THE SMART DOG
It is your responsibility to teach your dog correctly from the beginning. Border Collies, like children, become confused and often anxious if they are given mixed messages. Activities that you do not want to encourage should not be allowed. If you don't want your Border Collie on the furniture, NEVER permit it when he is young. Later, if you choose, you can teach him that certain places are acceptable. Do not make the mistake of allowing the puppy to do something because you think it is cute, unless you wish to make it part of his trick repertoire. A puppy begging for a bite of your dinner becomes a nuisance, and as the dog becomes older the begging may become more insistent. It is always easier to set more lenient rules later than to correct established behavior.
You must insist that the pup obeys your rules. Help him learn by rewarding the positive rather than by punishing the negative. The best way to discourage behavior that you do not want is to substitute another, acceptable activity. You are not coddling the dog by offering a suitable alternative. For example, trade a ball for a sock instead of scolding the dog for stealing the sock. "No sock, good ball" is often all that you need. Puppy classes are an excellent way to start your Border Collie on the road to good behavior.
INTELLIGENCE HAS ITS PRICE
SMART AND COMPLICATED
Many very stable Border Collies go through a period when strange objects and sudden movements are frightening. The monster garbage can, the tree limb that fell in the yard, or the person coming around the corner, can produce near panic. If you are calm, yet show the pup that these are all everyday things, and that he need not be afraid, this period will pass. It is part of the heritage of the breed to be aware of activity, and to try to herd anything that moves. This is the instinct that enables him to gather flocks from the end of the field. However, it can lead to two very dangerous activities, car and bicycle chasing. The dog has no way of knowing that he cannot change the direction of a car. It is your responsibility to be aware of the danger and to prevent disaster. No Border Collie should be off lead unless he is in a secure place, such as a fenced yard. Border Collies tend not to want to roam, but their innate curiosity coupled with their intelligence often produces "escape artists". Watch your dog carefully in the beginning to make sure he is not inclined to jump, climb, or dig under the fence. He can fit through an incredibly small opening.
THE CRATE - A PRIVATE DEN
Once your Border Collie has matured and can be trusted, you may wish to leave a crate set up with the door open so he has a place to go for peace and quiet. Although most dogs become accustomed to a crate quickly, you can help by including something safe to chew, and/or a special toy, when you leave him. Examples include a Kong stuffed with cheese or dog food and a sterilized bone. Never leave him alone wearing a choke collar. He could get caught and hang himself. A radio or television playing in the background can mask unfamiliar noises that might disturb him. You might even consider feeding him in his crate. Knowing that no one can steal his food adds to his sense of security
BASIC TRAINING - A SURVIVAL TOOL
All age dogs benefit from basic obedience training. Puppy classes are an excellent way to start your dog on the road to good behavior. The AKC Canine Good Citizen title is a worthy goal for the older dog. Both puppy and basic obedience classes are available through park districts, dog training clubs, pet stores and private trainers. You should investigate the program and observe a class before you enroll. Watch out for either overly strict methods, or too loosely structured "play groups". Be sure the trainers have worked with Border Collies and understand their temperament. Varying degrees of firmness are needed if you are to train the dog rather than having the dog train you. Be firm, consistent, and fair, and your Border Collie will react positively. Make certain he understands your family "pecking order". He will not obey someone he views as below him in rank. Border Collies tend to remember bad, unexpected, and unfair experiences. Prevention is your best weapon, and retraining, while possible, can be difficult. Basic commands are essential for living with any dog. Come, Stay, and Lie Down form the backbone of training. Home games, such as retrieving toys, or "speaking" on command are fun for both of you. Simple tricks taught with praise and possibly a treat build self-confidence. Games make you fun to be around, and you can reward efforts at learning without feeling that basic obedience is on the line.
Above all, have fun. You will have many years of companionship and devotion ahead of you.
Page Updated 10/22/2007
The Border Collie Society of America, Inc. was founded in April 1993. This site is owned by the Border Collie Society of America, Inc. and was established 12.94.