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Sapphire

Do Border Collies tend to be dominant?

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If you guys don't mind someone who's never done any kind of herding chiming in, isn't there a big difference between herding instinct and herding ability? Most Border Collies have the first, but the only way to find out about the second is to go and do it.

 

Oh, and everyone chill out, too! Save the snittiness for people who don't care about their dogs enough to be members!

 

Liz & Spike (I herded some horses once, does that count?)

 

(Liz: No! And you don't get to try it again!)

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Originally posted by Spike's Bitch:

If you guys don't mind someone who's never done any kind of herding chiming in, isn't there a big difference between herding instinct and herding ability? Most Border Collies have the first, but the only way to find out about the second is to go and do it.

No, I wouldn't quite agree. I think too many people are trying to find a cut-and-dry answer, and that's not possible in something this complex. The reality is, that a dog cannot have ability without instinct. They are inextricably linked.

 

"Instinct" is not a list of behaviours that make up ability. There are many breeds of dogs that will "wound up" other dogs, chase them, nip at them (I cite several JRTs I know as an example) but that's an instinct to chase a moving target and control it. This is indeed part of herding behaviour, but only PART. Ability must be there for instinct to be there.

 

You do not train herding INTO a dog, you train the dog to do what it naturally wants to - might I even say, HAS to - do under your instruction (or in my case, suggestion, since most of the time none of the bastard beasts heed my "advice"). You cannot have ability with no instinct, and you cannot have instinct without ability. Ability will vary from dog to dog and handler to handler, but the need, drive, and inclination to do it has to be there first and foremost. I do not believe that a dog can have the instinct to herd sheep and be completely unable to actually herd them.

 

Oh, and everyone chill out, too! Save the snittiness for people who don't care about their dogs enough to be members!

I don't think that's the issue. I believe that there are many people who don't understand the dogs they have and will never understand them if they don't learn from people who do. I think it's important to make the distinctions being made here, and there are valuable things to be learned from them. People get frustrated on both sides because they both have beliefs that they "know" to be true. It's no surprise that people get tetchy about the whole thing. I find this thread to be surprisingly tame, all things considered.

 

Off to finish my shopping so that I, too, can have a drink in hand ...

 

RDM

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Oh, I had the feeling this one would become a 2-pager, at least. And I love it when we get those with lots of the best advice to offer finally chime in.

 

Well, it's morning here in Japan, we have our first snow, and I guess I'll have to do with coffee for now.

 

And it is because of the holidays that I get a little more time to respond, so there's another thing (for me) to be thankful for. I was just kidding about the comment that some might want us "newbies" to leave. Just wanted to stir things up a bit, you know, lighten up the mood some... :D After all it is almost Christmas!

 

As soon as I'm done with this coffee, I'll hook Jazz up to his leash and together we'll go dominate some snow!

 

Jazz's smilin' pal,

Kevin :rolleyes:

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Its almost time for my drink too! One more hour of work! I like blackacre's example. I can't stand the dogs that go running along side Bailey when he is running after the tennis ball. They get in his face and nip at him as he runs. He'll tolerate it for a bit but eventually lets them know that they are annoying him. I guess some people figure this is "normal" dog playing. Bailey doesn't think so. Neither do I. The BC mix that I had rescued would do this and it didn't take me very long to teach him that this was unacceptable. He was given up because he would nip at the children and chase them around. I found him a great home, but if he was trained properly he might have stayed where he was. These are behaviors that need to be corrected.

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Liz, I think you're right. It's true that a dog cannot have herding ability without herding instinct, but I think it's entirely possible for a dog to have herding instinct -- which is a pretty basic set of reactions -- without having much herding ability. I've seen many dogs who fit that description. Herding instinct without the other abilities that enable a dog to translate it into something useful is not worth much. (But then, I also think crouching, stalking and "eye" are border collie characteristics, whether or not there are dogs of other breeds who do it too, and some border collies who don't.)

 

Terry, it's true that the same questions get asked over and over again, but not by the same people. It may be difficult to try as hard to be helpful to the 100th person to ask the question as to the 1st, but the 100th is just as deserving of a helpful answer.

 

Sapphire, you probably have the feeling that people are addressing something different from what you asked, and by and large you're right. They're addressing stuff they've seen and heard from border collie owners over the years that get their goat. Justification of nipping and other bad behavior as being "herding instinct" and therefore to be tolerated in border collies is one of them, but you didn't do that. Claims that one's border collie has "herding instinct" because he herds tennis balls, and therefore that he would be a great working dog if only he had access to sheep, is another, but you didn't make that claim either.

 

What I understood you to be asking is whether border collies tend to be more dominant (by which you meant bossy) than other dogs. Most of the answers you got to that question, from folks like RDM, DonH, AK dog doc, Terry, and others, were good. (I think AK dog doc's answer is probably the most relevant to your situation -- puppies of all breeds are meek, but as they mature most will try to see if they can get a little more of the good stuff.) Actually, most of the answers you got to the questions you didn't ask were good too, although you may have wondered why you were being told all that about herding instinct and behavior problems. FWIW, nothing you've written suggests to me that you have a behavior problem. Some of my dogs are pushier than others, but that doesn't keep them from getting along fine.

 

Hmmm -- somehow reading this thread has made me thirsty . . .

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