Home > Dog Behavior, Dog Breed Information, Fun Stuff, Pet Videos, Photos > My Name is Jasper and I am Obsessive Compulsive.

My Name is Jasper and I am Obsessive Compulsive.

Owning a herding dog with a strong obsession for anything that moves – tennis balls, joggers, baseball players, skateboarders, scooter riders, bicyclers, waves… (well, you get the point) can be a bit trying at times. My Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) Jasper defines obsession. Don’t get me wrong, I fully expected a Sheltie to act this way. Herding is in his blood. But, I never expected it to be as strong as it is in him. (He once dropped a tennis ball on my foot for an hour while I was on a conference call.)

My last Sheltie was a female. She loved to herd as well, but her behavior tended towards heel-nipping vs. ball-chasing. She also did not have the exasperating, I-can’t-hear-you-because-I’m-too-focused-on-this-moving-object kind of behavior that Jasper displays.

I LOVE Jasper and wouldn’t trade him for the world. But, it does make me wonder, do other people experience this kind of obsession in their dogs?

  1. August 1, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    Yup. Sure have & do.

    • Mel
      August 1, 2011 at 11:08 PM

      Thanks God I am not the only one Debbie. I should have figured you could relate with two BCs. 🙂

  2. Jan
    August 1, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    We once had an Old English Sheepdog who would herd ants in the driveway.

    Taking her to the ocean with a 9-year-old boy was an adventure. The tide would come in and she would get between my son and the ocean and charge the ocean, biting it. Then it would go out and she stood there all victorious until it came in again. At some point she swallowed too much salt water and…well, you know where this is going.

    We learned to keep her on a leash.

    • Mel
      August 1, 2011 at 11:11 PM

      Oh my God Jan! Ants? That is hilarious!
      I can relate to your experience at the ocean. Jasper even chases the water I dump out of their outdoor water dish. Jasper has that victorious look too. The only time I have had to keep him on a leash was when we were on a nature trail alongside the creek that runs into the Minnesota River. It was running quite fast due to a lot of rain we received earlier this spring. He heard the rushing water and immediately started looking for a way to get at it. He was permanently on a leash after that.

  3. August 2, 2011 at 1:38 AM

    OH, I can so relate! I don’t have herding dogs, but I have a couple who are quite obsessed with bikes, joggers, and cars. Although usually they are in the fenced in yard. They are both chasers. I was laughing so hard as you described Jasper, it sounds like Chance and Blaze. Too funny!

    • Mel
      August 2, 2011 at 5:47 AM

      How funny! I never would have guessed Chance and Blaze were obsessed with chasing moving objects too! They lok more like dogs who just wanna have fun.
      I was beginning to think obsession was a herding dog thing, but clearly it’s not. 🙂

  4. August 2, 2011 at 5:54 AM

    Hahaha! Shiva is only that obsessive about food. If there is a crumb of a crumb of kibble she will dig and dig and dig until she gets it.

    One of our good friends in agility has a Sheltie and he loves herding the waves as well! It’s hilarious.

    • Mel
      August 2, 2011 at 6:15 AM

      And, don’t forget elk antlers Kristine!
      Daisy leans more to the food obsession, but not to that level. She’ll give up if she can’t get it.
      I think the herding waves thing must be a common Sheltie behavior then. Isn’t it weird that a breed not known for being a water dog would be so obsessed with it?

  5. August 2, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Wanna meet a German shepherd cross who goes NUTS when he feels his “lambs” (three little girls) are too far away on a communal walk? The barking is INSANE. He chases anything that moves, and needs to be fenced/leashed at all times. Meanwhile, my friend has a Belgian shepherd/black lab mix that never chases anything and is perfect all the time. Go figure.

    • Mel
      August 2, 2011 at 10:07 PM

      Oh my Lori! And, I thought I had it bad! I love GSDs though. They are amazing dogs.

  6. August 3, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    It’s interesting, but herding instinct shows up in Jasmine too. She just hates when people or dogs just wonder around aimlessly and without any organization and has a strong urge to set them straight in their ways.

    • Mel
      August 3, 2011 at 10:41 PM

      Funny enough Jana, I have seen another Rottie do that very same thing at the dog park. His name is Brutus and he used to herd as well. Go figure!

  7. August 3, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Several weeks ago we adopted a 3-year-old Shih Tzu boy called, you guessed it, Jaspar. Yes, the spelling is slightly different but I wonder if there is something in the name.

    Shih Tzus are not bred for herding but my Jaspar certainly attempts to herd an army of ants in our backyard, a litter of kittens that was birthed under our front porch, spiders that happen to catch his attention and so on.

    It’s so cute to watch this fluffy, long haired pup performing a task that his kind was never meant for.

    • Mel
      August 3, 2011 at 10:36 PM

      That’s hilarious Hanna! Who’d have thunk it? I cannot stop smiling thinking about another Jaspar /Jasper out there herding things (it just makes it more funny that he’s a Shih Tzu!).

  8. Miranda
    January 11, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    CESAR MILLAN is your answer. My Sheltie was just as crazy as you all describe plus he would go nuts when I used the stick-mixer, vacuum-cleaner, lawn-mower. That was until I adopted Cesar Millan’s philosophies and methodologies. Now I can control and calm him with little effort and he seems happier too. Eyes are no longer glazed over like when he goes crazy. Give it a try.

    • Mel
      January 11, 2012 at 6:58 AM

      I’m sorry Miranda, but I don’t believe in any of Caesar Milan’s methods or techniques. In fact, I really believe his methods border on abuse and are dangerous for people trying to use them. I wrote about the study that was done at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine that demonstrates his methods actually increase the chance that your dog will bite you.

      What most people don’t know is that he is neither trained as a dog trainer nor knowledgeable about the science behind training methods. Jasper is a Sheltie. The kind of behavior I mentioned in my post is actually normal for a Sheltie. I have worked with him on the ones I don’t like using positive reinforcement and the others I don’t mind so much because I appreciate that’s who he is and that’s his breed.

      I appreciate your kind offer of help. I really do, but I just won’t use his methods with my dogs.

      • Miranda
        January 12, 2012 at 6:34 AM

        Mel, I like to think I have an open mind. Can you direct me to this study or provide more information. I only want the best for my sheltie, Fergus, and am always keen to learn more.

        Cesar was here in Australia only a couple of months ago and was a big hit. I’m always promoting Cesar Millan because Fergus no longer challenges my leadership constantly. Keen to know more.

      • Mel
        January 13, 2012 at 11:36 PM

        Hi Miranda

        Here is a post to get you started. One of my posts contains a link to the study from the University of Pennsylvania, but I haven’t had a chance to look for it before today. I’ll post it here as soon as I find it again. I should just bookmark the page. Sorry. http://www.4pawsu.com/cesarfans.htm

        Actually found it on Dr Sophia Yin’s blog. Dr. Yin is a veterinarian and animal behaviorist and very much respected in both communities. Here is her blog post. It goes through the study results. Hope it helps.

  9. Antonia
    January 29, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    I am having the same issue with my Kelpie, Mazzie. Amazing dog but just loses her mind when she is focused on herding. Today she accidentally trampled on a pug puppy on his first walk, in an attempt to herd him. She is very well trained most of the time and I have taken to putting her on a lead for a bit to just have a time out, which can help. Have you found any other techniques that are useful?

  1. August 29, 2011 at 11:31 PM
  2. September 26, 2011 at 7:22 AM

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