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A hopeful Border Collie owner


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Hmm, from experience I can say it's pretty difficult training a dog with five members of the family. Kieran started out just mine, but I had to move back to my parents' house unexpectedly, and I think it made training a tad more difficult because he's become the family dog. Don't get me wrong, he still learns quickly and he's my dog, I just find that I'm at odds with everyone sometimes.

 

I love his work ethic, though. When we're training, he's very focused and he can go all day if I wanted him to. However, he'll lie around like a couch potato if there's nothing to do without going nuts. I think he loves the partnership and tackling new challenges together. He wants to be involved in everything. He's very much afraid of disappointing me. It's made it a lot of fun as far as trick and agility training. We always impress my friends (dog and non-dog people) with all the things he can do :D. Although I don't know his background, I'm pretty certain he has border collie in him because of all the behaviors he shows. I had wanted a small dog, but now I wouldn't have it any other way. Sometimes, it's hard to believe he's a dog because he's so much smarter than the type of dog I expected to get.

 

He isn't cuddly, but is very affectionate. He'll lie against me, but the moment I start trying to hug him closer, he's like, "I'm outta here, buddy!" More often than not, he prefers to sleep in his tent rather than on the bed with me.

I can understand how it would be difficult, but in my house I have the basement to myself where the puppy would spend most of it's time for training where we can be in solitude. The dog would be mine and I want it to be specifically my companion. But, when the dogs needs attention I will be able to count on my family members!

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I can understand how it would be difficult, but in my house I have the basement to myself where the puppy would spend most of it's time for training where we can be in solitude. The dog would be mine and I want it to be specifically my companion. But, when the dogs needs attention I will be able to count on my family members!

 

It's not about where it would be "trained", it's about day-to-day interactions and people potentially undoing the training you have done. It all depends in how confident you are that every one of your family members would take it seriously and look to you as the absolute authority on the dog, regardless of your age and theirs. And to be completely honest, even with that people who aren't dog savvy are going to make a lot of mistakes without realizing the effects.

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Yea, not so much location, but just dealing with the dog. Everyone has a different style when it comes to commands. For example, I want a good "leave it," but that gets impeded by my dad dropping snacks for Kieran from the table. Location wise, I tend to train him away from my family, so that's not a big issue. The reinforcement is the problem.

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I'm a little concerned that some of the great advice given by experienced members is going unheeded. Don't just go cherry picking, there are a lot of cons to the breed as well as the pros. And your situation may not be ideal for a BC yet.

 

Having a basement to yourself is absolutely nothing like living alone. And you can't just pawn off a dog "when it needs attention" to other family members with whom the dog has no relationship.

 

These are not 1 hour a day dogs. Or even 2. Border collies are absolutely not for people who are not willing to have the dog as part of their very being. Until you are secure enough financially, emotionally, and much more, you cannot make a decision to bring home a dog without the consent of your family. What happens if/when you go off to college? Can the dog go with you? If not, are the other members of your family supposed to take care of him/her? There are a lot of big questions to ask before even considering the breed of dog.

 

To be honest, as much as you may want a BC, I don't think this sounds like the right time for you. This might be an unfair assumption, but it seems like the preparation has not been done yet. You absolutely cannot bring home a BC to a family that likely won't be important to the dog, but one that still has to live with and even care for it.

 

I'd like to know, what is making you want a BC? That might be a good place to start to see if you like living with a BC, or just the idea of one.

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I'm a little concerned that some of the great advice given by experienced members is going unheeded. Don't just go cherry picking, there are a lot of cons to the breed as well as the pros. And your situation may not be ideal for a BC yet.

 

Having a basement to yourself is absolutely nothing like living alone. And you can't just pawn off a dog "when it needs attention" to other family members with whom the dog has no relationship.

 

These are not 1 hour a day dogs. Or even 2. Border collies are absolutely not for people who are not willing to have the dog as part of their very being. Until you are secure enough financially, emotionally, and much more, you cannot make a decision to bring home a dog without the consent of your family. What happens if/when you go off to college? Can the dog go with you? If not, are the other members of your family supposed to take care of him/her? There are a lot of big questions to ask before even considering the breed of dog.

 

To be honest, as much as you may want a BC, I don't think this sounds like the right time for you. This might be an unfair assumption, but it seems like the preparation has not been done yet. You absolutely cannot bring home a BC to a family that likely won't be important to the dog, but one that still has to live with and even care for it.

 

I'd like to know, what is making you want a BC? That might be a good place to start to see if you like living with a BC, or just the idea of one.

Lots of the comments are making me talk in circles. The basement will be a place I can take the dog for training. My family absolutely wants a dog, but when I move out it will come with me. They are all on board with a high maintenance dog like a border collie. And I have much more than 1-2 hours to spend with a dog. I have realistically around 10 hours a day I can be with the dog.

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I'd love to hear CurlyQ weigh in on this. If not perhaps you can send her a message. I know she's young and raising a dog while living with family. But yes, I do agree with kingfisher here, I haven't heard a legitimate answer to a lot of legitimate concerns that members have stated. I feel like you've got your heart set on a border collie for very little reason when there are other breeds out there that would be better for you or your situation.

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I'd love to hear CurlyQ weigh in on this. If not perhaps you can send her a message. I know she's young and raising a dog while living with family. But yes, I do agree with kingfisher here, I haven't heard a legitimate answer to a lot of legitimate concerns that members have stated. I feel like you've got your heart set on a border collie for very little reason when there are other breeds out there that would be better for you or your situation.

The first replies were more supportive, but now it has transitioned to a more negative view. What concerns did you have? So far the only one I've really seen is the face that I live in a house with 5 people.

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I don't think anyone actively wants to discourage you. They just want to make sure it's a good fit and give their own experiences so that they may help you. Even though I don't always agree with everyone here, as a new member I've found this forum to be a wealth of information and very honest (maybe sometimes too brutally - but to me that just shows people really do care about their dogs).

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I think some members are concerned that you haven't really explained why a border collie or addressed the negative things about them people have brought up. Border collie is a life style, which the members of this board take seriously. So take a minute and ask yourself why you want a border collie. Do you want it because they are smart, pretty, for dog sports? Have you ever met a working bred border collie, because until you have you haven't met a true colle and this board does not support any breeders not breeding proven working dogs. Did you consider any other breeds?

 

For one thing they have expressed that border collies being a smart dog can and will take advantage of 'perks' from other family members not following your training. It doesn't have to do with where you train, but how well your family respects your instructions on dog training. For example you want the dog to stay out of the kitchen, but your mom wants to have the dog running cleanup in the kitchen. A border collie is going to go with the easier/more fun option. How would you handle that?

 

Also border collies tend to be shy, easily spooked, and in some cases nerotic shadow chasers. Big families scare a lot of border collies. You haven't addressed your thoughts on these behaviors and if you would have the time and patience to train this kind of a dog with your whole family involved.

 

Have you considered an adult rescue that is known to be social and out going?

 

I believe these are a few issues leading people to think you have tunnel vision about the dogs and are ignoring their downsides. If you answered a few of these questions it would help us understand your situation well enough to say yes they are for you or no they are not.

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I think some members are concerned that you haven't really explained why a border collie or addressed the negative things about them people have brought up. Border collie is a life style, which the members of this board take seriously. So take a minute and ask yourself why you want a border collie. Do you want it because they are smart, pretty, for dog sports? Have you ever met a working bred border collie, because until you have you haven't met a true colle and this board does not support any breeders not breeding proven working dogs. Did you consider any other breeds?

 

For one thing they have expressed that border collies being a smart dog can and will take advantage of 'perks' from other family members not following your training. It doesn't have to do with where you train, but how well your family respects your instructions on dog training. For example you want the dog to stay out of the kitchen, but your mom wants to have the dog running cleanup in the kitchen. A border collie is going to go with the easier/more fun option. How would you handle that?

 

Also border collies tend to be shy, easily spooked, and in some cases nerotic shadow chasers. Big families scare a lot of border collies. You haven't addressed your thoughts on these behaviors and if you would have the time and patience to train this kind of a dog with your whole family involved.

 

Have you considered an adult rescue that is known to be social and out going?

 

I believe these are a few issues leading people to think you have tunnel vision about the dogs and are ignoring their downsides. If you answered a few of these questions it would help us understand your situation well enough to say yes they are for you or no they are not.

I have met a working border collie before, my grandparents had one in Montana. It was an awesome dog! Addressing the consistency in training with a family of 5. Everyone is on board with getting a dog, and they know that consistency is key. I will be primarily responsible with training the dog, but they will all be under my instruction so we can make sure bad behaviors cease. I am considering other breeds, but the border collie is my first choice. People have been suggesting labs, but I have never come across a lab that can keep up with me on runs (the dog I get will not be limited to a running partner). The other breeds I'm considering are siberian husky, Australian shepherd, and open to other ideas. I am not opposed to a breed that is challenging to train, usually this means the reward is also higher.

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What are you wanting a dog for? That will help determine a breed, because it is not just whether or not they train easily, but also what you want to do with them. It may be border collie or not depending on your answer, but just be honest with yourself about what you imagine your ideal dog to do.

 

Maybe you want a companion to just hang out, an exercise partner, a dog that will constantly challenge your training skills, a sports companion be that flyball/agility/frisbee/ect, or even just a dog that is always up for everything. I don't think people are trying to be negetive, but there is nothing worse than realizing you have the wrong breed for your lifestyle.

 

Also running is something you condition into a dog, so you can't pick a random lab and expect it to keep up with you from day 1. There are tons of fast labs out there, and perhaps you should look into a field bred lab which are bred to retrieve game and have far more in shape than the AKC labs of today.

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The first replies were more supportive, but now it has transitioned to a more negative view. What concerns did you have? So far the only one I've really seen is the face that I live in a house with 5 people.

 

Don't worry, I don't think anyone is trying to be unsupportive. The members on here are very supportive of BC owners, especially ones that take the time to really understand the breed. You asked if a BC would be a good fit for you, and so far the information that you have provided makes it seem like a BC would not currently be a good fit. The 5 people is definitely a big issue. Not saying that it can't be done, but it is going to make having/training a BC much more difficult.

 

Also, as kingfisher said, make sure you aren't cherry picking our concerns. Right now you are focused on the 5 people issues. That is an issue that we want to inform you of, but it is not a deal breaker when it comes to getting a BC.

 

Honestly, my biggest concern is the "when I move out the dog will come with me." Have you considered how difficult this prospect actually is? Also, have you considered how difficult this will be for the dog? When are you moving and why are you moving out? Are you going to college? If that is the case then you might not be able to take the dog with you. In my first post I also asked a variety of questions that you haven't stated if you have a solution for. Have you considered your financial situation? Can you afford an emergency visit to the vet?

 

What is your's and your family's experience with dogs? Is this going to be your family's first dog? BC are amazing dogs, but they are incredibly difficult. Getting a BC as a first dog ever is sort of like teaching a kid to swim by tossing them out of a helicopter in the middle of the ocean. Also, they can be very sensitive and one mistake may take months to undo.

 

Just remember that you are asking our opinion of if a BC is a good fit for you. So far, I think a majority aren't convinced that it is. BC's are amazing dogs, but incredibly difficult. If you do get a BC then you will definitely find lots of support on this forum.

 

Lastly, as for the running thing and other breeds. Be careful with the siberian husky, they are amazingly athletic, but if you live anywhere warm then running can become dangerous for them. They were breed to run in the cold, running in the heat can quickly cause them to overheat. Also, I've known lots of labs to be great running partners. Weimaraners, Vizlas, and GSPs make fantastic running partners (they can also be difficult dogs). Also, I've known lots of mutts to be great running partners. Actually, I don't think the breed is too important with running, most dogs can do it if you train them to.

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If you are looking for a running partner, I absolutely think you would be better with a sporting breed. Just personally, they tend to get more out of physical movement (without brain work involved) than BC. Not that you haven't acknowledged training will be something you do because of using the brain but in my experience the sporting breeds get more out of things like running and jogging than BC, who can do it but kind of... don't really benefit as much.

 

What about a Brittany? That's my husband's 'next dog' because he's happier with more happy-go-lucky dogs who like to MOVE more than they want to think. They're a good size, they're cute, they're trainable, they're high energy, but they don't come with the same set of weirdness that a BC very well may.

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People have been suggesting labs, but I have never come across a lab that can keep up with me on runs (the dog I get will not be limited to a running partner). The other breeds I'm considering are siberian husky, Australian shepherd, and open to other ideas. I am not opposed to a breed that is challenging to train, usually this means the reward is also higher.

 

Also, one last thing on the running. I'm also a runner and have looked into this a lot. Dog's aren't really made for fast and long runs. They can go for a long time or they can run fast for a short time, but humans are much better at racing something like a 5k, and way better at racing a marathon, especially in the heat. What kind of runner you are should play a role in what type of dog you get if one of the reasons for getting a dog is to run with it. Your right that BCs can make good running partners, but I am not going to say that they are the best. Actually, I think Vizslas might be one of the best all around running partners. They are fast, but can maintain a slow pace for longer runs. The short hair makes them better in the heat. Here's a link to a summary of running dogs, not saying that those rules are set in stone, but it might give you some ideas.

 

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/breed-apart

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I have met a working border collie before, my grandparents had one in Montana. It was an awesome dog! Addressing the consistency in training with a family of 5. Everyone is on board with getting a dog, and they know that consistency is key. I will be primarily responsible with training the dog, but they will all be under my instruction so we can make sure bad behaviors cease. I am considering other breeds, but the border collie is my first choice. People have been suggesting labs, but I have never come across a lab that can keep up with me on runs (the dog I get will not be limited to a running partner). The other breeds I'm considering are siberian husky, Australian shepherd, and open to other ideas. I am not opposed to a breed that is challenging to train, usually this means the reward is also higher.

If your family does respect that, then it sounds like you have a good game plan and certainly the time to devote to your dog. My mom definitely isn't a dog person, so I was worried about how she'd handle me moving back in with the dog. However, turns out she loves Kieran. Same with my brother. I can only imagine how it would be with a family who all love dogs. It seems like you have a setup for a great life for one.

 

ETA: I think it also might just be another issue of communicating on the Internet. Since there's no expression to be put to the words, it's hard to interpret intent.

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And in case it helps, I am in a situation similar to yours. I know the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

I'm in my early twenties and my BC is my first personal dog. I don't live at home all the time, but I'm there very frequently. I'm at home for most of the summer, as my mom and I are serious with our horse showing. There are 3 people at home (mom, dad, brother) and my grandma is there several days a week, plus myself. There are 6 dogs total, 4 with my family, 1 with my grandma, and mine.

 

It is HARD to get everyone on board. Even though my parents were very supportive of me getting a dog, that doesn't mean it's easy. My dad doesn't care for the chaos of all the dogs, so he gets very frustrated if Keeper (or any dog) is barking or generally being a spaz. That causes tension between everyone. Mom thinks my poor dog is too thin, and feeds him more than I like. And then she gives him scraps that keep me up all night with his vomiting and diarrhea. My brother thought it was awesome to watch my 6 month old dog jump for the frisbee on the pavement. My grandma freaks out if he gets anywhere near her knitting bag. We don't have this one figured out.

 

There are certainly perks to having everyone there. Mom knows what Keeper eats, so if I'm gone for the evening she can take care of him. Of course I don't NEED any of the help, it can just make some things easier. I have a particularly social BC, so he loves the rest of my family and will seek out attention from them.

 

Finding housing with a dog is HARD. Particularly when you're young and poor. Obviously it's not impossible, but it's difficult. Just check Craiglist and see how many "We moved and our landlord won't let us keep our pet" posts there are. BC's also are obviously over the common 20 or 25 lb limit. So just know that that will be a big hurdle for you. I had to sacrifice my housing because no nice places accepted pets. So now I live in a dingy basement unit below a group of crazy college potheads. I still love it because my dog is here, but that doesn't mean it's ideal or safe.

 

I surely don't have to tell you how expensive they are. (I say while sitting here eating mark down cereal while my dog eats his raw breakfast).

 

I'm also particularly paranoid since I see so many college-age student get a dog because they're "so cute" without taking into account the lifestyle changes they require. And this doesn't even take into account the level of difficulty that BC's can present.

 

A note about the running. BC's CAN make good running partners, but I don't think they're the ideal companion in that regard. Many BC's don't do particularly well in city or suburban environments. They can be SO motion sensitive that the chaos of a city can drive them crazy. Cars speeding by, motorcycles, kids running and screaming, lawn mowers, bikes, it all can make life miserable for some BC's. Not all certainly, but some. If you decide to get a BC I STRONGLY suggest you get an adult rescue or rehome. When looking at BC's I think it's best to assume the potential negative things will happen and determine how that would affect your life. Many BC's are very sound sensitive, motion reactive, and fearful of correction. It's part of the package with these great dogs. CptJack did everything right with her pup, and Molly is still pretty reactive to dogs. Chene has done all things right for hers, but she struggled with some car chasing and food guarding. BC pups are not a solid bet. Some dogs are fairly easy to raise correctly. Goldens are very forgiving, as are many labs. BC's are really easy to mess up, and often times the "problems" are just a result of the individual dog's temperament and instinct.

 

I really don't want to come across as telling you that you shouldn't get a BC. But I think you really, really need to think about your lifestyle and make sure it's the right decision. The last thing you want is to get a BC and realize you wanted a Golden personality. That will lead to a miserable dog and a miserable owner.

 

Getting Keeper was absolutely the best thing I have ever done in my life, hands down. That doesn't mean it has been an easy decision. I don't know how I would properly have a dog in college if I lived a more typical life. I don't drink, so my Friday nights are spent with my dog. All of my friends either have dogs or love them, so Keeper can come with me anywhere I go. My version of socializing is spending time with my friends and my dog at the dog park. And I will not spend more than an hour or two with my friends if my dog is not allowed. He comes first, my friends come second. Consider how that would apply to your lifestyle. The thing with getting a dog at this young age is that it can very quickly change your life in a way that you may not enjoy. You will not be able to do things that most people our age do. Or if you do, your dog likely will suffer for it. No partying until 3 AM, no spontaneous Spring Break trips, no hanging out after class at the local coffee shop, the dog has to go pee. The implications of getting a dog go far beyond just having a cool dog to train sometimes. (Not that I thought that was your approach). The fact that you are asking people's opinions before getting a dog show that you're putting good thought into this decision. Just keep doing research and soul searching. I still encourage you to meet more BC's. And meet ones in various locations, city dogs, country dogs, and everything in between. The awesome dog out on a farm might become a monster in a different environment.

 

I really wish you luck in this journey, there's no need to rush things! You've made a good decision by seeking out so much information!

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Kingfisher has got it exactly right. It's like having a baby. On a smaller scale for sure, but all the same issues. It changes your life and it's hard to know at a young age what you're going to be doing ten years down the road. The reason I'm focusing on reasons why not is pretty simple: You don't need encouragement. You already clearly want it and are trying to convince yourself and other people that it's right for you. When people are that determined, they often tune out the warnings and only hear the encouragement. I need you to hear the warnings. It's important that you don't make up your mind before you really know if it's right for you. I worry that you had your mind made up before you asked our opinions, is all.

So, keeping all that in mind, I love border collies. I got Aed at 18 years old and have yet to regret it. I did a lot of planning and it worked out for me. I live with my boyfriend, and that definitely helps because he can let the dog out when he's home and such. I will be going to Europe in a year or two and I'm not worried. Aed will come with me and we'll get through it. But Aed is stressful, even at 9 months old. He's been screamed at and locked out of the room, ignored when he shouldn't have been, left at home when he could have come with us just because we didn't want to deal with him that time. He has run in front of cars. He has gotten into fights. He has bitten hard enough to break skin (not on purpose). Aed drives my boyfriend crazy. He drives me crazy. He's a teenager, just like a human one. He won't get better until about 2 years old, and even then he will probably still have a host of issues that come with keeping a high reactivity, high intelligence working dog as a pet. What do you do when your dog jumps too high and is limping around for days? What do you do when he won't eat his food, or when you touch him and he startles and snaps at you? What do you do when you call him to you and he runs off? When he lunges, snarling at a dog that you pass? When he runs right out the entrance off the off-leash park (he'll remember when it is) and just keeps going? When he's terrified of males or won't stop barking at cars outside the window? If you're prepared and determined you can do it. The question is whether doing it will make you as happy as you think it will.

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The question is whether doing it will make you as happy as you think it will.

 

This is what it comes down to for me, every time, when it comes to people who come asking questions about any breed. I think almost any person has the ABILITY to handle almost any dog. The question really does become whether they WANT to do that, and whether they're going to be happy in doing it.

 

Or if the dog they want is going to make them miserable, and by extension lead to a miserable dog.

 

I never, ever, mean to come off as saying 'you can't', but sometimes I do want to say something that roughly translates to 'I'm not sure this is going to be a great fit/make you happy/be what you want. Here are the reasons why, that you didn't mention and might have missed'. I don't know the person. I could be absolutely wrong about what they know and they're prepared for or would be okay when faced with.

 

But it's worth mentioning.

 

And in fairness, I think a lot of people miss that BCs often have traits that make them difficult BEYOND being high energy, intelligent and having 'herding type behaviors' (and people think chasing the cat or being mouthy). Sometimes people throw in ball obsessive or great agility dogs. But it seems like that's what they get boiled down to and that's frustrating for me.

 

It isn't frustrating for me because I think I'm a special good owner who can handle things mere mortal owners can't (seen that attitude, hate it) but because I don't want someone to end up unhappy if I can throw a little more information at them to help them either be prepared for possibilities, or reassess if this is a path they WANT to go down.

 

I mean someone gets a border collie puppy for agility (or running, or even using a dog park for most of the dog's exercise) and then 5-6 months old the dog starts responding to other dogs being around by growling/snarling/lunging/barking/LOSING IT. Now what? Knowing that's a possibility IN ADVANCE means the ability to have alternatives in mind. That can help, a lot.

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