Jump to content
BC Boards

Border Collie in the City

Recommended Posts


I've been reading a lot in the forum, trying to find out if a BC is a good choice for me. I've always wanted a dog and now I am finally in a position to fulfill my dream. I live in a city (Vienna actually-if anyone knows someone), not quite the suburbs yet, but very green. It's not far to the woods or open spaces. I know about their intelligence - one of the reasons I love the breed - and their need for activity. I also know, to teach them to relax early on and challenge them, but find a good balance and don't even try to tire them out physically - at least not on a regular basis. My plan was to train in obedience ( I think it's important, especially in a city), trickdogging for fun and agility or FrisbeeDog - though my sister told me about treibball (don't know if there is an englisch word for that) and I'll definitely look into it.

Now my question is (a) what do I have to do, to accustom a BC to city life? To the noises, the cars, the people? I read here, that some managed to train them, but that it was a long process and lots of training. I know that and am prepared for that. If I really do choose a BC as my first dog I am fully prepared to train and be patient and see this through. That's why I'm asking here. A dog is a resposibility for a decad or more -god willing- and I don't want to make this desicion lightly. I want to have a pleasurable time with the dog, not dreading every second. If my living arrangements are not suited for a BC I'd rather know now BEFORE I get one. If it is better for the dog, then I will happily deny myself the pleasure of a BC and who knows maybe in 10 to 20 years things change enough to where I am in a better position to get one.
And what can I do, if the dog absolutely doesn't get accusomed or relax? I don't want to have to give up the dog.

(b) Like I said, I read a lot of posts here in the forum - most of them about having some or other problem with their BC. But I do wonder: do people really have so much trouble with BCs? (I realize a forum can be a place to ask for help, so naturally there are a lot of posts about having trouble with something). What would you say are the biggest "mistakes" I could make, raising a BC pup? What are the "best" things I could do?

Again, I try to educate myself, I try to prepare myself and not be ignorant, I try to make an informed decision. Saying I know what awaits me would be a lie. I have no idea how it will be, again this will be my first dog. But I try to get a picture and I try to find solutions to things that are likely to happen to be quick on my feet and not leave my puppy hanging.

So If you have ideas that could help or personal experience I would be immensely thankful!

Thank you all in advance and I wish you a nice day :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, and welcome to the forum.

To give you my input on your questions (others may have other ideas):

You won't need to accustom a BC to the city unless you take a dog who is used to being in the country and running free a lot of the time and put that dog in the city. This is not something I would recommend doing. If you get a puppy or a young dog under a year old and give the dog enough training, attention, and exercise, then the dog can be perfectly happy in the city.  It's not really a matter of "some managed to train them", in my opinion. Border collies are easy to train (which can work against you, as they easily learn things you don't want them to, so 100% consistency is key in training, as it is with any dog). If you dedicate enough time to the dog, and form a good bond, there should be no problem living in a city. Many do.

As for what to do if the dog won't relax.......wait and see if you have that problem and if you do, deal with it then. there's no particular reason that a dog would find it harder to relax in the city as long as the dog is accustomed to it from an early age.

People come here to ask for help and that's a big part of this forum. We usually don't spend time talking about how great our dogs are, but don't take that as a sign that most border collies are problem dogs because they aren't.

I once adopted a two year old very active border collie while living in Los Angeles in one room, no yard. It meant I dedicated almost all of my time not spent working to making sure the dog got what he needed to be happy and well exercised, but fortunately that's how I wanted to spend my time, and the dog and I were fine. I made it a mission to find all the places near and far where he could chase a frisbee off leash, he got two long walks a day and training time, and we went hiking every weekend. Again, this is how I already wanted to spend my time and having the dog just made it more fun.

It's important to be careful where you get your dog. Make sure you don't go to a breeder who is breeding for show or for fancy colors. No doubt you have already read all the "read this first" information. You sound like someone who would be dedicated to doing right by your dog, so I suspect you would do OK. No need to worry about things that haven't happened yet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thank you for the quick reply!

You have no idea of how much help you just were to me. this actually sooths my bigges worry. I feel confident to satiate a BCs need for exercise and mental stimulation. But living in a city, trying to keep such a sensitive dog, without some more information bothered me.

That's actually the reason I finally registered to the forum and asked this question. A family friend has a purebred BC, as does a neighbour. You can probably guess what happened next - spoiler: there's puppys involved. I already visited him and the pups, took a look and actually fell in love with a grey-white rascal of a girl. But I was still unsure. Seeing as it should not pose a problem if she gets used to city life, I'll probably take her.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the Boards waffletastics!

I second what D'Elle has said in that BCs are very adaptable and trainable dogs.  If you have a puppy in mind, and you know the parents, that will give you some idea about the likely personality of the adult dog.  I say likely, because dogs can be very different from their parents, or turn out different than you thought as a puppy, but the important thing is to always work with the dog you have, not the dog you want.  If your dog has grown up with the sights and sounds of the city, and is well socialised, there is no reason to think she will not be happy in the city if you satisfy her mental, physical and emotional needs, and you sound dedicated to that.

I have four border collies in a suburban home with a not so big yard, and they are all happy.

But most importantly, WE LOVE PUPPY PHOTOS! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the Boards! I got my first bc about 17 years ago. Had absolutely no idea at all what I was getting into. We both adapted. She was about a year old when I got her and I learned that she needed exercise, physical and mental daily. I liked that about her.

What Lawgirl says about working with the dog you have is something I've learned first hand. I've got my 4th border collie now, and each one has been unique. One was medium social with humans, the second not so social but scary smart, the 3rd LOVED every human he ever met and HAD to say hello to everyone. My current guy is on the shyer side but LOVES puppies.

So they're all different and all seem to have had some quirks. Like the current puppy-loving one.

One way they're all alike is they need to Do Something With Their Human. Trick training, agility, frisbee/disk, etc. My current guy, at 13, is still learning tricks and he loves it. I read years ago about a border collie who was trained for tracking and did really well at it.

Your dog will be unique. Train the basic manners, (potty training, recall, sit and down, wait, etc) and go from there. Your pup will let you know what they like and don't like. It's a journey for sure. Welcome!

Ruth & Gibbs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

About six months ago I lived with my BC on the ninth floor of an apartment building in a city. The area wasn’t super busy, but not quite the suburbs either, I lived close to some nice parks and open green spaces. 
Now I live in a tiny village in a rural area with lots of forests at walking distance.

The move didn’t really matter to Molly. She was just as happy living in an apartment as where we are now. Sure it is an upgrade, she loves the smells in the forest and we can walk out the door off leash. But mostly it is me who is a lot happier here. Molly just wants to be with me. As long as she has her daily routine she is happy. Our routine remains the same, it’s just that the view and smells are a lot nicer for both of us now.

Molly was raised by my mum in a rural area and came to me when she was 3 years old. She wasn’t fazed at all by the change to a city. 
Molly’s mum was raised in Rotterdam very close to the city center and we lived on a very busy street. As I was a teenager then I didn’t have the full responsibility, but I don’t remember any problems apart from finding nice places to walk her. We cycled a lot with her. She wasn’t as high drive as Molly which made it a lot easier on us humans (and that’s why Molly is no longer with my mum :)).

I’d say go for it, especially if you have already found a nice pup! The most important thing is to figure out a structure/routine that works for you and the dog, but it sounds like you won’t have any trouble with that :) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As people have said, if you are willing to put in the work and your dog does not have any outstanding issues, you will be fine. On paper, our family is the poster child for how not to raise border collies: 3 young kids, 2 working adults, big city but our 2 border collies (one 12 years old and one 5 months old) are happy and thriving as are the rest of us. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Lawgirl @urgetoherd @flora & Molly @puppytoes thank you so much!

I have another question, I didn't really find an answer to: can/ should I start training her the "minute" I get her or give her a day or two to acclimate? I don't mean potty training, I mean more actively training like sit, down, wait? And once I'm down with those, what else is really important? like drop it, leave it, ... What should be my priorities? Besides the off-switch, obviously!

Another thing: As I said, I don't live smack down in the middle of vienna, I live a further out - still in the city though. When can I start taking her further into the city? I don't plan to make her walk all day, I will be bringing a backpack for her to get into when she gets tired. How long should I wait after I get her?

Anyone have good ressources for tricktraining and/or discdog? (book, website, yt video or channel)

PS yes, that profile pic is adorable!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A dog is always learning, so training starts as soon as you take the pup home. But I haven’t really ever done formal training sessions at home with a pup. We usually taught the pup things “in context”. So a sit before dinner for instance, wait at the door, stuff like that. 
But I do keep in mind that it is a puppy so I don’t expect the same level of obedience as I would of my adult dog. Baby steps. Waiting at the door would for the pup be “don’t dash out in front of me” or perhaps a brief sit at the door. We’re just making a start at teaching the pup the house rules.

Most of the things I want to teach a dog will come up naturally. A drop it, for instance, will come up when I am playing with the dog. So I’ll teach it then. Place/crate training comes up when I want to relax in the evening, or when I have to cook or do something besides seeing to the dog in the house.  
This has always worked well for us, but if you want to do more “formal” training sessions I’d say see how the pup reacts. If she’s relaxed at your house then give it a go. If she’s a bit timid and scared, maybe let her be for a while.

Now as to bringing the pup into more busy areas... it’s the same answer. It depends on the pup. If she’s outgoing and happy on walks in your neighbourhood than you can gradually introduce her to more busy areas. If she’s more timid you have to take it slower and in tinier steps and build up to it. I can’t put a time on it, it really depends on the dog. But as a rule I’d say the pup has to be comfortable with you and in your house and your neighbourhood before venturing further out. This can happen quite quickly. 

I have no experience with OCD. But a dog can develop unwanted behaviour when they’re bored, yes. Or when they are overstimulated as well and are always “on”. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It is all about finding what works for your dog (and you).



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Waffletastics, I agree with what Flora & Molly says above. Just want to add....please don't assume that your puppy is going to develop something like OCD. Maybe I am misinterpreting, but it seems from what you wrote that you think this is inevitable, or that all border collies are going to be prone to it, and that's not really true. Some border collies will develop obsessions with things, but not all. My approach is to choose at the beginning what is acceptable to me for my dog to obsess on, in case the dog does go in that direction. So, for instance, I decided to teach one dog to fetch, because that was something I didn't mind his obsessing about, and sure enough he got obsessed with it. I kept control of it, though, and he was not allowed to bring me a toy to throw unless I told him to. We did daily frisbee sessions outside. He knew if I said "last one" that after this final throw there would be no more. The female BC I had at the same time never got obsessive about anything.

If you give your pup enough to do and don't over do it he or she may not be obsessive at all. It all depends on the dog. One very important thing is this: don't make assumptions about your new dog. Don't be ambitious for him or her, and don't jump to conclusions. Instead, spend your time observing him or her very closely. Watch the body language, the reactions, the likes and dislikes. Learn from the dog. Don't put your own fears or hopes onto her, and let her reveal to you who she is. She is as much of an individual as a human being, so let her show you how she is, and then go from there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@flora & molly thank you, I appreciate it!

@D'Elle Oh no! That's not what I meant at all, that came out wrong! I just wanted to see, wether my thought process was correct, and wether I collectied the right sort of information. You are absoluely correct, of course. I'll just wait and see, and - if at all - I'll steer her in he "right" direction

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We recently got a puppy and I found that the first week was really about making the pup feel at home. It's a big change to be away from their mom and siblings. You want to build a relationship with them so that they feel safe and trust you. Depending on the pup, very early training could cause frustration because you're essentially a stranger. I watched a few youtube videos of border collie puppies learning all sorts of stuff and temporarily felt like I was letting my pup down. Now at 5 months, he is relaxed and happy. He knows basic stuff that makes our lives easier.  He's not perfect but he works well for us. I think there is a certain pressure that comes with border collies: they are so smart so you better be smarter and don't mess it up because they can be insane. While it's true to a certain extent, nothing is permanent and if you make some mistakes, they can usually be corrected without too much fuss. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...