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JessicaRad

New Puppy: Need Reaasurance

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Hi! We just brought home our Border Collie puppy on Friday. Harper is a 12 week old female. Before taking the leap, I read a ton of stuff and a book on training Border Collies. We met her mother who was a family pet (but outside pet who stayed in the barn). She was not a "working dog." We have four children, aged 10, 8, 8, and 6. We are planning on getting an invisible fence once she potty trains and learns boundaries so eventually we will be able to let her in and out to do her Business. I am a stay at home mom and am gone for maybe 4 hours a day, or sometimes a 3 hour interval followed by another 3 hour interval a little later. During those times and at night, she will be crated. I am prepared to take her for long walks, and to take her to obedience training. We chose the BC so she would be be active with the children. HOWEVER, now that we have her, I am panicking. All I seem to read now are horror stories and how they can be so destructive and are so hard to keep happy and control. I am worried that bad and destructive behavior will cause my anxiety to skyrocket. Please reassure me that I did not just sign my life away, and if I did, please offer some advice to help me through it.

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I don’t know why Border Collies get this reputation for being out of control monsters. Do they need mental stimulation and exercise - yes. But so do all dogs. I know a couple people with GSPs and they seem way more insane than my Border Collies. 

 

I am a little curious as to why you chose a BC with children, they are kind of notorious for trying to control their movements and getting over-aroused by running/screaming kids. Any dog really, minus maybe a bulldog, would be active and fun for children. (I mean there is a reason the “picture perfect” family has a Golden Retriever...) 

 

But, you’re committed now! As you said, she’ll need exercise, but more importantly she’ll need mental training. They’re such incredibly quick learners. Teach her obedience, teach her tricks. The one thing people neglect to teach their dogs/puppies is how to relax and settle. This is one thing the working Border Collie seems to excel at over the “pet” BC. (What farmer wants an insane dog all the time?) Teach her to relax on a mat or a crate by giving her a bone, or a stuffed Kong or whatever - and don’t let anyone bother her. She’ll learn if she needs a break from the kids she can go there and relax, and be left alone. 

I’m not a fan of underground fences, for a variety of reasons, but that’s a whole other topic. 

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I have only had the one border collie puppy and yes he was hard work at first. Just like a baby, you have to watch them all the time. We got ours in the hot summer last year so we were out in the garden a lot, where he destroyed most of our plants. He had lots of chewing toys, which he liked but was obsessed with my slippers, so I don’t wear them anymore. He was happy to go in his crate at night, where he slept through to 4 each morning and was potty trained pretty quick.  Border Collies do need exercising, but not too much until they are fully grown. 5 minutes for each month, and no jumping and twisting, or stairs until their joints are fully formed.

I also felt at first that we had taken on a massive commitment, but our pup is now 11 months old, loves his walks and playing ball, but he also knows when to chill and relax. He is happy to go in his crate when I go out.

my children are adult sons who play with him when they come home from work and your children will be able to play and teach games with your girl, just try and keep play to short spells so she won’t get too wound up.

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Jessica, all puppies of all breeds are work, and all puppies are frustrating sometimes.  Remember, the great majority of puppies turn out just fine, especially with an informed and committed owner like you.  People who have an easy time with their puppies (like me) rarely post in the forum--we don't need to.  So when you read about problems, these happen with a small minority of puppies.

I will caution you about invisible fences.  They don't work nearly as well as the manufacturers claim, for many different reasons.

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Expect to train your kids. Mine are much older but they still needed training.

No rough play. It might be fun for your puppy and your kids to be snatching things off each other, wrestling and dragging each other around by tug toys/sleeves etc, but just don't. Our boy got more and more growly and bitey and unpleasant for a while. I put a stop to rough play and it improved almost instantly. Plus, cute little puppies grow into big strong dogs very fast.

Slow, gentle movements. When your puppy runs after them pouncing on their feet and grabbing their socks/trousers/ankles tell your children they must stand very still. It's cute and funny when your puppy is very small but quickly becomes horrible. I hadn't realised how fidgety our son was until we got our boy, he would jiggle his feet and flap his hands without knowing he was doing it and the puppy would get very excited. Squealing also seemed to set our boy off. Over excited puppies aren't fun.

Have lots of puppy toys placed strategically around so whenever the puppy starts mouthing something (or someone) he's not meant to, then someone can swap it for an appropriate toy.

We've had our boy for nearly a year now, the first 3 months were very hard work but thankfully he's never been destructive (only of his own toys). Think of your puppy like having a two year old. She'll put things in her mouth she's not meant to, she'll wee in places she's not meant to, she'll behave badly when she's due a nap and sometimes she'll wake you up at night.

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You might find your kids harder to train with the dog than the dog is! Keep this in mind: the only way to have success training any puppy is for the dog to be treated with 100% consistency.

I cannot stress this enough. If you are trying to train your pup to do or not do something and all of your family members down to the youngest is not doing the same training behavior you are doing you will end up with a confused and frightened dog. This is true no matter the breed.  For instance, if you want to teach the dog to wait for a release when being let outside, but your child just lets him out each time without doing that, you won't be successful in the training. this goes for everything.

The most important thing you can do is sit down with the kids and tress to them how important it is that you all adhere to the same training and behavior toward the dog. And do make sure that the kids don't rile him up all the time playing with him, or reach for him suddenly or grab him from behind or all of those things that startle the pup and might make him frightened. Gentle play, gentle touch.

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On 4/16/2019 at 5:45 AM, Shandula said:

I don’t know why Border Collies get this reputation for being out of control monsters. 

 

Probably a genius plan to try to keep these perfect pups out if the wrong hands ;-) I never tell anyone how lovely my BCs really are haha

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Hi Jessica, congrats on your new puppy!  When my husband and I picked up our bc last October, the breeder gave us some SUPER smart advice as we were having some last-minute, holy-cow-what-are-we-doing-I'm-excited-but-scared jitters (I don't have kids but I imagine this is analogous on some level to what it feels like when parents drive their infant home for the first time): he said you shouldn't have to adapt to your bc; he needs to adapt to you. I think this is especially important in the very beginning, because this is when your dog learns about dealing with frustration. There will be times every single day where puppy is demanding your time and attention, and I think it's great for YOU to be the one to choose when you and your family give her those things, not the other way around. It'll feel like something to get through at first (she's frustrated and barking, argh), but as long as she learns to deal with her frustration from the get-go, then when she's a grown up, you'll have a nice patient and polite dog (this is perhaps somewhat oversimplified; lots of other factors go into this too, but I do think it's a good factor to keep in mind!)

Happy puppy times! :)

 

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9 hours ago, KevTheDog said:

...you shouldn't have to adapt to your bc; he needs to adapt to you...

Truer, more important words were never spoken. You had a smart breeder offering you that helpful advice.

It's because so many people don't understand this simple fact that border collies -- and other breeds; it's not exclusive to border collies -- get the reputation of being hard to live with. I've actually found them easier to live with than many other types of dog.

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18 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

Truer, more important words were never spoken. You had a smart breeder offering you that helpful advice.

It's because so many people don't understand this simple fact that border collies -- and other breeds; it's not exclusive to border collies -- get the reputation of being hard to live with. I've actually found them easier to live with than many other types of dog.

All very true. To a large extent, you get the dog you create. 

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