Ollie (ADOPTED!) is a 1 yr. 8 month old, 33-34 lb cattle dog with classic breed traits. He is an incredibly smart, very loving, sweet, ”velcro” pup. He is also very athletic. Ollie has clearly had some trauma in his past life, and has anxiety in some situations. He has a lot of personality and definitely will communicate his feelings to you.
Ollie is a very active and high energy dog. He gets so much joy from being outside and he definitely needs his exercise outside in order to be relatively calm in the house. He’s more of a sprinter and prefers agility challenges (incredible with a frisbee!), but he enjoys his ~4 mile run every morning. His excitement is contagious.
Ollie has been living with us in an apartment (1BR/1BA) with no other animals. About 4 months ago, we agreed to adopt him to get him out of the shelter environment. We wanted to give him an opportunity to settle after neuter surgery and to make progress on some behavior issues.
At home, Ollie follows us around the apartment. My partner and I both work from home, and when we are working, Ollie will curl up on his dog bed. We take breaks during the day to give him short walks and play mental stimulation games like hide and seek. If Ollie doesn’t get his morning exercise, he’s extra sensitive to outside noises. When my partner and leave the home, and will be away for more than 20 minutes, we’ll put Ollie in his crate and give him a frozen peanut butter Kong, and he seems to do fine, as long as he has his Kong.
He loves to learn, is eager to please, and is very food motivated! Ollie is happiest whenever he can be with his people and we take him everywhere we can. He loves adventures! He travels well in the car and walks well on leash (using a Gentle Leader Head Harness). He’s been down to the beaches along the Central Coast, up to the trails in Tahoe, and he’s made multiple trips to the Bay Area. Ollie loves meeting new people (outside of his home environment) and gets a little too excited sometimes so we’re working on calm introductions. However, early indications suggest that he may need work on greeting/meeting people nicely in the home. Due to COVID, we haven’t really had anyone else in our home. When a male friend (wearing a mask) briefly came into our home, Ollie displayed some aggression toward him.
When we first brought Ollie home, he was scared of random things (changing the trash bag, plastic boxes, the refrigerator, moving phone chargers) in the house and would respond by snapping at us. We worked with a trainer to 1) identify when he’s scared/about to snap and 2) provide structure to deal with the scary situation. We haven’t had any issues with him since. Sometimes he can still feel anxious and curls himself into a little ball the corner of the room. We will try to comfort him by coming to him with treats, to pet him, or give him a food puzzle toy to play with. He has a variety of toys (balls, stuffed animals, rubber frisbees & rings) he enjoys, but tends to only play with them if we’re playing with him. However, if we set him loose with his food ball, he independently plays with it and has a blast.
Ollie would do best in a quiet area with some property. We live on a busy street in the downtown area in Sacramento. Ollie becomes very anxious and reactive when we encounter people on scooters/skateboards/hoverboards/rollerblades/etc (but not bikes). Constant exposure to these, as well as passing other dogs has been the hardest thing for us to manage. It can take a couple of blocks before Ollie’s nerves calm down and he can enjoy his walk or run.
Ollie has all the traits of an excellent working/herding dog. His instincts for herding have been mellowed but, when he’s excited or agitated, they come out. As is often the case, traits that are desirable for a working dog on country property, can be very undesirable behaviors in urban and suburban life.
We have been working with a trainer, who taught us to be his “pack leaders,” especially when walking, so Ollie doesn’t feel that the burden is on him to keep scary things away. Ollie needs structure and leaders to remind him that he is not the boss and there are clearly defined rules. Ollie has responded well to training. However, he needs an experienced cattle dog owner who can be two steps ahead of him, and ideally in a quiet/rural situation. Ollie is an intelligent boy, with a busy brain, and who will think for himself if consistent direction is not provided.
Ollie is reactive when seeing other dogs on walks. He will whine, jump, bark, and pull. The shelter told us he could only be in a single-dog household and we agree. We have been working on his dog reactivity on walks, and when we are in control of the situation, he’ll manage to successfully pass a dog 15 to 20 ft. away without reacting.
Ollie also has some resource guarding issues, mostly with food. He may growl and/or be snappy. We have been working with a trainer, and in these situations by “trading up” and giving him a more desirable/tasty item than the one he has. He tends not to guard toys, unless he’s on his bed with it and you try to take it away. He communicates his worry or displeasure through his body language. His his ears will go back, and you’ll see the whites of his eyes, and he’ll usually growl before he begins his snapping gestures.
As with most cattle dogs, Ollie needs patience, calm, unrelenting consistency, and a relationship based on mutual respect. Negative or punishment based (including prong collars or spray bottles) training will NOT work with Ollie, and will never win him over. Ollie needs a nurturing, quiet home environment with adopters who have the time to spend with him daily to physically and mentally exhaust him.
When provided the right direction and given boundaries, Ollie can grow into the ideal, well-behaved dog. We’ve loved working with him and have seen immense progress since we first picked him up from the shelter. He is a very sweet pup who likes to play and will reward you with evening and morning cuddles. Ollie will be your best companion if you’re willing to put in the time. If you are not interested in continuing training, Ollie would NOT be a good choice for your home.