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Is rescue BC a danger to my kids?

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Hi there,

I’m really hoping for some sound advice regarding my new rescue BC. I’ll try to be as concise as possible as there’s quite a lot going on.

Brief history of us: family of 5, 3 girls aged 3, 5 and 6. No experience of dog ownership. We got Ned aged 7 months. We’ve had him 10 weeks.

Brief history of Ned: aged 10 months. Dumped at the dog pound aged 5 months, history unknown. Nails were torn as if digging to get out of somewhere. Probably no socialization whatsoever. Extremely fearful. Wouldn’t leave foster home crate for 9 days. First time in a garden: dug a hole and stuck his head in it for 4 hours straight. Fostered in a home with young children, fearful but no signs of aggression.

Fast forward to now. Ned has come on a lot from where he started, he is relaxed at home with us and has gained in confidence. However, he is still very anxious out of the house, for example when he hears our neighbour talking next door. My mother in law unfortunately took him by surprise shortly after we got him, and he got such a fright that since then he has been extremely reactive to anyone outside of us five. I can’t let him off leash in our secure front garden as he tears after passers by barking and growling and sounding very aggressive (we live in a quiet rural area so he is not under constant pressure). I do not know if this is fear, territorial behavior or anything else, but I understand that it will require a lot of time and patience. We also have never taken him out for a walk as he is too reactive on leash. He would jump 5 foot in the air if he saw our neighbour in the distance and I was afraid he’d do himself a neck injury. Being confined to our garden (an acre) is not ideal stimulation-wise.

To get back to my title...we had an incident this week where my daughters were playing on the swings. They are petite and fairly quiet as kids go. Ned sometimes barks and growls at them when they’re on the trampoline so I have been monitoring it and bringing him inside if he shows signs of arousal. Unfortunately my husband was out with them that day and he is just not on the ball, so he missed the signs. Ned started the circling, barking and growling and then went for our youngest who was on the swing. Barked, growled, and kept trying to dart past John to nip at her legs from behind her. John was yelling at him and physically trying to prevent him from nipping at her. I heard the barking from upstairs and put a stop to it when I got downstairs.

Today we were in the garden, me keeping a very close eye. When she got on the swing, he went straight into that same reaction much quicker.

I personally think he may just have been overexcited, but he was so quick to repeat the behavior that I’m worried it could escalate. Almost everyone says that there is too much risk to keep him and too many unknowns around such young children. Including his foster minder, who has a young child. I called the rescue founder and she is saying “it’s fairly normal for a young dog to get aroused by the movement. Keep him indoors when  kids are in the garden. In fact he may have been warning the little one that the swing is scary, and she should come away from it”. I’ve been told off record that the rescue people are very unwilling to take dogs back and that unless you are really firm, they will avoid taking your concerns seriously. I also got guilt tripped about how much it would set Ned back to change homes.

I’m not expecting too many of you to have read this whole saga! However I’d be really grateful for any opinions, if you’re able to judge at all from the information I’ve given. Having little experience with dogs, I’m aware that my reactions are not always quick enough and it seems to me to be too fine a line to risk a 3 year old’s leg, or worse...

Thanks so much for any feedback.


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I think that him being aroused/excited by the motion and trying to stop it is normal.

I also think doing so could still escalate and lead to injury and that expecting you to keep a dog away from your kids every time they run fast or move is unfair to you, that expecting the dog to be separated that much is unfair to the dog, and that asking the kids not to have fun/play as normal kids because the dog can't get it together is unfair to the kids.

So no, I don't think he is inherently dangerous, but I would absolutely look for a more suitable home for Ned and a more suitable dog for your home.

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I did not rescue my dog but I am wondering about which kind of information the rescue gave to you regarding adopting a border collie, with no previous dog experience and 3 kids.

I would expect that they would give suggestion of which dog is best to adopt and try to match with the family.

BC are very sensitive to movement, so a swing could be a bit much to handle without proper desensitization. from my experience, with my own and other BC that I had the opportunity to meet, they all have some kind of reactivity issue, for some is very mild and limited and  for some others it can be quite intense. you will surely need to work hard with your dog and you will very likely need help from a trainer if you do not have dog experience and want to keep him. 


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I agree with what Capt. Jack said, and I'll be more blunt. This dog is not suitable for a home with young children. Please give serious consideration to finding a better home for Ned, one without young children and with someone who has dog experience.

Did you sign an agreement with the rescue that you could/would return Ned if he didn't work out? 

Ruth & Gibbs

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Thanks so much for the feedback. 

I was very clear with the rescue from the get-go. In fact, I specifically said a breed such as GSD or BC would be a definite no-no due to my lack of experience and constraints on my time exercise and stimulation wise.

Ned was suggested as he was so cautious and gentle with the foster mom’s kids. Even then, I asked again about the time / experience thing as I had doubts about the match. The rescue guy was very vague, he said he had a rescue BC who was just grateful for any scrap of attention she got. And that he thought Ned was meant for us.

I’m a first time owner but am also the kind of person who researches things to within an inch of their life. There is so much conflicting advice out there it has been a little hard to navigate. Aside from the kids, I can see as plain as day how happy and attentive he is when given a job or doing basic obedience and have had nagging doubts about my ability to make him truly happy.

We have had 2 trainers in and around here in the country they tend to be quite old school in their approach. Very much more coercive rather than positive and I don’t think that suits Ned either. So I’ve brought him along as best I could, but feel like we’re in a bit of a vacuum right now and things have plateaued a little.

People can be quick to judge rescue dogs and I did want to give this my best shot, so thank you for the advice. It’s now clear in my head that there are better homes out there for Ned than we can provide.


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Kids or not, Ned was not an appropriate first time dog for you.  You need a stable, even tempered animal.  Ned will be a challenge even for an experienced dog trainer.

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I don't really have much to add to this but I just wanted to say thank you Ned'sMum for rescuing your dog, thank you for doing so responsibly and thank you for being so open to the advice you have been given.  Others may not have reacted so maturely to what we have said here, even though it has been said with the best interests of your children and Ned at heart.

So thank you again.

And boo to that rescue organisation.  (I could use much stronger language to be honest)

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Thank you so much. He is such a sweetheart, I really hope the rescue learns from this and finds a better owner for Ned. We have a wild quarter acre out back where I bring him in the evenings. Last night he heard next door’s GSD pups and bolted home, as usual. But he kept coming back out to me, even though he was clearly worried, like he was saying “danger mommy, come home, it’s not safe for you out here”. Such a sweetheart.

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Border collies are often motion sensitive, his reaction to your girls on the swings sounds like a typical over aroused border collie. When he was in foster it is possible that he was some what shut down and wasn't comfortable yet. 

There are so many amazing rescue organisations, but there are also plenty that don't do a service to the dogs or family's that adopt them. I hope that Ned has the chance to find a good home and your family can find a four legged friend who will enjoy your lifestyle. 

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