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Hi everyone. I'm a newbie. I've been lurking though.

 

About the title, my dad is a grumpy old dog man. More fond of dogs than people, he'd tell you this to your face. What he always said was the worst, scummiest thing you could do, was get a dog of a breed because its cool/cute/on tv/in the shop and then get rid of it or hurt/punish it for doing a completely predictable thing for the breed. Dropping terriers because of digging/barking, Danes for being big and clumsy, things like that. In his view most dogs end up in pounds because lack of diligence in research.

 

My needs/wants are different than his though. I need more trainability, a smaller size, (I'd like to be able to lift my dog if its hurt, which caps me out at about 75 lbs at the max) and more heat tolerance. I like to do 3-5 miles of walking every day, would be willing to work up to more. I still don't own any sheep though.

 

Borders are one of the breeds that appeals, but I worry about letting the dog down on exercise/energy needs. I don't have a yard. Was told Borders need more exercise than Dobermans or Poodles (two other athletic breeds I'm researching)? But is BC endless hyperactivity like pitty lock-jaw, not strictly true?

 

I'm willing to look at dog sports but have no yard and no experience w/ agility so it would be a slow and probably very stupid-looking process.

 

I'd like to be told the unvarnished truth about whether I'm being a jerk to even think about BCs, as a pet home. Yell at me if you want. I won't get offended. I've been warned away from a couple other "hyper" breeds as too much for me.

 

I've never had a herding breed. In the past I've lived with rescue Akitas, and a rescue staffy with separation anxiety. Very, very different. And only adult dogs. They needed exercise and people around, and they were strong dogs, but their brains aren't the same.

 

I've also talked to a Rough Collie person and an Aussie breeder, and each said I'd be better off with what they had instead of a Border, but honestly I worry about the physical health of Roughs/Smooths and am still researching Aussies. What do y'all think?

 

Like the topic says, am I a scumbag? Just staring at collie pics going "oooh they're so cute I want one of THOSE!"?

 

Great site by the way. Thanks in advance for any thoughts, even "go back to lurking, noob!"

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Some people can have a Border Collie in an apartment/no yard setting. Most can not.

 

There are plenty of breeds that are under 75 lbs that would be happy to walk with you for 3-5 miles a day, even in the heat. That doesn't require a whole lot of training. Most of them are cute. :)

 

So why do you want a border collie (or other intelligent, active dog)? What are you planning on training the dog to do? What else do you plan to do with your dog (in addition to walks)? How much time do plan on investing in your dog?

 

I think dog sports are a lot of fun and you don't necessarily need a yard. We do classes/practice in a barn with our trainer once a week for agility. While I have weave poles and jumps in the yard, when first starting we did a lot of training in the house, just teaching directional cues and contacts on a board. Rally can easily be trained/practiced in the living room. And then of course there are all kinds of tricks and tasks that you can train indoors at home. All of this can provide good mental work in the house, but you have to be willing to put in the time and effort, in addition to walks and other outings.

 

I hear you on being able to pick the dog up. I've decided I don't want dogs over 50 lbs. I currently have a 75 lb 13-year-old Lab mix. He has bad hips and a bad back and while I can easily help him support his own weight, it is very difficult for me to all out pick him up, not just because he's heavy, but because he's also BIG. I'm not a small person by any means and I'm fairly strong, but neither of us are comfortable when I have to left his whole weight.

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I grew up with rescue Akitas. Lovely dogs in their way, but all wrong for my life now. Had a rescue Bouvier that had brain-damage, not really looking for another but he wasn't a fair example of the breed in any case. Had a rescue staffy, good little thing but not clever (in either the Border way or the Akita way... which are very different...) and my husband doesn't like staffies.

 

I'd like a dog that doesn't blink at me like a cat and go "I know what you said, but I'd rather take a nap." My husband is not very dog-experienced at all and I think an Akita or Chow is too hardheaded for him. Possibly, though, I'm going from one extreme to the other?

 

I'd like if I didn't have to tie it to a skateboard and drag it to get more than one mile of happy walking. I mean one day it will be very old and that's okay, but I've talked to some people with lazy breeds and they said it would be mean to ask their breed to do that much walking every day. (Of course I've also been begged to get a Cavalier anyway, just because "It would be the fittest in the state!") I also like the BC sort of medium size and fairly physically together with no nose mashed up between its eyes or anything like that.

 

What I would do with it really depends on the particular dog to some extent. I like beaches and hiking and walking around the city (don't I sound exciting, not). I've never had a dog-sports dog. I'd like to teach tricks. I do have cats, and may have other pets in the future. I'd be training a lot of socialization and going places without flipping out, but that doesn't really count as training by BC standards does it?

 

I'm basically trying to sift out how much of the stuff I've heard about Borders from people who don't have one is true.

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Have you considered an adult rescue border collie, or border collie mix? Often rescues will have a better idea of what the temperament and energy level of a dog is, and can match you with an appropriate dog.

 

In general, I find that the horror stories about how hyper border collies are are overblown, but there is a degree of truth. My border collie is extremely high drive, even for a border collie, and I do not think he would have done well in a novice home. I got him as a puppy so it's not like I knew exactly what I was getting into, but I've had border collies for over ten years, so I was prepared. Even though he works as my service dog every day, and has daily outlets for energy and training sessions every day, he is still getting a bit pent up with all the bad weather we've been having (we usually bike to school but have been taking the bus lately). I do not think he would be happy with the schedule you have described, and if you get a puppy you risk this happening.

 

I'm not saying a border collie can't be happy as "just" a pet. But I think having the security of knowing the temperament and energy level of a potential dog would be a better option for a novice border collie owner. JMO.

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Yes, I'm open to an adult rescue. Mix would depend on mixed with what, really.

 

I really appreciate your honesty, arf and flamincomet. That is why I love breed forums more than talking to breeders. I have spoken to some breeders in the past who were very much trying to sell me a dog and that's not what I'm looking for yet.

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I would say what you have been told about border collies need for exercise is overblown, they need as much exercise as any other big athletic dog but as has been stated on these boards many times you get the dog you create, walk it 3 miles that is what it gets used to, throw frisbees endlessly give it masses of running time and that what your dog will want. I have never lived with an Aussie or poodle, but I know a lot of Aussies and they are no easier to live with.

What border collies do need is interaction, they need to use their brain, that might be learning new tricks, dog sports, there are many ways to engage their brain, but if it is not engaged a bored border collie can be a terrible thing. Most of them want to be actively involved in their owners lives, they are not accessory dogs.

The other critical thing about border collies is that they are very sensitive dogs, they can be upset by noise, motion, light if you read these boards you are going to find stories of dogs that have all sorts of issues. You will also find a number of topics on the this subject, is a border collie a good fit.

To sum up, I would say its not the activity level you have to worry about providing for, it's if you can keep the mind happy.

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Sounds like a Labrador Retriever could be your thing. A good lab breeder offers an active but very manageable dog. The rescue route could be a good way to go as well. Perhaps look for a good mix of breeds. I grew up on labs and sled dog mixes. Had a husky/shepherd/lab mix that thrived on 3 to 5 mile bike rides and swims at lake/beach. A key with any dog but in particular Border Collies, is to work their brains as well as bodies. Play hide and seek with favorite toys. Teach tricks, etc. That can be as good for them as excerise.

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"They" (people who don't own Border Collies) call people who previously did not have one, but wants to get one, or who have gotten one, those who have gone "to the dark side".

 

It doesn't make you a scumbag. It makes you someone who has become mostly machine in a black suit who often says, "Join me, and together we will RULE THE GALAXY"!!!!

 

So, no worries. Gather some storm troopers and settle in for the ride of a lifetime on the death star.

 

(You may now return to your regularly scheduled serious discussion of what to consider when deciding if a Border Collie really is right for you - there are important things to think about and you are getting good advise.)

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^^^ Lol @ Kristine

 

I second the recommendation for an adult rescue. Its a great way to help a dog out while also having a much better idea of what you are getting into. Also, its not a bad idea to start looking for trainers now if you are interested in taking classes and/or doing dog sports. Give them a call and ask to sit in on a class.

 

What I would do with it really depends on the particular dog to some extent.

I would think more about what YOU want to do with a dog and match the dog to you, rather than wait and match yourself to a dog (if that makes sense). You'll be happier that way. Not that you shouldn't take the dogs preferences into account when the time comes.

 

Consider your husband too. Regardless of what dog you get, you are likely going to have to train him as much as the dog. Is he willing to go to classes with you or at least follow your training methods? Its hard on the dog if she gets mixed signals.

 

As said, many Border Collies tend to be sensitive dogs (my mom would say they're 'jumpy'). That doesn't mean you should coddle and baby them. They need to learn to cope with life just like any other dog, but they are typically very alert to their surroundings and may be overly cautious or react to things that you wouldn't normally notice. If you end up with a reactive or very nervous dog, it takes a lot of time and patience to work through that. It may be several years before you end up with the dog you want. Some dog never get over it (though I think many times this is because the human babies them or gives up).

 

My family had to be retrained when I brought Meg home. She lacked confidence and was a sensitive girl. Loud voices scared her, even if not directed at her at all (like Mom on the phone with hard of hearing grandma). Stern voices would send her hiding (again, not usually directed at her). I had to train Mom to speak calmly to her. Meg just needs to now what you want...not like my lab mix who would pick and choose what to listen to unless you used a stern voice. Meg also avoided Dad for almost 2 years. I think it had a lot to do with his inconsistent body language. He would always use the wrong hand signals and would confuse her. He took more training than Meg really. Now, almost 4 years later, Meg is a happy confident girl who likes most people and other dogs. She does agility, Rally, Frisbee, and loves to swim. She can handle any situation. It took three years and a lot of work to get her there though.

 

Not all Border Collies are nervous or sensitive. Not all are neurotic or intense. With those that are, some are born that way, others are made that way by their people.

 

You don't have to do dog sports or train for a marathon with your dog, but you do have to give her something to do to keep her fit and occupy her mind. If you do decide to get a Border Collie, just make sure you bring home the right one for your house and you'll be ok.

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I have never lived with an Aussie or poodle, but I know a lot of Aussies and they are no easier to live with.

 

 

I second that! My agility instructor breeds Aussies, and she loves them, but there is no way I'd ever own one. People often look at me funny when I say that since I have border collies :rolleyes:

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I don't have a border collie yet but their energy type just resonates with me better than an aussie or a poodle. I don't know how to explain it well but the aussie people think I'm insane for wanting a BC. And last weekend I was around several standard poodles and I just can't handle them either. I kept trying to convince myself I wanted an aussie since they'd be 'easier' than a BC but all my experience points me to not being an aussie person.

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Thanks everyone.

 

I can totally see the argument for a breed that's biddable but not as "on" but I don't see myself going down the Retriever road. It's something about the temperament. I don't mind other people's, but I don't click with them on a personal level.

 

It looks like in addition to lurking on boards I should start lurking at dog sport/training stuff IRL? I always have this image of really creeping people out, accidentally, kind of the canine equivalent of a crazy lady lurking around the daycare going "your babies... I love your babies..."

But it won't offend people? I kind of thought I needed to HAVE a dog to justify showing up to that stuff, lol.

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"They" (people who don't own Border Collies) call people who previously did not have one, but wants to get one, or who have gotten one, those who have gone "to the dark side".

 

It doesn't make you a scumbag. It makes you someone who has become mostly machine in a black suit who often says, "Join me, and together we will RULE THE GALAXY"!!!!

 

So, no worries. Gather some storm troopers and settle in for the ride of a lifetime on the death star.

 

(You may now return to your regularly scheduled serious discussion of what to consider when deciding if a Border Collie really is right for you - there are important things to think about and you are getting good advise.)

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Hi there, and welcome to the boards!

I'm going to throw my oar in the water here and give you my perspective. I have border collies - two at present, have had up to 6 BC and BC/Cross dogs at one time, over the years, but the old guys have passed on. My two work and do sheepdog trials, though we don't own a farm, but they stay pretty darned active.

Here is the thing about border collies. It's not that they need to run 30 miles per day. (Although they are bred to do all of that and more.) It's that their MINDS need to be engaged.

The horror stories you may hear of border collies eating the sofa, destroying the laundry room, cratering the back yard, demolishing the landscaping and stalking the cat all day aren't because the dog didn't get enough physical exercise.

They are because the dog was bored. His mind didn't have enough to do.

You don't have a yard. Personally, that worries me. Where is the dog all day, if he doesn't have room to go outside and explore his environment, listen to the world, hang out in the sun? They aren't bred to be apartment dogs and that's where the boredom kicks in. Going for the same walk every day may not do enough to engage his mind and you'd have to take up the slack by teaching him lots of things, engaging him in different ways, and in general, making him a centerpiece of your life.

That's another point I like to make. These dogs need a job. If they can't herd sheep, then their person needs to think up other things. Tricks. Tasks. Games.

And rules. Border collies need rules and your hubby will need to follow those rules as well. It's no good if you have one set of rules for the dog and hubby has another. That famous border collie intellect can work against you as much as with you.

Also, you will need to watch out for obsessive or neurotic behaviors which can arise in pet border collies. If you have cats, don't let him get in the habit of haunting or staring at the cats. If you have other small pets, you can't let him haunt or stare at those, either. If you have people that walk by, don't let him start barking at the window and if there are kids on bikes or if you walk on busy streets, don't let him fixate on bikes or cars. Movement of any kind can be a trigger for unwanted behaviors if the owner isn't on top of things.

Plus they can think up some of the strangest things with no apparent trigger at all. My Gael went through a phase where she was terrified of the crinkle of plastic shopping bags. :wacko: Some are sound sensitive and may have trouble with raised voices or loud or sudden noises, to varying degrees. Some can be shy of sudden movement or fearful of being grabbed or dislike being hugged. And some aren't all that good with kids, if you ever have children over to visit.

I'm not trying to scare you away from border collies. But in a way, I sort of am. You sound like a very nice and thoughtful person, but the lack of a yard and a sort of vague criteria of wanting a dog that's a size you can carry if needed ... is just a bit worrisome. I want you to be wholly aware that you would be taking on a dog that for three hundred years has been bred to be a supreme athlete, a dedicated worker, a problem solver and an independent thinker.

Yes, they are smart. Yes, they are wonderful companions. Yes, they are the most gifted, brilliant, amazing little weirdos ever to walk on four legs! :wub: But they are a full-time dog. Their brains will be working even if yours is not.

If you do decide a BC is the fit for you, I will echo the suggestion to look into an adult dog from rescue. That way you can assess their temperament right away and get a good feel for how she or he would fit into your family, and circumvent the puppy stage.

Best wishes,

Gloria

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But it won't offend people? I kind of thought I needed to HAVE a dog to justify showing up to that stuff, lol.

 

Definitely not. I went to a few agility trials and talked to people and had a couple trainers picked out before I ever chose to bring Meg home. When it came time to start classes (that is, when Meg had settled in and started to bond with me), I was ready and all I had to do was wait for the next session to start with the trainer I had already picked out. We started out with an excellent CPDT for basic obedience and intro to clicker training. Then another trainer for agility (and later Rally and Treibball). We also took two sessions of classes at yet another facility that focused specifically on walking calmly on a leash...Meg's was not a puller but calm she was not.

 

Find a good trainer now (or two or three). Even though I'm sure you can teach them at home, I would start with a basic obedience class with a CPDT. You may be surprised at what you learn. If nothing else, it'll give you a chance to bond with your new dog and see how she does in a class setting. As for sports, figure out how much time and expense each sport involves, and more importantly, if it interests you.

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Absolutely everything Gloria said! Well, with one exception, maybe, but so spot on that that's immaterial.

 

I second the idea of considering an adolescent or adult rescue, particularly an adult. Puppies are, no matter how well bred, still a gamble. With a properly-fostered rescue, you tend to know what you are getting - and avoid many of the challenges of puppyhood. Best wishes!

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It looks like in addition to lurking on boards I should start lurking at dog sport/training stuff IRL? I always have this image of really creeping people out, accidentally, kind of the canine equivalent of a crazy lady lurking around the daycare going "your babies... I love your babies..."

 

Ha!!!! You just made me snort coffee... :lol:

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Just want to toss in my 2 cents worth on the issue of a lack of yard.

I adopted Jester when he was a highly energetic 2 year old dog, and I lived in LA in one room with no yard at all. The rescue people had gotten to know me and trusted me enough to let me have Jes anyway - they knew I would make it work, and I did.

 

Every morning without exception I rolled out of bed 1.5 hours earlier than I had before, and took Jes out for an hour-long walk and play session. First thing I did when I got home from work was take him out for another longer one, usually 1.5 to 2 hours. It was very hard to find space where I could let him be off-leash and fetch a ball or frisbee. I got kicked out of one park after another, one school yard after another. Just finding a plot of grass that I could use was highly challenging, but I kept at it and used church lawns, the little patch of grass in front of a chamber-of-commerce building, anything I could find. I also did an obedience training session with him twice a day, and taught him tricks. I talked to him a lot. Every weekend without fail we went for a hike and that took a lot of planning, too, getting out of the city and back in, but I would have wanted to do that even without a dog.

 

My point is you can do it just fine without a yard, it simply takes more time, more effort, and more dedication, because you can't just open the door and let the dog outside. For me it was more than worth it and not once did I resent it or not want to take him for his walk/train/play. It was as important to me as it was to him. But that's me. You just need to ask yourself if that would be you, or not.

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Just want to toss in my 2 cents worth on the issue of a lack of yard...My point is you can do it just fine without a yard, it simply takes more time, more effort, and more dedication, because you can't just open the door and let the dog outside. For me it was more than worth it and not once did I resent it or not want to take him for his walk/train/play. It was as important to me as it was to him. But that's me. You just need to ask yourself if that would be you, or not.

And that was my one and only disagreement with Gloria's wonderful post - we do not have a fenced yard, either, and I think that in some ways and for some people, that's really a plus. In my case, it's a plus because I can't just let the dogs out to do their thing, so I have to either go out with them if they are just going in the yard, or I have to take them for a walk of some duration or another. And that's the plus for both them and myself.

 

Dogs can do very well with fenced yards but a fenced yard can also be a crutch that, for a busy or lazy person (and I can be both), may become a substitute for interaction. And a dog that is left alone in a yard for periods of time can become: prey for dog-nappers; bored; a digger; a barker; a fence-runner; a bike-chaser; a car-chaser; a bird-chaser; a cat-chaser; and you get the picture (all largely relating back to being bored).

 

So, if you are willing and able to make the commitment, not having a fenced yard should not be an issue as long as you can and will take your dog out for exercise and interaction.

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I live in a 650 sq ft apartment in downtown Vancouver with my BC, Nessie. After some problems trying to convince rescues that I'm not a terrible person for living downtown, I got her second hand from the SPCA. She was healthy of body and spirit, happy and loved playing around/being a dork with me on our meet.

 

I may have lucked out, but I think it was just good old fashion rules/boundaries that I taught her that makes her my buddy and a good apartment citizen. She mostly just lays around and sleeps when we're at home like any other dog I've met. At first I kept her on leash in the house at first and gave lots of treats for laying down and being quiet. I ignored all bad things like barking/whining then I just sort of treated less and dropped the leashing thing as she got the hint. I'd say the process took about 3 months of work.

 

I take Ness to work 3 days a week and to doggie daycare the other 2 days. On the weekends we go on hikes/beach walks rain or shine. Her daily routine is 3-4 walks a day at 15-40 minutes per walk and it's on my terms when we go, so I don't have to wake up at the crack of dawn or go during a downpour. I keep her crated for sleeping and car rides, so she can't get into much trouble in those contexts. It's done *me* a lot of good, too - I lost nearly 50 pounds just getting outside and having fun with the dog.

 

I really don't feel like a scumbag at all and I think it might have been on of the better choices I've made in my life.

 

-Rich

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I don't object to Sue's objections in the least! Sue, your dogs have so much to do that the lack of a dog yard doesn't enter into my considerations in the least! I envy you your dog walks!

And for the record, Alison Stripedsocks, NO, you are not a scumbag. :P

I came on a little heavy - maybe a lot heavy? - just because I want to be sure you really think this through and that you can commit to the level of engagement a healthy border collie should have. And by healthy, I mean his mind as well as his body, because they can get neurotic if they get bored. Maybe I take after your grumpy old dad! :D But the point to realize is that it's more than physical activity that keeps a border collie sane. That much-vaunted intelligence does come with a caveat, which is that if you're not thinking with them, they'll keep right on thinking without you, and it may or may not lead to things you like.

You've got some good testimonies here from folks who live without a fenced yard and yet keep their dogs healthy and happy. They give a good idea of the level of commitment it takes. The main reason border collies keep ending up in rescue is that their people were not prepared for such an active and busy brain.

Best of luck, and if I came off as a turd, I apologize. B)

~ Gloria

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Turdy? No! Excellent advice!

 

I'd rather see someone sit back and rethink things because someone like yourself, Gloria, came out and spelled things out plainly, than to see someone rush into something without having plain-spoken and good information.

 

We can get over hurt feelings, if there are any - it's a lot harder to remedy a mistake like maybe getting a dog or pup that is not the right sort of choice.

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I don't have any hurt feelings. I really want to thank you. I think it's super cool of you to take the time. Also you didn't just go "EWWW NO GO AWAY" you were able to explain what your concerns were.

 

Not turdy.

 

It does give me a lot to think about. I think the fit might not be right. A few jumps too far from known territory on the energy/sensitivity levels, if you know what I mean. I appreciate your honesty.

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  • 2 months later...

Some really good responses here. Did she ever make a decision on a border collie? I can't help but want to know how some of these stories finish when I read these old posts...

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