Border Collie 101

There are a few basic things you should know about the Border Collie breed if you are considering adding one to your family. I’m sure you’ve heard that these dogs are smart and you’ve probably heard that they can do some amazing tricks. Both of those things are true however, like most things, there is another side to this beautiful breed. It’s a shame each Border Collie puppy does not come with a handbook titled “Border Collie 101.”

Dogs have been a part of my life since before I could walk. Growing up we always had at least one, and usually two, dogs in the house. In fact, I don’t think I’ve gone more than a month without owning a dog since birth. The breeds have varied from German Shepherds to Chocolate Labs with many mutts and mixed breeds thrown in for good measure. Long story short I love dogs and have always been able to handle them well enough.

My wife had always wanted a Border Collie since she was a little girl. After getting married we settled into our first home which was a smallish townhome without any yard to speak of. As these things happen I had a good friend a town over who owned a large plot of land, a couple of horses and three Border Collies. He had an unexpected litter of Border Collie pups on the way that he was looking to find homes for and had managed to make this known to my wife. She came through the door one afternoon and announced “Let’s get a Border Collie!”

I had some pretty steep reservations. I’d never owned one before however I’d read enough on the breed to know they need lots of exercise. I was concerned that we were not well positioned to have one at the time and expressed this to my wife. “Honey” I said, “I just don’t think that now is the time. We need a bigger house with some land for a dog like that. They need lots of exercise and lots of time. I’m going to have to say no on this one.”

So three weeks later we went and picked up our Border Collie puppy (you knew that was coming). I’d had a few long talks with my buddy on how best to accommodate the needs of the dog as it got older with our limited space and lack of yard. This is a man who has had these dogs for years and years. He told me three things. First you must exercise them at least two hours a day. This was not a request nor a suggestion but a requirement. Secondly you must exercise their minds constantly with tricks, problem solving and new commands. And finally they must have jobs to do. He told me that if we held to these three rules we’d be all right.

Without a doubt the Border Collie has been both the most challenging dog I have ever owned and the most rewarding. He has become literally part of the family. At first I saw some of the above requirements as a hassle or an imposition. Now I look upon them as a good time! The wife and I get out for walks and jogs, go hiking and running, get to the beach and more all due to our dog. If he was not part of our lives we’d probably be like everyone else, sitting like a lump on the couch.

These dogs are not for everyone. They must be exercised, both mentally and physically, constantly. They are not a breed that is going to sit in the corner and look cute. Before you consider making one a part of your family do your homework! Be ready to commit time to training!

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