Tips for (new) owners
What is a BORDER COLLIE?
A border collie is the most wonderful family member and life companion. It is a dog full of energy and also full of life. It is a dog passionate for work, always willing to please, a dog who never stops... But also a border collie is a perfect cuddle ball in the evening and sweet creature who will kiss you all the time.
But is everything so easy?
Most people fall in love with border collies when they see them in action - doing dog dancing, agility, frisbee... And some of them think a border collie puppy will come to them knowing all the tricks, obedience trained, house trained and that all will be a fairy tale. But... the reality is something different.
Border collie can be, and is, a great and wonderful family member and life companion but there are few months of hard work of obedience trainings and socialization in the early age of puppy's life. If you make a good foundation, everything else will be much easier. If you miss the foundation, you will have a puppy/adult dog who will drive you crazy and probably destroy everything in your home or a dog who might develop all sorts of compulsive disorders (herding children, cars, bicycle - which can be very very dangerous!!!).
So let's prevent the nightmare and try to learn some basics here.
Am I right person for a border collie?
If you have a great will and patience to work with your dog, enough free time to commit and if you love spending time in nature and all of that for 10 -15 years and on a daily basis, then you can be a good candidate to become a border collie owner.
What are the needs of a border collie?
- First of all - a border collie needs a loving home!! He needs your attention, your affection, he needs to be cuddled, kissed...He needs a home where he will be safe and happy. Border collie is a kind of a dog who wants to be with his owner all the time.
- Regular health care - usual yearly health care includes visit to a veterinarian for vaccination and systematic exam. Every couple of months, deworming is needed as with other dog breeds and seasonally protection from external parasites is required as well.
- High quality food - because of their endless energy and high perfomances, they need a high quality food. You can find many quality food on the market, but we prefer a raw food for our dogs (BARF) and sometimes we give Platinum kibble.
- An active owner(s) - a border collie needs his regular daily walks (at least one long walk a day and few short walks), a regular "job" (agility, S.A.R., frisbee, obedience, herding, flyball, dog tricks...) to fulfill his mental and physical needs - if you skip this part, you will get a dog who will destroy everything you have!!
- Mental stimulation - border collie is a dog with an extraordinary intelligence, he learns very fast and that makes him incredibly impressive. He learns good things, but also and bad things. What most distinguishes border collies from other breeds is their intellect and mental needs and people often think running a dog will be enough, but that's not the truth. Their brain wants to be employed with some mental tasks and if that is missing - he can find a "new job" on the other way - chewing your new shoes or carpet.
Many people think a border collie can't live in an apartment, that he needs a yard, but we do not agree with that! And we would rather sell our puppy to a family that lives in an apartment than to a family with a big yard. Now you probably have a question mark above your head and ask yourself WHY?? Here's the reason - in most cases a border collie who lives in a yard is great and amusing for a first few months, but with the time people lose interest in a dog and he ends up in a box/kennel and they do nothing with him. When a border collie lives in an apartment, he is always with his owner(s) and they are obligated to walk him regularly and to do some extra work with him.
When we bought our first border collie, we were living in an apartment, as well. And she was really happy there. In some period we even had two border collie girls in an apartment and with regulary work with them, everything was great!!
Remember - a yard won't raise your puppy/adult dog, your border collie needs YOU!! You have to work with your dog on a daily basis!!
Border collie puppy
So, after all that has been said before, if you still think that you are an ideal candidate to be a new border collie owner, ask yourself are you ready for a border collie puppy?? Now you probably have a question mark again and you think - a border collie puppy is the sweetest thing in the world, why wouldn't I want it... So let's go step by step...
Firstly - you have to be mentally prepared for a puppy. Why? Because a puppy is not just an amusing toy. Puppies have to pee all the time (after sleep, after meal, after play, during the play...), sometimes it seems they pee a thousands of times during a day and it can be really exhausting. So you have to potty train your puppy as soon as possible!
You think that's all? Not even close!! Puppies bite a lot - you, your kids, your furniture, your carpets, your curtains, your favorite shoes... Everything!! They are like little piranhas! To prevent this, they should have their own toys that they can chew on when you're not at home or when they are bored (but toys have to be durable and solid to prevent accidental choking from bitten parts of toys). Puppies bite because they explore a world in this way and because their teeth grow.
Secondly - puppies need socialization. First part of socialization is on the breeder - in our home our puppies will learn some basic things (they will get to know all kinds of everyday noises, scents, meet lots of different people, children, objects, different toys, car driving...), but the second part of socialization is on you!!
Thirdly - puppies need to learn some basic obedience!! When you buy a border collie puppy, you won't get a puppy who already knows hundreds of tricks and who is perfectly obedient, so you need to start with basic commands like "come" (for us is the most important command), "leave it" (second most important command), "sit", "lie down"...
There are lots of different learning methods, but we prefere positive learning methods and clicker training. Our dogs are trained exclusively by these methods!! If you want to learn more about positive learning methods and clicker training, you can find a lots of educational videos on Youtube. Our favorite channels are KikoPup, Kristin Crestejo, KatsDogs, Training Positive or you can visit Karen Pryor Clicker Training.
More about house training, socialization, biting and everything else you can find in a perfect book: Ian Dunbar: Before You Get Your Puppy. This book is really good and it will prepare you mentally for all you can expect from your new puppy. For us it was a life saviour!!!
In English In Croatian
Where to buy a border collie puppy?
Most future owners want to go cheaper, so they look for cheaper solutions and buy a puppy for 100-150 euros. So they get a puppy with an unknown pedigree, untested parents for hereditary diseases, unsocializated for every day life, not cleansed from internal parasites and maybe even sick from the begining... At the end they possibly spend more money on the veterinarian then they could spend on a puppy form responsible breeders. We had a similar problem with our first border collie girl - Jessie - we spent more then 1500 euros on veterinary expenses for her because she was bred by an irresponsible breeder.
Border collie breeding is not easy. They can be carriers of many hereditary diseases and if you breed two carriers, you can get a sick dog. So that's why responsible breeders always do a DNA testings on their dogs and also a x-ray for hip and elbow dysplasia and yearly eye-check. Responsible breeders will study a pedigrees, lines, health, characters, offspring, looks, abilities, they will travel for miles to mate their female with the perfect stud dog, they will give their best to raise a litter in their home, to socialize puppies with all kinds of everyday noises, scents, meeting lots of different people, children, objects, different toys, car driving, they will microchip, deworm, eye-examine, vaccinate their puppies, they will get a FCI pedigree and an EU pet passport for puppies and they will always be available for you if you have any kind of questions or problems with your new puppy, they will always help you and they will be interested in their puppies for the rest of puppies lives.
So that's why a healty and quality puppy will cost you money, but you will be sure that you will have a perfect and healthy family member!!
Also a responsible breeder won't sell his puppy to anyone, he will try to get to know the future owners, he will try to evaluate are the new potential owners the right choice for this breed, he will check the conditions in which will puppy live. As the owner chooses the breeder, the breeder selects the owner. So if some breeder refuses to sell you a puppy, maybe you should think what is the reason for that decision and is a border collie really the best choice for you!
After all you have read here, maybe you will think that we want to intimidate future owners of a border collie, but that's not the case! First of all, we want to present you a real picture of a border collie. As if the future owners are aware of what is ahead of them, there will be the best possible symbiosis between them and the dog. Often people only see the final picture, and everything in between remains unknown. So it's time for you to get to know this part, too!
If we don't have puppies at the moment, we can always recommend you some of responsible breeders, so you can always contact us and get some help to buy a healthy and quality puppy!!
Working line or show line?
This could be a really important question because there is a slight difference between these two lines.
Life with a border collie
Most of the future owners ask how many hours and excercises a border collie needs. Often they are not sure if they would fulfill everything to make a border collie a happy dog.
So here are some experienced owners talking about their ordinary day with a border collie:
A lot has been said about a border collie, about his work ability, his looks, his stamina, his character... but what does a day in a life of a border collie pet actually look like?
When saying „border collie as a pet“ it is often very far from what people think when hearing about having a dog as a pet (with regards to having a competitive sports/show or a working SAR or sheepdog which border collies often are). Generally, people are mostly prepared when deciding on a breed of dog and seldom future owners get a border collie without being ready for most of the things such a dog brings with it, so a day in a life of a border collie (and his owner) might at first seem very demanding.
Take in account that there is no such thing as a „typical“ day for a border collie owners as it depends on weather, training schedule, work schedule, age etc. and it could range from a lazy day on a couch with a few short „toillette – walks“ to a „whole day out“ days. Realistically, having a border collie your days will become more active, more demanding and more challenging but in the best possible way that you will enjoy every step of the way.
Take in account that I live in a city center in an apartment so of course there is a slight difference if you have a yard or live in a rural area with a lot of space. Nevertheless, a border collie needs his daily exercise, training and socialization.
Depending on the owners work time and schedule a border collie day starts basically when the owner wakes up, if trained properly a border collie will respect your resting time but will surely be „up and ready for action“ whenever the owner opens his eyes.
Depending on the work schedule my dog has his first walk between 8-9 and it usually takes around two hours, generally it is an off leash walk (make sure you properly train recall before off leash walks) and it, depending of the season it is either socialization with other dogs or swimming in the sea. Take in account that a border collie will soon get bored by „just walking“ and sniffing around and will start demanding interaction in a form of fetch, playing games etc. After a morning walk we (or my partner and the dog) get home for a breakfast/lunch and then is resting time for about two hours, or if it is a work day a dog stays home for 6-8 hours usually in his kennel. (Kennel is another story, some people use it, some don't, I personally find it very helpful and my dog enjoys staying in it even though the kennel door is open to freely roam around the apartment).
Again, depending on the season around 14-16h there is another either a short „toilette“ walk or an afternoon obedience training which altogether takes around two hours as well, if there is no training that day, we have another longer walk together with lots of dog-owner interaction with some clicker training or nose work (hiding objects for detection). The last walk of a regular working day is around 22-23h and it is mostly on a long leash and it takes around 45 minutes, at that time my dog is mostly a bit tired already (kidding, they never get tired :P) and interested in sniffing around and marking „his territory“. After that time he gets dinner and mostly goes to sleep somewhere close to us (I assume to have his sheep under his control 😛 )
To be honest, it is very hard to write about a „typical“ day with a border collie as our days are very diverse, we often go running together, sometimes go to the city and just sit in a cafe and do nothing, often have weekend shephearding trainings, or just visit our friends horse ranch and roam around. Border collie is a type of dog that will generally follow you around and hope for some interaction, either some commands with treats, or just to check what you are doing. The thing that is important to stress out is that a border collie really needs proper socialization when young in order to prevent certain possible future issues like shyness and dominance. Before getting a border collie make sure that you are aware of what those dogs are made for and to be able to provide him with an outlet for his high energy, both mentally and physically. If you succeed in that, you will have a perfect companion with a stable character and you'll be able to create your days in any way you please.
Bojana, the owner of Lego
Life starts after first coffee and not to early, every dog of mine learns that with time.
I also don’t have any regular schedule of walking/training and being self-employed make life with dog easier.
How much and what we do (walking/training) depends on how much free time I have that day. Sometime that are 20 minutes walk around the block, sometime is 5 minute clicker training, another day is SAR training or agility or we just go for walking/hiking/bike riding. What we do in the morning depends how much or what we will do in the evening. Some days we will do only one of that thing and some days few and than again there will be days that she will be a just couch potato dog and she will be ok with that.
I like to give the dog physical and mental stimulation, what I think is really important for a BC, but I try to watch and “listen” my dog needs and go with that. I will walk, I will train, but I will also give her brake - let her to be just a DOG. She will have 3 day competition, but also she will have 2 weeks vacation on seaside just swimming and walking and doing nothing.
Today I woke up around 9. While drinking my coffee, I got lot of BC looks, head poking, pawing... She was really happy this morning and tried to explain how it is the time to do something. I explained her that today I have lots of work, not so much time in the morning for her and let her out to back yard (yes I have a big back yard). Most of day she spent laying down in front of a fence watching as world goes by or under my working table except …
She tried to interact with me bringing toys in few occasions but my heart was stone. I told her to calm down and go to sleep, she went out and dig a big hole in the back yard, barked on neighbor’s cat, chased sparrows and then she went to sleep under my bed.
At 7 pm we went down to the Club and spend the whole evening training agility and after that playing and running with her brother and sister. Now she is soundly sleeping, this time on my bed.
Tomorrow we will go hiking the whole day.
Darja Jakšić, the owner of Trudi
On the photo: Darja and Trudi on their S.A.R training (Tritolwerk)
More stories soon!!