I've been told a Border Collie is the perfect dog.  Is that true?

First, there is no such thing as a perfect dog.  Although breeds have specific traits and characteristics, every Border Collie is different.  Their intelligence helps them have a unique personality and desire to learn and please.  In a home where they will be stimulated, a BC will thrive.  Of course, there's nothing to stop you from thinking that your best friend is just "perfect"!

My Collie really pulls on the lead!  How can I stop him?  I've tried stopping like some behaviourists suggest, but it doesn't work with him - and makes our walk take about 5 hours! A Collie's natural instinct is to run ahead of it's master to investigate and round up sheep.  It's only natural they will pull away!  When you stop, he's even more determined to go.  First, try a 'Walk-Eze' harness.  This is a collar / harness which means the resistance is met around the dog's chest, and not their neck.

NEVER use a 'choke' or 'check' chain.  How would you like it if someone kept trying to damage your windpipe?  That just makes them either scared of you, (negative reinforcement) or encourages them to hate the collar even more!

Imagine if you had a collar on, and it kept feeling tighter every time you walked forward.  The natural instinct is to pull away and try to get away from the thing strangling you!

Harnesses are a much better choice, and we find the Walk-Eze is great for collies who pull.

They're easily trained, aren't they? Another unhelpful myth surrounds the Border Collie!  Although they learn quickly, that also means they can learn the WRONG thing quickly.  It's important that you go to the right training class, and are prepared to put some serious time into your collie if you want them to be an agility champ, flyball master or even just some basic obedience.  But please do it for fun - there's nothing worse than someone who live vicariously through their dog's success.  There are some who if the dog doesn't "make the grade" with regards to agility and flyball they rehome the dog.  

Your collie should always be a pet and a friend first.
Why is my Collie Destructive? For Border Collies, the most common reason is that they're bored.  When collies get bored they make their own entertainment.  That may involve stripping the wallpaper, chewing the settee, or scratching feverishly at doors.

As we've said before, collies are very intelligent - but with this intelligence comes some responsibility for the owner of the BC.

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MY COLLIE IS DESTRUCTIVE

Why does my Collie nip the kids and chase the cat? First we need to decide if this is an actual "bite" or a "nip".  When a Collie is rounding up or guarding his flock, he often 'nips' at the sheep to move his target to where he wants them to be.  If your collie has started to regard your children as his flock, then he will be using his instincts to 'nip' them.

As for the cat - Dogs chase cats - and collies like to round up sheep.  If a cat runs, a collie is likely to chase.

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KIDS & CATS

My Collie seems to have lost respect for me, and won't do as he's told! For Border Collies, the relationship between you and your dog is really special.  To have a healthy friendly relationship between you and your Border Collie, he has to respect you.  If he's lost respect for you then you'll have to put some effort in to get that respect back.

Some people demand that respect by using outdated and often cruel "negative reinforcement" techniques.  Then, there are others who know how to tell their dog what to do, but don't understand HOW their dog thinks.  What you need to do is engage the dog in interesting pass times, using positive reinforcement techniques to build that trust and bond you used to have.

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MY COLLIE JUST WON'T BEHAVE!

What the heck is positive and negative reinforcement? Simply put, positive reinforcement is where you train your dog by rewarding good behaviour, and for the most part ignoring bad behaviour.  Examples of this are clicker training, and using treats as a reward when the dog does what you ask.

Negative reinforcement is punishing the dog for doing something wrong - and is often referred to as an "old school" training method.

Although there is the odd negative reinforcement technique which can be useful when sorting out pack order problems, these should ONLY ever be used by experts.  As a general rule, negative reinforcement is an outdated method which isn't at all helpful for the modern dog, and can encourage aggression in some breeds.

We never had these problems years ago.  What gives? It's true that a lot of behaviour problems have been brought upon us by our changing lifestyles.  Whilst we can understand the difference in the changes, it's more difficult for our dogs to understand and fit in to our 24-7 convenience lifestyle.

People are working longer, but want dogs to live in the house.  Years ago, every home with a dog had an outside kennel where Fido would sleep.  Now, he sleeps indoors.  Sometimes, he even sleeps in the bed!

Simply put, our changes in lifestyle and what we expect for our animals have changed his perception of his role in the family.  By promoting him to being an indoor dog, he's moving up the pack ranking.  We he slept outside, he wasn't sleeping with the rest of the members of the pack - so he was the lowest member.

We wouldn't dream of banishing our dogs to a drafty kennel these days, but your dog still needs to be bottom of the pack order with the humans at the top.

My Collie seems hyperactive - even for a collie! They are all very active.  If you think he's OVER active, check his diet.  Some foods have a lot of additives, and these have the same effect on a collie that e-numbers have on toddlers with their bottle of fizzy pop.  Get a good, working food or the special foods with no additives.  You'd be surprised how much difference it can make.  If you'd like some advice, just get in contact.
   
   
 If you have a question or query that wasn't asked here, or if you'd like some advice, just get in contact through the "contact us" link below.

 

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The advice given in this site is no way to be taken as a replacement for professional advice either by a Veterinarian or a Behaviourist. Situations of individual animals vary greatly, and what causes problems in one Collie can be different for another.  If you would like one-to-one advice, then please get in touch by using the 'contact us' link.  This site 2004 Border Collie SOS.