I would say I have a very typical Border Collie, and although I don’t like to breed stereotype, there are certain things you are just going to get with a Collie! They are like sensitive furry toddlers so at the end of the day treat them like one, carefully, sensitively and with love; none of that dominance crap applies here (well to me anyway and if you disagree you are reading the wrong Blog!)
Me and my Border Collie Buddy are a team, once you’ve bonded there really is nothing more special.
So, what do I love about owning a Border Collie?
1.Border Collies are Clever
Yep, it’s an obvious one. Border Collies are super clever, and pick stuff up really quickly. Buddy can learn a trick in just a few repetitions. We always make it fun, its always a game, but he’s always learning. We keep that brain ticking to help him to make good decisions.
Every opportunity we come across is a chance to learn.
Because they are so clever, they anticipate EVERYTHING which can in turn cause problems if not handled the right way. So Buddy doesn’t know when I’m going out, when he’s coming with me, there are no meal times, (his food is used in training throughout the day) his walks can be at different times and some days we only have the one walk.
This keeps him guessing, and means he never bugs me for stuff, or panics because he thinks I’m leaving. Even the evenings are mixed up with him going in and out of his pen at different times, he never quite knows when it’s bedtime.
You might be flinching at the idea of not having a routine, but for a clever collie that is a real anticipator it works really well, is very enriching and stops them being bored.
2.Border Collies are Sensitive and Loving
I can say with hand on heart that Buddy is very loving. He loves people and he loves dogs. I think that a Border Collie’s working background of being eager to please contributes to this. He loves my son and husband just as much as me, even though he spends all day with me, so the idea that Border Collies bond with one person only, I really don’t think can be true.
He is also at the far end of the sensitive scale. It means we will never be burgled! But he does have that trait of being very scared of noises, the TV, radio, people walking past, and can be anxious and less confident in certain situations. I think it’s because they are just so clever, they are always thinking about what it going on around them and highly tuned to their environment. Making them realise that all these things are ‘non event’s’ is all part and parcel of training.
So far we have managed to make the TV and the hoover a non-event so its entirely possible!
Shouting and telling a sensitive Border Collie off I think is only asking for trouble. I have a son who has sensory processing disorder, and so I can see a lot of correlations between the two of them and shouting at him would make him withdraw into himself. If you have a sensitive Border Collie then the same will happen and you really do risk ruining your bond.
3.They don’t need tiring out to exhaustion
I honestly believe it’s a bit of a myth that a Border Collie needs to be worked all day long, or have long hikes, just to wear it out. Often people will say they do this and they come home and their Border Collie is still raring to go.
A Border Collie will work and work till you say stop. They need to learn how to chill and relax and switch off somewhere quiet and without distraction. They need that downtime to re-charge.
I can train Buddy for 15 mins in the garden doing some wrapping and tricks and that is the equivalent of a long run, because his brain is shattered. Then we can concentrate on a nice enriching sniffy walk later in the day. If I give him 2/3 off lead runs a day, he can often be so wired, that there is no calming him down. He does have some very good off lead runs during the week, but I tend to keep it very balanced and take each day as it comes.
I can tell very early on in the day whether he has a full bucket and what kind of day he needs. It’s all about creating that bond and reading your Border Collie, as they are all so different in their own little ways. Emptying that Bucket is key!
4.Anyone (almost) can own a Border Collie
Lots of families I know have them, people that work, people that are retired, people that travel, dog trainers and competitors. But the thing that we all do to make it work, is we invest TIME into these beautiful creatures. If we can’t be with them, then we have trainers and dog walkers looking after them – that costs money so if you are thinking of getting one you need to budget for that.
When we are with them, we put personal investment into understanding them and taking them to training. Training doesn’t have to be a ‘task’ and I’m not talking about simply teaching a sit or stay; you gotta get a bit more creative than that because that is what they thrive on. Border Collies I believe do best in a highly enriching life with the added downtime they need to re-charge with someone who has the patience to figure them out.
It takes time, it takes commitment, it’s definitely a lifestyle/hobby. If you don’t have the time or energy for that, then get a cat. Because at the end of the day all dogs regardless of breed could benefit from that sort of life!
5.The satisfaction and reward of owning a Border Collie is amazing
When Buddy was a small puppy I admit that I struggled, and wondered when I was going to start finding this journey rewarding. (Sorry Buddy LOL!) Nothing could have prepared me for how hard the first 6 months were and almost everyone you speak to will say the same.
However, all that blood sweat and tears I put in has paid off. My training is by no means perfect! And there is still loads we are working on, but the satisfaction that comes with knowing you are helping to give this clever beautiful dog its best life, and the best chance of being as happy as it can be, is the ultimate reward. It’s a challenge for sure, but the harder the challenge, the higher the reward.
Someone once told me you are given the dog you need, and not the dog you want and I think that is very true with Buddy. He has given me a real confidence and passion for learning and training that only really I have him to thank for. If he was an easy dog, I would be bored out of my mind!