Angie, I don’t know what to do with our collie and bikes. He goes crazy when he sees a bike. He actually foams at the mouth and bites me when I try to calm him down with reassurance that it is ok, that it won’t hurt him. I am at my wits end! What can I do to help him? Kay B.


Hi Kay~ Thanks for contacting me with your question. I already know you are a great dog parent because great dog parents seek information to help their dogs. Caring, responsible dog families want to do what’s best for the whole family. However, the short answer to your question is to stop doing what you are doing! Your verbal and physical attempts at “reassurance” are actually teaching him to go more crazy when he sees bikes. You are, unknowingly, escalating the unwanted behavior.

All dogs want to run and chase things in order to be happy. Working dogs, though, must run and work just to survive the day and keep their sanity. Border Collies are working dogs of the highest order. I’m certainly no expert at identifying all the many breeds of dogs in the world today. Nevertheless, all dogs; regardless of breed, share a common dog mind and I have worked with the dog mind extensively. Studying dog emotions and the dog mind in order to help people understand and therefore help dogs is my passion.

I cannot emphasize more, the necessity of Guidance and Timing when it comes to effective communication with dogs. Clear guidance and timing are of the utmost importance when it comes to both praise and respectful corrections. Dogs will not pay attention to humans they do not see as respectful parents; and a dog cannot learn what the parent allows-wants or doesn’t want-if the timing is off.

OK! Now lets fix this behavioral issue you have with your dog. First, if you haven’t yet, please work the “3 Dog Days” system to establish yourself as a respectful parent in your dog’s eyes and to learn how to give respectful guidance. The video is available for free with Amazon Prime.

Secondly, exercise your dog. Let him blow off some steam and get him good and tired. Now, set up a scenario where you have someone bring a bike into an distant area where you are with your dog on lead. As soon as the bike comes into view for the dog and the dog alerts, give a quick correction, say “no” or “hey” or a touch on the hip. Any guidance, given by a calm loving parent, that’s respectful is good. Don’t wait for his reaction, give the guidance as soon as his head turns to look at the bike; the moment he sees the bike. Remember, watch the “3 Dog Days” video to see how to give respectful corrections, and in addition, refer to the “Silent Support” section of the video to remind yourself not to say any words while you work this technique. Less talk- more action. If you try to calm him or reassure him with words or by petting him, you will be teaching him “Good Boy for being upset at that mean old bike!” You will be unknowingly showing him “You are right to be upset when you see bikes!” Instead, you must “disagree” with his current behavior and state of mind when he sees bikes. You must correct and silently support him in order for him to learn that this behavior is not allowed.

The most important rule is “No teeth on humans EVER.” You must strongly disagree with that. Set yourself up to win. Get your tools, leashes and human helpers, ready and make sure you are not frustrated or tired when you work your plan.

Lastly, we can’t just show dogs what they cannot do. We must also show them what they can do instead. Let’s get back to the breed discussion, because knowing something about the breed helps you fulfill your dog’s needs and make him happy. In general, lots of small breed dogs are bred to be with people and provide companionship. In general, German Shepherds are bred to be confident, brave and naturally protective. Border Collies are bred to run 50 miles a day and to chase and control moving things. If you always separate little dogs from their people, you go against their nature and you’ve got a problem on your hands. If you let a German Shepherd roam around the yard with no instructions on whom/what you want protection from, you’ve got a problem on your hands. I’m guessing you know what I’m going to say next, right? Right! If you have a collie and you don’t show him what he can and cannot herd, you’ve got a big problem on your hands. Teach him to chase and return a ball or frisbee. Give him an opportunity to use the gifts with which he was born and encourage it with lots of excitement and praise. Doggie playtime is good for humans too, because we get to fulfill our need to say lots of excited words to our dogs!

In a nutshell, you; the parent, are seeing a dog that is afraid of bikes. You are trying to comfort him like a human child and show him he need not be afraid of bikes. In reality, he is a dog that desperately wants to chase and control a moving thing and since he doesn’t have another release for that, goes into a blind fit. The explosive behavior, resulting in aggression, is from a build up of anxiety and misunderstanding. He doesn’t understand because he needs a strong, respectful parent to show him he is absolutely not allowed to chase bikes, but here’s what he can chase – here’s the alternative, a ball. Make Sense?

Again, thank you for rescuing your dog and seeking information to help you develop a great relationship!