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discussions : If you think you want a Border Collie

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I love border collies, but I'll be the first to admit that they aren't for everyone. For openers, they are high energy (industrial strength energy!) dogs. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Many behaviors that make them premier herding dogs don't translate well into being the average family dog. For instance, they are also, well, weird. Extremely reactive to sights and sounds. Don't be surprised if the electric can opener sends them into a frenzy, or if they consider a run of the mill thunderstorm to be the trumpet of Armageddon. They lend a whole new meaning to the concepts of "intensity" and "focus." If they're locked onto a squirrel, they honestly don't hear you if you call them. If it doesn't have to do with the squirrel, it doesn't exist.(I wonder how many people punish their border collies for being disobedient, when dogs can't obey what they've filtered out as temporarily irrelevant.) Smart? You bet. Which can be a pain in some respects. They learn things you wish they didn't, forming all sorts of associations. (For instance, my storm phobic dog has gone from fearing thunder, to being afraid of rain, wind, and even dark clouds.) They also over-analyze commands, so if you aren't consistent in word and gesture they are going to try your nerves while they figure out where you're going with this. You really have to be up to the intellectual challenge. They don't necessarily do well with kids. If they regard kids as livestock, they may resort to nipping to keep the "flock" from straying. Even if your kids learn to deal with it, the neighbors may be convinced that you have a "vicious" dog if he nips their Junior's heels. They also have a tendency to chase cars. Hey, it's just a large metal sheep, right? Unfortunately, running in front of a car to head it off doesn't end well for the dog. They also have a tendency to run in front of you if they think something exciting is about to happen. You'll spend a lot of time tripping over this dog, not a good thing for a disabled or elderly person. Now, not all border collies are going to exhibit all the traits listed above. Some are (relatively!) calm and make good pets. Some are so intense that they don't fare well without serious farm work to do unless the owner is willing to put in a colossal amount of time and energy. It's easy to see why so many border collies end up in shelters. But if you love a slightly whacko dog who will never run out of steam, you'll love border collies. My Sophie definitely fits the high intensity profile. With nary a sheep in sight, she has made it her job to keep the yard critter free. When I first got her, I was like "Oh Lord, what have I gotten into?!?" But we both learned o adapt to each other, and I wouldn't trade Sophie for the world!

about 5 years ago by longbraniel


Check this link for more information about border collies. http://dogtime.com/border-collie.html

over 4 years ago by ldorn


Thanks for your post! It explains a lot about my border/heeler mix. My husband has dubbed her the "drama queen" because she so overreacts to stupid things. She is so sensitive to our voices and attitudes and can just be crushed if you are mad at her. She wants to do the right thing, but that selective hearing is a problem. I also have gotten the sense that she analyzes situations in order to decide whether or not she needs to obey. She still heel nips me in the evening, and yes, she does run around in front of you when she is excited. She has had two bouts of swimmer's tail and she thinks we are hurting her because she did something wrong. In spite of all her quirks, she is the best dog I have ever had--a fun junkie who is always ready to catch a ball, go for a swim or a ride in the car. Her wackiness is what makes her so fun!

over 4 years ago by Holly


ive had my collie cross german shepard (although there isnt much german shepard in her) for just over four years now and i was lucky enough to know her mother very well and i watched her being born even tho it seems like an eternity ago, i have to agree with pcarpenter on this one, when we got morgan we also brought home one of her sisters as we are a working family we thought having the two of them would make it easier on them with stress and seperation anxiety, as it turned out having two 7 week old collie pups running round the house made it impossible to train them as they both probably thought it wasnt "worth their while to poo in the garden" we percevierd for 3 months but it was too much and unfortunately we had to get rid of morgans sister, it broke our hearts to do it but it was for the best for her and for our sanity. morgan is the perfect family pet now, i have a horse and she comes to the farm with me every day i would be lost without her now on the 5 mile walk there and back, she is also brilliant with children and makes a great confidence dog she has helped three people now to overcome their fear of dogs, and she helps local farmers in our area to herd everything from horses to chickens and she never gets tired, she does a variety of tricks from dancing to crawling and even thoughshe performs silly tricks and will jump through hoops until the sun burns out she will not give a paw i suppose thats another show of her perogative to ignore certain commands as their not worth her while. she is also an extremely accepting dog she tends to protect everything we bring in the house, including a 3 yr old doberman. the only negative thing about morgan is that after being attacked by an unruly black labrador as a puppy, she is now aggressive towards other dogs although it is unfortunate and it does sometimes make a walk an unhappy event she does listen and only takes a few minutes to calm back down to heel again. i think the border collie is one of the best dogs in the world!

over 4 years ago by natalie


I love you post about border collies. Although I have wanted one for a long time now and thought about getting one when I graduated but when I did my breed research I found that I wouldn't have the time it would take to own a border collie. Especially since I want to go to vet school, and plan on living in a condo. I tired to figure out how I could make it work, but every time I found a way another thing got back in the way. So for now I plan on volunteering with them until I'm at least in a permanent home.

over 4 years ago by Patrice


I grew up with a beautiful boarder collie. she decided early on that no men were allowed in the house besides my father...my guy friends actually considered it a right of passage when she started not liking them, since she liked kids! She was an absolutely amazing dog to have growing up though, she took care of us and being such smart dogs they have an incredible intuition for any sort of discomfort, pain, or even if you were just sad she would be right by your side in a second shoving her nose into your lap and licking your tears. We called her our 'nanny', and I can't imagine my childhood or teenage years without her. She was the smartest dog I will probably ever meet and she could learn new tricks in about two seconds which led to some pretty funny things my mom didn't so much enjoy :) If you have the space for one, they are an amazing edition to your family. I did grow up on a 50 acre farm though, so she had plenty of space to run around and burn off all her energy.

over 4 years ago by Claire


Thanks for that post, it's very enlightening! I recently adopted what I was told was a "hound mix" from my local shelter. After just a few days I was having regrets about taking her because she's nuts! Come to find out, she's part border collie and part blue heeler, which is a vast difference from my 16 year old black lab that passed away a few months ago. We've been working hard on training, and she is coming along, except she still jumps on people when they come into the house. I wish I had more time to spend training her, but I don't think my boss would understand! LOL You're so right on the sights & sounds thing, too. A bag of popcorn in the microwave last night sent her into a frenzy! She's very energetic and I've never seen a dog run this fast! I have a fairly big fenced yard for her to play in, but when I can, I take her to the sports complex where the fields are all fenced separatedly and just let her go nuts with a ball and a frisbee. I am hopoing she does calm down a bit soon, and the vet said she's really probably just about a year old, not a few years old like the shelter thought. Any hints on training??

over 4 years ago by Julie


Love your post, pcarpenter! I have two BCs currently and I just lost one at age 13. She was my first dog, and truly and enlightening experience. I had done my research and I knew what I was getting into when I got her, but she was everything neurotic that there is to love about the breed. Fortunately, I am a horse trainer and I love training in general! I have probably talked more people out of getting a BC than I have convinced to get one. People meet my girls and fall in love. They always ask where they can get one. Aside from pointing them to bcrescue.org, where the foster parents give a really realistic idea of what to expect and screen out tons of people they don't think will be appropriate, I also always explain in detail what exactly goes into maintaining my lovely girls and their lovely manners. Then I proceed to detail what happens if I let my routine slip. Basic throw down: -They are ACTIVE. You can't just throw a ball around for them. A bare minimum would be a hour walk twice a day. Better to jog, bike, hike, swim with them. -You MUST train them. And they are not always easy to train. You have to be very precise, and you must not vary how you ask for a command. They pick up on it. -They are soft dogs. They want to learn, and they want you to be pleased with them. They are sensitive. They learn best through positive reinforcement, and you can shut them down with a harsh word. -They WILL HERD. There is nothing you can do about it. There is absolutely no way to train them not to do it. It's like trying to teach a fish not to swim. Hundreds of years of breeding has gone into that instinct and you couldn't kill it even with a shock collar if you tried. They will herd cats, horses, sheep, goats, birds, and children. And sometimes you. The best way to cope with herding behavior is to take them for herding classes. Once they have an outlet for the herding behavior, and a reliable "That'll do" command, they are much more livable. -As stated by the first post, they are WEIRD. They will do things no other normal dog will do. -They are OCD. You have to have a means of redirecting them because telling them to stop isn't go to help for long. -THEY NEED A JOB. Do NOT, under any circumstances, get a BC unless you are going to give them a job. They are working dogs. They don't have to have a physically demanding job, but you better hope they have a mentally exhausting job if they don't.

over 4 years ago by Erica

heather cherrier

You have just described our border collie Honey Girl who is now almost 4. She's a handful. Wants attention 24/7. Her perfect day is to run and play. She has no off button. She's an amazing animal that has intelligence that would scare most people. Only problem, and it's a big one, she is severely epileptic. She was diagnosed shortly after her first birthday. She's the neighborhood welcome wagon. The police and fire department are her friends. Anyone who is conned into throwing a frisbee is warned that she's not going to stop.

over 4 years ago by heather cherrier


my border collie/rat terrier mix is awesome. he is high energy & it has been difficult to keep him physically & mentally exhausted. I just enrolled him in Rally Obedience & Agility and he loves it. The Rally Obedience gives him mental stimulation and different training not just basic obedience. Petsmart training isnt for a border collie. You really need to find a place that offers agility or akc training in your area. He has been one of the best dogs I have owned... get a hula hoop from the dollar store & teach them to jump thru it & cones from the sporting goods store & have them weave thru them. this is helpful & fun if you cant afford classes...

over 4 years ago by teresa

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