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So, I have been around bloating about my "soon" to be created, n brought into my life, border pup.

And responses have been quite scary. Actually the opposite of the congrats I expect to hear.

So my question(s) is to all who cares to help ease my mind, (or the opposite, if I am honestly biting more than I can chew).

Whats life with your border?

How much "time" does your border truly require from you? (yeah I know, the annoying, repetitive, unanswerable question of how many hours and miles does one need to run a border a day)

Are borders truly unreasonable for anybody other than farm owners who work from home with livestock?

What makes a decent potential border owner in your mind?

Why am I hearing all this stuff from these performance people? (typically ones that don't own borders, that's what gets me) about how they cant handle any stress or changes in schedule, or they cant deal with a bit of alone time?

If I describe my current life... do you think you could either pat me on the back with some reassurance, or shut out the idea of ever bringing home that pup.. ???


The most horrible outcome of all this would be if I took a good pup and ruined him. :(

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Need some Beano? Sorry, couldn't resist. ;)


It's not the time thing, it's the weird eccentric genius thing that causes problems with Border Collies an inexperienced owners. They are a funny breed. Let them do something a few times and it can become a lifelong bad habit you struggle with. (Example, chasing shadows, staring at the cat, spinning, etc). One bad experience and they can potentially turn into distrustful recluses or forever be terrified of something mundane. Come down too hard on them with unreasonable discipline and it can be a battle to earn their trust back. You have to be sensitive, intuitive and proactive with this breed, but of course some are more forgiving and easier than others.

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Just a couple of questions: What kind of response are you getting, exactly? Where are you getting your pup from? And what does a typical day look like?


I live in an 800 sq. ft 2 bedroom apartment with two Border Collies. A two year old female and a 14 week old male. During the week days I work about 8-10 hours with a couple of breaks in between where I can come home and take them for a quick walk.


Crow has puppy class once a week and I want to get Tess back into classes after the first of the year. On my apartment property we have a rather large fenced in area where I can let them run off leash. We go down there about one to two times a day. My evenings are mostly spent with the dogs. We train and just hang out and go for walks, etc. They also play with each other.


I run with my older dog. Lately we've been running around 4 times a week, but that's a new thing we just started.


Weekends I'm usually home the whole time and we go for longer walks or go hiking. A couple of weekends ago Crow and I went and hung out at a sheepdog trial all day. We really just sat and watched the whole time but it was still stimulating for him because he got to meet a bunch of new people and new dogs in a new place. So it's not always about physical

I do want to get involved in herding. I don't have any experience with it. But even if I didn't I don't think that would be a problem for the puppies.


Tess, my oldest, is a really easy keeper. She stays out in the apartment during the day and I don't have to worry about her getting into anything. She does have some anxiety issues. She's on daily medication. Some days she's kind of weird and doesn't really want to go out, so we just don't. She also doesn't like crowded places or lots of people so we just avoid those, which is easy for me. Some days if we have to go somewhere or do something she would rather not it can be a bit difficult, but that doesn't happen often. She is game to go hiking or just sleep all day. It doesn't really matter to her.


Crow is going to be more of a handful. He already has a strong settle, that's one of the first things I teach my dogs, but he is definitely more high energy than Tess. Right now he pretty much goes where I go so he can meet tons of people strange situations. I'll have to put more effort into making sure he is more physically and mentally stimulated than Tess, I believe, but I still don't think it will be an exorbitant amount.


I am also building a career that is focused on dogs and live alone so I have more time than the average person to spend time doing things with them.


Some Border Collies can be very sensitive. I think it's important (with any breed, really) to know your dog. Learn to read them and understand what they're feeling in different situations so you can be the most effective with training.


I wouldn't say that they are an easy breed, but can absolutely be great with a first time owner if they've done their research and are prepared for some "quirkiness." They are definitely different than other breeds.

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My BC is the easiest dog I have ever lived with. And he's a 9 month old terror living in an 800 sq. ft. basement unit. What makes them fantastic dogs is also what can make them miserable.


I think I have found that all the horrible things people say about BC's can be true *IF* you allow them to happen. What Liz said is exactly right, they pick up on behaviors after just a few repetitions. It's great for training desirable behaviors, but very difficult for avoiding unwanted behaviors. Many BC's are SUPER reactive and sensitive to their surroundings, that's what their genes are screaming for them to do. I think that in order to love a border collie you must also love, or at least understand, their instincts. It's those instincts that drive them to stare at cats, chase cars and shadows, and become very dog reactive. But all (for the most part) of those things are controllable!


The exercise rumors are nothing but myths. No BC *needs* to run miles a day for hours at a time. They can, and certainly will if it becomes a habit, but they are more than capable of being calm, normal dogs. For example, I am a student. I live in a teeny basement unit with no fenced in yard. (Not ideal, definitely not for all dogs, but I've developed Keeper to work in that environment.) He's either crated while I'm in class, or in my car during the sunny Colorado winters where I can spend more time with him. But he gets a walk or two a day, between 20 minutes and 2 hours of frisbee (no impact, he's still very young) and other dog play time. I also do a LOT of training time at home, and he frequently spends 4 or more hours a day accompanying me while I run errands or practice (music major). I hate dog parks, but we have large campus fields where the herding dogs seem to gather. But Keeper absolutely does not need to do any of those things on a daily basis!! You'll find a good number of people on this forum have self-proclaimed couch potatoes BC's. From day one, I, and most other BC owners, teach the absolute rule that settle time means settle. Not stare at the cats time, or bring me toys to play fetch time. If they have a good settle, they can be very easily managed.


Tess's Girl hit the nail on the head with their quirkiness, it's weird but very manageable. In some ways that makes them more difficult, I think BC owners have to be more diligent than other dogs. But I think their weirdness and difficulties are usually very different from the beliefs of the non-BC owners who expect the collie-pocalypse. I had EVERYONE tell me I was insane to get a border collie. They'd wreck my house, they'd need to run for hours a day, they'd herd my horses, everything. But now that I have a very well-behaved youngster who is much more manageable than all the naysayers' poodles, labs, and various small dogs all of a sudden I've stopped hearing how bad my dog will be! :) And this is my first personal dog, so it's very doable!


If you've done your research, then don't be swayed. They're fantastic, and will be everything you hope for them to be. If you haven't done your research, do it and then evaluate your choice of dogs! They are a serious lifestyle commitment, but they can absolutely change your life for the better.

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Excellent responses so far. I'd also be interested to know the origins of your pup and what you intend to do with him/her long-term.


Also, just as an FYI, most of us here get a 'fingernails on a blackboard' reaction to the term 'border', instead preferring to refer to our chosen breed as border collies.


Stick around and learn much from the collective wisdom here, and very best wishes with your pup.



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Thank you. I think that's all the beano I need right there guys! ;)

Im used to GSDs. Hard, crazy dogs, that honestly wouldn't care if the world fell on top of their heads, as long as they get some time to train with their mouths they are good to go.

Honestly, I truly love these sheps more than I do any border collie I have met. But there are many reasons why Im looking forward to a border of my own, not a GSD of my own. One major reason is not finding a suitable GSD to take me to agility nationals in my future. .....ha!....Actually more like make it down the street without hips stifles and hocks breaking down.

I have done my research on the breed. And I recognize the difference between the ever so sensitive border and the GSD, i am confident in my ability to handle the border collie quirks..
But golly..Those things the performance people have said. Not even one congrats!

And sure, I have seen my fair share of "insane" agility borders. But truly, they cant all be like this, no off switch, no brain while working.
My breeder seems to be in a different world from all this hype I hear. Then again, im getting a dog from working lines...

I changed my mind...is it too late to take up that beano offer?

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Sorry, seems messages came in while I was typing.

My days vary. Sometimes its private work, mon/tue/thur. 6 hours straight. No dogs allowed.
Other weeks it is grooming shop, 2 days a week. Kennel work, 9 hours straight. Along with the private work, on those 3 permanent days. Though pup can come to all non private dog related work.
Lately I have been having 3 days a week off! Not knowing how to handle this, I have been taking walks and looking up dog related things online...
Sorry, to sum things up my weeks... months vary. But pup shouldn't be left home alone for more than 6 straight hours just on mon-tue-thur. I plan to crate em when I am not home.

Im getting him from a tiny breeder, he is from working lines. And I am getting him soly for sport performance. Hes my performance child/pup.

I do live in a house, not that it truly matters most. With a yard of my own... And I do have time.
But I don't always have 4 hours a day. And yes, sometimes I do work.

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I've dealt with a smaller sample size than most on these boards but the working line dogs I have met have a naturally better off switch than the performance or sport bred dogs I have met. Most of the people I've met who have agility or sport dogs seems to want to them amped up all the time. Of course, this is just my personal observation. Having a dog that amped up all the time would drive me absolutely insane.


You've had GSDs which can be quirky in their own right. I think one of the biggest differences is the sensitivity of Border Collies. Tess is super sensitive. When I first got her I actually had to watch the natural register of my voice for awhile. If I spoke too loudly she was get nervous and upset. Even now if I look at her the wrong way she just melts. Crow is not that bad but he is still a very sensitive dog.


I would recommend the book Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program by Leslie McDevitt. I'm currently reading it and it's great. It gives lots of advice and behaviors to teach your dog to keep them calm and from becoming over reactive. It's actually for the "future performance puppy" though it generalizes to all puppies.


As for time. In the morning I'm gone for 6 hours at a time. Then I have a break, then I'm gone from 2-4. My schedule varies like yours. Some weeks I work 30 hrs, other weeks I can work as much as 50. The key is to make sure the time you have is quality time.


It sounds like your dog savvy and you have great plans for your pup. I think you'll be fine. :) And there's wonderful and very knowledgeable people here who can help you out if you run into any issues.

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Good book! I have a load of the CU books from leslie. I find them easy to read for even the dog oblivious people, like my mother.

Might I ask how it was raising the pup potty wise and all working that 6 hour shift? Was it 6 hours pup was left in crate? 6 hours in total including commute time?
No choice, pup cant come those 6 hours I am working private. I worry about having a pup soiling in crate, that never learns potty training.

Also, I am naturally a very "loud" person. Hopefully I can come to change my tone of voice and tone myself down for the oh so sensitive border collie.
My current dog is a bitch, and could get hit by a freight train and come out cocky and bouncing off the walls. Looks are completely ignored by her. ;) Here I am chasing her down screaming and grabbing her scruff, "no, NO! You idiotic dog! damn it psycho dog!" and there she is not batting an eye.

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Have you read Dr. Ian Dunbar's "Before and After getting your puppy?" He talks about "long term confinement". The books are a great read even if you're familiar with dogs.


Basically I set Crow up in a exercise pen with access to his crate and a potty pad on the other side of the x pen. I actually bought a ten dollar potty pad holder so it wouldn't be on the floor. There were a couple of toys and chewies in with him. After a couple of days Crow on his own just quit using the potty pad. I kept him in the area like that for about a week. Once he started shredding the potty pads I went ahead and moved him to his big boy crate and he's just stayed in there ever since. He also slept through the night without having to go potty from the beginning, which was nice.


For the first couple of days he cried when I would put him in his crate but I just waited it out and he was fine after that. But man did he have a set of lungs on him. He didn't cry long but he was loud.


He never soils his crate. There was one day when he was only 10 weeks old that I got stuck behind a wreck trying to get home and he was actually in his crate for 8 hours. No mess when I got back.


Houstraining has been fairly easy. He's 14 weeks old now and at first we had an issue that he would get so excited playing that he would just pee on himself. He doesn't do that much anymore. I started taking him out every 20 min. I finally bought the bells for the door and I've been trying to get him to use them. We're still working on that. The only accidents that have happened have been when I've not been paying attention or left him alone in the living room for too long.


My grandfather has a lab like the dog you describe. Nothing stops him.


Tess is definitely a little more sensitive than your average Border Collie. I have found that mine need nothing more than a verbal correction to get them on the right track. I use mostly positive reinforcement. I'm not opposed to corrections when needed, I just find that most of the time I don't need them. I'm especially careful with Tess because of her anxiety, I try to not correct her when possible. It's entirely possible that the pup you end up with won't be nearly as sensitive as that. But be prepared for quirkiness, they are all quirky to one extent or another I think.

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No don't get me wrong. I train with positive reinforcement!

How do I describe this...
Im just talking about daily life chatting with my bitch in my example. I told you I am "loud" as a person. The word "no" in that example, is simply a word from my mouth as I rant loudly and go on screaming about who knows what.
Not that I am actually upset with her actions and am giving her a correction...
Again, this dog is just at peace with how "rough" and "loud" I am. These daily things she's oblivious to. Desensitized to.

Even if at the moment I am carrying her by the neck out the door yelling at my cab driver to "hold your darn horses we are coming out the door now." And "damn dog, you don't have your collar on you pain in the rump dog!" As I drag her back into house to grab the collar. Shes just pulling along towards whatever catches her eye at the moment.

Any border I have personally met would have a serious break down over all this commotion. Grabbed by collar and cabs yelling back to owner who is also yelling and grabbing things and shoving them into bags while yelling, "dog we gutta get in the darn cab"
I know of some borders at the farm who cant take it when kids are being talked to in a firm voice on the other side of the room... One peed himself. Dog has never been scolded other than a very cool and calm "nope" from the breeder, and never has been hit.
Ill have to quiet down for the sake of the border collie.

I have not read that book! Will have to check it out.

Lucky you! Happen across a pup that can hold it from day one?
May I ask how old was he when you 1st brought him home?

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I have one of the most confident border collies I've ever met, and I don't think he'd really hold up to such a commotion as the cab driver scenario. Granted, I've essentially never had a situation where I'd have to grab his scruff and drag him off. We did it twice when he went after my mom's dog over food. I could correct him harshly without him melting down, don't get me wrong, but the thing is that I don't have to. A quick "ah-ah" is more than enough to communicate with him. If he doesn't respond to that, it means that his 9 month old brain is in la-la-land and a harsher correction wouldn't do me any good. Granted I don't have a super sensitive border collie, but I love their quickness to fix things. I could practically whack my mom's Boston Terrier over the head with a bat and that wouldn't stop him from doing what he wanted. It's a big change to have a dog that really wants to please you.


I wasn't asked about pottying stuff, but I'm quite sure my pup was *able* to hold it for 6 hours at that age, but I'd never ask him to. I watch a Maltese who was obviously left in the crate too long as a pup and will now soil it regularly, even one hour after having been taken outside. I never want to deal with that again. It's usually quite easy to find a neighbor or friend to let a cute, fluffy puppy outside to pee! :)


Border collies can be noise sensitive to people and objects, but the dogs are so variable. Some will never be able to handle it, some will never bat an eye. Keeper is around crazy, loud college students all the time and he's always in the practice room with me with all the chaos without a single reaction. I'd recommend having your breeder select the pup for you, he/she can probably tell you who the most mellow, least reactive pup is at that time. It could change over time, but I think it's best to stack the odds in your favor! I have a chaotic life in general and had my breeder choose the most laid back one of the bunch for me, and it's worked out beautifully.

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Also take a good look at the parents behaviour, especially the mom, as she has such a strong influence on the pups temperament behaviour. Calm balanced curious selfconfident parents tend to produce pups with the same qualities.


I chose my Tess because I really liked her parents, and I don't mean physically, although they where beautifull dogs. I was lucky she turned out like them. She's more sensitive to sound and movement than a gsd, yes, but she's a very curious self confident dog that doesn't startle easy and recovers very quickly when in fact startled.


For instance, she loves bite work and isn't phased by the various apparatus, like the rattling water bottles or the cane.


So, a good working bred dog isn't necessarily over sensitive, there are many out there quite tough if you look around.

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Thank you. I think that's all the beano I need right there guys! ;)


Im used to GSDs. Hard, crazy dogs, that honestly wouldn't care if the world fell on top of their heads, as long as they get some time to train with their mouths they are good to go.



Before BCs, my experience was in East German and Czech GSDs and there is definitely a little bit of a learning curve. But I found it to be a nice fit once I adjusted to a softer dog. I miss my GSDs, but I wouldn't go back.


My agility instructor has a sport bred BC and hers is a nut and has no off switch, but my BCs just lie around the house all day until they see someone is getting ready to go outside. They do get a little work each day and a nice walk, but not a whole lot of either. I do some trick training too, to keep their minds busy.

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Also tell the breeder that you need a puppy that doesn't startle easily. Most of the time they can point you to the right dog. A good breeder knows their puppies well enough to say dog x is a chicken, but dog y is a take it as it comes kind of dog. However, there is no guarantee with puppies, so you may have to alter your behavior if your puppy is scared of loud noises.


If I so much as raise my voice to my puppy Lily she completely shuts down, however my mom's GSD pair tend to ignore you until you use a serious voice.

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You say your pup will be from "herding lines" but do the parents actually work livestock?


Unfortunately, there are lots of people breeding from such "lines" who never work their dogs and if they are indeed breeding for purposes other than real work the personalities and temperaments will probably be different. There are way too many "farm pups" being bred who are no more working dogs than I am.


Really, you've gotten a lot of very useful information so far, but what really struck me was the description of your being loud. There are going to be a lot of border collies who just aren't going to do well in that environment. My current purebred, who's pretty confident and who's a busy therapy dog (i.e. comfortable in all sorts of situations) melts if I'm scolding one of my other dogs -- and I don't scold by yelling, just a firm tone of voice. I had one who'd turn onto a puddle of mush, slink off to her crate and not come out for a long time if another dog were being verbally corrected. When I was training my first border collie, who wasn't particularly soft as border collies go, the way I'd trained my pointer/lab mix, with mild leash corrections in addition to positive reinforcement, I quickly realized I was going to ruin this pup if I treated him the same way. He was so sensitive to my moods and subtle changes in my behavior, and so crushed when I showed any displeasure with him that he would have lost confidence very quickly and been a basket case of a dog.


So when you say you'll quiet down for the sake of the border collie, it might be wise to see if you can do that before you bring that pup home rather than after. That's not going to be an easy personality trait to alter, especially when something goes wrong in the heat of the moment (like the puppy peeing on the floor or chewing your slipper, or the cab honking at your door). If you aren't able to adjust your tone and do it consistently, perhaps it might merit rethinking whether a border collie will do well with you.


You also say that some of the dogs on the farm (I assume you mean where your pup is coming from) are extremely sensitive to kids and other dogs being spoken firmly to. If that's the case, then it's highly likely that your own pup, from the same breeding as these other dogs, is going to be just as sensitive. They're a sensitive breed to begin with and there are more sensitive lines within the breed.


I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom. I'm generally a person who tells other people that border collies aren't as difficult as their reputations would have people think, as long as you're willing to make some accommodations, as people have already told you. But I do think your own personality and the reality of being able to change it for a dog is something you should consider.


Best wishes as you embark on this journey.

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I also agree. Quinn is sports bred but until his health issues this past year, he has been very easy to live with once he left his coyote puppy phase. He is physically tough but generally very sensitive to my moods. Lots of yelling, commotion and being dragged around would be really stressful for him, especially on a regular basis.

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Everyone has given you great info. My own dogs have been very easy to live with, but they are quirky and all the border collies we have had through our home (includes the fosters and house guests) have been sensitive. My current dog can't cope with any sort of raised voice, excitement at the TV, animated dinner discussion, and especially not an argument between me and Dave, we try to argue in soft gentle voices but it is hard not to giggle :)

Rievaulx had lots of weird fears as a puppy, but to the outside world he looks a now confident dog, but he and I know the truth and I am always there to provide backup. This year he had his world turned upside down.. He has moved to Europe, lived in 6th floor walk up in the middle of busy city, had 2 very long road trips, been to 4 countries, dined in pubs and restaurants, and through it all has been great company and just gone with the flow.

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My youngster is pretty confident and outgoing but is sensitive to *me*. If he gets scolded he tries harder but consistent loud corrections or frequent yelling from me would be too much for him though. My female is softer and gets worried about being wrong. If she is working she can take some pressure but she slinks away inside if the youngster gets scolded.

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This is worth saying, and I don't know how to say it except to just say it.


A border collie is a bad fit for a loud person. A person whose movements are large-scale and rough, a person who is accustomed to yelling at their dog -- there are many breeds that would suit such a person, but not a border collie. Even if you both could adjust to each other, you would not get the good out of the dog that is there to be gotten, just as the most brilliant painter would not find satisfaction and success in illuminating manuscripts if his natural bent was painting abstract murals.


I doubt this is the thinking behind your performance friends not congratulating you, but it's something I hope you will seriously think about nonetheless.

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I'd have to agree with Eileen and the others. I understand that there is the occasional 'bomb-proof' border collie, but from the dogs I've had and other border collies I know, the bomb-proof ones are just that - occasional.


I'm living with my 4th, and they have ranged from very alert to the slightest noise/movement to being okay with noise from outside. Gibbs, my current dog, is by far the coolest about noise in general, and even he winces when I get loud and upset. If it happened a lot, I think his responses would escalate.


If what you describe in your previous post about your daily life is accurate, here are my suggestions -

1) Consider an older rescue who is a known quantity. You'll save yourself and the dog a lot of heartache.

2) Consider a border collie mix - a cross with a less overall sensitive breed.


Border collies have been bred for generations to be alert to the smallest movement, flick of an eyelash, and very soft noises. That's just part of the package, as much as their intelligence and need to work with a human.


Please consider what you would be asking of yourself and the dog. It's not what you want to hear, I'm sure, but it's an honest and considered point of view from people who have a lot of experience with border collies.


Good luck with your decision,


Ruth and SuperGibbs

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You've heard it from the best in this field. Do some soul searching and figure out what is best for you and your future dog.


You can love a breed, even if you don't think they'd be a fit for you! I would love a malinois, but they're not for me. It wouldn't be fair to either of you if you had the wrong dog. The dog would be in a puddle and you'd be disappointed in him/her. Do what's best for you and your dog, even if it means changing your mind.

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If your goal, as I read it, is a dog that will take you to agility nationals, it doesn't have to be a Border Collie. They may excel in their height group but there are dogs of various breeds that excel in the various height groups.


Honestly, to get a dog because you feel it's the breed that will take you to national-level competition is not the reason to get a dog of the breed - you get the dog that suits you, and that you will suit, and see where you both take each other.


Just my opinion.

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