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Suitable environment for BC?

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#21 WaveProfesora



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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:28 AM

I wanted to chime in here about "suitability" for a Border Collie. We are completely unsuitable, by most standards. We live in a city/cities (we spend summers away), live in a hot climate with a rough coat (medium one, though), and after getting a puppy, I found out I was pregnant. Pivo is our first Border Collie.


We've made mistakes. We did not react quickly or efficiently enough to motorcycles, skateboards, etc. This is still an ongoing issue (a MUCH bigger deal in Spain where we live in summer). We are also dealing with MAD thunderphobia. Dealing with these issues when they arise has been more than challenging. I've read books, watched youtube videos, called his breeder. Knowing what I know now, I would be much better prepared to handle these issues in a different dog--but I know that every border collie is different and wired differently. 


There have been wonderful surprises. He has never been anything but protective and loving of our son. They are really good buds. Pivo waits by the door for him to get home from school, and Pivo is a really good first baseman when needed to field a team of wiffle ball.


Lastly, Pivo was born on a farm and bred to work on a farm, but he is very much a city dog. He likes "his" bars (in Spain, he gets to go INSIDE of them and be told by Basque old men what a "txakurra ona" [Good dog] he is). We've trained him to pee in the sewer grates in Spain since our apartment is not super close to a green space. I'm sure he knows which neighbor lives in which apartment.


I'm not going to say it's easy. I'm replacing trim behind our bathroom toilet because of the thunderphobia and a little frustrated by it. But I didn't get a border collie for it to be easy nor did I get one because they are so smart. I got one because I wanted a true member of the family. We very much have that.

#22 MrSnappy


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Posted 22 September 2017 - 01:39 AM

I don't really visit these boards much anymore (perhaps some old timers will remember me) but this thread is driving me crazy.


I raised and lived with border collies in apartments and condos, including highrises, in dense urban areas, for most of my adult life.  Fostered countless rescue border collies.  Raised several rescue litters in said apartments.  All of them were fine, well adjusted dogs.  I live on a farm *now* but my border collies I've raised on the farm are no better and no less well adjusted dogs than the ones that were raised downtown in apartments.  I've still got one of them left; she's nearly 15 and still truckin'.  They grew up walking city streets and playing in dogs parks, and they were all FINE.  They had lots of border collie and type dog friends who lived in the same environment they did.  They were all fine too.  And I did it all while working full time.


I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again now; in 19 years of rescuing border collies, I've never received a single dog from someone in apartment who said "this dog just can't handle the city living."  They all came from suburban or rural homes.  And there have been over 1,000 of them.


Once, many years ago, whilst running a border collie rescue, I got turned down for adoption by another border collie rescue that simply could not conceive of a border collie living in an urban apartment.  


Go ahead and get a border collie if you want one.  Just don't expect it to use the toilet.  Doesn't matter how smart they are, that's just unrealistic.

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#23 waffles


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Posted 22 September 2017 - 09:43 AM

I got my 2 year old border collie at a time when I lived in an apartment.  I don't think that is the issue.  The OP has said she has zero dog handling/owning/training experience and there is no option for an adult rescue.  You are a very experienced dog owner so having a border collie in a city setting was not a big deal.  Same for me, I had years of experience personally and professionally (working in a kennel) that made it much easier to train, handle a border collie in an apartment.


I also think you see a lot of border collies coming into rescue from suburban and rural homes because those are the people that get border collies.  There are more living in suburban/rural settings than city settings so that means more are likely to come into rescue from those settings.  Most people don't get dogs like border collies in a city setting unless they know what they're doing.  So that dynamic would skew where dogs are coming from.  


I still think as someone who doesn't actually appear to know the breed well, she may be interested in getting a border collie because of impressive YouTube videos of them doing advanced tricks or because they are known to be smart (which many mistake for easy to train).  I think part of why people are saying for her to maybe reconsider is because she may very well be very disappointed that the pup she gets grows to be a dog that is nothing like what she wanted.  Any dog can learn impressive tricks or be an active companion, it is up to the owner to have the knowledge to teach the dog those impressive behaviors.  Now maybe if she said that she has known many border collies personally and loves their sensitive nature, their athletic ability or had some more in-person experience with the breed, people may be more inclined to agree that it would be a good idea given that she is up for the training and exercise needs.


Just my thoughts, as I agree with you that lots of people successfully live in urban areas with these dogs.  But they typically have more experience and knowledge with dog training or the breed.

#24 D'Elle


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Posted 22 September 2017 - 10:13 AM

I second what Waffles has said.


As some of you might remember, I got Jester while living in one room in Los Angeles, with no yard, and I made it work through diligence and total dedication to spending virtually every minute that I was not working doing something with the dog, including two hour-long walks a day and finding out of the way places where I could let him off leash to chase a frisbee. And day-long hikes every weekend. And training. And so on.



I had a lot of dog training experience, including border collies, and I got a two year old dog at that point. Even so, I had my bathroom remodeled by the dog and other interesting experiences.


And I have said this to others who have been concerned about city living with a BC, and I also have adopted out my foster dogs more than once to someone who lived in an apartment, when it was clear that person had enough dedication and border collie experience, or had the dedication and the time and was adopting a low-drive adult.


However, this person has zero experience and would get a puppy. 


Huge, huge difference. For both the person and the dog. I stand by my recommendation that this person get a different breed.


and family.

Left to right: Kit, Jester, Boo, Digger



"You gonna throw that?" --Jester:  2001 - June 24 2016. Remembered with much love.
"I'm grouchier than you are" --Kit

"I love everyone!" -- Boo

(Boing! Boing! Boing!)--Digger

And not pictured, Benjamin the cat, who thinks he is a small border collie with superpowers.




#25 CptJack


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Posted 22 September 2017 - 10:20 AM

Yep, add me to the list. 


It isn't wanting a puppy, it isn't the lack of experience, it isn't living in a city.  It's inexperience wanting a puppy while living in a city.   Any TWO of those factors, I'd have kept my mouth shut.  All 3?  I feel it only fair to tell someone what they want may well not match up with the reality. 

#26 teresaserrano


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Posted 22 September 2017 - 03:25 PM

Tess lives with me in an apartment in the center of a (small) city with no problems. But we lived in a house with a yard till she was 9 mo, which was great, as she was the most destructive pup I've ever had. When we moved to my new apartment she was over that and never destroyed a thing. It didn't matter that she was all mouth and teeth because I was fully expecting it, and, although she was my first bc, I had extensive experience in dog owning and training.


She's the best dog I've ever owned but she has been a challenge in many ways: way smarter than my previous dogs, but not easy to train. And although she's not fearfull, she's sensitive to the environment in ways I wasn't used to. And all that energy, it keeps me on my toes finding new fun ways to spend it. It's a full time job (she has a great off switch, but does need a lot more commitment than my other dogs did).


So, I agree that although it's perfectly possible to have bc's in an apartment in a city, it can be a challenging experience for a first time owner with a pup. It can be done, but it's wise that one knows fully what one is getting into. Otherwise, there's the real possibility that problems will start popping up, and an inexperienced owner won't nip them in the bud, and soon what was suposed to be a marvelous enriching experience can turn very sour.

Teresa Serrano

#27 LuckytheDog


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Posted 23 September 2017 - 08:26 PM

A hard decision, to be sure.  We adopted Lucky, a BC/Lab cross when he was about 8 months old.  We were living in NYC at the time, but my husband lost his job so we decided he would move to our place in the country full time and I would stay in the city during the week and country on the weekends.  My first thought:  Time to get a dog!  We met Lucky (then King) once for 30 minutes at the apartment of his foster and took him for a walk in the busy lower east side of Manhattan.  He was great on the leash, seemed happy, was a great doggy.  I really knew nothing about BCs (though I grew up with rough collies and always had dogs and horses as a kid).  We were not at all prepared for any of the issues we started having with him when we brought him home.  


In general, collies need/want attention.  They want you to tell them what to do, interact with them, work with them.  Lucky follows me around the house, wants to be in the same room with me, will sometimes misbehave to get my attention.  You will need to be prepared to have a dog that is a presence and a companion and be willing (and possibly have $$) to do the type of training that corrects unwanted behavior, not just fun tricks and obedience.


At least for Lucky, walks are NOT enough.  He needs to run.  He's a sprinter and running makes him happy, gets rid of his extra energy and calms him down.  He's reactive to other dogs (many BC's are) so we can't do doggy play dates or hiking on trails where we might meet other dogs.  Thankfully he loves fetch and frisbee and we have woods he can run and jump without meeting other dogs.  I very often think that our lives would be pretty miserable if we had adopted him and stayed in the city.


That said, when we do take him out and there are lots of things going on, he tends to be a little less reactive because there are so many things for him to focus on that he doesn't do the same crazy behavior he does when he sees a single dog or a single person walking down our quite country road.


And there are many, many people living in cities with border collies.  https://www.instagra...m/darwindognyc/ is someone who got their dog from the same rescue we got Lucky.  Pretty inspiring some of the work they've done with him.  Dogs can be really adaptable, I just think that BC's are often more 'work' than other dogs and you need to be prepared for that.  Lucky is turning into a fantastic dog and a great companion.  He's clever, funny, smart, and fun to hang out with.  If I could spend ALL of my time with him I would.  He's taken over my Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/kimmcg/


If you can, try to find other BC owners who live in cities.   They definitely exist, and talk to them about challenges they face.  And like others said, think about getting an older dog if you can.  Lucky was super challenging at around 14 months but has mellowed out some now that he's almost two. 

#28 herscheleh


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Posted 04 October 2017 - 10:21 PM

I have a Border Collie who came to me in a 1050 sq ft apartment in Hartford (smallish city, had a small fenced yard) and now lives with me in a 600 sq ft apartment in D.C.


He was a rescue, and was roughly a year old when he came to me, not house trained (though that was pretty easy to accomplish).


He has been alone for 8.5 hours a day weekdays most of the time I've had him.


He's the second dog I've had as an adult, the first was a *super* easy, super quiet Aussie-beagle mix whose only fault was he would run if he got the chance.


I agree with some of the concerns folks have had -- running in the heat, dog parks (they are definitely fussy about being friends with other dogs) -- but it really, really depends on the dog. While Herschel loved chasing a ball in my old tiny back yard, he has adjusted fine to just having walks and infrequent longer hikes and no yard. He's actually less reactive/barky in this apartment, in a much bigger apartment building, than he was in the three-family house, because it's more sound proof. 


He does freak out at motorcycles still, and big box trucks, but as long as you hold the other hand on the leash low enough that he can't lunge into traffic, he gets over it as soon as it's past. 


I got to spend an hour or so with Herschel before I chose to adopt him, and while I couldn't know a lot of things about him, we did rightly perceive that he was relatively low key and affectionate. I don't need to exercise him nearly as much as you're describing.


But I've never raised a puppy, and that may be the straw that breaks the camel's back, to use a cliche'. 


Even as a low-intensity Border Collie, I would say he's more neurotic than the corgi that I grew up with and my beloved Aussie mix.

#29 Caesg



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Posted 06 October 2017 - 03:45 AM

@mkdlin What are you thinking these days? Have you been able to identify what in particular you are looking for in a canine companion? If yes, in what ways is that idea similar and different from what you presented a month ago?

As for the slew of thoughts and advice, here's mine:

When I adopted TuxeDog, I had never previously owned a dog. Something that came to mind for me while reading through this thread is just how little I understood. I was explicitly looking for a dog that would be a companion, not a project. However, because I had so little dog experience, I missed and/or misinterpreted very obvious signs that this beautiful dog wasn't going to fit the life I envisioned.

When I say "very obvious signs" I mean very obvious to any dog *trainer*. I do not mean "very obvious" to any dog *owner*. Lots of people have wonderful relationships with their family dogs and have quite minimal knowledge of dog behavior and communication. And that's okay. It's really really okay. It's just different.

There are some things I did "right." Right meaning "right for me: my needs, desires, and situation." For example, based on my experience with cats, I took the advice to adopt an adult dog, rather than a youth with an unknown personality, seriously. In retrospect, I would have worked alongside a CPDT-KA to identify the dog that would work best for me.

Any CPDT-KA would have oriented me to a different dog (maybe still a BC!) that would have better fit my needs and the past year of my life would have been very different.

Similarly, when folks encourage you to assess dogs that were bred by that breeder now living in homes. That advice is great. And, I would not have had the skills to have assessed the dogs. So, again, I encourage working alongside a high quality dog trainer and bringing the trainer along on those visits.

I adore my dog. I've learned a ton. And? And, this isn't what I was looking for. And, I'm really very lucky that I happen to work professionally in a field that trains me in human behavior and reactivity/de-escalation. That training helped me gather, sort through, and "scale up" the necessary knowledge to work effectively with TuxeDog much faster than would have otherwise been possible.

Anyhow, that's my 2¢. Perhaps some grain will prove worthwhile. Regardless, I'm curious how your considerations have progressed. Welcome to BC Boards!

#30 Tamberav


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Posted 28 November 2017 - 03:02 PM

Hello! I do not post often but lurk a lot and thought I would share my experience since I have a 10 month old border collie mix (mixed with other herding breeds). I got him when he was 9 weeks. We lived in a 2nd story apartment complex that was pet friendly at the time.


We ended up moving into a side by side duplex with our own yard. Yes, we had to move because it was what turned out to be best for our dog. We did not have issues with barking or anything like that but new people moved in downstairs who had a baby and because part of our apartment was wood flooring, you could hear everything, dog playing, dog squeaky toys, anything. He was a young growing dog and it was hard to just play with him without bothering people. 


That wasn't the worst part though, the worst is that since it was a pet friendly building, other people had dogs and no one has a private yard. Most of the other dogs were not socialized or trained in even basic commands and some of the owners were worse. This meant lunging barking reactive dogs so just taking the pup to potty was instilling fear into my dog of other dogs and people. No good!!


We still live in a busy city but now have our own space to potty and can play endlessly inside and love a good game of fetch outside. We have many parks and huge fields nearby for offleash fun and go to doggy school every week. The city itself has not been a problem at all but living space definitely needs to be considered, not sq feet but the possibility of noise and unfriendly dogs. 

#31 Lewie'sMom


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Posted 10 December 2017 - 07:39 AM

...border collies are all a little weird (genius and madness being close cousins!)...

~ Gloria


Every time  I reread this thread I think, "This would make a great window cling!"  :lol:


A tired dog is a good dog!

"Dogs' lives are too short...their only fault, really."
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"My mantra is "it's never the dog's fault." If my dog has failed, it is because I set him up to fail:..."
Ninso 12/10/08

#32 BillG



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Posted 11 December 2017 - 10:54 PM

What is interesting, when we raised our black lab from a pup, we still have stories we tell anout her. Joy was unforgetable!,
Our little rescue lab/beagle mix gave us a great companion dog friiend, but no stories.
Now with Gina and almost 4 months, we have stories!

Retired Community College Instructor, HVAC/R & Electrician.  Gina -  Border Collie / Aussie pup.  Ankeny Laser Engraving

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