Acorn Dog Training

The Border Collie - Please Think before you buy.

Good Citizen Tests

So many people buy Border Collies because they think they are very intelligent dogs who are incredibly easy to train. However, this perception is often far removed from reality, with countless Border Collies and Working Sheepdogs ending up in rescue centres, or far worse.

Here Sandra Tomsett takes a look at the reality of living with this type of dog, and asks that more consideration is made before handing over any money to the breeder, or dealer! Ideally, puppies should NOT be bought via dealers under any circumstances, but unfortunately, many people still do, and the results are often tragic.

The Working Dog Bought To Be a Family Pet

By Sandra Tomsett

Border Collies are a working breed of dog with a high chase drive and an active mind. Many Collies these days are kept not as working dogs but as family pets. The working Border Collie is around sheep from a tiny puppy and as he starts off much smaller than the sheep he learns a certain amount of respect for them and also learns to obey commands from the Shepherd he is working with. So the natural chase instinct in the working Collie is moulded to be of use to the Shepherd and the Collie has a "legal" outlet to use his instincts and his active brain.
Chasing behaviour that pet Collies display is, to some extent instinctive, but unlike the working Collie that has had that instinct moulded to serve man the pet Collie often has not. So when he starts to run at the dogs next door or at the sheep/cows in the field or push bikes etc. other canine instincts start to take over and the chase can becomes a predatory one.

Collies are extremely mentally active and need to be occupied. If there is no-one around to provide companionship and something for them to do the Collie will create its own game with it’s own rules. I have seen Collies do this – relentlessly jumping up at flies in the summer, digging crater size holes in the garden, chasing and barking at the dogs next door, or the passing car, the cyclist or people, even chasing shadows. For the “home alone” Collie boredom can become an intolerable mental torture and the games he invents to amuse himself become obsessive, rather like the obsessive rocking to and fro behaviour that a mentally ill person might display.

Collies are breed to work - they need mental and physical stimulation, and lots of it. They need a “legal” outlet to satisfy their chase instinct, like playing a game of Fetch or Frisbee, and challenges to keep their minds busy, that's why so many "pet" Collies enjoy activities like Flyball or Agility.

These intelligent dogs are not “sit on your lap and be cuddled all day” dogs, they are “doing” dogs in every sense of the word. They will not be happy to be left “home alone” while you are at work from 9 to 5, neither would it be fair to stay at home with them but ignore their presence all day because you’ve got “too many other things to do”. They desperately need to interact with their people.

Please, please, please think carefully before buying a Border Collie as a family pet. Think about your other commitments, have you really got the time and energy to give a Border Collie what he needs to be mentally and physical happy, not just for a few weeks but for 10+ years. Remember the Shepherd, out working with his Collie for most of the day, every day, giving the Collie the exercise and mental stimulation he needs as he does his job. Could you give that sort of time to your pet Collie?? If you truly love the Border Collie you wouldn’t buy one unless you could!!!!

Sandra Tomsett

Sandra Tomsett takes the puppy classes at Geffion Dog Training in Kent, and also runs TTJ Dog Walking Services.

Sergeant Major Sam Sir!, a competition agility dog, owned by Bev Saunders. Photo(c) 2004 Nick Ridley.

If you feel you have the time, energy, active lifestyle and love to devote yourself to meeting the needs of a Border Collie, then please click on the following link for further information:



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