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Can BC's Live in an Apartment?


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#1 MikeAlan

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:10 PM

Hello All,

I am a new member to the post. I am thinking of getting a dog and considering a BC, but need advice as to whether I can meet all of a BC's needs for space and excercise in my living space. I am not a new dog owner, but have not had one in a few years. My family has had standard rough coat collies since I was a young child, and I love the collie temperament and intelligence. The intelligence seems to be most pronounced of course with BC's. The only dog I have kept on my own was my mixed breed collie, who I lost at age fourteen two years ago. I was not too concerned with the space then, as she was older with trouble moving around and I was renting a house with a yard. She loved to be outside and played, but didn't run around. But when she was young she had been on a farm with pretty much the run of it. When I left home I debated leaving her to be on the farm and with my mom and her dog, but my mother thought it best that she come with me, and of course I wanted her.

After losing her, I have been two years without a dog bc I started travelling with my last job (I am in my mid-twenties).

Recently I have moved to a small apartment, and I have much more time for a dog as my schedule is flexible (But not always consistent), and after finally making a long anticipated move out of state, I will not be moving or travelling. I don't want a dog only for a companion. I have a cat who is fine for that. While of course I enjoy the companionship, the reason I want one is because dogs are fun. I want a dog that can come bicycling with me, and that I can train, possibly for competition, or maybe just for fun. My concern is not losing interest, as I have wanted a dog for years and missed the running and driving around to parks and tennis ball chasing etc...My concern is that maybe I do not do ENOUGH of these things for a BC, especially without having a yard now. I don't bike everyday. I bike most weekends, up to abt 3 days a week in good weather, and only a few days out of the month in freezing weather. I have time to walk a dog a few times a day, and to spend an hour or so at a park a few times a week (I'd love to find a space where I cd take my dog for herding or other working/training activities, so if anyone knows of these in the Boston area pls let me know, I am new from out of state). I am also thinking of looking into trading play time with another dog owner so that my dog can go out and excercise more than I can take her, or alternately finding a dog daycare for a day or two a week so that she is not confined at home. I want my dog to be well socialized with other dogs, but I CAN'T have two.

Is a BC a good choice for me? I am well aware that they are not a typical choice for apartment living. The reason I am not looking for a toy or a laid back, Great Dane type that typically do well in apartments is that I want the dog to be active and bright enough to really come out and do things with me. Is a standard collie a better choice? I want a dog that has enough energy for this, but who will be comfortable hanging around at home for a good 6 hours on most weekdays (My fiance and I have overlapping schedules, so that is about the most we are ever away).

Do others have experience keeping BC's or other collies in apartments? Can you talk about your experience?

I welcome everyones advice, including cautionary advice. I terribly miss my dog and want another similarly hilarious, sometimes exasperating, "how the hell did she do that-?" smart kind of dog. I give pause only bc I want to make sure I can give her a good home and a happy life. I will wait if I need to. What do you all think?

Thanks so much.

#2 ShoresDog

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:40 PM

You certainly came to the right place for lots of advice, suggestions and encouragement regarding border collies! Welcome aboard.

Others have the benefit of more experience than I, but I'll just say that it seems to me that the amount of time you have to spend with your dog is a more important commodity than the amount of space you have. If you can get out and play with your dog pretty regularly and spend time training her, your dog will have a great time! Border collies love to be trained, and that doesn't even mean going anywhere. They can have fun in your apartment, if you're giving them the mental challenges. Of course, they need that big slug of physical exercise, too, and it sounds like you will be happy to provide that.

Good luck finding the right dog for you. The people on this board from MA will have lots to say, I'm sure, about where to find just the right pup. As you've probably noticed from the Gallery section, there are some mighty fine BCs from MA on this board!

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#3 DakotaSpirit

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:56 PM

I keep mine in an apartment! He is generally laid back indoors unless he decides he wants to play a game of fetch or tug-of-war inside. I do take him out ALOT for outdoor exercise. He bikes with me twice a day (weather permitting) and goes to the dog park often to run around off leash. He is also in obedience classes as I would love to compete with him in the future and start agility. I think as long as you are willing to provide them with exercise and mental stimulation, a BC would do wonderful in an apartment with you. Of course, it also depends on the BC's personality. I have met some really high strung BC's that I wouldn't trust in an apartment. Welcome to the boards!! :rolleyes:
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#4 Guest_TheRuffMuttGang_*

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:58 PM

I had 3 BCs and a mixed breed in a 985sqft apartment (heck, my house is only 960sqft) with 2 cats and a roommate. I was in college fulltime and working parttime. When I WAS home, I was with the dogs ALWAYS. We played A LOT, went to the park A LOT and we all managed just fine. None of them got out of hand and none are permanently scarred. The biggest factor is how you spend the time you do have with your dogs.

#5 MrSnappy

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 08:03 PM

Do others have experience keeping BC's or other collies in apartments? Can you talk about your experience?



There are a number of people here who keep border collies in an apartment. I myself have 4 (well, 3 and Woo) and I live in a penthouse apartment in the downtown core of my city. My dogs, with the exception of the oldest one, have lived here most of their lives - although Woo did come to me at about a year or so of age and prior to that he lived in someone's backyard.

The biggest consideration of living in an apartment with border collies is that I have to spend a lot time outside exercising with them, since they can't go out and run off energy in the yard by themselves, as there is none. I have a 600 square foot deck but they don't run around out there either. That means I get up early to run them before work and I have to return home immediately after work as there is no dog door for them to relieve themselves, and they also need a run after work.

There are other more minor considerations, like late night emergency potty trips involve an elevator and me in my jammies for the neighbors to view, and I make an extra effort to ensure my dogs are not noisy inside out of consideration for my neighbors - but these are things that are important for all apartment dwelling dog owners, not just BCs. Specifically to your case I would simply caution that collies and border collies are nowhere near the same thing and you should definitely be sure that you want a BC and not a collie :rolleyes:

I have adopted lots of border collies to apartment dwellers, possibly because as someone who lives in one I know it can be done. Some rescues have a real bias against apartment dwellers when it comes to owning BCs, so do be prepared to encounter that. As you have experience owning a dog in an apartment, you are probably in a good position to decide if you can handle it or not.

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#6 Laurae

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 08:06 PM

I've lived in apartments with my border collies before--for years I lived in a 400-sq-ft condo in downtown Boulder with my female border collie mix and my male border collie. We did fine! As Jan said, a smart breed like a border collie needs your time and your energy more than room. I used to hike my dogs in the mornings, unless it was just way too snowy or windy, and I took them out for an evening walk around the neighborhood. I've done some agility with them, and I work Taz on sheep most weekends (and sometimes during the week, too). I usually get in one major (3-hour) hike each week. In the summer, they swim in the reservoir. I spend loads of time with them inside, rubbing tummies, playing "find it," throwing stuffed toys for them, or just watching tv on the couch together.

I recently bought a house in the burbs. I have a big yard now and much more room. But really our lifestyle hasn't changed much. We still hike and herd sheep and walk around the neighborhood. I work from home these days, so I'm able to spend some time kicking around the ball in the yard throughout the day, but I don't know that they really "need" that. They don't spend any time outside at all without me--they want to be wherever I am.

I think you should share your life with a border collie if you believe you will be able to commit to spending lots of time and expending lots of energy with your dog. And it seems like you do. Actually, you sound like you'll be a great border collie owner to me.

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#7 MikeAlan

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 09:26 PM

Hello MrSnappy (Or Anyone Who Can Answer)

You said I should consider the difference btwn border collies and standard collies, and I was hoping you could say more about that. I have never had BC's. The reason I think they might be better is that they seem to have a higher energy level and to be among the best (If not simply THE best) in terms of learning commands, so I think they would be a lot of fun to work with in agility or other sports. Collies are definitely bright dogs, but don't seem to have the same drive to learn and to be active. Frankly I like the size of the standard collie better, but there are always trade offs I guess.

When I have met BC's, they have shown similar personalities as far as being funny (...Actually smiling...),positively adoring people, and perhaps being a bit obstinate at times. It seems to me that standard collies are a bit more reserved, where the BC's I've encountered have sometimes had over the top personalities. I have known most of both types to be friendly, although I've encountered one BC who was extremely agressive toward people.

Am I on track here? Would you say that there are other distinctions I should consider, or that any of what I have said is a misperception? Thanks for your feedback, and thanks to everyone who has already responded.

#8 SoloRiver

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 09:57 PM

I have two Border Collies in a studio apartment in San Francisco. Before that, we lived in an even smaller studio apartment in the middle of Philadelphia. My dogs are always in the room I'm in, so I don't think it matters how big a place is. They also don't generally run around and amuse themselves without involving me when outdoors, so I don't think it really matters if you have a yard or not (except for those late night emergency potty trips, like RDM pointed out -- been there, done that, it isn't fun). Living space is not the limiting factor to whether or not you can handle a Border Collie. The only really important consideration is the amount of time and effort you're willing to put in to be sure the dog's needs are met, and how much inconvenience you are willing to accept, because not having a private, immediately adjacent open space (like a yard -- a big yard) for your personal use means that you'll have to go further abroad to give your dog enough exercise and experiences outside the home.

As far as the differences between Border Collies and Lassie Collies -- I personally see very little in comon between the two breeds. The main behavioral distinction of Border Collies, from a pet perspective, is that they are very, very intense and when they are pet dogs they focus all or nearly all of that intensity on you. (And much of the time, if they are focusing on something else, it is pathological.) Not everyone wants to live with this. Those of us who do wouldn't have any other kind of dog, but I know plenty of very active dog people who would rather kick themselves in the head than live with a Border Collie.

The only way to really know would be to spend a lot of time around Border Collies. There's a lot of personality variation in the breed. They are extremely trainable -- if you put in the time, you WILL have a well-trained dog. They are a pleasure to work with in agility and other sports, and drive to burn. My knee jerk reaction is that they sound like a good match for you, except for how much you like Lassie Collies, and that's only because I really don't think the two breeds have much in common other than distant ancestry and the word "collie" in the name.
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#9 Anda

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:04 PM

Can't say anything about the similarities and differences btwn Rough Collies and Border Collies, but I can add to the apartment question. I have a year and a half male BC in a 1000-so sq-ft apt, and it's doable. Were there nights when I wished I had a backyard to just let him go out instead of, as RDM mentioned, go outside in my PJs and snow (no elevator - we're just on the 2nd floor)? Oh, yes, as recent as two weeks ago - try getting up 4-5 times in one night because your dog ate some bad ice cream (bad owner...) and had the runs for an entire week...

The worst thing for me is my neighbors, who seem to be very sound sensitive, and although waay more noise would be produced if I had a kid, the simple zoomie in the living room makes us cringe and yell at him to stop before we hear a knock on the front door....

But we're spending A LOT of time with him, he's always part of anything we're doing at home, and any spare time. Expect high energy, the kind that makes you turn the dog upside down and look for the batteries, to figure out how to take them out - we did this for the first few month, a 2-3-4-5 months puppy that couldn't seem to get tired... We still check from time to time, hoping that the secret compartment has become visible by now :D

But it's doable and in a way it helps with socialization, since he's used to seeing a lot of people and a lot of different cars and smells. I think this might have a had role in how friendly he is and well adapted.

If you have good neighbors, you can do it :rolleyes: (I grew up in an apartment as well, all my life, and if my parents weren't so good friends with our downstairs neighbors, I don't know how they would have survived the amount of noise I was making as I was growing up :D )

#10 RaisingRiver

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:35 PM

Size-wise between the two breeds, you can get a large Border Collie. I myself ended up with a small BC (didn't know that) and I generally like large breed dogs (like the size of a Lassie Collie). But found that I fell in love with the compact ability and convenience of my small BC and now actually prefer the smaller size.

I think the best thing you can ask yourself is what you want to do with your dog. If you want to do sports you could have either but BC will probably be a better fit. If you prefer less grooming maintenance you are probably better off with a BC (most are not as long haired as a collie). You said collies are often reserved and BC are often outgoing and comical. That is true, but many BCs are very reserved and often shy - not always something you can socialize.

#11 Allie Oop

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:54 PM

I haven't lived with BCs in an apartment, but I will go along with the folks who indicated that the Border Collie will basically want to be in the room where you are (and that includes the bathroom) :rolleyes:. They don't actually take up a whole lot of space. We take our BC out for a 30 min. run every morning before work and do at least another 30 min. of ball/frisbee play at night, and almost always another run in the evening. She settles in the house at our feet or on the bed when she is inside.

I personally like the size of the BC, but mine is on the small end and only weighs about 29 lbs. My previous dog was a German Shepherd/Rough Collie mix who weighed about 86-92 lbs. in his prime. I really like big dogs, but I do think that the BC is a great dog. My GSD/RC had a terrific personality, loved to play and hike, but definitely did not have the drive and trainability that my BC has. My BC is twitchy, intense and affectionate - the GSD/RC was always very calm. Which is better? Well, if I could have cloned my previous dog I could have made a fortune, as he was wonderful and all of the nieghbors loved him, too. However, I love my BC a lot -- in fact, so much we are going to adopt another one soon so we can have two. :D

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#12 sluj

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 11:57 PM

Would you consider fostering for a rescue? It's a good way to see whether you can actually live with a BC, but with a much shorter time commitment. Plus it's a good deed.
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#13 Anda

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 12:46 AM

Would you consider fostering for a rescue? It's a good way to see whether you can actually live with a BC, but with a much shorter time commitment. Plus it's a good deed.



Just a comment on this thought: Please keep in mind that in order to keep a dog into an apartment, if it is part of an apt. complex (renting), there are non-returnable fees and deposits and monthly fees to pay. It doesn't come as easy as when you own your home.... I'd love to help out for short times, but it is realy hard to do it in an apt. I payed about $250 or $300 for the deposit, and have a $25/month fee added to the rent. For a second dog, everything increases...

#14 MrSnappy

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 12:56 AM

Just a comment on this thought: Please keep in mind that in order to keep a dog into an apartment, if it is part of an apt. complex (renting), there are non-returnable fees and deposits and monthly fees to pay. It doesn't come as easy as when you own your home.... I'd love to help out for short times, but it is realy hard to do it in an apt. I payed about $250 or $300 for the deposit, and have a $25/month fee added to the rent. For a second dog, everything increases...


That's not necessarily true. I have never in my renting life, which is lengthy, paid a pet deposit or paid additional fees. Not all rentals require this.

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#15 DakotaSpirit

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:11 AM

Ooh, I wish I could have found a place that didn't require a pet deposit. I had to pay a $300 (refundable) pet deposit plus $25 per month added to my rent. Most of the places I looked at the deposit was non-refundable. I also had a weight limit to go by (dog had to be under 40 lbs) and there were some breed restrictions (i.e. no beagles, bassets, pits, dobies, wolfdogs, mastiffs, etc). But, I get to have my dog and that's all that matters to me. So, anyways, case in point: check into your lease agreement to see what sort of guidelines you have to follow to have a dog in your building.
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#16 MikeAlan

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:22 AM

Sluj,

I would consider rescuing and fostering, but I'd have to give it some serious thought. Frankly I don't know that most rescues would want to work with me, as many seem to want you to have a yard. I have actually grown up with rescue dogs. My mother worked with ASPCA until I was around 12. I do intend to get my dog from a rescue. As far as fostering, let me know if you have connections for that. I would consider taking on single dogs. It's something I would like to be involved with at some point, be it now or in the future. I will let you know that right now I am still planning and not quite shopping yet. Although I am here and working now, I do want to get better settled and get some resources (parks, vets, etc) before I bring anybody home, which I think will be in a couple of months.

That actually prompts another question: Looking at Border Collies, there seems to be such an array of appearance that it's hard for me to judge whether they are purebred. I realize they are not bred for appearance, but my question is, how do you determine that you're getting a purebred BC? I don't mean to seem callous regarding mixed breeds, I just want a good sense of what I'm getting. I want a dog that is highly trainable and up to participating in sports. I'm not sure I care to compete, but I just want a dog that I can really be engaged with.

What characteristics shd I look for in a BC?

It surprises me that most members consider BC's and standard collies to be vastly different, bc I have always perceived character similarities, but been impressed by what seems to be a greater training/working ability in BC's and a more intense desire to learn. (And give me some credit guys, it's not just the name. I would say that Australian shephards are more similar to both than bearded collies, who seem to have a more relaxed temperament.) On an aside, I have actually done some looking into Dobermans as well, as I understand that they are also competitive in agility. I am proceeding with caution on that front, as I plan to have children and need to be confident that the dog is safe. I know socialization is always critical, but dobes are just a different experience, so I'm choosing carefully.

Anyway, while BC's definitely appeal to me, I really haven't made my decision yet, so it's awesome that you have all given me so much advice, and I hope you will keep sending feedback.

#17 Anda

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:26 AM

RDM, guess you were luckier or Canadian renting rules are more pet friendly :rolleyes:

I didn't have to pay a deposit and rent for my guinea pig, although by the 3rd year he lived, when we moved, the carpet and the kitchen cabinets bottom were in much worse shape than anything Ouzo's done so far :D

DakotaSpirit, your experience is identical with mine. They had some weight and breed restrictions, too, but there are some big huskies and labs who live here so they don't actually enforce the weight rule. There weren't any hound breed restrictions, there actually are two beagles who live in the same apt. Guess some don't want them in their apt. complexes because of their howling?!

#18 sandra s.

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:26 AM

Kessie and I lived in this for almost two weeks, and she loved it, even though that was a time when I had less time for her than I usually do. I agree with those who said a BC just wants to be near you all the time.

A woman working at a shelter once told me that "having a yard only allows people to not walk their dogs". I think there's a h*ll of a lot of truth in that!

#19 MikeAlan

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:31 AM

Regarding the rent deposit, my space does not require one. I am allowed to have pets (I have a cat already). My lease doesn't stipulate breeds or sizes, but I will definitely discuss the specific dog I find with my landlord before bringing her home, particularly if I decide on a dobe as I mentioned I am considering. But I'm sure my dog will find other ways to cost me $300 from time to time... Anyway, thanks for the tip.

#20 Meg's mum

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 02:47 AM

My mother kept our BC in an apartment for the last 10 years of her life. As long as you get your dog the amount of exercise and fresh air that she/he needs EVERYDAY I don't see the difference.
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