I like to think of myself as a pretty good dog guy. I’ve had dogs all my life and have always been able to handle myself, and the dogs, without too many problems.I’ve had aggressive dogs, shy dogs, lazy dogs, Alpha dogs and followers of all breeds including German Shepherds, Labradors and several mixed breeds. I’ve had them all and learned how to get along with them pretty quickly. Not an expert by any stretch if the imagination but I tended to hold my own.
Basic training had never really been a problem with any dog I can remember. I’ve always attested that there is never a reason to strike a dog for any reason. It does you no good, doesn’t teach the dog anything and gets you nowhere in the training department. In my totally non-professional opinion hitting a dog causes it to fear you and that’s it. I simply believe that you and the dog must come to an understanding and a mutual respect. Sit, stay, lay down commands and housebreaking was just what needed to be done when a new dog was introduced into my family. Imagine my surprise when a little Border Collie put me to the test beyond anything I had encountered before!
The day my wife walked in the house saying, “Honey, let’s get a Border Collie puppy!” I had my reservations. I knew enough about the breed to know that they were somewhat of a challenge to deal with. They are smart as a whip with tons of energy. We lived in a small place with basically no yard at the time and I was worried we’d have trouble raising any rambunctious puppy, let alone a Border Collie puppy, with no easy room to run. So I put my foot down and said no. Well, my foot must not be as big as it used to be because three weeks later we brought home a little puppy (you saw that one coming, right?).
We did our research and talked with other owners of the breed. At first it seemed that everything we read indicated that this breed is very easy to train due to their intelligence. What we came to find out is that, due to their intelligence they are in fact easy to train…too easy. The problem we ran into was the training I was using, that I had done for years on other dogs, was simply too easy for our new little puppy. The simple commands he got literally in a matter a minutes and then wandered off to tear up a flip-flop. He was bored out of his mind. Let me tell you from experience, the last thing you want is a young bored Border Collie. You want them either running, focused on a task, focused on you or asleep.
I was always one to dismiss the idea of getting help with training a dog and, God forbid, get a professional trainer. I would literally laugh at the mention of it. “Come on! It’s easy to train a dog. I’ve done it a dozen times.” Well guess what. I am now not ashamed to admit we have several training books on the bookshelf and we’ve been to a professional dog trainer several times. Was my ego bruised a bit? Yes. Was this dog smarter than I’d ever thought possible? Yes. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
My point here is not to underestimate the commitment, time and energy it will take to raise and own a Border Collie. We now spend at least two hours each day exercising the dog and usually more. (Remember this, when your dog is getting exercise so are you!) Do your homework; learn how to really train a dog and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic Border Collie for life!