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Serenstar

Border collie activity/stimulation levels

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Hello

I've recently become the owner of a border collie who is now 10.5 weeks old. I have read everywhere that these dogs need constant mental and physical stimulation or become "destructive". However I've not seen this with my girl. She is very laid back. I do spend some time each day deliberately playing with her, and have taught her to go to her bed, to lie down and begun to teach her to fetch, though she seems to only get this intermittently for some reason. But I am not constantly stimulating her mentally. Maybe a couple of hours per day. She's also been left alone for a couple of hours with no ill effects. I suppose my question is, do they vary in their need for stimulation? She is so far too young to go for walks as hasn't had all her vaccinations, but we do run about the house together. As soon as I'm able I will take her to the park so she can run about on a long lead at first, later she will be doing coastal walks with me. Her parents were working dogs but they seemed very laid back, and when I spoke to the breeder they said that the mum and dad were very relaxed and that collies can be happy as house pets. I have never had a collie before and reading all the stuff about they can become destructive has worried me as I thought that maybe she will suddenlty one day start destroying things and biting me without warning... 

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Border collies, like all dogs, need  mental and physical stimulation in order to thrive.  Dogs vary in how much stimulation they need, and border collies generally require more stimulation (especially mental) than dogs that weren't intensively selected to do complex work in close partnership with humans.  But no dog, including border collies, requires constant stimulation, and over-stimulation can lead to as many problems as under-stimulation.   You will likely find that as your puppy gets a few months older she will want more time and attention from you, and may (or may not) become less laid back.   Continue with training and playing games and  providing a reasonable amount of physical exercise.  But it is equally important that your pup learn to chill out and not demand to be the center of your universe at all times.  Really, it sounds like you are doing great.   By all means continue to have her spend increasing amounts of time by herself in a safe place like an X-pen or crate with a couple toys to amuse herself.  You don't want to neglect her, but you also don't want a puppy that grows into a dog that can't be left alone for a few hours while you go about your life.  And don't delay taking your puppy out in the world for too long.  I understand the risk of exposing puppies who haven't yet developed immunity to a variety of serious diseases, but keeping a young dog too secluded is risky too.  If you can take her places that aren't frequented by lots of dogs, and keep her from sniffing other dog's poop, begin taking her on short excursions now.   If nothing else, at least take her places where you can carry her,  so that she can begin experiencing new sights and sounds now.  And, as an added protection, if you do let her down on the ground in reasonably safe areas, you can wipe her paws with a disinfectant when play time is over.

Also, people on this boards can get very cranky if you tease us with posts about puppies and then fail to provide adorable pictures for us to swoon over.  :)

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Congratulations on your puppy!

I think the internet has made you overly anxious.  Your puppy is just a baby, at this age they sleep a lot!  Relax, you are doing fine.

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Hi there. I'm new to the forum and not sure how to post pics yet... I will do some soon! Thank you for your advice, both of you. Well I also had a rather unpleasant former BC owner who I met in person making rude comments about her need for stimulation which worried me, and perhaps led me to be a bit too rough with her at times, tickling her to excess, poor doggie. She does have two "boxes" which are basically beds in old suitcases which she happily sits and sleeps in. I think that your advice, hooper2, is really helpful, as I agree, a clingy older dog is no good, and also, I'm interested that you recommend taking her out already, she has been to a few friends homes where they have dogs who have been vaccinated, but not out in "public" as such. Disinfectant wipes is a good idea. Thanks. 

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Welcome to the Boards.

Good response from Hooper2. Many, many constantly hyped up dogs are created by too much stimulation, not from lack of it.

Thank your lucky stars you've got a more laid back pup. They're so much easier than the ones who need constant attention. I'm guessing you're in the UK. Too bad because otherwise I'd be asking you for the breeders' contact info. ;)

The most important period for socialization is between 4 to 16 weeks. IIRC I remember reading that the most critical age was something like between 8-12 weeks old. So don't short shift her in this this very important developmental stage. The risk of having an undersocialized puppy growing into a dog with behavioral issues is every bit as important as that of a puppy getting sick.

Be careful, yes, but don't fall for all the overblown hype about risk of infection. Some good info here: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2014/01/06/puppy-socialization-class.aspx Quoting from this, "These study results indicate that puppies 16 weeks of age or younger that were vaccinated at least once and attended socialization classes were at no greater risk of developing a parvovirus infection than puppies that did not attend classes. "

 

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We have found the same in that our dog has never needed constant stimulation and as others have said this isn’t even helpful for them. 

Our pup is now 11 months. He has a half hour walk in the morning and 1/2 hour park or fetch or play in the afternoon. On days when he gets more he’s extra tired.

He gets a couple of yard walks too and likes to watch the world go by from the window or the deck - depending on the weather. 

He likes to nap or ride in the car. He loves a fuss and the odd toy game. 

He takes himself to his crate after supper for an hour, he wants to go to bed at 9.30 and doesn’t get up until 8. But we are always around so he’s not lonely. He accepts this is the routine. It will change in the summer when the boat gets launched and he loves swimming. I am sure he will adapt. 

I don’t believe border collies are high energy dogs but they need to have an interesting life :) 

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I would describe my BC as high energy, but I feel it is a different kind of high energy than "needs a ton of stimulation and exercise in order to behave".

My dog can lounge around with me at home, but if I ask her to she can really work/walk/run/play/go all day. If I don't ask her to, she is relaxed and mostly snoozes all day. 

I have yet to see my dog tired. I see a big difference in my mother's dogs. Last week they spent all day following my mother while she was painting and cleaning the caravan (my dog included while I was at work). In the evening her dogs were fast asleep and clearly tired from such a different day than usual. My dog? Yes, she was relaxing and lounging, but not tired at all. 

When I take her cycling I tire more quickly than she does (and I am quite fit ;) ) when we arrive at home she takes a quick 10 minute nap and could go again. We don't, but she would be able to. Easily. 

Stockwork tires her out more, but again, after a quick nap she is ready for more :) 

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The best think I read when we got our first border collie a long time ago now, was that you get the dog you create. If you walk it all day long, play endless rounds of catch etc that is what they will need, live in Manhattan and take them for a short walk before work and a better one after with a little trick training thrown and they will Ben perfectly happy. 

We have had four great house pet border collies and lots of fosters. They do need to use their brains, and they do love being involved in every aspect of your lives but they are not meant to be manic machines.

My final observation is that most sheepdogs working in their original areas, northern England, the borders etc don't work all day long every day. Some days they don't work, they might go the pub, or they might spend time ridding the quad, some days are long and arduous. A good border collie should work hard when it needs to and relax when it doesn't, a shepherd does not want an amped up dog bothering him. 

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4 hours ago, alligande said:

My final observation is that most sheepdogs working in their original areas, northern England, the borders etc don't work all day long every day. Some days they don't work, they might go the pub, or they might spend time ridding the quad, some days are long and arduous. A good border collie should work hard when it needs to and relax when it doesn't, a shepherd does not want an amped up dog bothering him. 

Absolutely this.  A working dog does not work 24/7.  They need to be able to work long hours when required, but they are not moving animals all day, every day.  That would be very bad for the animals they are herding, and the farmer would be rightly peeved and poor with their livestock dropping dead from exhaustion.  A working dog has to be able to not work when that is what is required. 

A super hyperactive dog is likely to have difficulty being a good working dog on a farm because of an inability to switch off.  I know of a kelpie who was rejected as a working dog for this reason, not because of a problem with skill on livestock, but because of not settling when needed.

You sound like you have a wonderful puppy, and I very much look forward to meeting her when you figure out how to post photos.   If you can't post a photo directly, you could try signing up to Photobucket or some other photosharing site and posting links to photos of her.  You will need to make sure you have authorised the site to share the photos.  

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arrrr you twisted my arm... Well this is a super cute one to be fair. 

Seren has been quite naughty today, she has been very good at using her puppy pads to defecate on, from the moment I got her, but in the last few days she's started going on the floor in the same room as the pad. I've told her off where I can and sat her on the pad after. But today, she went ALL over the floor and I was rightfully furious. I don't understand why she has done this when she does know where to go.... it really upset me. Is it likely that she's doing this because of confusion or boredom, or is it just that she's got confused about scents?

54517549_317178168994253_8972126315578654720_n.jpg

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20 hours ago, Serenstar said:

...she went ALL over the floor and I was rightfully furious...

Not sure why you're addressing this in 2 concurrent posts, but as I said in the other one, you have no "right" to be furious with her because you have unrealistic expectations for a puppy this young and you haven't done the work to properly house train her. :blink:

Your anger with her is entirely unjustified and if you don't rethink your attitude you could end up with a dog who has serious issues with elimination.

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When any of my pets have toilet accidents I'm mad at only one thing. Me. I clearly didn't set them up to succeed and now I get the punishment of cleaning up the mess to teach me to try harder to get them out in time next time. 

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She's a baby, they have accidents. The trick is to watch for the signs and pop them where you want them to go quick. Our boy always started to trot back and forth sniffing the floor when he was about to poo so was easy to catch. No point telling them off afterwards as they have no idea why you are angry, or even if they do realise you're angry at the poo they can't make the connection between them being responsible for the location of it and your mood. Our boy once had a poo accident, and there happened to be lots of it. It was likely a combination of over feeding and not enough supervision so I addressed those points and it never happened again.

Our boy has changed a lot in his first year of life. He hasn't been destructive, but then he hasn't been left unsupervised for long periods of time and if he's started looking like he might want to self-entertain I've directed him to something he's allowed like a chew or toy rather than ignoring him and risking him self-entertain on something he's not meant to (like furniture). He now has a couple of go-to toys he gets when he's bored and wants to chew. A lot of people use crates for their puppies when they can't watch them to prevent the wrong things getting chewed/damaged.

Over the last ten months we have had some unwanted behaviour, but I have always been able to relate it back to not enough attention or too much excitement or a change in food or something different about that particular day and have tweaked things going forward. It's important to constantly evaluate how things are going and tweak them where necessary, that way minor unwanted behaviours don't suddenly turn in to big surprising unwanted behaviours.

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22 hours ago, GentleLake said:

Not sure why you're addressing this in 2 concurrent posts, but as I said in the other one, you have no "right" to be furious with her because you have unrealistic expectations for a puppy this young and you haven't done the work to properly house train her. :blink:

Your anger with her is entirely unjustified and if you don't rethink your attitude you could end up with a dog who has serious issues with elimination.

^^^This.

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