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Would you say BCs are easy to train?


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Someone referred to my dog recently as my "easy ass agility dog." ( Saying "agility dog" is a compliment actually since we literally just started taking a course online from FDSA and have no prior experience. They also referred to me as a "dumbass" so I think they have some kind of obsession with asses? But I digress.) I've heard other people refer to them as easy to train and push button. I'm wondering if those of you who have worked with other breeds find this to be true? I find that my own BC learns quickly and is easily motivated. She throws her whole self into everything she does. (Or rather, as the ass person would put it, she doesn't do anything half-assed. LOL) She is sensitive though, especially to noises and fast moving things. It's difficult to handle her when she is overstimulated/flipping out over something. So when it comes to training, I would say, not difficult, but not "easy ass" either. I've never had a problem training her that we couldn't get past, and any problems we've had have been me doing it wrong not her. 

For me the things that took some getting used to were the quirks. Barking or getting upset at things like motercycles, kites, and strange or loud noises. Getting hyped up more easily than most non-herding dogs I know. being hard to handle when hyped up if there's nothing to channel the energy into. Things like that. These things weren't "easy ass" to me at first. Like I said, they took some getting used to. (I don't see these as "problems" now and know how to handle them.)

Of course I don't know if by "easy" people generally mean "learn quickly" or " train themselves and you don't have to put much work into it. " In the case of the latter, nothing could be farther from the truth. 

In general in agree they are quick learners but I don't think that "easy to train" is a good message to spread to the general public. 

 

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Um. 

 

I would say border collies are easy to train. 

 

I would not say border collies are necessarily easy to train to *do what you want*.


They're smart, they're creative, and they're not forgiving of handler error. 

 

And my BC is 10X harder in agility than my little mutt.  Because she's fast as blazes, smart as heck, powerful, super sensitive to handling (super, super sensitive to minor body motion/cues that aren't) and timing.      And she yells her FACE OFF at me if I'm wrong.   And I deserve it. 

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2 hours ago, Baderpadordercollie said:

Someone referred to my dog recently as my "easy ass agility dog." ( Saying "agility dog" is a compliment actually since we literally just started taking a course online from FDSA and have no prior experience. They also referred to me as a "dumbass" so I think they have some kind of obsession with asses? But I digress.) I've heard other people refer to them as easy to train and push button. I'm wondering if those of you who have worked with other breeds find this to be true? I find that my own BC learns quickly and is easily motivated. She throws her whole self into everything she does. (Or rather, as the ass person would put it, she doesn't do anything half-assed. LOL) She is sensitive though, especially to noises and fast moving things. It's difficult to handle her when she is overstimulated/flipping out over something. So when it comes to training, I would say, not difficult, but not "easy ass" either. I've never had a problem training her that we couldn't get past, and any problems we've had have been me doing it wrong not her. 

For me the things that took some getting used to were the quirks. Barking or getting upset at things like motercycles, kites, and strange or loud noises. Getting hyped up more easily than most non-herding dogs I know. being hard to handle when hyped up if there's nothing to channel the energy into. Things like that. These things weren't "easy ass" to me at first. Like I said, they took some getting used to. (I don't see these as "problems" now and know how to handle them.)

Of course I don't know if by "easy" people generally mean "learn quickly" or " train themselves and you don't have to put much work into it. " In the case of the latter, nothing could be farther from the truth. 

In general in agree they are quick learners but I don't think that "easy to train" is a good message to spread to the general public. 

 

Oh I love those!!!  Intelligent dog that is super easy cos it's super smart and can pick up anything pretty much straight away.  Job done - what you banging on about? :rolleyes:

That intelligence is a double-edged sword even experienced people can find hard going.  BC's pick things up and learn very quickly which does make them highly trainable but that extends to them picking up bad habits and manipulative / compulsive behaviours and us training them without having any idea.  

It's easier to ruin one without even trying than it is to work on simple basic training taking time and making sure you're careful and do it right. That means making sure what you do and how is right for the dog too cos what works for one won't do for another.  Never a simple "this or that" sort of thing it takes time and patience and then some. 

Similar to what we've talked about in terms of people that think sheepdogs are forced and you're forcing Breagha to sleep on pillows and go outside and I'm hiding toys and shoes all over the house then forcing mine to go find and collect them... like some kind of dog slaves it's a disgrace honestly. 

Clueless and in actually thinking they don't like or want to do these things, they'd stop training or working with them / extending on training and impulse control and taking part in group sports and activities and that means a very unhappy, under-stimulated, poorly trained / unsociable and easily neglected dog that starts going up the pole like those I've seen.

That's one reason I was so surprised you don't get more support and encouragement / acknowledgement even about the work you put into Breagha.  Always a real breath of fresh air and restores my faith seeing young handlers doing a brilliant job and taking full responsibility :)

The smarter the dog - the smarter his owner needs to be.  Think your average dog owner would struggle to realise just what that means but most here will get it. 

I swear one day a person is going to appear on the BBC news having been left homeless and penniless cos he dropped the ball and his BC's remortgaged and took his house right out from under him and there is nothing they can do about it :P

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9 hours ago, CptJack said:

Um. 

 

I would say border collies are easy to train. 

 

I would not say border collies are necessarily easy to train to *do what you want*.


They're smart, they're creative, and they're not forgiving of handler error. 

 

And my BC is 10X harder in agility than my little mutt.  Because she's fast as blazes, smart as heck, powerful, super sensitive to handling (super, super sensitive to minor body motion/cues that aren't) and timing.      And she yells her FACE OFF at me if I'm wrong.   And I deserve it. 

Yess exactly. You are much better at putting things succinctly than I. 

9 hours ago, CptJack said:

Also since you've found Fenzi I HIGHLY recommend the 'Worked up" class, particularly for that 'over aroused' thing causing issues in agility.  It was a god send for us.

I have seen that and want to take it. Ohmygosh I LOVE Sarah Stremming so much and want to take all of her classes. It doesn't cause problems in agility because we've only just started, LOL. It doesn't generally cause problems in day to day life but if there's construction going on next store, or a motercycle goes by, it's freak out time. Though with motercycles I have worked with her and she mostly ignores them, buy there is a certain kind of engine that she simply cannot ignore. 

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We get comments like ‘of course you know they are high energy dogs so good luck with that’ followed by ‘at least you can train them to do tricks easily’. 

I take comfort in the fact that my BC is more intelligent than them and while there may be things he will pick up easily it will take dedication on my part to build our working partnership together.

My answer is that we will work hard together and be the best that we can be. 

 

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11 hours ago, Parly said:

Oh I love those!!!  Intelligent dog that is super easy cos it's super smart and can pick up anything pretty much straight away.  Job done - what you banging on about? :rolleyes:

A surprising number of people, upon hearing what kind of dog she is, have said, "oh, I've always wanted one, they're so easy to train." I'm like well, that's definitely true but... 

Also I saw on the front of a magazine, a picture of a BC with the caption, "America's Favorite Dog." That was slightly concerning to me. 

I hate when people say "oh they're such a difficult breed, only the best can handle them," because that's not at all true, but I don't like their growing popularity either. 

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My current dog-in-training is very easy to train in the sense that he is very biddable, even at the start of his stockwork training I was clearly in the picture. He is very keen on working sheep, so I consider myself lucky with that combination.

I have also had a bordercollie that was almost entirely unbiddable, he clearly lived for his own desire's, and seemed to give a rat's *** for anybody else's opinion. I suspect in his case it was a hopeless combination of his upbringing (actually lack thereof, I got him as an adult)) and a difficult, extremely hard character. I sometimes wonder if I would have gotten a handle on him if I had gotten him as a pup. I actually doubt it, He was quite extreme. Pity, he was fearless ( but maybe that was part of the problem....)

So I think the spectrum is pretty broad, but that said, I also think my experience is rather exeptional, and generally bc's are rather biddable, and therefor easy to train by someone who knows what he is doing.

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I think it's one of those yes/no answers. They are usually biddable and want to work with you, but they also require patience and a calm attitude that tougher breeds don't. Border collies sulk and can simply refuse to do things if you upset them. My two are very different, one over thinks everything and is so slow and questioning while he figures out the puzzle, the other hurls himself at the problem and always thinks he is right which leads to some interesting choices on an agility course! But in the end they both are fun to work with. 

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Border collies have been bred for generations to be "biddable", so in general, yes, they're easy to train. (My current pup, at age 3 months, knew "lie down", "sit", "spin", "leave it", "that'll do [come]", "kennel up", "release" (and not to leave his crate until he'd heard it), and "stay"). Not claiming that the recall or stay are rock-solid yet, of course, but it doesn't take but a few minutes to teach each one after he got the hang of my asking him to do things with his body. Of course, as with any generalization, there will be exceptions to the rule. But I suspect anyone would have greater success training a Border collie for agility than, say, a Great Pyrenees. (Livestock guardian dogs are notoriously independent - it's what they've been bred for - and can be a challenge to train beyond the basics).

As for being high-strung - it really depends a lot on (a) how they're bred (working vs sports-bred) and (b) how they're raised. A working dog is useless if it has no impulse control. My three (adult, working-bred) Border collies come to work with me (at a university) every day. (I've been off for the summer with the puppy and a broken leg - bad combination, but he's a great pup!). They chill in my office. They're quiet when I'm off teaching a class. They're thrilled when students or other visitors stop by, and when I ask them to "go to their beds" so that we can get on with the business at hand, they'll go there and stay. I've instilled an "off switch" in them, and it's something I've been working on since Day 1 with the current pup.

A couple of years ago I had a very long meeting with a former PhD student. I brought my then current pup to the meeting, because he loves meeting new people. After greeting her, he found a chair and curled up to sleep for the duration of the two-hour meeting. Afterwards, she asked me how old he was. "Six months," I said. "Oh. He's pretty small for a German shepherd, isn't he?" I told her he was a Border collie. "Oh - they're terribly high-energy, aren't they?" I pointed out that this pup had slept through the entire meeting.

So often, I fear, people create self-fulfilling prophecies. They're told that Border collies are high-energy, high-maintenance. They feel somehow they're "bad owners" unless they set up a schedule in which the pups get hours of structured activities all day long, including far more exercise than is good for young joints. Sure, puppies need a chance to get their zoomies out. But they also need to learn to chill. It's not doing any pup a favor to keep it busy all day long.

The trial dogs I know mainly spend hours each day crated. Don't assume that just because they live on a farm with sheep they're kept on the run all day. There's not really all that much work for them to do on most such, at least in my parts (Maryland). I am only using one of my dogs for chores at present. Help push the sheep out in the morning to the correct pastures, put them away in the evening. Occasionally there will be more - help sort out a lamb that needs medicine, or a ewe whose feet need checking, or push the lambs into a packed pen for weighing, or load them on a trailer to go to market. Get the chickens into the coop if I want to shut them up early. If the dogs didn't know how to chill for the rest of the day, they'd drive me crazy.

 

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33 minutes ago, Alchemist said:

Afterwards, she asked me how old he was. "Six months," I said. "Oh. He's pretty small for a German shepherd, isn't he?" I told her he was a Border collie. "Oh - they're terribly high-energy, aren't they?" I pointed out that this pup had slept through the entire meeting.

Face palm. Yet this seems to be the pervasive image of them, no matter what people see right in front of them.

52 minutes ago, Alchemist said:

So often, I fear, people create self-fulfilling prophecies.

You're right, and I think it happens all too often with these dogs. I'm really not anything special when it comes to training dogs and in recent years I haven't even been able to be all that active with my dogs, at least not physically active. But none of my border collies have been really demanding in their energy needs and they've all been taught to have off switches at a young age.

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I've had people ask me, in pretty much these words, "Don't your dogs need to run for at least an hour a day?" When I answer, "Exercise is good, but what they really crave is mental stimulation and being part of a team," I get looks of  . . . well, let's just call it confusion. As if I'd started speaking Martian. 

Palm to forehead ~ where's the emoji for that?

Ruth & Gibbs

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All true. But like I said, I've had people tell me they want one BECAUSE they're easy to train, and by easy they generally mean they think the dog trains itself. I've also seen BC handlers getting looked down on by handlers of other breeds because, well, they have a push button Border Collie what do they know. 

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4 minutes ago, Baderpadordercollie said:

...people tell me they want one BECAUSE they're easy to train, and by easy they generally mean they think the dog trains itself. I've also seen BC handlers getting looked down on by handlers of other breeds because, well, they have a push button Border Collie what do they know.  

I was responding to this part post, not the one immediately following it. (You do know you can edit your posts to add things, right?)

We all get this. You're not alone in it.

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