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Firm Fair Fun Consistent

To [adopt] BC or not to [adopt] BC--that is the question

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Hello, this is my first post.

 

Friends of mine have an adolescent female border collie who may not work out for them. I am considering offering to take it as a rehome if necessary and am trying to do my homework to decide if this would be good idea. I have read a bunch on this website including the pamphlet link and other links. I found the information I read very helpful.

 

Does anyone know of a place where I could find the sort of information on BC's it looks like is being gathered for the thesis survey in a thread currently up near the top?

 

My main question that I am having trouble answering is: A book I had on dog breeds described the BC as (as best I recall--this may be a slight misquote) "a coiled spring of concentrated energy constantly in motion"--is that an exaggeration or is that true?

Can border collies settle down and be calm or are they on the go all the time?

 

I live in the country with room for dogs to run, but I work at home at a desk for quite a few hours a day. A dog would have to be able to be either on a downstay on a mat, in a crate, or in an outside kennel during this time (not bouncing off the walls) for this to work out. The dog cannot be given free run outside because she is already having escape artist and related problems in her present home. (Her other main "problem" seems simply to be that she is too much dog for her present family. Plus she is testing limits and getting growly around her food dish. Jumps up. And so forth. Most of this would probably not be as much a problem with me, since she seems to be smart enough to know what she can pull with whom. So aside from the energy level question, for me she would probably not be "too much dog".)

 

Secondary question, I already know that I get along with the border collie in question and that she will be okay with other dogs in my life(rottweiler and German Shepherd). What would I be likely to face in regard to cats and chickens? (Neither the cats or chickens would really appreciate being herded, but might put up with mild herding if no teeth are used on them, and the chickens would appreciate having a dog to scare off rats and coons.)

 

Our main dog activity is obedience, so she would have a good bit of mental stimulation if she were with me. Protection and agility are also available in my area. Rarely there is enough interest to get a tracking group together, but I do some tracking work just for fun here at home, and with teenage dogsof other breeds have found that it helps calm and tire them to do obedience and tracking practice as much or more than to go on a long run.

 

I am concerned though that while a rottie and gsd have "real jobs" in my life as assistance dogs, and watchdogs, cart pullers, and general companions, that the BC might not have a real job, only made up ones to keep her busy. I believe that dogs are happiest with real jobs to do. If I take on the BC do I have to get a herd of sheep too (only slightly kidding)?

 

Any thoughts, leads to more info, personal experience to share, would be appreciated.

 

Thank you in advance.

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Hi FFFC

My personal experience with BCs (which includes three full BCs and one cross) is that the energy level and "off-switch" are somewhat individual within the breed, though as a general rule BCs are energetic and need jobs. I've only reared one from puppyhood, though, so I'm sure there are a lot of other people on the boards who will be better able to answer some of your questions. Finn, the one I took at 7 weeks old, is without a doubt more relaxed and mellow now at the ripe old age of two than he was in adolescence, and certainly he has more sense and manners. The two rescues I got as slightly older dogs, so them I can't answer for, but both were perfectly content to lay around for a few hours, so long as that wasn't ALL we did that day. None of mine have been cat-chasers, though two have tried to herd them. This didn't do the cats any harm, though they did seem mildly annoyed from time to time - mostly they just ignored it. One cat seemed to enjoy the attention, the little pervert, and would roll around on his chair purring and squirming with delight, reaching out to pat the BC gently on the head with his front feet. This annoyed the BC mightliy, but while she lifted her lip and made the most demented gargoyle faces imaginable, she never tried to bite or discipline the cat. It was especially hilarious because the cat in question is polydactyl, with seven fully functional toes on each front foot, so his feet look like little catcher's mitts, pat-pat-patting at the BC's head, trying to catch her ears to conduct them up for some affectionate cat-grooming, and generally irking the daylights out of the BC. I don't have chickens, so I really can't answer that, but I don't think I'd trust Finn to leave them alone if I wasn't there to tell him to. Pepper (the other herding dog) would have tried to herd them, but would not have harmed them.

 

If your outdoor area is secure (some BCs are accomplished escape artists) that doesn't seem like a horrid option for a few hours, weather permitting. It does sound like you intend to spend a lot of time with her outside the computer time. If I have something to do which prevents me from supervising my dogs, I have no qualms about crating them for a few hours - but it does sort of depend on what you mean by "quite a few hours". I think a fair number of people use their BCs as SAR dogs, so the tracking thing might be fun for her, as would the obedience, for most dogs. As far as whether or not the job is a "real" job, I personally think that while Finn regards the sheep as the "realest" job (since he's VERY stimulated by them), he also regards his other "jobs" - mainly play and companionship - as much "realer" than I do. So from his point of view, a lot of what I consider goofing-off time or secondary work (like obediance practise or teaching him tricks), he thinks of as his work for the moment, and gives his full attention.

 

However, I have only had the three BCs and only for seven years or so, so there are tons of people here with tons more experience, who hopefully will weigh in with their wisdom. Is there any option to try the dog in your home for a week or longer to see how it works for you? Whatever you choose, good luck with this, and good for you for trying to figure this all out before you do it.

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I was going to ask if you have experience with dogs, but the rottie and GSD answered that! Personally, I'm having 100x more problems with our new GSD (rescue) than my border collie has EVER given me. That may or may not be because she isn't purebred (though from what I've read here I don't think that's the case). Yes, any dog can be wild and crazy like our Zeeke is - we're still working on obedience. But I don't see how it's possible for a dog to be any more hyper and crazy than this one is. o.O (If there is - I'm not sure I want to go near it, lol!)

 

Well, I guess you're right in that herding is the only "real" job most BCs have an opportunity to do. But people also do search and rescue, agility, obedience, etc. Agility is a big one, that's what my BC is going to do (hopefully).

 

I've asked the same question about energy levels and if I'll be able to handle it - since Oreo is a mix and a lazy butt at that. But what I was told was that yes, they do need stimulation and a "job" to do (of some sort) and love to run run run... but they can also be calm and gentle. A few people mentioned they have dogs who seem extremely laid back and you'd wonder if they had any real energy at all - until you get them near sheep.

 

You're lucky, though - you have met your potential dog! Whatever you learn about a *breed*, it's always better to know about the individual - the breed personalities are just "Norms" there are dogs that fall outside it. So I'd say spend more time with that dog, if you can, and watch closely - ask questions if you can, too. That'll tell you a whole lot more than we can speculate on.

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All the rumors are true!

 

:rolleyes:

 

That said, Tess sleeps several hours a day while I work (I work from home, and she sleeps at my feet while I do so).

 

Tess is only 10 months old, though, and gets tired from 30-40 minutes of combined activity including walking (20 minutes), ball chasing (10 minutes), and then tricks or training to occupy her brain.

 

I have met people with dogs who never nap. It just depends on the dog. Ask if the dog is already taking naps at any time during the day already. That might help you out. If there is anyway you can get a "day in the life" kind of routine from the current owners, you could figure out if she would fit in.

 

Allie & Tess

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If you can handle a GSD, you can definately handle a border collie. They have a lot of energy but it is directed energy, not just wild energy, like a boxer or terrier.

 

Its too bad that the family that has her now cant take the time to train her properly. I dont understand why people get dogs and then expect them to train theirselves, but anyway, sounds like she would have a great life with you and your other dogs. :rolleyes:

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Cats and chickens might appreciate it if they have a safe place away from the BC. All of mine will herd such critters outside.

 

Your BC can do some of the "real" jobs yo uwere describing that your other dogs do. Granted, she may not be a true guard dog, she will alert you to strangers. She can pull a cart and you could even tandem her to one of the other dogs. I'm not sure what type of assistance your dogs do, but many BC's can turn on/off lights, pick up dropped objects, etc. so the new dog could still be a working dog even if you don't have sheep.

 

My female BC weight pulls, which transfers to carting. She is the one people that know dogs, and know her, believe will actually BITE you if you enter the property. She babysits all the new fosters, teaches them manners, teaches them about the great outdoors, and all the stuff they need to know as dogs. She does herd and other stuff for fun, but the above are her "real" work around here. She's a very busy dog and when I work at home I just make sure I've taken her out to do some obedience or herding, and then some weight pulling or biking. When we get home she is willing to rest quietly while I work around the house. I'd bet if you work the dog before you start work, you'll be able to get a lot done even if she is a busy girl.

 

Fencing, escape artists, are things I am adamant about. I ran a ot wire to allow my dogs to be outside but also be safe. The electric fence isn't for everyone, but you might consider it if you have lots of space for her to play and can't trust her otherwise. Playing outside with the other dogs may help calm her on the days you can't exercise her enough.

 

Good luck and let us know if you end up getting her.

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Thanks for the replies thus far.

 

AK Dog Doc: I think the idea of trying the dog for a week or so if this gets serious would be a great idea for all concerned. Maybe I can "babysit" her if they go on a vacation this summer and get a better idea as a preliminary toe in the water.

 

3 BC dogs may not be as much experience as some have, but it is 3 more than I have. And so very helpful. I assume if you are a dog doc that you have to work too and so the dogs are not getting 100 percent of your attention all the time. (And maybe ther is some non BC personal life as well) What do you do with them when you are working, or are they all well enough behaved that free run of house or yard is not an issue?

 

This dog IS an escape artist--hence why she would have to be kennelled if outside alone, and i also gather the dog cannot be trusted indoors unsupervised or will chew destructively etc. I think she would have to be crated or kennelled for about 5 hours per day to allow time for the work I have to do, showering etc. But she does seem smart, and my guess is I could get her into a mat stay for a lot of that time pretty quickly. And maybe with other outlets she will start to improve in the chewing area and be able to earn more freedom in house priviledges if I got her.

 

I am concerned that the dog may not be showing her "true colors" around me , since in the three times I met her she seemed fine to me. While I know that the owners (whose last dog was an Australian shepherd, and not an especially easy dog) are having major trouble with her. I also know that they left the dog for a day with a professional trainer (who I go to too) to evaluate the dog and he thought the dog was fine. But the current owners seem to be being driven nuts. So what is really going on is a bit confusing to try to get a grasp of.

 

Incidentally i've got 4 polydactyls-some 6 toed some 7! I keep wanting to visit Alaska and have never gotten there. And the more critters I get the harder it gets to leave. Sigh.

 

Caelin Tess: I could live with what you describe of your Tess just fine. The never nap type is what worries me--and is that because the dog has not learned to relax and settle down, or because the dog honestly has that much energy that it cannot nap, I wonder. I like the idea of asking for a description of a typical day in the life of the dog and asking if the dog ever naps during the day. I realize now that you write that that except for the specifics like food bowl problem, I have just been hearing general sense of the dog being overwhelmingly active, but don't know for this particular family exactly what that means.

 

i have myself seen the BC get tired playing with other dogs to the want to rest point...but also noted that she recovered and was ready to go again faster than the other dogs.

 

Lunar: Rescues can be tough! My rottie boy was a tough rescue who was himself bouncing off the walls (quite literally) when I first got him. But I also knew that it was not particularly normal for his breed and that with training and guidance and appropriate outlets, he would learn to calm down a lot, which he did. He is still more active and with higher drive than the last rottie I had. So I think there is a combination of both the importance of assessing the individual dog, but also importance in understanding the breed. If I had thought that the behaviour I saw in my rottie when I first saw him was him permanently I would have concluded that it was an impossible situation. I don't know whether your GSD is worse, but if so you have one of the most difficult of dogs imaginable and my empathy to you. In any case it seems to me to be important to have some sense in ones mind of what is likely to be the result of the dog by hardwiring both individual and by breed and what is likely to be just from a lack of outlet for exercise, or a dog that is smart enough to wrap its owners around its little finger and get away with it.

 

When I read things like "high energy" that does not tell me anywhere near as much as specifics like that a typical dog might need 2 hours per day of hard exercise/mental stimulation vs. 5 hours per day vs. all day non-stop. Or whatever.

2 hours I would consider easy. 5 hard. all day non-stop, impossible in my circumstances.

 

Stacysbc: Okay. The comparison to terriers and boxers is also a helpful one that helps me to understand. Actually the current owners are trying to train the dog. She has been in training since puppy class and is now in beginner. They are having trouble with her though.

She was a rebound puppy after the death of a previous dog--and unfortunately also came into their lives at the same time as they moved from rural situation to town (and from 5 acres to only a very small yard for off leash exercise)--which could be much of the problem at its root.

Anyway, I am trying to make as sure as i can that I don't get her unless it has a very good chance of working with me.

 

The question of ideas for evaluating a dog like spend a week with it if possible, get a description of a typical whole day etc. would have been wise for me to have asked, but thank you all for answering it even though I didn't ask it!

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Originally posted by HKM's Mom:

Cats and chickens might appreciate it if they have a safe place away from the BC. All of mine will herd such critters outside.

 

Your BC can do some of the "real" jobs yo uwere describing that your other dogs do. I'd bet if you work the dog before you start work, you'll be able to get a lot done even if she is a busy girl.

 

 

Good luck and let us know if you end up getting her.

A bunch of good ideas, and pretty inspiring! Sounds like you have a great dog there! I will let you know what happens. Whatever happens with this particular dog, I have certainly developed an interest in this intriguing breed.

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Finn can be a bit of a chewer, so for his own protection (since I don't want to have to open him up and fish various and sundry items out of his intestines, some no doubt more embarrassing than others), I crate him unless he's going to work with me. Weather permitting, I take them all to work; I can put them in runs in the hospital if we have a light hospitalization day, and play with them sometimes as much as two hours in the middle of the day if we're slow, but I can never count on that (and if we have contagious dogs in, even though those stay in the isolation ward, I prefer not to risk it). Hence, they may be staying in my truck for several hours (I have a shell on the back and fill the bed with straw both for comfort and to help with any social faux pas - or is it faux paws?) If it's cold, or excessively hot (which is uncommon, but happens) they stay home.

 

Buddy and Pepper could essentially be trusted not to do anything too horrid or dangerous to themselves if left uncrated. Finn can't, and Ali is hit or miss. I'd rather have them with me, but if not I do crate and try to get home in the middle of the day to let them out for an hour. Sometimes that doesn't happen. I work a three and a half day work week, though, so even if they have to stay home due to cold, they have three and a half days a week when they can be out most of the time (unless I'm on call, and then all bets are off.)

 

Do you have the option of giving her a break from the crate (like, even if it's five hours total, you can let her out for a pee and a stretch for 15 minutes every few hours)? Mine sometimes do have to be crated for longer than that at a stretch, but we try to make up for it later or the next day, and generally I try not to have them that confined for that long. It just seems to work better for my particular dogs.

 

It could be that this dog IS on her best behavior with you (and you'll later get to see her "real" self), but it's also possible she's just not a "fit" with her current home. This is deeply anxiety-provoking for a dog (particularly a smart one) and might trigger some of her destructiveness. Even the best of dog homes may meet a dog that just isn't a good match for that household. (This, in fact, is how I got two of the rescues - Buddy, who I deeply adored - and adore still - and Ali, the new additive to my mix.) Neither Buds nor Ali was a fit in their original homes, but they were perfect for mine. I've only had Ali about 2 weeks, but Buds I had for years, and I can say with certainty that many of his anxiety-related weirdnesses tapered away considerably after he'd been in my house for a while. He was not emotionally or psychologically resillient, so he was slower to adjust than many dogs would be.

 

Anyway, AK is great (for me - not everyone's cup of tea) but I'm betting it'll be here for a while, so no hurry.

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Originally posted by AK dog doc:

Do you have the option of giving her a break from the crate (like, even if it's five hours total, you can let her out for a pee and a stretch for 15 minutes every few hours)? ...

Not a problem. and it would almost never be 5 hours all together anyway. Also it doesn't get either all that hot or cold where I am usually (Pacific Northwest) so outdoor kennel can be utilized if several hours without breaks is needed.

 

It could be that this dog IS on her best behavior with you (and you'll later get to see her "real" self), but it's also possible she's just not a "fit" with her current home. This is deeply anxiety-provoking for a dog (particularly a smart one) and might trigger some of her destructiveness.
The newest news is that the dog will be staying across the street from me for three days in about a week on a property still owned by the dog's owners but occupied by renters (who will dog-sit). Sounds like I'll be able to spend some more time meeting and evaluating the dog--without my own house subject to destruction for the moment. Any ideas on what to look for to try to determine whether the problem is likely a "fit" problem or not?

 

I talked to someone who knows the family and sees more of them and the dog than I do who thinks part of problem may be that the household is very very active (5 kids and hub of an extended social network) leading to a high state of excitement and arousal in a dog who tends to be that way.

 

Anyway, AK is great (for me - not everyone's cup of tea) but I'm betting it'll be here for a while, so no hurry.
Okay, wait for me! I'll get there eventually.

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Hmmm. Well, for me, I'd have to say I'd need to see how the dog is *in my own home* before I'd be able to assess that. But that may just be because I'm a dolt about these things. I can't necessarily articulate what makes me feel that a given dog is just over-stimulated or insecure in a given home, but would do well in mine... a gut feel, primarily. The main thing I try to do is really LOOK at what the dog is doing, without any preconcieved notions or expectations, so I can see what the dog is telling me about itself. That sounds kind of vague and wooly-headed, I know, but if I go in non-comittal and observe without expectaion or desire for one outcome over another, I seem to get a clear "feel" of whether or not the dog is for me at that time.

 

However, in general, if the dog behaves "better" in the other environment, that at least suggests that the dog is responsive to environmental changes, and that the behaviors aren't set in its personality, necessarily. Habitual, maybe. Bear in mind that when dogs are off their home territory, they are inclined to be a bit different anyway, and so three days in a different environment probably won't be enough to get the dog relaxed enough to resume "usual" behaviors that it might be supressing out of uncertainty.

 

The household of origin sounds pretty chaotic; could it be the dog just doesn't get enough one-on-one to be a calm, settled dog? So far all of my BC and BC mix dogs have been very willing to settle if I give them my undivided attention. Since they do enjoy the one-on-one, they generally will do whatever is necessary to get it (including laying on my feet and staring adoringly at me while I tpye, though there is a marked tendency to solicit petting with the paw-on-leg move...)

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Our Tenaya is now 17 months old. She is our first border collie, although not our first dog. When we first brought her home at 13 weeks, I didn't see her eyes shut for at least a week!...although I know she slept in her crate at night. It seemed clear that border collies are really a different kind of dog.

 

My husband is a grad student and spends a large part of his day at the computer. While Tenaya has plenty of energy, she has learned since she was a young pup to "turn it off" and be mellow so my husband can work. Teaching and enforcing a long down-stay is a good way to get this. She also knows that "that'll do" means "no more playing right now--go entertain yourself" (and she has plenty of toys to entertain herself with). While some border collies might not be able to "turn it off" as easily as others, I think it's easier if some of this is treated as training. Since you are oriented toward obedience, you should be able to have success with this.

 

We got a Collie pup, Willow, when Tenaya was a few months old, so the two of them play and entertain each other. They are also both training for several "jobs", including SAR (for Tenaya), agility, Obedience, Rally and Therapy. At first, I thought the Collie would be better suited for Therapy dog visiting, but Tenaya can be such an affectionate sweetie that she may end up being better at it than Willow.

 

While Tenaya has several "jobs", they only take up a relatively small part of her day, most of the time.

 

The 2 dogs are crated at night (usually), in the car, and if my husband needs to leave them for any length of time (although Tenaya is being left uncrated in the kitchen for an hour or two, now, with no problems). If that length of time is more than 3 or 4 hours, we have a local doggy day care place that we take them to. They are both now reliable in the house if we are showering, in another room, and so on.

 

Also, although we have a bit of land around our house, it isn't fenced, so the dogs don't have a big yard to let loose in. Our hosue is big enough they can run crazy through it, but they aren't let out without immediate supervision (and usually a leash), unless we take them to the park for some frisbee and ball-throwing or hiking in the nearby hills and swimming in the little lake. Tenaya is so ball, stick and frisbee-crazed that she will reliably recall to get you to throw again, so it is safe to let her loose in these situations. We have a 10' x 20' dog run that is mainly the doggy bathroom and deer-scaring-away area, attached to the house with a doggy door. In some ways, I think this is better for the dogs, since they are with their people in the house or out having fun together, not just relegated alone to the back yard. This sounds something like what you would have to live with.

 

We also have an old cat who was raised with dogs. He is clearly the alpha of criters in our house and will sometimes play with the dogs. If he got unhappy with one of the puppies when they were young and didn't know about cats, he was quite willing to teach them about claws. Now they are all good buddies and will curl up on the bed together. Of course, if he runs, the dogs chase him, but he is dog-wise and doesn't usually run unless he wants to play.

 

So my annecdotal evidence is that yes, you can get at least one high-energy border collie to hit the "off" switch and to be good friends with cats. And the kinds of dog-jobs you describe seem quite adequate for a border collie, in my limited experience. It sounds like you are doing the kind of research to know what you might be getting in to.

 

Let us know how it goes!

 

Deanna

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FFFC,

I hadn't noticed anyone else having mentioned it, if so, my apologies, and if you've already seen it, my apologies there, as well, but, IMO, there's a real good piece of writing on the home page of this site, called, "Living with Border Collies On Line Pamphlet" that'll give you some great info., in addition to what you've been provided thus far.

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working backwards in reply to the recent posts:

 

Tuck's Buddy: Yup. I mentioned reading and gaining help from the pamphlet in my opening post. From that and a number of posts here it looks like I could handle a BC (in general aside from issues re this particular one). OTOH from other things I found--like on a British Columbia BC rescue website which suggests going to a sheepherding trial and if one can't give that kind of exercise and stimulation to a BC, then don't get one, it makes me think not. So, therein much unsureness. Clearly a BC is not an ordinary dog. I mean, heck, I heard the "news" report about the BC that knew the names of 200 different toys, and I started thinking, "ball, bone, frisbee, ..." I think I only got up to about 60 different likely dog toys that I knew names for. And I have a magna cum laude college degree too!

 

Deanna in Oregon: Yes. Similar situation though I use separate outdoor kennels (a 10' x 10' and a 5' x 15') and dogs don't get free access in and out. Mostly my dogs have been with me wherever I am, in or out, though. And I have access to land that is fenced well enough to give offleash romping time daily --just not well enough to leave a group of unsupervised dogs alone in.

 

That what you describe is enough for your dogs is another thing that makes it seem like this adoption might be possible. Also I was thrilled that you say the dogs can learn to "turn it off". Some of what I was reading made it seem like that would be totally impossible with this breed.

 

I think I tried to PM you to ask if you knew of any sheepherding training places available in your (which is also my) area? If there was anything nearby and if I got the dog and it would make the difference between a happy adjusted dog and a nutsy one, I'd be willing to try it out and see if it's something I could get into. (Probably would turn out addictive.)

 

AK Dog Doc: What you said makes sense in looking at dog and seeing what she is telling me about herself. I won't make a final decision on whether to adopt her or not unless she has spent time --at least a couple of days and preferably a week--actually with me. I read how you did it with Ali and that sounded like a good way.

 

My sympathy on the death of your older dog, and my congratulations on the adoption of the new one.

Ali is very cute. I like the short hair which would do great here where there are muddy creeks and burrs and not so much cold winters. Your description of Ali as a wallaby on uppers sounds like it also fits the dog I am now considering. I hope she is a dog that can learn to turn it off like Deanna in OR's dog.

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Originally posted by Firm Fair Fun Consistent:

working backwards in reply to the recent posts:

 

OTOH from other things I found--like on a British Columbia BC rescue website which suggests going to a sheepherding trial and if one can't give that kind of exercise and stimulation to a BC, then don't get one, it makes me think not.

Actually, since you're quoting from my website, could you quote it in context please?

 

So Who Should Own a Border Collie?

 

Serious stock people and shepherds - and dedicated hobby herders - are ideal companions to the border collie. Most fanciers agree that whenever possible, thee dogs should be given the opportunity to do what they were designed - and what they truly love - to do. If you're thinking about a border collie, taking the time to watch a Herding Trial and ask yourself (honestly now) if you feel you can provide your dog with the same physical and emotional stimulation that these working marvels get from their duties.

 

The article then goes on to discuss how border collies can be great for dog sport enthusiasts, and that there are additional avenues as well, such as SAR, Tracking, Obedience etc. At no time does it (nor do I) suggest that if you can't provide a working (ie herding) home that you shouldn't have a border collie.

 

The point being, if you (that referring to the general "you" and not YOU specifically) think "wow, a border collie is way too much work for me" chances are, he might be too much work for you. Hundreds of border collies get dumped in shelters and rescue every year for being too much for their owner - too active, too demanding, too hyper, too out of control. It's better to overprepare than underprepare, because there are a hell of a lot of people out there who somehow have this notion that border collies are just oversized lap dogs and are genuinely surprised that they need to offer him something to do.

 

However, from what I've read of this thread, you may be analyzing the breed to death. Here's the basics: give the dog enough exercise, give the dog something to do with his brain too, ask for compliance and teach the dog to be under control. Unless the dog is really damaged in some way, there is no reason why she can't learn your routine and adjust as she needs to, provided you keep up your end of the bargain.

 

I have three border collies - they stay home all day while I am at work and they don't go berserk, destroy my house, commit mass murder or tear holes in doors. This is our routine, so it's their routine. My dogs are not allowed to pace the house demanding I give them something to do; I give them things to do at the appropriate time, and the rest of the time they can amuse themselves. It works out fine. And of the dozens and dozens of foster dogs that have come through my house, only a very small handful have been exhausting to teach. Most of them, once accustomed to the routine, fell into it quite nicely.

 

The only way you will know if you can handle the *particular* dog you are considering is to live with it and make a genuine effort to make it work. Honestly, being prepared to committ and make the necessary adjustments is half the battle. I'm not saying research is not important - it's very important - but you'll exhaust yourself with it eventually because you've got to hop in with both feet eventually. If you allow yourself to be intimidated, the dog's going to win before she ever comes home to you. So have a little faith in yourself, just be prepared to have to go the extra distance as the two of you learn to adjust to one another.

 

RDM

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My BC "Shake", often referred to as the Shakenator, spends a great deal of time home alone. He manages superbly and I believe there are some reasons why:

 


1. When I am at home, I keep him close to me and spend quality time with him.

 

2. I take him everywhere I can take him. He would much prefer to people watch from the car window while I am at the store than remain at home.

 

3. I take him to the dog park to socialize with other dogs a minimum of 45 minutes a day 2 times each day, one the AM and one in the PM. He positively knows when its time and looks forward to it.

 

4. I include him in as many family activities as possible. I never relegate him to the garage or laundry room when we have people over. He is always part of things at my house.

 

5. I reward him on the weekends with hikes or extended stays at the park. He knows a Saturday, trust me.


 

As a result I feel like Shake is a very happy, well-balanced dog. I am not a perfect owner. I often feel guilty when he is alone too long but he always greets with with that huge smile he has. He never chews things or is destructive in the house - never. He is a perfect little boy in that regard and I believe it is because he is smart enough to "anticipate" his reward (trip to the park).

 

 

And I look at what his options might have been had I not been at the shelter when he was available. All in all, I think he scored.

 

A border collie is work but they are worth it. I think you can commit to a BC even with a tough work schedule. But when you are there, the BC has to know that he/she is part of your life.

 

That's my $.02

 

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FFFC,

I want to second RDM's post. If you are committed and want to make it work, you will have no problem doing so. Yes, border collies are smart and energetic and they do require attention. But they can and will easily learn a routine and as long as they aren't left in a yard to amuse themselves, they don't necessarily require tons of stimulation from their humans. I believe that some of the reputation that border collies have is the direct result of people thinking they are high-energy, high-maintenance dogs and then creating just such dogs for themselves.

 

I am lucky that I can work sheep with my dogs, But of the seven, I trial just three of them. Two used to trial and are now retired. The remaining two, both adoptees (one a private adoption the other from a rescue organization) never worked sheep except on a limited basis. All seven dogs understand what it means to settle down in the house. Because I commute to work I am gone for long hours. The dogs who stay home stay in the house and behave themselves. The ones that come to work with me either stay in crates in my van or come into the office with me. No matter which, they are expected to rest quietly while I work (and I am gone close to 12 hours a day with my commute--fortunately I have a housemate who keeps shorter hours, so the dogs left at home aren't stuck in the house for quite that long).

 

I don't come home from work and spend hours entertaining my dogs. I try to get out several times a week and work the trial dogs, but the hot, humid weather here this time of year makes that tough unless I wait till close to dark (by which time *I* am exhasuted). All of the dogs get plenty of attention from me, but don't necessarily get lots of entertainment from me (and there is a difference).

 

I travel to sheepdog trials most weekends. Six of the seven dogs go with me (the last, my old guy, likes to stay home and hang out with the housemate). Again, all of the dogs get plenty of attention, but I certainly don't take frisbees or balls to the trial to exercise the nontrialling dogs (bad trial etiquette). So we go on group walks and hang out together and no one destroys my tent or the possessions therein and all are capable of settling down and behaving when I can't be interacting with them.

 

All of these dogs are high-energy and would fetch, swim, run for hours if they could. But they understand the routine of our lives and they happily live within that routine. I do spend A LOT of time *with* them, but that doesn't necessarily mean we are doing exciting things. And I am working to change my circumstances (i.e., buy a farm) so I can give them more of what I would like them to have (my time and livestock).

 

But I would encourage you to check out working livestock. Your potential adoptee may or may not have great aptitude for it, but if you are an animal person at all, you will likely fall in love. I truly do enjoy the trialling and training, but I know I would be just as happy on my own farm just using the dogs for daily chore work. So although working the dog on stock is not a requirement for having a border collie, it can open up a whole new world for you and can show you a partnership like no other.....

 

Good luck, and I hope the adoption works out. (Oh, and I should add that I was raised around dogs on a small farm, but when I got my first dog of my own, I was a bit overwhelmed at first with his energetic, free spirit self. And I had gotten him as a running partner. But it wasn't too long before my dog family grew, and I took in other rescues and bought a couple of trial dogs. So the difficulties in adjustment that I had in the very beginning didn't last, and my whole life has changed--all as a result of these amazing dogs.)

 

J.

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