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Calm bcs and mixes?


simba
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What's the activity range for border collies and border collie mixes?

 

I'm just asking because it seems every fifth dog owner near me is walking a shaggy sheepdog, and a fair few owners are older people who walk slowly with their beautifully socialised dogs. I was chatting to someone today, in and out of hospital with various medical conditions, unable to walk very far, and they have a sheepdog and a jack russell at home.

 

So- is it good management? Are some sheepdogs or bcs really couch potatoes (or at least lower energy)? A combination of the two?

 

 

I'd never consider a bc because they're too high energy for me. That's a pity since they're very common in rescue and notoriously hard to rehome. So - is that prudence or prejudice on my part? What's the range in exercise and work needs, and the influence of training?

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Wow, I think that depends so, SO much on the individual dog's temperament and the sort of training and interaction it gets at home. The energy levels of border collies range all over the spectrum, from totally mellow to bouncing-off-walls.

 

But I can say that yes, sure, some BCs or mixes can be very low key. My first BC, Rose, was like having a cat in the house. Hell on wheels with sheep, but to live with, she was nearly invisible. I could take her anywhere and she'd be a perfect lady. I often used to think she could even have been an apartment dog.

 

It's not the physical energy level that really tells, though. It's the dog's mind. Some BCs are more easily pleased with a mellow lifestyle, others get bored in nothing flat. My Nick is a very mellow boy. He's happy to work, happy to go full throttle, but he's also happy to just lay around the house and chew a few bones. His younger sister, however, is a busy little twittery thing that would be bored out of her skull in a more sedentary household. She's the sort of dog that would eat the furniture, stalk the cats and gnaw the rugs, if not kept engaged and given a job.

 

But I'd say that, if those people have happy, well-adjusted dogs who aren't demolishing the house or barking all night or otherwise acting in obsessive ways, then it's right for them. It depends on the dog and depends on the owner. I think some of the BC's reputation for hyper-ness comes from owners who don't know how to deal with an intelligent, active dog who needs more human interaction than just throwing a ball three times a day.

 

My thoughts, anyhow. Everyone's mileage may vary. :) Happy Thanksgiving!

 

~ Gloria

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I have a Border Collie mix and he's very, very calm 85% of the time. I've had friends with purebred Border Collies tell me how surprised they are that he doesn't obsess or is always hyper. But then again, whenever we're out hiking or something he can go forever. He's smart as a whip, too! Though I wish he'd chase tennis balls outside too instead of strictly indoors... haven't quite figured out why that is.

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His younger sister, however, is a busy little twittery thing that would be bored out of her skull in a more sedentary household. She's the sort of dog that would eat the furniture, stalk the cats and gnaw the rugs, if not kept engaged and given a job.

 

Sounds like Chesney until he hit like 3, which is probably the reason he was crated until he was almost 4 when I left... Have hope Gloria, he did grow up and is so much more mellow now. Or maybe its mature, I don't know, but its better :P

 

I think finding the right energy level for your lifestyle is important and also not having the stereotype or misconception that Border Collies have to constantly be engaged with something or they will drive me crazy attitude. If you teach them to be mellow in the house and stick to it, but in return reward them by taking them out and interacting with them, they are fine. Now that's not to say that you need to take them out and run them miles and miles everyday, because the more you run them the farther you will have to go each time to wear them out, before you know it, you're a marathoner. ;)

 

Teaching them things is the best workout for this breed. They love learning new things!

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My mother has 4 BC's and she's 75! They go everywhere with her. For excercise, she throws the ball for them twice a day. They are all very happy and content and really chill out in the house! I personally think they should have more excersise, but they are certainly happy and healthy. I don't think that you have to run a dog to death, it's really more mental stimulation that they need, IMO. I do agility with my BC, and we either go for a 30-40 min. walk or a run on most days--weather permiting. She also has my son who plays with her. What she really needs is having a person communitcate and interact with her--that is what's most important, IMO. ;)

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My 2nd bc, Meg, a purebred from working lines was the ultimate couch potato - as long as she didn't see sheep, goats or ducks! She would do agility to please me but her heart wasn't in it and she saw absolutely no reason to expend energy running after a ball or frisbee! Through rescue, most of the dogs over 5 are pretty calm - even if they require more exercise than many dogs, they're not usually hyper about it. With bc mixes, IME, a lot of it depends on the other breed. For example, I currently foster 5 yr border collie/jack russell terrier who has been rehomed twice due to her energy level. Frankly, she is the most hyper dog I've ever dealt with! I also have a 2 yo bc/spaniel foster who is calm and laid back, likes long walks but doesn't require anything else (although she, of course, likes to play w/me and the other dogs in the backyard). We have a 1 yo smooth coat (appears purebred) in rescue who is very calm and quiet but not lazy. She probably would make a lousy working dog but she's a great companion dog - easily able to walk or jog w/an owner but content to quietly play by herself as well. So IMO there is a border collie for every activity level - a prospective owner just has to be honest with themselves and the reputable breeder/rescue about what they really want.

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My BC/Aussie mix can skip a day, maybe two, without a run. However, she will let me know if she needs to get out. She is used to getting her workout first thing in the morning, so that she will pester me until I take her out to the park if it's been too long between workouts. She knows when my coffee cup is empty :D

 

I don't have any problems with destructive behavior, but I suspect that is because she spends a good deal of time with me as I don't have to go out to work. Although, she did chew up my dental partial when she was a puppy :lol: (true story), and she chewed her seatbelt in half in the back seat of my car. Oh and when I was houstraining her and had her tethered to me, she chewed herself free while I was doing dishes, and was running around the house before I realized it. :lol: No accidents though!

 

I love positive training, so that keeps my dog from getting bored.

 

This is just my personal feeling, but I wouldn't have got a Border Collie mix if I were working an 8 hour day/40 hr week with a commute job. I brought Hannah home the day after leaving a job from which I took a lump sum/early retirement.

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I have nothing really to compare my dogs to, but when we had 3, ages 4, 4, and 1, they got about a half hour of fetch in the morning and another half hour in the evening. If I was ill or injured, they rested pretty quietly with me. After I was feeling better, though, the first couple trips to the park were pretty intense.

 

Gibbs really likes his frisbee or ball, but he does fine in the house. We play a little indoor fetch or tug with him in the evenings, and we do some nosework here and there, but he settles just fine.

 

All purebred, Shonie and Buzz I think were from working lines, and Gibbs is as well.

 

It's really a lot about managing the dog so the dog doesn't manage you, as well as doing stuff with them. Pretty simple.

 

Ruth

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What she really needs is having a person communitcate and interact with her--that is what's most important, IMO. ;)

^^This.

 

Border collies more than anything want to interact with their humans. I work from home and am at the computer a lot during the day. All 10 of my border collies (most working bred, a couple rescues) lay around the house while I'm working. If I get up, they're all raring to go do whatever I want. But in reality, what they want is to do stuff with me, and if that means hanging out snoozing while I work, then they're fine with that.

 

When I got my first dog, a border collie x Australian shepherd, not only did I work full time, I also commuted from Fredericksburg, VA, to Washington, DC. That made for very long days. The only reason I went ahead and got the dog is because I had neighbors with dogs who had a key to my house and would come over and get Indy when they got home and take him over to play with them and their dogs. It worked out just fine because I had a good support system set up.

 

That said, I have worked full time away from home and still owned a bunch of border collies. They adjust. Mostly they'd just sleep when I was gone.

 

I've never been one to spend a ton of time exercising dogs. We'll take long walks, but once I moved to this new place the ticks were so bad that I had to cut out our several long walks through the woods to the river every day. They adjusted.

 

I do raise sheep and my dogs do have work to do. But most times, that work is minimal and doesn't require a lot of time. A well-bred border collie with a stable temperament ought to be able to handle a more mellow lifestyle. If I were looking for such a dog, I'd probably go to a rescue who had foster homes that could assure me that a particular dog is pretty mellow.

 

Really most well-bred and temperamentally sound dogs can be made hyper and difficult to live with by their owners or they can be made well-mannered and easy to live with by their owners. You set the tone for the type of lifestyle you will have and the dog learns to go along with that.

 

I'm not saying it's okay to be a complete slug and expect every border collie to be the same, but I know a heck of a lot of people who work full time, who have tiny yards, who don't work stock often, etc., and they all have dogs who are well adjusted and a pleasure to live with in the house. So it can't be a fluke.

 

J.

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My dog is a rescue, so though I don't know for sure, I think she is all Border Collie. She is 3 years old now. She goes out for a good run with 3 other dogs four times a week. They climb hills, swim, play fetch and horse around with each other for a couple of hours.

Beyond that she gets a couple of short hand-walks a day with me, (daytime on leash, nighttime off-leash) and the occasional frisbee session when my agoraphobia will allow it.

 

At home she is a perfect lady. She and the cat are good friends and play together and I play with her and we have regular sessions where she is asked to find a particular toy - she has lots and knows all their names.

 

She is quite calm in the house, no pacing, whining or pestering. But she's a real rocket on the hill trails and at the dog park. She has a solid recall though and is no trouble to manage.

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Border collies more than anything want to interact with their humans.

...

But in reality, what they want is to do stuff with me, and if that means hanging out snoozing while I work, then they're fine with that.

Yes, that is the basic truth about border collies, in my experience. It's also a fact that they will feed off your mood and if you are stressed, they will stress too. Calm border collies invariably have calm handlers.

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I just want to add that I'm new to Border Collie or BC crosses, so my experience and opinions should be filtered through that caveat. I got the usual warning about Border Collies or BC mixes, and I want to do right by any dog I have, so I prepared myself. This dog has been so easy to train and such a pleasure to have. I usually prefer an adult dog to a puppy, but I have very much enjoyed raising Hannah from puppyhood. When and if I'm ready to get another, though, Hannah and I will look for an adult rescue.

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Yes, that is the basic truth about border collies, in my experience. It's also a fact that they will feed off your mood and if you are stressed, they will stress too. Calm border collies invariably have calm handlers.

 

Cerb, my BC/Lab mix (see below) is exactly like this. He follows me or my family around and always seems ready to reach out and touch. He can be a bit insistent if I haven't run him "until he steps on his tongue" earlier in the day, but a firm, gentle no will send him to lay down with an audible grumble.

 

Cerb is in no way hyper, but he is energetic, needs mental and physical exercise and the training that channels that energy. Being consistent is a key here. If you allow something "every once in a while" it will become the norm. Don't give in because it's inconvenient to stand your ground.

 

This is one of the reasons I think BCs get a bad rap: They respond to training exceptionally well, but they have the same response to BAD training, or no training(they'll train themselves). Think of good training as an investment. The dividend is wonderful.

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My first BC, coming after 20 years of Shelties, is an absolute delight in how many ways he explodes that myth about the breed being hyper and uber-busy all the time. I do a lot with Rowley, it's why I got him: I take him a lot of places, and we train in agility and rally obedience and (at a very fumbling-beginner level) in stock work. But I also have a full-time job that has me gone from home 32 hours a week, and I have five other dogs (senior Shelties and a senior Lapphund) who take time and attention -- my BC is fine with all of this. The only time he really bugs me is for his first morning walk/ball game of the day. And he's only 2 1/2 now, supposedly still in his 'crazy puppy' years!

 

What makes me laugh is that when we're out somewhere and someone is getting Rowley all wound up -- which is easy to do, he loves people and wants to jump and hug and face-lick -- and they say to me 'how do you live with this at home?' Well, I don't stimulate him 24/7, for starters; I expect him to settle into the household routine, and he does. So what those people are seeing is like a 3-year old child at a birthday party: lots of excitement and being outside of the routine! Any dog would be a spaz under those conditions.

 

What I absolutely love, so much, about Rowley is that he is fine with whatever we are going to do, including doing nothing: he just wants to know what's on the agenda and he wants to be right with me in the doing or not doing.

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I agree with the "you don't know what you got til you got it" crowd. We have had three BCs with another on the way. Two were from strong working parents and number three is a Rescue BC.

 

Working BC #1 (Max) turned out to be very mellow. He was a rough coat, farly large framed dog. Loved to go full bore when playing and such, but was perfectly content in the house just "hanging out." When my wife was pregnant he followed her and stood watch over her constantly. He has passed on.

 

Rescue BC (Jack) is very mellow and laid back, both in the house and out. He is big-boned with a full round head and medium coat. He was quite obviously mistreated and spooks at the slightest raising of the voice or any sign of someone losing their temper or such within his earshot. He is a joy to have around, just wants to rest or have his head scratched and he is fulfilled.

 

Working BC #2 (Lil) was pretty small and wirey and just full of spunk. At around age 2 1/2 she began to mellow and became quite docile, that is until,..... we brought the Rescue BC into the house. Her switch went on and she had to herd him, the cat and the grandchild all over creation. She never did settle down much after that and frankly became quite a handful for us no matter how much activity we provided to her. It was amazing how little sleep she would get by on because she never could stop "doing something" and allow herself to sleep. It was really wonderous how she had begun to mellow as her brain had fully developed and then KAPOW!!, the other dog arrived and she went ballistic.

 

We are picking up a new pup in Mid-December. She is from strong working stock (cattle ranch) and will be registered with ABCA. From the sound of the parents and a previous litter from them it sounds like she will likely be a little hellfire when it is time to be and then hopefully settle down at the appropriate time. But we know she will be who she is and we will adapt and adject to her however she turns out.

 

Such is the adventure of sharing our lives with this contentious breed! :)

 

(PS - We've had two Field Trial Springer Spaniels and both were exponentially more hyper and trouble prone than any Border Collie we have shared our home with!)

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Thanks everyone for all the responses!

 

I was talking to another dog person (not a bc owner) and he was incredulous when I mentioned the amount of border collies with elderly people, or rather vice versa. One of the rescues near me will not adopt a border collie to you unless you exercise it for 10 miles a day.

 

Lovely dogs with those owners, like I said, always walking quietly off leash and waiting at the appropriate stop light, and looking to the owners for guidance. So the two messages seemed absolutely conflicting.

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I adopted my BC from a rescue that rates the dogs while they are in foster care with activity levels of companion, active, working, and puppy. "Companion" means the dog seems perfectly fine with a moderate amount of physical activity daily and is content just hanging out with people; "active" means the dog would need something like agility or flyball or other canine sport in its regular routine; "working" means that the dog demonstrates herding ability or instinct and would be best off in a home that included that or some similar work; and "puppy" means kind of 'too soon to tell.' This rescue would certainly adopt a 'companion' BC to an older person such as the scenario you describe, but would not place a 'working' BC with that same home.

 

A good rescue will do its very best to sort out the optimal matches of dogs to applicants. :)

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What makes me laugh is that when we're out somewhere and someone is getting Rowley all wound up -- which is easy to do, he loves people and wants to jump and hug and face-lick -- and they say to me 'how do you live with this at home?' Well, I don't stimulate him 24/7, for starters; I expect him to settle into the household routine, and he does. So what those people are seeing is like a 3-year old child at a birthday party: lots of excitement and being outside of the routine! Any dog would be a spaz under those conditions.

 

 

This resonated with me since it is a perfect description of how much Torque loves people and how he acts with everybody. And my dog-trainer friends are no help because they reinforce his behavior with lots of hugs and kisses back at him.

 

One story: I attended a flyball training session (one time, I didn't like it) and Torque was the only BC there. (The local flyball club exists more for having fun with their dogs than in being uber-competitive.) People were nice, but I heard the comment a couple of times - "I like Border Collies, but I wouldn't want to live with one." Huh? Torque was one of the better-behaved and the most focused dogs there. But he was also very wiggly and desperately wanting to meet everyone - so I guess he appeared hyper.

 

Jovi

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What makes me laugh is that when we're out somewhere and someone is getting Rowley all wound up -- which is easy to do, he loves people and wants to jump and hug and face-lick -- and they say to me 'how do you live with this at home?' Well, I don't stimulate him 24/7, for starters; I expect him to settle into the household routine, and he does. So what those people are seeing is like a 3-year old child at a birthday party: lots of excitement and being outside of the routine! Any dog would be a spaz under those conditions.

 

Wow, that sounds familiar! I agree with the other posters who said every dog will be different. I expected my BC mix to be slightly less intense than a purebred BC, because that's what I was told she'd be. But as it turned out, she's actually a lot more intense than a lot of purebred BC's I've met thru sports. Build in an off-switch, though, and it's completely manageable. Really I think it comes down to whether that intensity is something you're going to want in your life. If you could do without it, don't go the BC route.

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This resonated with me since it is a perfect description of how much Torque loves people and how he acts with everybody. And my dog-trainer friends are no help because they reinforce his behavior with lots of hugs and kisses back at him.

 

One story: I attended a flyball training session (one time, I didn't like it) and Torque was the only BC there. (The local flyball club exists more for having fun with their dogs than in being uber-competitive.) People were nice, but I heard the comment a couple of times - "I like Border Collies, but I wouldn't want to live with one." Huh? Torque was one of the better-behaved and the most focused dogs there. But he was also very wiggly and desperately wanting to meet everyone - so I guess he appeared hyper.

 

Jovi

 

HA!!!! This fits Cerb to a T. He absolutely, positively, loves everyone...except THAT guy (we all know a THAT guy). Cerb and I will be walking amiably, minding our own business when BANG!...someone compliments/baby talks/gestures to him and he melts into wiggles and licks.

 

Think: wiggling, licking Dervish...on crack.

 

DW (wife, not the cartoon character) and I were hoping to train him as a therapy dog, but that which makes him perfect (complete lover) also makes him too much to handle, for some. As I've said elswhere; if this is our biggest behavioral problem (and it seems to be), then we hit the jackpot.

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DW (wife, not the cartoon character) and I were hoping to train him as a therapy dog, but that which makes him perfect (complete lover) also makes him too much to handle, for some. As I've said elswhere; if this is our biggest behavioral problem (and it seems to be), then we hit the jackpot.

 

BC's are often billed as versatile, because they excel at so many things. Mine competes in two sports, and will start a third soon. But the limit of her versatility is as a therapy dog. Wiggly and bouncy with an almost obsessive need to administer kisses to any and all human faces - she'd be the worst ever therapy dog. Good thing I never wanted anything like that for her.

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My first border collie, Beau was a very laid back dog and would sleep all day if it meant being by my side. Although as soon as he was offered the chance he'd chase those cows all day long. He also had a pretty submissive personality, but ultimately he's the reason I have Ziggy now. Ziggy is already proving that he is the complete polar opposite of Beau. He has a very dominant personality and is very high energy. Of course a lot of that could be because he's only 3 months old. I make sure that he gets as much physical exercise everyday as I can possibly provide, but more importantly I work almost constantly on mental stimulation. He is very much like Beau in that he loves to be at my heels all day and night long, but is also much more difficult to handle. The flip side to this is that he is incredibly easy and eager to train. We've had to be firmer with him than with Beau, but he's just as great of a dog. I firmly believe that a dog's energy level is in direct correlation to it's personality and environment.

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Today was one of those days...

 

My dogs got one run outside. For 15 minutes. A few minutes of training indoors. And then that was it. For the day. They rode along to town, but sat in their crates the whole time. I could tell they were a little bored this evening (the head on the knee with eyes drilling holes in my head kind of gave it away) But they were quiet and calm all evening.

 

They're not low energy dogs, just great housepets when they know what is expected of them :lol:

 

Tomorrow is SAR training so they should really be ready to go after today!

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I make sure that he gets as much physical exercise everyday as I can possibly provide, but more importantly I work almost constantly on mental stimulation.

You do realize that if you provide him with as much exercise as you can provide that you are creating a dog who will require that much exercise, right? Please also remember that a 3-month-old pup shouldn't be doing a lot of repetitive or high-impact exercise but rather should be doing only the type of exercise it chooses for itself. For anyone wondering, forced exercise = playing fetch (for example) while the pup grabbing a toy on its own and running around the yard with it would be an example of the sort of exercise a pup might choose to engage in.

 

I play with my nearly 4-month old some, and she plays with the other dogs inside and outside, though I limit that so that she's not running hard constantly and being run into or run over by the bigger dogs. I may play a little tug with her or some other simple games for short periods of time, but I certainly don't give her a ton of exercise. I don't want to stress her young and growing joints too much, nor do I want to create a dog who will demand a lot of attention as an adult. Just my two cents, but I take essentially the same approach with every pup I've raised and none pester me nor do they require tons of exercise every day.

 

J.

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