Squidge is cake to train when it comes to performance.  I am not worried about getting the kind of precise heelwork I desire, killer fronts and finishes, fanatic retrieving, stellar weave poles, whatever kind of contacts I want, or any of that stuff.  Seriously, not worried at all.  When it comes to life stuff, however, to say she is challenging is putting it lightly.  At 8 months old she is not near what I would consider housetrained (I do not expect to trust a dog at this age, but I expect to have fewer mistakes than I am having), the intense socialization work I did during her critical period seems to have never happened at times, not to mention she counter-surfs, drinks from the toilet, and likes to steal underwear.  Don’t get me wrong, she is great. She and Kelso are friends, which is more than I expected. I love her. But wow is she tough! So today I took her to the outdoor shopping mall in Loveland with clicker and treats in tow.  She was definately nervous at first, was startled by some manequins, and some obnoxious children, but she recovered.  By the end of the loop of shops she was walking out ahead of me, ears perked, and played some good tug.  Good baby dog! Then we went to Jax (where I spent more money than one should on any simple dog training outing, of course), and she was great.  She met lots of people, and only got nervous about one kid (who was being pretty loud, and coming right for her) so I stepped in and she felt safe again.  Over all it was a good outing, she got in some good experiences, and I proved to her, once again, that she can trust me to protect her.  

So she gets scared sometimes.  But she always recovers.  That is the benefit of extensive socialization during the critical developmental period.  She may be afraid of some new places and things, but she can bounce back–this is why I know none of this stuff is going to pose a problem later in our performance career, or in her more-important career as my dog.  Everyone told me when I set out to get a bombproof border collie that I would not find it.  That they are not retrievers, and that they shouldn’t be.  What I am coming to find out is that they are a little bit fear-based, they do startle easily, and they do struggle with new things, but that they can be raised and trained in such a way that they can overcome their fears, bounce back from startle, and learn to associate new things with fun and games.  So they don’t ever come out of the box this way, that’s what I love about them.  That’s what makes me a better trainer with each one, despite the phrase I’ve heard hurtled my direction, “goldens are for people who can’t train dogs, and border collies are for people who can’t even train a golden.” I just smile, because I know better.

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