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Why all the negativity?

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A couple of months ago I decided to get a Border Collie for my daughter to train in agility. My daughter is 11 and is very excited so she has been telling everyone that we are getting a puppy. As soon as people find out we are getting a Border Collie the negative comments begin. "Wow, you are in for it! Border Collies have a ton of energy." ..... "You are going to have to walk that dog ALL THE TIME!" .... "Border Collies nip at heels. There is nothing you can do about it. They always nip!"

 

I have raised four puppies in my life. Two Miniature Schnauzers, two German Shepherds so I am not new to dog ownership. I have done a lot of research about Border Collies. My daughter takes agility classes with our German Shepherd and the instructor has a Border Collie and we know a few people with Border Collies so we will have plenty of support in raising our puppy.

 

How do I counter all this negativity? Or do I just roll my eyes and carry on?

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Yep, just roll your eyes and carry on! Actually, just train the dog to be awesome - an awesome pet and an awesome agility partner - then many of those negative Nellies will turn jealous. She who laughs last, ....

 

What you have encountered is pretty common. I, and many others, have similar stories. There are a lot of misconceptions about border collies in the general dog-owning public. (Heck, even my vet had some warnings for me when I brought my pup in.) Some of these I encourage (need a LOT of exercise, hyper, etc.) since I don't think that a border collie is a dog for everyone. I don't necessarily want to promote them to the wrong person.

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You've come to the right place. You will find wonderful support and help here, and I'm confident your daughter will have a great relationship with her Border Collie. Please keep us posted. When faced with all those negative comments, just smile and say "Why thank you". :-)

 

Very best wishes,

 

Amy

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I am personally glad that a lot of people have that attitude. My biggest fear is that BC's will gain in popularity and the same things that have happened to the Pits, Bulldogs, and some other very over-bred breed populations, happens. I have no desire to see the BC's have the same things happen to them that has happened to every other breed that has suddenly become very popular. I believe the BC is the finest herding breed ever created and I don't want to see it ruined by popularity and all the ills that go along with it.

 

So I would just nod my head at their pre-conceived notions and let it go in one ear and out the other.

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Thank you for the encouragement! I have met some wonderful Border Collies that don't seem to have the horrible "issues" that everyone is warning me about. My daughter has been making up schedules and is planning to get up early to play with our puppy outside before the temperatures get too hot this summer and has been working on training with our cat (that has not been working well)!

 

I have really enjoyed the Border Collies I have met in our agility class. They seem so happy to work with their people and love agility. Unlike my German Shepherd who only does agility because he wants to please his people (I attempted to get my daughter to do obedience with our dog but she loves agility).

 

Dragoon 45. I understand the fear of the popular breed. My husband researched very carefully before purchasing our German Shepherd. We did not want a poor, back leg shuffle, curved back, dog that is popular at dog shows. Our Border Collie puppy is from a ranch with no AKC affiliation. I have read "The Dog Wars" and am very sad at what happens when a breed becomes popular.

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Here's what I do. If its someone I won't be seeing often, I just smile and nod.

 

If its someone I see regularly, I agree that Border Collies aren't for everyone and say I am prepared to give this dog plenty of training and mental and physical exercise. If I'm feeling ornery and I have some time, I go into a long detailed explanation about the history of Border Collies, how they are purpose bred working dogs, and how irresponsible and/or ignorant people are most often to blame for the issues that arise...not letting the person get more than a word or two in during this long explanation. Unless the person is a true obsessed dog lover, usually they don't bring up Border Collies again...ever. :-)

 

Not all Border Collies love agility, but many do. My Meg is like your German Shepherd. She like going to agility class because she gets to ride in the car and gets play with her 'boyfriend' (an Aussie) afterward, but the actual agility is just ok. She prefers Frisbee and Rally. I like agility and hope to get another Border Collie pup to train when the time is right. For now, Meg humors me and I try to keep it fun for her. We're taking a break for a while though because I started a second job and we both have to adjust to my schedule change.

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I wish my parents had listened to the naysayers. They got in over their head with a nervous/fearful dog who basically became unhandlable.

 

Most 'average pet owners' aren't a good fit for a BC, and the negativity reflects that. I'd be surprised if you got much of that reaction from agility handlers.

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Dear Doggers,

 

I am on record saying that Border Collies are difficult pets. I will continue saying so. Many wouldbe pet owners aren't animal savvy and what our culture believes about dogs is mostly guff. Border Collies are intelligent, athletic workaholics. While they can be exceptional companions for those willing to put in some time and effort they aren't "easy" dogs.

 

I'd much rather have a potential owner disagree with me, study up and ask questions and conclude that "Donald McCaig is a damned idiot" before buying a pup than getting a Border Collie because "aren't they the most intelligent dog?" or "They're so quick at agility."

 

 

 

 

My friend Margot Woods says, "Border Collies are 'incident critical'. If you make a training mistake, they'll repeat it three times and commit it to long term memory before you know what's happening."

 

 

Donald McCaig

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As others have said the perception of border collies is a good thing, I run into all the time out one walks and I do as others do, just nod. I am a pet home first, and compete in agility and all of my 3 border collies have been great pets, intresting, quirky and very well behaved, I have also had some great foster dogs who live very happy pet lives.

As Mr McCaig says above the problem is they go bad easily, you are an experienced home, already train dogs as a hobby, own another intelligent quirky breed, I am sure you will have no problems.

I have fostered and owned dogs who's owners loved their dogs but could not figure what made a border collie tick and as a consequence they devolp weird quirks many of which go away or become manageable once they live with people who understand them.

As for the amount of exercise they need that is pure myth... They will run for ever if you let them, but they adapt to what ever you give them (within reason) but if you do run them forever that is what they will expect and need.

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Dear Doggers,

 

I am on record saying that Border Collies are difficult pets. I will continue saying so. Many wouldbe pet owners aren't animal savvy and what our culture believes about dogs is mostly guff. Border Collies are intelligent, athletic workaholics. While they can be exceptional companions for those willing to put in some time and effort they aren't "easy" dogs.

 

I'd much rather have a potential owner disagree with me, study up and ask questions and conclude that "Donald McCaig is a damned idiot" before buying a pup than getting a Border Collie because "aren't they the most intelligent dog?" or "They're so quick at agility."

 

 

 

 

My friend Margot Woods says, "Border Collies are 'incident critical'. If you make a training mistake, they'll repeat it three times and commit it to long term memory before you know what's happening."

 

 

Donald McCaig

 

 

Our BC is the 6th dog of this period of my dog owning life and that was deliberate. It took me years to decide I was ready to tackle one having learned from all my previous and varied other dogs how to address issues that may arise and having learned from the many BCs I had come across what those issues may be. Most are not first dogs IME but still perfect pet BCs for the inexperienced can be found.

 

Whenever we do an agility demo we always stress that BCs are not necessarily the best breed if you just want an average pet dog, despite what the audience can see us doing with them. We live in an area where most BCs available are from working stock so it's particularly important to advise potential impulse buyers against getting one. Fortunately most of the audience don't need telling because they are from the same farming area and know the score.

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Bored, intelligent animals find things to keep their minds occupied; what they decide to focus on may not be what you want them to focus on.

 

 

For those who want to be engaged with their dogs (mentally and physically), Border Collies can be great pets.

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My friend Margot Woods says, "Border Collies are 'incident critical'. If you make a training mistake, they'll repeat it three times and commit it to long term memory before you know what's happening."

I like to call them handler mistake amplifiers.

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For whatever it's worth I am a first time dog owner with a border collie. Truth be told I'd always wanted a german shepherd but I was extremely worried that, as a novice handler, I'd risk screwing something up with the guarding instinct of the breed. I decided to go with a border collie after lots of research and I'm certain now that I didn't make my life any easier. :rolleyes:

 

So, having now raised a BC puppy, with no other experience to compare it to, my best guess is that these dogs are just a much larger time commitment compared to many other breeds. It's not just exercise, although that's a big part of it, but it's also training, structure, play and plenty of quality time spent with the dog.

 

When Camden was a puppy most people I encountered gave me the same negative feedback you are getting. There was a lot of "what have you gotten yourself into!?" and "good luck, 'cause it's gonna be a wild ride" comments. Everyone assumed I was defeated from the start.

 

The really fascinating thing to me is now that he's a little older (nearly 2 yo), has some pretty darn good manners and is extremely attentive to me the comments I get are totally different!! Now I hear "those dogs are so wonderful to train" or "that's one of the best breeds out there" and even "I love those dogs, they are so cool"!

 

I feel like people judge the breed based on the dog in front of them. You sound more then qualified to be a BC owner and I think your daughter's enthusiasm is just awesome! I'd hasten to guess that once your awesome puppy is a well trained dog and running agility with your daughter like a champion, all those nay sayers will suddenly have a different take on the breed. B)

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I haven't run into a lot, but I have run into some negativity. Some "you're getting a Border Collie puppy?!!!?" attitude. (In the tone of: are you nuts?!!?)

 

These aren't total strangers, either. I'd understand that. These are people who have seen me and my dogs going around together for years. (To be clear - all of my actual friends are 100% supportive and didn't expect me to be looking for anything else).

 

I guess some people assume that I'd be running screaming to another breed by now!!! Ummmmm . . . no!! :P

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I am on record saying that Border Collies are difficult pets. I will continue saying so.

Much depends of what people understand by the word "pet".

The average border collie expects to be a partner, not a "pet".

For those who want to be engaged with their dogs (mentally and physically), Border Collies can be great pets.

Exactly and let me repeat: "mentally and physically", but the average dog owners idea of what "pet" means probably doesn't reach up to that level. For those people, a border collie is not a good choice.

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I'm in complete agreement with everyone who says that border collies aren't necessarily the best dog for the less-than-savvy pet owner.

 

However, I also firmly believe that most people who can't live well with a border collie really aren't well suited to have any dog at all. Beyond that, yes, border collies may require somewhat more interaction -- partnership, really -- with their people, a bit more physical and mental stimulation, but really, all dogs need that. My own personal experience has been that the border collies I've lived with have been easier to live with than the non-borer collies and border collie mixes. But, then, I've always been invested in my dogs and they're an integral part of my life, family members more than "just pets."

 

So, I've never agreed with the people who say you can't be a good home for a border collie if you don't have sheep, or live in a city or an apartment. It may require a bit more work, but for someone who's invested in their dogs it can be doable, and a very rewarding experience. But, if you want a couch potato of a dog that you don't have to do much with, a border collie's not for you. Actually, in that case I'd recommend a stuffed dog over a living, breathing, emotional being of a dog of any breed. It's just not fair to a dog -- any dog -- to be something you pay attention to only when it's convenient.

 

I based my original comment in this thread to someone who seemed pretty dog savvy and had done her research. I would have answered someone who seemed like a real novice differently.

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Much depends of what people understand by the word "pet".

The average border collie expects to be a partner, not a "pet".

 

Exactly and let me repeat: "mentally and physically", but the average dog owners idea of what "pet" means probably doesn't reach up to that level. For those people, a border collie is not a good choice.

You have summed up everything that I always try to explain to people about living with border collies they are our partners. I have friends with labs, they are good dog owners, love their dogs, take them for walks etc but they are not enagaged with them in the same way most of us are, personally I find their a dogs a PIA, lacking in manners, if they had a border collie, their house would have been dismantled as the dog would have been bored out of its mind, their labs are happy if rude lumps.

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Dear Doggers,

 

My friend Vicki Hearne loved the big terriers but after seeing sheepdogs work she bought a pup from me. Vicki was a Koehler trainer and began training with the lunge line, where the dog learns to pay attention to its owner by owner taking off briskly in one direction as the dog elects another. When line comes taut, the dog gets a jerk. After several corrections, dogs do learn to pay attention to what their owner is doing.

 

Border Collie Kep was jerked once and everafter trotted at Vicki's heel. Vicki was wasn't real happy at how easily Kep was trained.She admired dogs for "gameness" and "independent spirit". Dogs that'd flip you the bird.

 

Kep spent the rest of his life as Vicki's training helper dog - but Vicki would have preferred a hard-headed, hard to train challenging terrier.

 

De gustibus and all that.

 

Donald McCaig

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In general, no matter what the breed, the more you invest in your dog (time, effort, education, interaction, respect) the better the relationship will be and the better the dog will be in most any situation. Many people don't invest much time or effort once the brand-new-cute-puppy phase wears off, often within days - and then they wonder why their pet is not reliably house-trained, is ill-mannered, or is boredom looking for trouble. Any many of those medium to large dogs wind up alone in a yard, in a chain-link kennel, or on a chain. Or, if it's a small dog, as an abominable spoiled brat that rules the house.

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However, I also firmly believe that most people who can't live well with a border collie really aren't well suited to have any dog at all. Beyond that, yes, border collies may require somewhat more interaction -- partnership, really -- with their people, a bit more physical and mental stimulation, but really, all dogs need that. My own personal experience has been that the border collies I've lived with have been easier to live with than the non-borer collies and border collie mixes. But, then, I've always been invested in my dogs and they're an integral part of my life, family members more than "just pets."

 

I don't really agree with this. There are some people who don't know how to deal with soft or sensitive dogs but are good pet owners who like to do things with their dogs. My parents have large acreage, went out running or hiking with their BC daily, taught him an impressive number of tricks but never got a handle on basic counter-conditioning of things like 'getting a towel anywhere near you' or 'putting flea meds on your neck'. It didn't help that their lab-owner friends gave them advice like 'just hold him down and do it' (that one led to a sizable puncture wound). It also didn't help that they wouldn't give up free-feeding and couldn't stick to anything like NILIF at all.

 

This may just be an outlier anecdote. But I've seen a higher percentage of BCs react horribly to shelter stress than any other breed I can think of - even chihuahuas. The flip side of the high intelligence and bidability in some dogs is a higher tendency to generalize bad experiences and more issues with fear and reactivity, not just the bored destruction that people focus on.

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With all due respect, I don't think an example of people who didn't know how do deal with certain situations and fell prey to hardline advice negates my belief. There are many other sensitive dogs -- both breeds and individuals -- besides border collies. They may indeed have done well with some other dogs, which might not qualify them as some of the people I was talking about who probably shouldn't have a dog at all. Keep in mind I used a qualifier -- I said "most" people who don't do well with border collies probably wouldn't do well with any kind of dog at all, not "all".

 

And, yes, border collies are sadly more prone to most to developing shelter shock. But how does that make them harder to live with?

 

As for the fear and reactivity, I blame bad breeding for most of that. But I don't think that there's necessarily more reactivity in border collies than in a lot of breeds, especially not dog-dog reactivity. Go to any sheepdog trial and you'll see tons of loose border collies and very, very few scuffles (if any) among them. Try going to a dog park where there are all kinds of dogs and see if you observe the same thing.

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Dear Doggers,

The last time I was in London ( before the pit bull scourge) Border Collies were the Battersea Dog's Home's biggest problem. One staffer explained, "They're hard to adopt out and after six months they're harder and many simple languishe and die."

 

Donald McCaig

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However, I also firmly believe that most people who can't live well with a border collie really aren't well suited to have any dog at all. Beyond that, yes, border collies may require somewhat more interaction -- partnership, really -- with their people, a bit more physical and mental stimulation, but really, all dogs need that. My own personal experience has been that the border collies I've lived with have been easier to live with than the non-borer collies and border collie mixes. But, then, I've always been invested in my dogs and they're an integral part of my life, family members more than "just pets."

 

Well, I can't say that I totally agree with that. There's lots of dog who enjoy a life of couch sitting, short daily on lead walks and plenty of quiet 1-on-1 time. I have lots of friends with smaller, or quieter dogs who enjoy a more sedentary and less interactive life. My busy dogs (BC and Paps) like a busy life and need more than just a daily walk for exercise and to hang out with me. My neighbor's Maltese wouldn't like that.

 

Thats not ignoring the dog, mind you, just not providing what a busy, active, smart dog needs.

 

 

 

So, I've never agreed with the people who say you can't be a good home for a border collie if you don't have sheep, or live in a city or an apartment. It may require a bit more work, but for someone who's invested in their dogs it can be doable, and a very rewarding experience. But, if you want a couch potato of a dog that you don't have to do much with, a border collie's not for you. Actually, in that case I'd recommend a stuffed dog over a living, breathing, emotional being of a dog of any breed. It's just not fair to a dog -- any dog -- to be something you pay attention to only when it's convenient.

This I totally agree with. Even a quiet and sedentary type of dog needs plenty of attention.

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I'm in complete agreement with everyone who says that border collies aren't necessarily the best dog for the less-than-savvy pet owner.

 

However, I also firmly believe that most people who can't live well with a border collie really aren't well suited to have any dog at all.

 

 

Another one here who thinks that is rather a harsh judgement. I know plenty of people whose dogs lead involved and active lives who wouldn't touch a BC with a barge pole. They like what they have in their own choice of dog but just don't want to share their lives with a BC.

 

One particular friend has been training dogs and people forever and has had a succession of GSDs, Springers and BTs but they day you see her with a BC will be the day hell freezes over. She can help people live with their own BCs but doesn't want to live with one herself.

 

As for the average pet owner, I think my next door neighbours are pretty typical. They are on their 3rd Rough Collie since we moved here and each one has had no training to speak of and has just had a regular walk at 10 am each day. I don't doubt for a moment that a BC would drive them nuts with its demands but their dogs have all been well cared for members of the family.

 

I don't see the problem with people who recognise that a BC (or any other breed) probably isn't the dog for them.

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