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Border Collie Rescue - On Line - The BC as a Pet

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Border Collies are working dogs. They have been bred for many generations to fulfil a useful role for man - that of herding and protecting livestock.

Over hundreds of years farmers, shepherds and other stockmen have kept  dogs for that one purpose and have intentionally bred them to strengthen the instincts that they rely on to carry out this work.

The look of the dog is not the first consideration, emphasis is placed on ability and intelligence. - Brains before beauty.

It is these instincts that causes problems to people who wish to keep a Border Collie as a pet. The breed is ruled by its instincts and most Border Collies have a deep rooted need to be active and stimulated for most of the time. - They need to work.

If this need is unfulfilled the dog can become frustrated, irritable, unpredictable in behaviour. Border Collies can become very confused when daily routines and life style restricts freedom, exercise levels and mental stimulation. In short they can make very unhappy pets.

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This cartoon copyright to Londons Times Cartoons  by Rick London and reproduced here with kind permission.

Ultimately an unhappy dog will make a very unhappy owner.

What are the problems ?

Whilst the majority of Border Collies are eager to please, quick to learn, loyal and kind, some will still chase anything that moves, often nipping at their targets.

Chasing is natural behaviour for a Border Collie - it only becomes a problem when the target is human - perhaps a child - a fast moving vehicle or another dog ( that may not take kindly to being rounded up and penned in a corner ).

During training as a working sheepdog the inclination to 'grip' is controlled & surplus energy can be worked off - but without firm training to control this instinct, problems arise.

Some Border Collies become possessive over toys, food or their owners. The breed has a natural inclination to bond closely with one person. This ability enables the dog to respond and work with its handler & other dogs - as a team.

Without work and exercise to take the edge off the dogs intensity this bonding can result in over possessiveness. People or other dogs can be bitten in pre-emptive defence.

Border Collies are not a naturally aggressive breed but they are very energetic, verging on hyperactive, and require a great deal of exercise and stimulation, especially when young, to work off excess energy.

If the dog is not getting sufficient exercise and mental stimulation it will become unhappy and bored. If left alone in the house it will find something else to do to pass the time.

All dogs naturally chew things and chewing can help pass time if there is nothing better to do.

A young frustrated Border Collie can totally wreck a room in a few hours - an older dog may take more time but can be just as effective!


What does a Border Collie need from its owner ?

  • Most of all - plenty of exercise.

A working Border Collie may cover 20 miles on an average day and many will effortlessly cover much more in a normal days work.

  • and just as important - Mental Stimulation

Border Collies also need some sort of reason or purpose to their lives - preferably something to do that requires training and discipline but allows the dog to think for itself and make its own decisions as part of its activities.

Your Border Collie needs companionship - yours!

A Border Collie will also require time, attention, training and guidance.

They like to get things right and need to be shown what is correct behaviour and what is unacceptable.

Without this training and guidance the dog will revert to its instincts to tell it how to behave. These instincts are misplaced in a pet home.

It is a myth that the Border Collie is an easy breed of dog to train & control. The well trained & faithful dogs that are seen at sheepdog trials give the wrong impression of the breed.

To achieve these standards of control requires a great deal of time and work from the dog and from the handler.

The dog will always be willing to work at it - will you?

As a Border Collie owner you will need to work as hard as your dog and give it some priority in your lifestyle -

Any other relationship would be unfair to the dog.


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