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How much exercise do they actually need?


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#1 fox

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 08:15 PM

Hi Im new here :rolleyes:
I have a 5year old fox terrier and a 6month old lab mix.
I have loved Border collies ever since I was a little kid.

I know they are very intelligent and need a lot of mental stimulation as well as physical exercise

I need to be sure that I can provide everything a border collie will need before I get one

But when people say they are high energy I don't know if I can quite get a grasp of what that really means.

How much exercise/training etc do you give your border collie everyday?

#2 juliepoudrier

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 08:40 PM

I take my pack for three 20-minute walks a day. Some of them help me with the farm work, but it's not a huge farm and I don't have hundreds of sheep, so daily work is limited. I occasionally train tricks when the mood strikes. I have 10 border collies. Except for the 10-month-old, they pretty much just hang out quietly in the house while I'm doing stuff I need to do, but they are always ready to get up and go when I want them to. I don't really do any structured play either. I take some of them jogging with me when I happen to be doing that sort of thing (not much in the past few months).

If you are a fairly active person and you are willing to take some time to teach a dog to settle in the house, you shouldn't have any problems--if you buy a well-bred dog. If you get a dog through rescue, the foster family will already have a good idea of the activity level of the dog and can match you and a suitable dog. Most border collies *don't* need hours of exercise every day. The mistake people make is buying into that idea and subsequently providing hours of entertainment each day, which in turn *creates* a dog that needs that much attention. That's not to say they can't go for hourse, just that they don't need to under normal circumstances.

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#3 fox

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 08:56 PM

I take my pack for three 20-minute walks a day. Some of them help me with the farm work, but it's not a huge farm and I don't have hundreds of sheep, so daily work is limited. I occasionally train tricks when the mood strikes. I have 10 border collies. Except for the 10-month-old, they pretty much just hang out quietly in the house while I'm doing stuff I need to do, but they are always ready to get up and go when I want them to. I don't really do any structured play either. I take some of them jogging with me when I happen to be doing that sort of thing (not much in the past few months).

If you are a fairly active person and you are willing to take some time to teach a dog to settle in the house, you shouldn't have any problems--if you buy a well-bred dog. If you get a dog through rescue, the foster family will already have a good idea of the activity level of the dog and can match you and a suitable dog. Most border collies *don't* need hours of exercise every day. The mistake people make is buying into that idea and subsequently providing hours of entertainment each day, which in turn *creates* a dog that needs that much attention. That's not to say they can't go for hourse, just that they don't need to under normal circumstances.

J.


That was super helpful!
I just made the mistake of asking to meet an 8month old border collie
I now feel bad, I already have two dogs, and we have only had our puppy for 2 months

I just keep finding myself wanting another dog

I can walk every day, usually 1hour a day, we also go to the dog park every week
Plus playing with my other puppy

But I don't know if this is enough?
We also do a bit of training
plus I love treat balls

#4 pansmom

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 10:14 PM

That was super helpful!
I just made the mistake of asking to meet an 8month old border collie
I now feel bad, I already have two dogs, and we have only had our puppy for 2 months

I just keep finding myself wanting another dog

I can walk every day, usually 1hour a day, we also go to the dog park every week
Plus playing with my other puppy

But I don't know if this is enough?
We also do a bit of training
plus I love treat balls


Well-bred is key, or for a first border collie, maybe an older rescue (3-4 years) with lower drive.

This is why I say well-bred is key: I had a poorly wired BC-lab cross puppy who needed 2-3 hours of training and behavior modification and a 6.5 mile bike ride daily... and it still didn't really help with her anxiety and aggression and energy, poor thing. Super high energy dog. She was really really smart, but we couldn't teach her to relax in the house, she was sound reactive and bouncing off the walls and fear aggressive. She also barked at everything and wouldn't stop. But she was an "accident"; her dam had gotten out of her house and mated with a mystery dog, and I certainly didn't go to a working breeder like everyone recommends here (hindsight is 20/20--if I ever get another puppy, that is what I will do--I was not very educated back then about dogs). So I would say, if you are really good at finding well-bred working dogs and can pick puppy temperaments or can go to a highly recommended ABCA working breeder who can match you up with the right pup, then go for it, and explain how much exercise you can give up top and they'll help you out. (People probably can give really great recommendations for working breeders here.)

But there are also tons of sweet-as-can-be older BCs in rescue who have proven stable temperaments and need homes. I now have a 3-5 year old BC rescue, whose sweet and more calm personality was already set in stone when I got her (puppies change so much as I'm sure you know!) Vala (picture below) only requires an hour of exercise in the morning (urban agility and obedience on the walk to a field where she goes off leash, chases squirrels with permission, and does directed running). In the evening we usually do about fifteen minutes of tricks and backyard agility for fun, as well as some mental games like hide and seek. Every night before bed she gets a reduced fat peanut butter stuffed kong. In the house, she has several corners that she likes to lie in, as well as the bed and under my feet, and that is her default behavior--she just relaxes indoors (you can help this along by treating a newly rescued dog randomly when they relax in your house--they learn, ooh treats fall from the sky when I'm relaxed, this place is awesome and I'mma do that more often!). Vala seems very content with this life, she is very attached, has never tried to run away, and always wants to go back indoors when it's time--in other words, she's not bored. But she's smart, she loves kids, loves people, loves walks, trains super easy, and is so eager to please it breaks my heart. Except for a bit of mild thunderphobia, she is a dream dog! Everybody loves her. She's an easy dog and a sweetheart.
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#5 fox

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 10:29 PM

Well I met the 8month old, he was a sweet heart
I would have taken him on the spot but he did not get along with Jemma at all :rolleyes:
She is a grumpy old lady, she only gets along with a few dogs

#6 Ms.DaisyDuke

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 10:38 PM

Ditto what everyone else says. Their energy level really depends on the dog. I have one who is almost 6 and she is a self proclaimed couch potato. Of course, if we're doing something, she does not stop. She has fear issues which we've worked on very hard, but is still more comfortable leaving the house in a pack, so unless I can get another person or dog to walk with me, she doesn't care to go anywhere. She is more than happy hanging out at home. She absolutely adores learning and loves interacting with us, so we do a lot more of that and she is a dream to teach.

The other one is a 1.5 year old male (Riley) and is literally the polar opposite of my female (Daisy)! He is ready to go, go, go all the time. We worked really hard to teach him to settle in the house and he's still learning. I can't exercise him too much as he was just let off a 3 month stint of crate rest in February due to a really bad foot injury and is now arthritic in that foot. So we're building up his stamina a little bit at a time. His care for personal interaction and learning is considerably less than Daisy's, but that might be due to the fact that he was pretty much a stray for the first year of his life. So teaching him stuff is a bit harder, don't get me wrong, he's smart, he's just a little more blaze about it.

Two different dogs, two different energy levels and personalities. They get the same amount of structured play, about 1 hour a day in the back yard, Riley may get an extra walk (another hour), but that depends on his foot and they each get random training throughout the time that I am home with them. It's not always learning new things, but working on learned things in different situations. We usually do at least one super long off leash stint per week (I like to do more), but again that depends on Riley's foot. We also spend time working on his range of motion in his leg, so that counts as something... not sure what though.

Rescue would likely be the best way to go... that way the foster homes will be able to fit you to a dog that is suitable to your lifestyle. I'd also suggest that maybe you wait until you have your puppy settled in and have taught him all the things he needs to know! If he has bad habits, I'm willing to bet a border collie puppy is going to pick them up like you wouldn't believe! Maybe wait until he's over a year before you add another dog. Just a suggestion though, but 2 puppies would be/is hard work!

#7 arf2184

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 02:26 AM

I'm rather new to having a Border Collie. I adopted Meg in April. We walk 2+ hours a day (well, I walk, she runs a lot).

In the morning we walk for an hour or so...typically we spend 10-15 minutes working on her reactivity to passing houses where other dogs live, 10-20 minutes off leash (in a field) working on heel, sit, down and stay, and 10-20 minutes off leash running and playing and reinforcing her recall, then head back home (again working on her dog-reaction on leash through the neighborhood). In the evening, we walk for another hour or so...mostly with the dogs off leash running, chasing birds, occasional digging, and a little training here and there (working on calling my lab mix off the birds...he's doing well and so is Meg). On the weekends, sometimes Dad will walk her for an hour while I'm at work so she gets 3 walks that day.

The walks are as much for me as they are for Meg...I sit in an office answering the phone all day at work so its my exercise too. The off leash time is relaxing and fun for both of us...hopefully leashed time walking by other dogs will be relaxing someday soon (once Meg learns to ignore the other dogs).

We also train at home a few times a day, 5-10 minutes at a time. We're working on obedience (taking a class) and learning a few tricks. She also goes for car rides to run errands with me a couple times a week (as long as it's not sunny or hot out). Our long term goal is agility.

Meg definitely requires more attention than my lab mix. He's happy if you give him something to put in his mouth and he'll lay around the house all day if I let him. Meg prefers a good mix of rest and activity (walk, play, training, etc). She will entertain herself with her toys or entice Bear to play with her, but she's definitely not a dog who'd tolerate being left alone all day. If we miss a walk, she gets a bit jumpy...probably more to do with a change in routine than lack of exercise. After a walk, she'll happily doze in the yard or on her bed in the house.

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#8 WildFlower

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 07:42 AM

Hello and welcome to the Boards!

I think that Julie P and others have said it pretty well. You create the dog that you have in terms of exercise. If you introduce it to 5 hours of exercise a day then you have created a dog that needs 5 hours of exercise a day.

In one of your posts, you said that you have only had your second dog, a puppy, for 2 months? In my opinion, you should focus your time and energy into training the puppy that you currently have. One puppy is quite enough of a time commitment. Once you feel that you have this pup well trained, etc. - perhaps then you could consider adding a 3rd member to your family? Even if you rescued an older BC, having a new dog adjust to a new home takes time. And with having an already fairly new family member, neither may get the time and attention they need.

IMO, having BCs is a way of life - it's not just having a dog. They seem to incorporate themselves into all parts of your life. I have found that many of my activities now include dogs. Which I absolutely love.

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#9 muttlycrew

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 07:57 AM

I will also chime in and say well-bred or a rescue where you already know the temperment. I foster a lot for BCR and it took me about a year and I finally found one that totally fit with my pack (both females, one who is an old crabby bitch). Well worth the wait!

It depends on the day for my girl(s). Usually in the mornings after they eat and go potty they come in and sleep for a good few hours. Occasionally Stella will lay in her bed with a toy and play quietly.

Around lunch we head outside (1.5 acres acres fenced in) where they all run, chase, swim and hunt. Usually I break out the Frisbee and we play a few sessions with that. We are outside for a good hour. We come back in and we do a few 5-10 minute training sessions, then it's back to napping. Late afternoon they eat and we are outside for another hour. I teach most evenings, so they are in their crates for ~ 4 hours with a frozen kong, deer antler, or chewy.

We go (sheep) herding 2x a week, dock diving 2x a week, and an agility class 1x a week.

My girls are happy to settle in the house (Stella is still learning) but are ready to go when I am. We don't have many trials around here and we have too many unsupervised, unleashed, and rude dogs in our neighborhoods to walk often. Twice a month we load up the car and head to the lake or to a nice mountain trail, but not as often as we'd like.
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#10 SecretBC

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 01:27 PM

Secret is my first BC and honestly, I have been surprised by how little exercise she actually requires. I expected it to be hours and hours per day.

My dogs come to work with me, which no doubt helps. If she had to spend 9 hours in a crate things might be a little different.

The dogs go out to potty in the morning. Generally, there is no playtime involved because they are all still half asleep. Then off to work, where they lay around until our 30 minute walk at 11:30. Secret is off leash and free to chase birds or whatnot. Then back to the office where they all sleep until it's time to go home.

We generally have play time or training time when we get home from work. Secret's brain cannot handle much of either in one go, so we do a short session and then back in the house for a bit. If she's bugging my other dogs too much, we go back outside for another short session. Rarely does she ever need anything else after dinner -- she's usually sleeping by 7:00 and is out for the night.

This weekend she had to spend all day Saturday & Sunday in a crate at a conformation show for one of my other dogs -- ie: boring! But she didn't care, she just slept in the back of her crate all weekend and went out for potty breaks when I had the time. We did one off leash walk per day so that they wouldn't be nuts in the hotel. I was impressed with how well she handled this lack of activity -- until we got home Sunday night and she started to run laps around the couch, and banking off the back of the couch so hard that she nearly tipped it over several times. lol All that excess energy she'd been storing away all weekend came out all at once.

The main thing is to be aware. If your dog is starting to act stir crazy, take it outside and do something. I admit that one nice thing about having multiple dogs is that they tend to be able to entertain each other when I'm feeling lazy.
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#11 ejano

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 02:19 PM

We have three Border Collies, one nine year old female and two one year old (neutered) males. Though they are now good about waiting for "their time", they do get about an hour to two hours of specific attention and exercise each day and other more casual times just playing and visiting and tummy rubbing. We do different kinds of things...field walks, playing in the water (in the summer), obedience training, working different kinds of tricks, going to obedience classes, playing with toys (balls mostly) "get to rip up the stuffie" night, trips to town on rotation...trips to the farm, trips to see Mama over at her farm, and lately Oh Boy! trips to try out sheep herding skills! Lessons are kind of pricey, but not out of line with other doggy pursuits, or even other sports. We have some different kinds of things in the yard for them to play with on their own and plan to add a few more things, though we don't leave them out there on their own too long...leaving them to their own devices for two long only leads to trouble, so when we're not actively supervising them, yes, they are crated.

Before we got the pups, we were fortunate to get two very good dogs from rescue (Ladybug,our nine year old was one of them, though she came straight from the SPCA). They were each about four years old, which is about the time when a Border Collie sort of calms down. It was a good age for us to bring an adult into the house and they soon became "our dog." No worries about loyalty there.

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#12 fox

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 08:49 PM

I always knew I couldn't get another dog yet, I have to wait until Cash is at least 12months old, most likely older.

All this info is really helpful :rolleyes:

My next dog will be a male BC, most likely a rescue, a young adult or puppy.

It sounds like they need AT LEAST an hour of good exercise a day, but a few need 2hours +
I want to rescue and having a basic idea of their personality will be good.

Later in life I want to do more with a BC, probably agility, obedience and herding

Then I will look at a reputable breeder, Im having trouble finding one I like (Im in New Zealand) The closest one I like is in Australia.

They are my heart breed, I have loved every one I have ever met

#13 fox

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 08:49 PM

I always knew I couldn't get another dog yet, I have to wait until Cash is at least 12months old, most likely older.

All this info is really helpful :rolleyes:

My next dog will be a male BC, most likely a rescue, a young adult or puppy.

It sounds like they need AT LEAST an hour of good exercise a day, but a few need 2hours +
I want to rescue and having a basic idea of their personality will be good.

Later in life I want to do more with a BC, probably agility, obedience and herding

Then I will look at a reputable breeder, Im having trouble finding one I like (Im in New Zealand) The closest one I like is in Australia.

They are my heart breed, I have loved every one I have ever met

#14 Shetlander

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 10:04 PM

It sounds like they need AT LEAST an hour of good exercise a day, but a few need 2hours +


I really don't agree with this stament. I don't think they need that much exercise every day at all, unless you've conditioned them to require that level of activity. On the other hand, if you personally want to be on the go for one, two or more hours a day and your dog is sound and finished growing, a Border Collie is a good choice for a companion. Even more than physical exercise, they need to be mentally stimualted through training, work, tasks, or simply being a part of your life. I bought Quinn with every intention of competing in agility and obedience with him. We trained for over a year, but I lost interest and even though I know he would have been a great sports dog, he's quite happy with his lot in life as a valued companion. Most days he gets 20 -30 minutes of fetch, total. He enjoys walks but they don't do much to tire him out and those are usually only about 30 -45 minutes and not every day. Then there are even days that he gets no exercise beyond a few laps around the yard on his own due to weather. And somehow he survives just fine. However, he is with me a great deal of the time and gets lots of interaction with me in specific and people in general.

I love that Quinn is ready to do whatever I ask whenever I ask it. I love how incredibly bright he is. He is probalby the most fun dog I've had. But he is also a very easy to live with dog who does not need tons of exercise. I know several other Border Collies and with the exception of one who is missing an off switch, they are like Quinn with lots of energy but good sense and not hyper at all.

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#15 Alaska

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 01:08 AM

I just keep finding myself wanting another dog

Everybody wants another dog. Most of us regularly surf rescue sites for entertainment. There's nothing wrong with that, but giving in to the temptation every time you see a cute puppy is not responsible.

The pup you already have needs your attention now. Once you've invested time in training him, once he's past adolescence, once you can honestly say that he's a well-behaved member of society...then is the time to consider adding another pup to your family. Sometimes fate drops a dog on our doorstep when the time isn't right and we can't in good conscience turn the dog away, but that's a different situation.

#16 muttlycrew

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:36 AM

I have a 2 year minimum rule for myself. A few months ago, the ages went 11.5, 9, 7, 5, 2. If I still had those same numbers and you added in my newest dog, she's 1.5. Kind of throws off that nice little list above, but in my defense the youngest had just turned 2 before the new one was added. :rolleyes:

I just feel like it is easier to bring in a new dog (regardless of age) once the current dogs are trained, under control, and know the rules. I couldn't imagine getting through house-training, chewing, basic manners/training, etc and then turning around and doing it all over again a few months later. But that's just me. :D

As I said before, I fostered a lot for BCR. This allowed me to see what their temperament, personality, etc was like before I committed. I wanted to know 150% what I was getting into. First and foremost the dog had to get along with all members of the pack, human/canine/feline. Second, I had to be able to tolerate the dog. As many people know, sometimes your personality and the dogs personality just don't mesh. :D
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#17 Sue R

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 08:02 AM

It's always important to remember that mental exercise is as important as, or more important than, physical exercise - and mental exercise can take your time in a one-on-one setting and can be supplemented with some "solitary" mental exercise.

Many dogs will get more tired from using their brains than using their bodies and that can be accomplished in working with you on obedience, tricks, hide-and-seek and find-it games, and similar interactive exercises and training. Some also can benefit from toys that challenge - kibble dispensers and other toys that require effort on the dog's part, that can occupy some "alone" time.

I concur with others - growing your pup and training him before adding another dog to the mix is the wisest approach.

Best wishes!
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#18 Mariji

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 05:54 AM

It's always important to remember that mental exercise is as important as, or more important than, physical exercise - and mental exercise can take your time in a one-on-one setting and can be supplemented with some "solitary" mental exercise.

Many dogs will get more tired from using their brains than using their bodies


Perfect! People look at me horrified when I tell them I don't walk my dogs. I have 3 Border Collies and I could walk them all day and they would still have energy to play. I like to invest a bit more time about tiring my dogs out by doing it mentally. I train a new trick, free shape or work on any agility/disc/obedience behaviours everyday. Its as simple as 30sec-2 mins a couple of times a day. I do take them out of the house so they aren't always at home. They would come to work with me, we go to training a couple of times a week, they are my demo dogs when I am instructing. We compete on the weekends and do demo's for the public.

They are very much mental type dogs and tire easily when they have to think. My puppy loves to run though so we will drop into the dog park every few days so she can have a pack of dogs chase her. But no routine walks, just have each other during the day pretty much. I lately have been seperating them for different reasons but they have supervised time together everyday and heaps of one on one time. You just have to have criteria for managing obsessions I think and I am particularly strict on obsessions so haven't had many develop at all.
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#19 BCkris

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 11:17 PM

Before i got my Lynus, i did tons of research on the breed etc. every single thing i read said LOTS and LOTS of exercise and mental stimulation. I have realized with my BC that mental stimulation is way more important than exercise. We go on walks maybe 3-4 times a week for around 30-45 minutes BUT do mental stimulation (obedience training) 10 minutes a day 2-3 times a day. He is a perfectly well behaved dog. This is just what i have learned with my particular dog. So yes for all dogs exercise is important, but i really do not think a BC is some sort of crazy breed that needs to run marathons everyday. Love, Mental stimulation and normal amount of exercise is all they need (at least thats what i think...)

#20 njnovice

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 11:28 PM

Before i got my Lynus, i did tons of research on the breed etc. every single thing i read said LOTS and LOTS of exercise and mental stimulation. I have realized with my BC that mental stimulation is way more important than exercise. We go on walks maybe 3-4 times a week for around 30-45 minutes BUT do mental stimulation (obedience training) 10 minutes a day 2-3 times a day. He is a perfectly well behaved dog. This is just what i have learned with my particular dog. So yes for all dogs exercise is important, but i really do not think a BC is some sort of crazy breed that needs to run marathons everyday. Love, Mental stimulation and normal amount of exercise is all they need (at least thats what i think...)


Yep, I'll do a few short training sessions a day, and usually do frisbee for about half an hour with Mick. Other than that, he occupies himself either by sleeping in the house, or on a nice day, he prefers to spend his day outside in the yard. He's learned how to throw the frisbee nearly the entire length of his chain my himself. He curls it up between his front paws, then whacks it with his nose from underneath, then he'll chase after it. He'll do that for about half an hour then spend his time rolling in the dirt and sunning his tummy.
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