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Why all the negativity?

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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

 

 

Location would have been a problem. London isn't typical BC territory in most peoples' eyes although there is actually a lot of open land for dogs to run, often more than there is in the country where land is occupied by stock. Battersea often move such dogs out to their branch at Old Windsor or to other parts of the country where adoption chances are higher. A friend of mine in Cumbria used to rehome for Battersea as working or agility prospects..She had her own sheep to test them on.

 

Sadly nowadays the staffie problem is countrywide so that isn't an option.

 

I don't know about long stayers languishing. I know plenty that have developed obsessive behaviours like circling and spinning or tail chewing. Either way, a lot of BC don't thrive in kennels if they don't get sufficient interaction time.

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Mum24dog, the friend you mention and others who are generally good with dogs but choose not to have border collies aren't the kinds of people I'm talking about. <_<

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Mum24dog, the friend you mention and others who are generally good with dogs but choose not to have border collies aren't the kinds of people I'm talking about. <_<

I think I do understand your POV, though. I teach several pet dog classes and am always amazed at the folks who get a dog and have no real desire to work with it or spend time with it. At 4 months they are calling desperate because their dogs are "out of control" and arrive at class expecting a magic wand will be waved and I can fix their dogs and make them calm and well-behaved with no effort whatsoever on their part.

 

When we talk about providing exercise and activity in the short, wet PNW winters and I suggest that their dogs will enjoy a walk even when its raining, or just to spend some 1-1 time hanging out playing and training simple things these are the folks who say they don't have time for that. Well, what were you thinking when you got a dog?

 

Luckily they are a small % of the people I see, but its still kind of stressful to see it.

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Mum24dog, the friend you mention and others who are generally good with dogs but choose not to have border collies aren't the kinds of people I'm talking about. <_<

 

What you said was

 

 

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.

 

The people I've described could not "live well with a border collie" for the simple reason that a BC would suit neither their lifestyle nor their personality.

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One "low maintenance" dog that comes to mind for me is the retired racing Greyhound. I've known a number of them. At the track they were crated over 20 of 24 hrs. and are habituated to chilling most of the time. When you take them out for exercise in a large, fenced area they will run like hell for half an hour after Frisbee, ball, or just charging around. Then they go home and take up a position on the sofa and crash. Yes, they love affection, but to most of the ones I've known are quite gratified to get their ears stroked several times a day or cuddle up with you while you watch a movie.

 

No Border Collie I've ever know would thrive under such a regime, Yes, they can chill for much of the day, but they need to use their brains and body every day, or they will likely find things to pass the time that aren't on your "want list."

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You all think you've seen negativity, but I got a BC pup--and then got surprised by being pregnant. As it is, there is NOTHING that draws more commentary than a baby bump ("you know girls/boys are tougher" "Wow, you're getting big! Are there two in there?" ). Throw my baby bump walking a border collie. People thought we were nuts. For that matter, so did we. We still get "your dog is going to herd your baby!" Sigh.

 

Fast forward two years. For our life and our family, I can't imagine any dog living with us besides our wonderful Pivo. Have we had our issues and challenges? Sure. We work on it. He is involved in just about every facet of our lives that he can be and knows our routine better than we do. He is loved so much by all members of the household (even the cantankerous cat is sold). But, we knew what we were getting. We knew that the quirks and weirdness were something we'd often enjoy and find endearing. Meanwhile, Pivo and our son have a bond that I can't even describe--and it was that way from the moment the baby came home from the hospital.

 

Finally, Pivo has NEVER "herded" our son. Yea, I do lots of smiling and nodding--when it comes to comments about the dog and the toddler (both separately and together).

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I beg to differ. I have been around plenty of Border Collies that do just that. They get their exercise playing a bit of ball, a bit of training, a bit of anything and hang out the rest of the time. I own a few of them.

 

I would have to lean towards the belief that yes, plenty of issues in the breed come from certain breeding. All the dogs I am talking about where strictly working bred. And that is not to say other bred Border Collies can't. This is just to say that this is all I have ever been around.

 

I also am going to lean towards the statement that people that can not/will not provide the most basic exercise should most certainly not get a Border Collie or any other dog. Whether the dog needs to walk for an hour a day or should because it is beneficial for them and their mental health no matter what breed is in my book, the same. It is interesting to me that it is so often mentioned to be careful to make sure you don't get a dog into the mindset of having to be entertained the whole time (phsically and mentally) and yet in the same forum read about how "high" maintenance a Border Collie is. To me personally, a well balanced, well bred, well raised, well genetically assembled Border Collie is one of the easiest dogs to own and live with. The best behaved dogs of any high drive breed are owned by totally normal and sane people that are only special in the way that they understand that owning any dog takes commitment. Past that, it takes only a preference of breed.

 

It is not the same a choosing to forgo a Border Collie because their energy or intensity is not for you. I would rather have a dozen Border Collies than one lab. I have fostered many breeds. I have owned three. BC's, GSD's and Mal's. Because they are so easy to train. Anything is game. And the stuff they get into because they are going to entertain themselves if not entertained....well, it sure is the same stuff any dog of any breed has ever gotten into around here for the same reason. With the Chi doing the least damage simply due to size. She can't reach as far or chew as fast.....

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The people I've described could not "live well with a border collie" for the simple reason that a BC would suit neither their lifestyle nor their personality.

 

You're still not getting what I'm saying. The people you're describing do well with their dogs. If a border collie landed in their laps, they could do well with it, too.

 

I'm talking about the kinds of people who've "gotten rid" of 3 or 4 dogs because they couldn't house train it, or it destroyed things or got into the garbage when it was left in the house alone, or it runs off because it doesn't get any exercise, or whatever the excuse of the day is, but the real problem is that they aren't willing to put any time into the dog. And then they say, "Oh, maybe I should get a border collie because they're so smart." Or people who've got kids who are totally hellions because they don't provide them any guidance, and they think that getting them an active breed of dog will keep them occupied, though they won't provide any more boundaries for the dog than they do for their kids. People like that aren't going to do well with a border collie because they're not going to do well with any kind of dog . . . and I've had way too many of this type of person asking me if a border collie would be a good choice for them. And my answer is always the same: No, but I don't think you'll do well with any kind of dog unless anduntil you realize they take time and commitment.

 

Thanks, G. Festrling, for getting it. ;)

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Thanks, G. Festrling, for getting it. ;)

I got it, too, but just didn't know quite how to say it.

 

Like rushdoggie, I have helped with classes and found there were two kinds of people, those who were willing to listen and learn, and invest time and effort and thought in their dogs - and they would do a good job and their dogs would do well. The other kind of person was the one who got a dog, wasn't really interested in listening to and learning from people who were giving proven and successful advice and training, and weren't really interested in putting in the time, effort, and thought into working with their pup/dog - and that poor animal would probably wind up either dreadfully behaved and a disaster in the house, out in a kennel or on a chain in the backyard, or dumped at the shelter or worse.

 

What complicates it is that people often get a totally inappropriate dog for their family and situation, or get a dog that's "smart so it will practically train itself". They are not helped by unscrupulous breeders/retailers who say, "Sure, this breed makes a terrific family pet" when that's not really true.

 

Others' mileage may vary but that's my opinion.

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I actually agree with all of you :) I think there is a third category of owner, they provide all the basics, they just don't engage with their dogs on an intellectual level. Most of my dog owning non-agility friends fit into this category, they provide basic training, their dogs are sort of mannered, and they thoroughly enjoy their company, they support rescues, BUT a border collie or any high drive intelligent dog would go nuts living with them because there is no partnership they really just don't engage their dogs.

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I also am going to lean towards the statement that people that can not/will not provide the most basic exercise should most certainly not get a Border Collie or any other dog.

And I don't think anyone here is disagreeing with that.

Whether the dog needs to walk for an hour a day or should because it is beneficial for them and their mental health no matter what breed is in my book, the same. It is interesting to me that it is so often mentioned to be careful to make sure you don't get a dog into the mindset of having to be entertained the whole time (phsically and mentally) and yet in the same forum read about how "high" maintenance a Border Collie is.

And this feels like we have branched into a black and white divide here.

 

Yes, you can turn an active dog into a non-stop monster machine of a dog by not teaching them to go chill out. And once a well bred, sane Border Collie gets into a groove of activity, fun and chill, they are easily to live with for those of us who post here.

 

But lets remember that folks here on the BC Boards are not terribly average pet owners. We tend to dote on our dogs and many of us really lead kind of dog centric lives. What is to me a low maintenance dog is to my neighbor dogs whose needs exceed their interests.

 

I don't think you can say that a dog like Border Collie, Malinois, working line GSD, Field bred GSP or Golden etc are the same as far as activity level and stimulation as a retired greyhound, Maltese, low energy mix breed, etc. The beauty of different types/breeds is dogs whose personalities and activity levels vary. I don't think I could live with a GSP or Malinois based on the dogs I have met. That doesn't make me a bad pet owner.

 

Gentle Lake, what you seem to have meant is not what you said. You said "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." I don't agree with that statement, but I understand (I think) what you were trying to say.

To me personally, a well balanced, well bred, well raised, well genetically assembled Border Collie is one of the easiest dogs to own and live with. The best behaved dogs of any high drive breed are owned by totally normal and sane people that are only special in the way that they understand that owning any dog takes commitment. Past that, it takes only a preference of breed.

To you. Not to everyone.

It is not the same a choosing to forgo a Border Collie because their energy or intensity is not for you. I would rather have a dozen Border Collies than one lab. I have fostered many breeds. I have owned three. BC's, GSD's and Mal's. Because they are so easy to train. Anything is game. And the stuff they get into because they are going to entertain themselves if not entertained....well, it sure is the same stuff any dog of any breed has ever gotten into around here for the same reason. With the Chi doing the least damage simply due to size. She can't reach as far or chew as fast.....

I could not live with a field bred Lab, or Mal or working GSD. I find my Border Collies easier to live with. But they still require more time/effort than other dogs.

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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?

You just gotta let them roll off. I faced the same comments I was when looking for my boy. It didn't take him long to warm everyone's heart and a couple who swore bc's are waaaaaay too much work, now have themselves a gorgeous little BC pup.

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I remember when I brought my then 9 week old border collie puppy to our vet for his first checkup, puppy shots etc. . .the lead vet there is a veteran vet with lots of equine and livestock expertise. Towards the end of our visit, she gives me this very serious look in my eyes and asks: "So what exactly are your plans for this dog?"

 

I mentioned that after basic obedience training I would start doing foundation work geared towards agility, wobble boards, rear end awareness, touch and target work, free shaping clicker work with box etc. . .and that my goal was to compete him in agility and flyball. . .

 

Her response was: "Good, these dogs NEED A JOB, or they will create their own jobs and you will not like that!"

 

She had a point and was basically correct. In retrospect I would have done a few things differently. I would have done more obedience training, worked much more on impulse control, set and enforced a "paws on the floor at all times" rule. And a few other "manners" type things. On the other hand I did get finally get an "off switch" on him. I say "take a break" and cross my hands, sort of like a baseball umpire giving a "your out" motion at home plate. But he has blossomed into a friendly, soft, but focused and biddable worker, and a nice family pet as well.

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I really appreciate the the perspective of Border Collie owners. Everyone at our agility class is excited that we are getting a puppy. I guess I just need to consider the source. The negitive comments have come from people who: 1) Don't have dogs. 2) Have a dog but think it is just fine to leave it in the backyard alone all day (and are surprised when they find out my GSD lives in the house and only goes outside to do his business or when we go out with him). 3) Have a dog that is overweight and bored and the owner complaines constantly about the poor animal.

 

Thank you to all who responded!

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I have had GSDs in the past. Their lineage was from Germany so they where a different then the American German Shepherds you see at the park. For the most part they where hard, driven, focused, dogs. When I started looking for a Border Collie I got the same comments, "you have no idea what you are getting yourself into". It made me a little nervous, now I am very glad I did not listen to these people. My Border Collie does not need any more mental stimuli or exercise then my GSDs did. If you have had working dogs you probably know what you are getting in to.



By the way not all Border Collies are soft or sensitive dogs. I would not consider my Border Collie a soft dog by any stretch.


Good luck. From my anecdotal experience Border Collies are great dogs.

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I am new to these boards and find them very informative and appreciate the knowledgeable posters participation. I will chime in with my experience though I am no expert.

 

I am raising my second border collie. I will admit I purchased my first girl from a local farmer because of how "smart" they were supposed to be. Once I read up and studied the breed I realized I may have gotten in over my head.

 

My first goal was to make sure she wasn't bored. I decided to participate in a non destructive activity that she liked to do as I had no time for agility etc.. I discovered she was fascinated by sticks. Our job each day was to collect the sticks in the yard and put them in a pile. Then one by one we would throw and fetch the sticks. This among other things seemed to keep her happy. I also noticed she was very smart and intuitive. She learned several commands just by be saying and pointing. The first time I pointed and said go lay down she did just that.

 

She also became very incorporated in my kid's lives and learned many games like hide and seek from them. Yes she did tend to herd children that were overly rambuctious in the house but that was her motherly nature. During those times she may have needed a time out in the crate but they were very few.

 

Murphy would look in my eyes and knew what to do. That was the connection we had.

 

Now I have a 4.5 month old rescue named Maisy. She is wonderful but very different from Murphy. I have a bond with her but discovered what she needs is structure and firmness. Where a quiet down girl would stop Murphy from jumping Maisy needs a more firm DOWN!

 

She is quite active and fascinated by the cats that live in our backyard and they have become her playmates as my wife's shih-tzu's want to part of her rambuctiousness. Murphy was house trained in 3 days and Maisy has taken about 6 weeks but is almost 100% there. I associate some of her housekeeping difficulties on the fact she was raised in a shelter with no mother (died 3 days after puppy birth).

 

My experience is BC's need an intuition from the owner about just what that dog needs and responds to, They need to be part of the family. They need daily interaction. I have raised and trained 3 German Shepards but have now "lived" with 2 Border Collies. That is my opinion you don't own them or train them. You live with them and make them part of your life and you will be rewarded like no other breed I have ever had in my home,

 

LD

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