Should you get a border collie? My answer to most people that I have had this conversation is “Nope, don’t bother”. Hearing this can be very disheartening, especially if you have been set on having one for years. They are definitely not easy dogs to have around, seriously, I’ve lent my two out for a day to friends so show them what they’re really like and most have returned asking what other breeds might suit them. Lets start by running through the day to day life of my girls, before you think further about being owned by a Border Collie.
Early morning wake up call! Forget about your lie in, any day of the week! Unless of course you can be lazier like me and get your partner – who has to get up for work ridiculously early – to feed them every morning for you! Aaaaand back to sleep for an hour… Zzz
Walkies! Time for our first walk of the day! Making sure there has been 2 hours since they were fed of course! Everyone has far too much energy first thing, so if training isn’t put into place, arms are out of sockets… Mine have a mad 2 minutes and then calm down to walk at a reasonable pace up to the field. It’s an hour and a half walk first thing in the morning, which honestly, I really enjoy! Nice fresh way to start the day!
Training time! A little chill out after the walk while I manage to squeeze some work in and it’s time to do some training! We like to do 10-20 minute training sessions twice a day for tricks or a half an hour session once a day – normally in the evenings – depending on what and where we’re learning (bearing in mind I have two so it’s double that time!). It also depends on their attention span, as some days you can see they’re just not up for a long session so I keep it basic and short but other days they want more! It’s tailored quite a lot by them if I’m honest, because as much as we all enjoy the training, we also know we mustn’t force it.
Naps all round! Time for them to have a snooze while I try and get some more work done. Seriously though, if I don’t do all these activities with them they will be going stir crazy by this point. Luna paces around not knowing what to do with all her pent up energy, which normally leads to trouble like trying desperately to get into the bins! And Aurora just sits and stares at me with a toy in her mouth until I do something with her! Thankfully Aurora isn’t one to go looking for trouble though, but Luna definitely does if she’s bored! It’s very rare that situations like that occur, however sometimes the routine is broken due to emergencies, very important work commitments that need to be completed at a certain time, and illness. I know better than to let these things slip, but we are all human and sometimes you just can’t help it, that’s how I know how they act in those circumstances. But the thing to remember in these cases is that IT’S NOT THE DOGS FAULT. It’s YOUR fault, even if you can’t help it, it’s YOUR fault they emptied the bin, it’s YOUR fault they chewed the table legs and it’s YOUR fault that they shredded their new bed. If you can see that they only do these things out of boredom then you shall be forgiven, rectify the situation as soon as you can and don’t hold a grudge with them, because they don’t understand why.
Sorry went off on a little rant there, but I do believe that ramble is extremely relate-able to any owners of highly strung working dog breeds, especially Border Collie’s. Too many times I have seen people who can’t control them and blame the dog, 99.9% of the time the handler is to blame. I was taught that in agility and I believe that it applies to all aspects of life!
Anyway, after the naps it’s back to yet another walk! Now in the evening their walk often gets swapped out for swimming, running or cycling! Honestly It kind of depends on how myself and Carl are feeling and how much time we have! If I don’t have much time then a run or bike ride is perfect to burn off their energy in a shorter time. Cycling takes longer as I can only cycle with one at a time through the streets of our town before we get to the field. Running is perfect but it takes quite a bit more effort from myself! I have a running belt with a bungee line and lead divider with two pulling harnesses for them – this website is great for running gear: Running Gear. To make life easier they also know left and right commands, and on and off the path commands – if you want to know how I taught any of those please let me know! Swimming requires a drive from where we live which requires more time, however it does mean us humans can be lazy while the girls get some seriously good cardio in! Swimming really is great cardio, for humans and dogs! We often just sit on the bank throwing a ball in with a ball flinger – or whatever you choose to call them, assuming you know what I’m on about, if not here’s a link: Chuck It Ball Launcher.
It’s then an hour wait until dinner time! The wait is essential to help avoid bloat! If you don’t know about bloat, I suggest reading this little article – Bloat Info – which will give you a little more insight into bloat and how to avoid it! For dinner we like to feed a raw food diet, which we would love to share more about in the future. In short the main reason for the raw switch is that Luna has a lot of allergies, but I saw such an improvement in her general well-being as well as her allergies that I swapped all 4 dogs to the raw food!
After dinner it’s a two hour chill out before either a little play time or training session depending on how engaged I am feeling. If I’m feeling worn down then play takes a lot less mental energy than training! And a good game of hide and seek or catch is always fun. Or if it’s been a hot day then maybe even a play in the pool!
So that’s a general day to day routine, but we have to remember that some days they need more simulation than others. For the days that they never want to wear out but I still need to get work done I love Puzzle Toys for them, or just filling a Kong up with yummy treats to keep them busy. Here are a small list of boredom busters that we have and love!
This was a run down of our weekday routine, and we love to spend our weekends really tiring them out! Whether that means attending a fun dog show, country show, meetups, a 10 Km run, an extra long walk through the countryside or something entirely new altogether! We love trying new things with the dogs, so if you ever have any suggestions or fancy meeting up just give me a shout!
Something else I would like to mention about Border Collie’s is that they constantly challenge you, and are very sensitive! Sometimes I like to say that they are too smart for their own good, for an example we’ll go back to the bin situation. We have bought so many different bins to try and prevent Luna from getting into them but she always figures them out! Which meant removal of the bin from the room! Even though it’s more awkward not having the bin where we used to, her safety is obviously paramount. You need to be prepared to change your life to fit around them, including aspects that you might not expect! And regards to sensitivity, Aurora used to love car rides, but something spooked her in the car one day and she suddenly because terrified of it. It’s proving very difficult to help her overcome her fear! If you have any tips on dogs with travel fear I would be extremely grateful, we have tried a lot of techniques but always looking for something that might help us progress faster.
Do not forget that Border Collie’s are a life commitment! Will you be able to commit these changes to them for life, not just a few weeks or months? You can’t just drop out when you get bored, because that’s a dick move, and if you do, you’re the reason there are so many collie’s in rescue’s across the world! Do you want to be responsible for another poor pup stuck in a rescue with no forever home? With the potential of never finding another home, and being put to sleep? No, didn’t think so. Never take the decision of purchasing or re-homing any dog lightly, especially highly energetic working breeds like Border Collie’s.
After what I feel to have been a mildly negative post on owning Border Collie’s, I would like to finish with a few words about how awesome I think they are. Yes they are a lot of hard work, but if you’re willing to put all that hard work in, they are SO rewarding! They can make you feel wonderful, and they have so much personality. Luna, for example, knows as soon as I’m stressed or upset, and comes straight in for a cuddle, often showering me in kisses to cheer me up! And Aurora is an absolute star to take anywhere. After years of training I can now put her in a down and stay just about anywhere and she will not move. She showed this off so well this weekend when a gazebo took off at a dog show. I wanted to help grab it and tame the wild beast, so told her to move away, down and stay, which she did! And she doesn’t even like big things moving around unexpectedly – something we’re working on, don’t worry! But this was such a huge step forward for her, made me so, so, SO proud! I would personally say that they are definitely worth all the hard work and daily effort, but remember that not everyone will feel the same.
So do you think you have what it takes to be owned by a Border Collie? Let me know in the comments below, and if you’re feeling generous let me know why! Once again, if you got this far, thank you for reading my ramble!
P.S. I’ve just read over this and noticed how much I over-use exclamation marks! Did that bother anyone else?