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I'm considering getting a Border Collie

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I have been wanting to get a border collie for years and I finally feel like I might be in position to do so. I have done a ton of research on the breed, but I still have some questions relating to my particular situation. I am a college student living in a townhouse and my landlord has already approved me having a Border Collie here. My landlord actually used to live here too and he had his dog living with us. She was a black lab/husky mix and she did pretty well living in this environment. I ended up taking a lot of the responsibility for taking care of her. She was high energy, so I feel like that gives me some good experience with an energetic dog.

Anyway, I have a pretty open schedule so I can commit to 1.5 to 2 hours per day of exercising and training a dog. I would have to leave the dog home alone an average of 5 to 6 hours per day, though I do have two roommates so he/she wouldn't necessarily be alone that whole time. There is an enclosed dog park pretty close by that I would go to on a daily basis. I also plan to go running with him/her every morning.

So, I want to know if this is enough. In these circumstances, would I be able to give a Border Collie enough physical and mental stimulation? And would 5 to 6 hours a day be too much time alone?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

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Welcome!

 

I think you need to consider a few things:

 

First: 2 hours per day should suffice if you give a border collie what he needs: training & mental stimulation. Taking him / her running in the morning and then to the dog park in the afternoon will not cut it for most border collies. There are more laid back ones of course, that would do fine with this schedule, but a lot won't. You don't mention any formal training / herding / agility. Do you plan to incorporate that weekly / multiple times per week?

 

Second: A puppy is A LOT of work and being away from home 5-6 hours a day wont work in the first months. So you either need to make more time in your schedule, or adopt a grown dog (your roommates won't be the solution here, raising a puppy is a big job)

 

Third: You're in college now. When I was in college, I had lots of time too, and my schedule was very flexible. But what happens after college? Will you still have that flexible schedule and only 5-6 hours away from home?

 

If you are convinced that all these questions have answers that a Border Collie would be happy with,Go for it! Border collies, in the hands of people that know what they need, are the best dogs in the world.

 

Otherwise, I'd consider waiting a few years before making this commitment. It is in fact a lot of work, for hopefully 14-15 years :). Getting a dog and realising it doesn't work is terrible for you and even worse for your pup. So be very sure about this, before you go ahead. And if you do, go to a responsible breeder, that does health tests, and matches you to a puppy.

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I am not a breeder and have never bred a litter. but whether or not a breeder sells pups to non- working homes is a personal decision to each breeder and not universal, so I would look around and ask from folks that have dogs that suit you. In terms of whether or not a pup can work, well I think most folks would say it is pretty hard to determine that from a Pup. but genetics are tricky. You may have two very talented dogs where the cross was not a good cross and did not produce puppies that folks had hoped for. I have heard some folks say that some pups may not work, but I have heard other long time breeders of working dogs say that with the right cross, all of the puppies will work, but that doesn't guarantee that they will work in a manner that suits the breeder. When you are ready, you will find the right pup whether it is from working lines or not.

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I have worked with Border Collies and rescue for many years and when I would talk with a prospective owner, I always gave them this info which I found. I have nine BC's and nearly every word is true. I don't think it would be a good time right now. In the last two months my foundation had taken custody of 7 BC's and have two in our possession right now and every owner felt they could handle them when they got them.

 

"Border Collies are extremely intelligent and active dogs. Intelligence and hyperactivity are not characteristics that most people are capable of handling. Border Collies need constant attention and if they are not true working dogs, they need to be given "chores" and "tasks" around the home to serve as outlets for their boundless energy. If no outlet is given, they will find one on their own (generally one not desirable). Being smart allows them to learn quickly, not only how to behave but also how to get into trouble. It is not easy to "fool" a Border Collie into doing or not doing something. You must always be one step ahead of them and sometimes it isn't so easy. The hyperactivity is also something you must think long and hard about. Some individuals are certainly calmer and less active than others but the breed as a whole, because of their breeding goals, is highly active. If you live in a small apartment or have no place to run the dog in wide open spaces, I think another breed of dog would be better suited for your circumstances. If you want a dog that lies around the house most of the time, is rarely noticed, and is generally unobtrusive, then a Border Collie is not for you. They demand (literally demand) lots of attention and lots of activity. If you do not have the time or energy to devote to the dog, then there are better choices."

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Well, I will respectfully disagree with what Kenbo has said, above.

Border collies do not "need constant attention". No dog needs constant attention. If that were the case, no one who owns a border collie could hold down a job, go out for dinner, raise kids, or live a normal life.

The fact is that if you give a border collie constant attention, you may create a dog who needs constant attention, but that will have been your doing.

 

The fact also is that border collies were bred to work stock, and to work closely with their human beings. This has made them very energetic, and very intelligent and biddable. They need to have enough exercise and enough mental stimulation and enough time with their person. But working dogs are by no means given "constant attention". They go out and work, then they have nothing to do for a while, then maybe they go out and work again, and then they chill out again.

 

Border collies are not by any means all hyperactive, in fact most of them are not. Well bred working dogs are not hyperactive. They are also not always demanding, even if very athletic and energetic. That depends on the individual personality.

 

I have lived with a young, active, working-bred border collie in one room in a large city while working full time. Now, I will follow that by saying that literally all of my spare time was spent with the dog, but that was because that is how I wanted to spend my time, not because that is what he absolutely required. I have fostered border collies for years, and have allowed people in circumstances similar to the OP's to adopt dogs.

 

It all depends on the individual dog and the person. My main concern, were I to be considering adopting out a dog to the OP is wondering what would happen after school was over and it is time to join the work force. Will there be a move? What hours will be necessary to work? And so on. But, again, if the owner is truly dedicated to the dog, it can all work. I saw nothing in the original post that indicated that the poster wanted a dog who "lies around, is rarely noticed, and is generally unobtrusive". He or she sounds to me like someone who would devote a lot of time to a dog. If this is true, then there's no particular reason you should not give a home to a border collie.

 

I would, however, like to make a strong case for going through a rescue organization rather than getting a puppy. Get a young adult, already house trained. The foster person can tell you what that dog's personality is and you will get matched up with a dog who will suit you and vice versa. A puppy is always a crap shoot.

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I totally agree with D'Elle. If there were a Like button, I'd be clicking on it.

Thank you, Gentle Lake. That is a very nice compliment.

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I think a border collie would be fine for you if you're read for a high energy dog, but it isn't necessarily just physically high energy. They are busy little mathematicians that need problems to solve, or they will create them on their own so they can solve them.

 

One day (on my dog's "day off" from working sheep), we did this:

1. Bikejoring (1 hr, 5 miles)

2. Swimming (throwing a ball from a dock into the water, 1 hr)

3. Following after a car, me in the car, him on foot (another couple of miles, probably about 45 minutes)

 

So on that day, he got probably 2 and a half hours of hard exercise. He came home, and slept for about twenty minutes, then got up to ask if we needed to move the sheep. He hates his days off with a burning passion. Unless he's been mentally stimulated to his satisfaction (ie working, something that intensively uses his brain), the busy isn't taken out of him. I would say to own this breed, you have to realize there are demands that only physical exercise won't satisfy.

 

That said, they are by far the best dogs you could ever own.

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I think a border collie would be fine for you if you're read for a high energy dog, but it isn't necessarily just physically high energy. They are busy little mathematicians that need problems to solve, or they will create them on their own so they can solve them.

 

One day (on my dog's "day off" from working sheep), we did this:

1. Bikejoring (1 hr, 5 miles)

2. Swimming (throwing a ball from a dock into the water, 1 hr)

3. Following after a car, me in the car, him on foot (another couple of miles, probably about 45 minutes)

 

So on that day, he got probably 2 and a half hours of hard exercise. He came home, and slept for about twenty minutes, then got up to ask if we needed to move the sheep. He hates his days off with a burning passion. Unless he's been mentally stimulated to his satisfaction (ie working, something that intensively uses his brain), the busy isn't taken out of him. I would say to own this breed, you have to realize there are demands that only physical exercise won't satisfy.

 

That said, they are by far the best dogs you could ever own.

 

 

While it is great you do all of this with your dog, I don't think it's the best schedule to advise to a new unexperienced BC owner (especially the car part??) :)

 

Ionre, if you take away one thing it should be this: Exercising the mind trumps exercising the body. If you constantly run your dog for hours a day, he / she will build up stamina and expect this schedule every day. In my opinion, hyperness is NOT a characteristic of the breed. But inexperience, combined with a rigorous exercise schedule, has a high likelihood of leading to a hyper dog. So do agility or do obedience, or go herding once or twice a week. Incorporate trick training into your daily routine, and walk your dog the same amount you'd walk a regular working breed like a labrador.

 

D'Elle gave great advice. I'd be hitting that like button too

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I also would not advice, especially a new border collie owner, to encourage their dog to chase a car! I just cannot picture why anyone would drive their car around for 45 minutes for the purpose of the dog chasing the car.

 

I agree too, that most border collies, including my own, do not need 3 hours of rigorous fetching and chasing cars. I agree with Dutch above. Work the mind and teach a good settle. Physical exercise is great, but a combination of mental and physical will keep your dog calm and balanced in your home.

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I apologise for the misunderstanding. I was not trying to give a formula for what you must do with your border collie. The car goes down a dirt road we have to drive and the dogs go out of it. They run in front, not behind, not chasing, I follow them. When it's time to come in, I stop, get out and call them and they all come. They are running in front of the car at about ten miles an hour and all stay on the dirt road so it's enjoyable for all of us.

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Thanks for the advice everybody :)
One thing I learned from living with my roommate's dog for a year and a half is that plenty of human interaction and mental stimulation was more effective than exercise when it came to keeping her hyperness under control, though I know both are very important. It is good to get all of your points of view on this, it sounds like Border Collies are pretty adaptable to their owners just as long as they're given adequate attention.
When I do decide to get one, I plan to devote at least as much time to training and obedience as to exercise. Of course, I will adapt to the dog's personality and make adjustments as necessary.
Also, I know my short term future is pretty unclear at the moment being a college student, but having a dog has always been a big deal to me. I know I will probably have less flexibility in my schedule in after I graduate next year, but I intend to make the responsibilities of caring for a dog a higher priority than the average dog owner. I have been in love with Border Collies for years and have always known that owning one would take a higher level of commitment than for most dogs. I am at a point in my life where I feel like owning a dog would be really good for me and I think I am finally in a position where I could give a dog a good life in return.

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When you go through a rescue, they usually already have a good idea on temperament and what would be a good home and lifestyle for them.

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Also, I know my short term future is pretty unclear at the moment being a college student, but having a dog has always been a big deal to me. I know I will probably have less flexibility in my schedule in after I graduate next year, but I intend to make the responsibilities of caring for a dog a higher priority than the average dog owner. I have been in love with Border Collies for years and have always known that owning one would take a higher level of commitment than for most dogs. I am at a point in my life where I feel like owning a dog would be really good for me and I think I am finally in a position where I could give a dog a good life in return.

 

This sounds like a border collie owner to me :)

 

Still, do consider the fact that even though you want to your dog to have the highest priority, you might end up in a situation where that's not possible, e.g. fulltime job with lots of travel time, needing to move into the city with no good areas for running and training your dog. If you think this will not happen, then go for it!

 

And don't underestimate border collie puppies. Yes, very cute, but holy cr*p on a cracker, they're a lot of work. And you won't know what you've got until she/he is grown. Consider getting a rescue. Lots of border collies out there looking for someone that understands the breed.

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I'm sure this isn't what you want to hear, but as someone who really really wanted a dog in college, but waited until I'd been out for a few years, I'm really glad I went that route. Even if you are completely committed to the dog and manage to be a great owner as you transition out of college, it will likely end up being at the expense of other things you would like to do. There are a lot of things that make sense for someone who just graduated that are really hard to do if you've got a dog--things like doing an internship where you make little money, working long hours at a new job to get up to speed, doing a master's or professional degree program, etc. Not to mention you will likely be moving, searching for apartments, finding new roommates, and all of that. It's way easier to get settled in and then work to make your lifestyle accommodate a dog than it is to go through a big transition like that while taking care of an existing dog (e.g., many bosses will be happy to let an employee they know and trust work from home, but might be more reluctant to let someone who just started, if you need temporary housing while you check out a new city you don't need to worry about what to do with your dog during that time, etc.).

 

And of course there is the financial side of things--being able to work for six months or a year and establish some savings might be really helpful before getting a dog. There are all the routine food and supplies expenses, but there are also things like emergency vet bills (mitigated if you get insurance), fees for training or behavioralist visits, cost of arranging care when you're traveling, plus if you want to do stuff like herding or agility lessons that adds up fast too. Even knowing this I was absolutely shocked at how much we spent on our dog in the first year we had her. Make a budget, and then allocate about twice that much, because you really never know what's coming down the line.

 

It sounds like you're going to be an amazing dog owner, and a border collie could be a great fit for you. If you do decide to do this now, I'm sure you can make it work, since it sounds like you're fully committed. But another option would be to volunteer with a local shelter or rescue and get your doggie fix that way for the time being. This can be a great way to get more experience with the breed and a better understanding of what you're looking for in a dog. Foster homes are hugely important in saving dogs' lives, and you get a lot of experience without taking on the longterm time and financial commitments. Then when you graduate, you can take a few months to get everything lined up, so that once you get your own dog everything is in order.

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So, my dogs have never been that busy or needed that much exercise once they get through adolescence. I take all my dogs on adventures of 1-3 hours 3 or 4 times a week. An adventure is stockwork, or a long off leash walk at the river, or a long on leash hike around the lake, or a meet up with friends and their dogs for a romp.

 

Other days they get 20 minutes of yard time while I poop scoop or attend a class as a demo dog.

 

But what they do get, and what I think Border Collies need is LOTS of time with me. When I get home from work its me and them. We hang out, we work in the yard, we nap together, I have long conversations with them, my husband and I pile on the couch with them and have snuggle time.

 

Yes they need exercise, and they like training and thinking and to run amuck and be "just dogs" but mostly they just want to be with me.

 

This has been true of the Border Collies, the Golden, the Dals, the SIbes, the Papillons and the random mixes that I have shared my life with for the last 25 years.

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And of course there is the financial side of things--being able to work for six months or a year and establish some savings might be really helpful before getting a dog. There are all the routine food and supplies expenses, but there are also things like emergency vet bills (mitigated if you get insurance), fees for training or behavioralist visits, cost of arranging care when you're traveling, plus if you want to do stuff like herding or agility lessons that adds up fast too. Even knowing this I was absolutely shocked at how much we spent on our dog in the first year we had her. Make a budget, and then allocate about twice that much, because you really never know what's coming down the line.

 

This is so true. We underestimated the financials too. We spent SO MUCH money haha. I guess in terms of costs Border Collies are high up on the list, considering they need lots of formal training, and the gear that comes with that.

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I work a sometimes long, sometimes nothing and very erratic schedule, and live alone. Days that I work from home are pretty easy, days that I've spent 3 hours commuting after 7 hrs of work are difficult. Having a bc to care for adds to the length of the day, for sure. I've had to cancel work because my dog got sick and that means lost income. The thing about the unexpected is that it always happens - we just don't know when or how bad.

 

If there's any way you can care for a dog, preferably a bc, for at least 2 weeks, you'll have a better idea of what it's like. You'll be able to make a more informed decision. Maybe somebody needs a dog sitter for that long, or maybe there's a short term foster available?

 

There's no teacher like experience. And thank you for asking, instead of rushing off to get a puppy. You score some big points there.

 

Good luck, please let us know how you get on.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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MeMeow posted almost my exact thoughts. Please re-read her post.

 

Financials

Unknown future work schedule

Unknown future housing

Financials

 

If I was in your situation, I would slow up a bit and really consider volunteering at a shelter to get my doggie fix, expand my knowledge of dog behavior and training and keep my options.

 

Other than that, you sound like you have done a good job thinking through this decision.

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