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Suitable environment for BC?


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Tess lives with me in an apartment in the center of a (small) city with no problems. But we lived in a house with a yard till she was 9 mo, which was great, as she was the most destructive pup I've ever had. When we moved to my new apartment she was over that and never destroyed a thing. It didn't matter that she was all mouth and teeth because I was fully expecting it, and, although she was my first bc, I had extensive experience in dog owning and training.


She's the best dog I've ever owned but she has been a challenge in many ways: way smarter than my previous dogs, but not easy to train. And although she's not fearfull, she's sensitive to the environment in ways I wasn't used to. And all that energy, it keeps me on my toes finding new fun ways to spend it. It's a full time job (she has a great off switch, but does need a lot more commitment than my other dogs did).


So, I agree that although it's perfectly possible to have bc's in an apartment in a city, it can be a challenging experience for a first time owner with a pup. It can be done, but it's wise that one knows fully what one is getting into. Otherwise, there's the real possibility that problems will start popping up, and an inexperienced owner won't nip them in the bud, and soon what was suposed to be a marvelous enriching experience can turn very sour.

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A hard decision, to be sure. We adopted Lucky, a BC/Lab cross when he was about 8 months old. We were living in NYC at the time, but my husband lost his job so we decided he would move to our place in the country full time and I would stay in the city during the week and country on the weekends. My first thought: Time to get a dog! We met Lucky (then King) once for 30 minutes at the apartment of his foster and took him for a walk in the busy lower east side of Manhattan. He was great on the leash, seemed happy, was a great doggy. I really knew nothing about BCs (though I grew up with rough collies and always had dogs and horses as a kid). We were not at all prepared for any of the issues we started having with him when we brought him home.


In general, collies need/want attention. They want you to tell them what to do, interact with them, work with them. Lucky follows me around the house, wants to be in the same room with me, will sometimes misbehave to get my attention. You will need to be prepared to have a dog that is a presence and a companion and be willing (and possibly have $$) to do the type of training that corrects unwanted behavior, not just fun tricks and obedience.


At least for Lucky, walks are NOT enough. He needs to run. He's a sprinter and running makes him happy, gets rid of his extra energy and calms him down. He's reactive to other dogs (many BC's are) so we can't do doggy play dates or hiking on trails where we might meet other dogs. Thankfully he loves fetch and frisbee and we have woods he can run and jump without meeting other dogs. I very often think that our lives would be pretty miserable if we had adopted him and stayed in the city.


That said, when we do take him out and there are lots of things going on, he tends to be a little less reactive because there are so many things for him to focus on that he doesn't do the same crazy behavior he does when he sees a single dog or a single person walking down our quite country road.


And there are many, many people living in cities with border collies. https://www.instagram.com/darwindognyc/ is someone who got their dog from the same rescue we got Lucky. Pretty inspiring some of the work they've done with him. Dogs can be really adaptable, I just think that BC's are often more 'work' than other dogs and you need to be prepared for that. Lucky is turning into a fantastic dog and a great companion. He's clever, funny, smart, and fun to hang out with. If I could spend ALL of my time with him I would. He's taken over my Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/kimmcg/


If you can, try to find other BC owners who live in cities. They definitely exist, and talk to them about challenges they face. And like others said, think about getting an older dog if you can. Lucky was super challenging at around 14 months but has mellowed out some now that he's almost two.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a Border Collie who came to me in a 1050 sq ft apartment in Hartford (smallish city, had a small fenced yard) and now lives with me in a 600 sq ft apartment in D.C.


He was a rescue, and was roughly a year old when he came to me, not house trained (though that was pretty easy to accomplish).


He has been alone for 8.5 hours a day weekdays most of the time I've had him.


He's the second dog I've had as an adult, the first was a *super* easy, super quiet Aussie-beagle mix whose only fault was he would run if he got the chance.


I agree with some of the concerns folks have had -- running in the heat, dog parks (they are definitely fussy about being friends with other dogs) -- but it really, really depends on the dog. While Herschel loved chasing a ball in my old tiny back yard, he has adjusted fine to just having walks and infrequent longer hikes and no yard. He's actually less reactive/barky in this apartment, in a much bigger apartment building, than he was in the three-family house, because it's more sound proof.


He does freak out at motorcycles still, and big box trucks, but as long as you hold the other hand on the leash low enough that he can't lunge into traffic, he gets over it as soon as it's past.


I got to spend an hour or so with Herschel before I chose to adopt him, and while I couldn't know a lot of things about him, we did rightly perceive that he was relatively low key and affectionate. I don't need to exercise him nearly as much as you're describing.


But I've never raised a puppy, and that may be the straw that breaks the camel's back, to use a cliche'.


Even as a low-intensity Border Collie, I would say he's more neurotic than the corgi that I grew up with and my beloved Aussie mix.

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@mkdlin What are you thinking these days? Have you been able to identify what in particular you are looking for in a canine companion? If yes, in what ways is that idea similar and different from what you presented a month ago?


As for the slew of thoughts and advice, here's mine:


When I adopted TuxeDog, I had never previously owned a dog. Something that came to mind for me while reading through this thread is just how little I understood. I was explicitly looking for a dog that would be a companion, not a project. However, because I had so little dog experience, I missed and/or misinterpreted very obvious signs that this beautiful dog wasn't going to fit the life I envisioned.


When I say "very obvious signs" I mean very obvious to any dog *trainer*. I do not mean "very obvious" to any dog *owner*. Lots of people have wonderful relationships with their family dogs and have quite minimal knowledge of dog behavior and communication. And that's okay. It's really really okay. It's just different.


There are some things I did "right." Right meaning "right for me: my needs, desires, and situation." For example, based on my experience with cats, I took the advice to adopt an adult dog, rather than a youth with an unknown personality, seriously. In retrospect, I would have worked alongside a CPDT-KA to identify the dog that would work best for me.


Any CPDT-KA would have oriented me to a different dog (maybe still a BC!) that would have better fit my needs and the past year of my life would have been very different.


Similarly, when folks encourage you to assess dogs that were bred by that breeder now living in homes. That advice is great. And, I would not have had the skills to have assessed the dogs. So, again, I encourage working alongside a high quality dog trainer and bringing the trainer along on those visits.


I adore my dog. I've learned a ton. And? And, this isn't what I was looking for. And, I'm really very lucky that I happen to work professionally in a field that trains me in human behavior and reactivity/de-escalation. That training helped me gather, sort through, and "scale up" the necessary knowledge to work effectively with TuxeDog much faster than would have otherwise been possible.



Anyhow, that's my 2¢. Perhaps some grain will prove worthwhile. Regardless, I'm curious how your considerations have progressed. Welcome to BC Boards!

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  • 1 month later...

Hello! I do not post often but lurk a lot and thought I would share my experience since I have a 10 month old border collie mix (mixed with other herding breeds). I got him when he was 9 weeks. We lived in a 2nd story apartment complex that was pet friendly at the time.


We ended up moving into a side by side duplex with our own yard. Yes, we had to move because it was what turned out to be best for our dog. We did not have issues with barking or anything like that but new people moved in downstairs who had a baby and because part of our apartment was wood flooring, you could hear everything, dog playing, dog squeaky toys, anything. He was a young growing dog and it was hard to just play with him without bothering people.


That wasn't the worst part though, the worst is that since it was a pet friendly building, other people had dogs and no one has a private yard. Most of the other dogs were not socialized or trained in even basic commands and some of the owners were worse. This meant lunging barking reactive dogs so just taking the pup to potty was instilling fear into my dog of other dogs and people. No good!!


We still live in a busy city but now have our own space to potty and can play endlessly inside and love a good game of fetch outside. We have many parks and huge fields nearby for offleash fun and go to doggy school every week. The city itself has not been a problem at all but living space definitely needs to be considered, not sq feet but the possibility of noise and unfriendly dogs.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What is interesting, when we raised our black lab from a pup, we still have stories we tell anout her. Joy was unforgetable!,

Our little rescue lab/beagle mix gave us a great companion dog friiend, but no stories.

Now with Gina and almost 4 months, we have stories!

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