, even though I'm not going anywhere nor have I given any indication of going anywhere. She's been better about it lately, but because of this and her spooking at things and taking off at random like she's done before, I always take her on a leash at night when I can't see her as well. Most of the time she has been wonderful at coming, especially after I've been rewarding her with cheese for coming when I tell her too, but it's like occasionally she is just taken over by either terror or stubbornness and takes off, ignoring me. I even have a specific command she understands that means we're going in the car ("Let's go in the car, Honey!"), but sometimes it's like she just...feels that she needs to go stand next to the car for no apparent reason.

The third is that, when we're at the dog park, she'll sometimes squeal and snap at dogs when they get close just because they're larger than she is. She never causes any harm at all because she just snaps at the air, but it's embarrassing to always have to explain to the dog owners that she's just snapping at the air and won't hurt their dog/their dog is not doing anything wrong or hurting her/she's actually friendly most of the time. It would be nice if she could just make peace with the fact that the bigger dogs exist, aren't scary, and she doesn't need to scare them off if they come over to say hello.

Anyone have any tips? :) Like I said, given some time I'll probably be able to work them out of these problems, but if someone has had similar experiences or has ideas on how to solve any of these issues, I'd appreciate it a lot!

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I can only (maybe) help you with one of those problems, and that is the one where she is afraid of the gate.

Somehow, somewhere, Jack became afraid of brooms/mops/dustpans--- anything with a long handle. I THINK it simply escalated from me taking an imposing stance holding them when he was a puppy and used to try to jump and bite at them. I never yelled at him or waved it at him or anything, just stood sort of tall with the mop or broom firmly in my hand next to me, to give it a sense of authority. I guess over time his lesson to not chase the mop turned gradually into "mops are scary" and I noticed when I'd go to clean he'd put his ears back and slink into another room.

So I had to recondition him. Here was one area where I found the Dog Whisperer very helpful. I don't agree with all his methods, but he says we must not worry so much about why the animal is afraid, since that just creates an image in our mind of the animal being afraid. Nor should we try to coax it or comfort it, as that confirms that it's ok (as the animal sees it) to be afraid.

Here is what I did. I got a pocketful of low-calorie treats (cheerios or something might work here, but mix in a few yummier treats so she won't know which she'll get in advance). I put a leash on my dog. I propped up the broom against a wall, and put him on a short leash, put him on my outside (with me between him and the scary object) and simply walked by. He balked and I kept walking. I encouraged him forward with a "C'mon Jack" in a slightly upbeat but determined voice that I tried to make as confident as I could, and kept him moving. Then as SOON as we got by it, even though he had balked and been dragged a bit and then bolted to get past it, I popped a treat in his mouth and said "good boy!" and just kept him walking (you can also wave the treat ahead of the dog to lure her). We would circle the house and walk past the broom easily 10 times in one night. When he got to the point that he hardly hesitated or tried to bolt, we would change it up so that maybe every third time I would walk with him on the inside, nearer the broom, but still keep him a good 3 or 4 feet away. I would finish every session when he had a pass-by that was very good for whatever point we were at, and give him a big bonanza treat then (like maybe a small piece of cheese). But the secret was, he did not get the treat until he actually walked past it, no matter how badly, and then he was rewarded.

Over a couple weeks he got to the point that I could put him on heel off-leash and he would walk by looking only a little leery. When we reached this stage, I then started getting sneaky and would spread a little PB right on the broom or mop handle so he could lick it off. As he is very food-motivated, this helped too.

You could try the same thing with the gate. Put her on a leash and just walk her back and forth past it, gradually getting closer over time. And she gets rewarded for walking past it, even if she does it badly. As she gets less nervous, you can start to correct her (gently) if she tries to bolt past it, but at least in the beginning just walking by it at all should be enough. As she learns that walking by gets her a treat, she'll think less about how nervous she is and more about how much she is anticipating the food.

However, if there is any way you can rig the gate up so that it doesn't fall again, that would help because if it startles her another time, all your work will evaporate and you'll be back to stage 1.

Good luck!
Oops, not sure I made it clear, but we kept walking past that broom. If he tried to balk, he got some leash tugs and I kept him moving. If when the dog balks you stop, they have learned the behavior works and it strengthens the balking and the fear response.
Thank you so much for your advice--it sounds great! That's actually basically what I tried with her right after the incident and after I caught her, but I think it might have been too soon after the incident, and I gave up after about a half-hour of no improvement. Now that it's been more time, I think I'll try your method again and give it some more time. :) She's VERY food motivated (almost hilariously so!), so I have a feeling with time and patience that will work just fine. She's also quite smart and catches on fast. Good job training the fear of the broom out of Jack!
One corgi is two, and the other is...we're not sure. She's somewhere between three and six, probably more towards four years old. Hooch, the younger of the two, was rescued from a pet store where he was a mess (he had been obtained from a puppy mill, and was missing hair on his face and sitting in his feces and urine) and raised in a home with a number of foster dogs for his whole life. As a result, he's excellent with other dogs, no matter how many there are and how big they are. He and Hana get along just fine aside from the toy jealousy issue.

Honey was found as a stray, and other than the fact that she's had puppies, we don't know much at all about her background. They did not come together, and came into our home with about a two-week gap between them.

Anyway, I won't answer all your questions in-depth because I know this is more of something I just need to think about, but I really appreciate your input! I agree that that is a good way to go about it, and hopefully I'll be able to make her happier if I can figure out what the specific issue is. I know toys and fetching are an issue definitely, so I may have to take Hana out by herself occasionally for fetch games without Hooch there to ruin her fun. And border collies can always use more exercise without exception. :)
I have some issues but not exactly like yours...I will think about what you said and let you know if I can think of anything that might help BUT one suggestion I have for at night is either getting a pet safety light or a collar that lights up...I think I ordered mine from jb pet (not sure) look up collars/lights...again not sure BUT the collars are great and they stay lit or blink...you can see this quite well...we have 5 acre in the country and a couple of our dogs like to wonder the outside area more than I like but it does make me feel safer if I can see the flashing light!
Oh, that's a great idea! Thank you, and I will see if I can find some light-up collars so I can better keep an eye on Honey when she's walking around at night. I like my dogs to get to be off-leash mostly if I can help it--it's more fun for both of us that way, and then she's not limited to this tiny area governed by the leash. Thanks for your input!

If you go to jbpet.com ( sorry to use a name but this is where I found them) go under collars/leads and then check out the reflective collars...the lighted ones are there....BUT make sure you gat the lighted ones...not just the reflective....they have saved me hours of worry...I do prefer the collars to the pet lights...
Is there any reason why you don't stop Hooch from chasing the ball when you throw it for Hana? We added my son's doberman this past year and it took a while before she figured out she was no longer the only dog. If I throw the ball for Sparty I expect him to bring it and if I throw it for Misty it is hers. (if I throw for Izzy, I have to go get it. but that is another story)
Those growls from the little dogs do mean something and Hana knows it. The corgis are warning her. I always feel the obedience classes are the best solution but you can learn alot from the Dog Whisperer or Animal Planet's It's Me Or The Dog.
When Honey snap's at the air she is telling the other dog's to back off. If pushed she could become aggressive but it may just be a polite way of letting them know that she needs some space. You should be careful about dog parks so that other dogs don't get too aggressive with her. Teaching Honey a strong recall would also help. A high value treat and repetition can help with that.
Good luck, you have some complicated problems and need to be sure you are in charge. The Nothing in Life is Free methods could really help you with the pack. (you can google it)
He's REALLY into fetching, so it's difficult to stop him at all once he's fixed on a target. The only way to do so is to physically hold him in our arms, and even then he struggles if he's convinced he needs to go after a ball or a stick or something else. He's a little ballaholic! I am thinking I'll be doing some more one-on-one fetch sessions with Hana, though, so she gets a chance to fetch the ball without having to compete with Hooch. I think that might make a difference in her attitude, if she feels like she doesn't always have to compete for attention, toys, and so on and also gets some more energy out. Being a border collie, she's like the energizer bunny--keeps going, and going, and going, and going. Sometimes she'll seem irritated or riled up when in truth she just needs more exercise.

I would love to do obedience with all three dogs, but my mom is quite busy training her horse, and my brother is not always willing to go to classes, so I'm not sure how I would handle all three dogs at a class. I still consider it, though, and if I can figure out a way to make it work I will. I personally love attending obedience classes anyway, so it's not as though I don't want to go! I do quite a bit of in-home training as well. All three dogs are very bright and good learners (and I think I'm pretty decent at teaching them things), but simply sensitive about the certain things they are sensitive about.

Yes, I agree that she is telling them to back off. It's simply that she does it in such a dramatic way! I like the idea of a strong recall, though, so she can simply come to me if she feels threatened and know that I won't allow any of the dogs to hurt her. Thankfully my dog park is in a very small town, so most of the dogs there are regulars and nice, well-mannered dogs.

Thanks for your advice! The issues sound like they're much bigger than they actually are when written down, so thankfully it's not as though I'm dealing with anywhere near constant issues and chaos. There are just occasional moments where I wish they would behave a bit differently and I'm trying to work towards that as best as I can. Overall, I'm extremely happy with how they behave and these are just things that cause issues from time-to-time.

It doesn't help that I'm at the house with Hana, Honey, and Hooch half of the time (Hana and Hooch live with my mom), and with just Honey, who is my dog, at my dad's house the other half of the time. That makes it so it's a little more difficult to be consistent, especially because my mom is more into training her horse than training the dogs, so she's not always as devoted to working them through things as I am. I think a few more months of training and problem-solving will do wonders, though. :) Thanks again for your thoughtful advice--I appreciate it!
Oops, I forgot to mention that Hana is probably very weak right now because of mourning for her buddy and the corgis sense that. All the more reason for you to be in charge!
Hmmm, it's possible--though it has been nearly six months since Tia passed, and Hana hasn't been behaving as though she is grieving any more. I suspect it could be more that Hana is stressed by the corgis "invading" on things she thinks of as hers or had exclusive rights on before (toys, the couch, that sort of thing), and that weakens her and makes her irritable.

Actually, though, the last two or so days Hana has been better behaved around the corgis, so perhaps her reaction to them could just be something that needs a little time and lots of positive reinforcement when she's being good and acting normal around them, and likewise for them. It seems to be basically a case of two sensitive but fiesty dogs feeding off each other, and I need to try to break that chain of, "Well, she's growling and being negative, so I'll growl and be negative, too!"

Thanks again for your thoughts! :)


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