Why not every Border Collie is right for life on a farm | TeamDogs
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Why not every Border Collie is right for life on a farm

Experts say that training a Border Collie should be individual to each dog

Danielle Elton

Posted 2 months ago

Border Collies are in the running to be named best breed, currently, sitting at a not-too-shabby fifth place in our Favourite Breed leaderboard, but there's still time for them to climb to the top.

You can help by giving this popular breed your backing. You have until Saturday August 14 to cast your vote.

So what is it about this particular dog that makes us love them so much?

Highly-intelligent and energetic dogs, Border Collies are best known working their work on a farm herding sheep.

But although known as sheepdogs, there's a lot more to this breed than being working dogs - they also make fantastic family pets.

So what actually goes into training them? Do you need a house with a big garden to adopt one? How do you know if a Border Collie is right for you?

According to Ben Wilkes, a trustee at Border Collie Trust, there is not a one-size-fits-all response to those questions. He says that every Border Collie should be treated as an individual and that one can be completely different to another.

He told us: “Part of the problem with breeds of dogs is that we tend to put them in little boxes and we say this breed of dog is good at this, this breed of dog is good for this situation, and if you want a dog that does this, then you have this breed of dog.

“And what it fails to do is take into account the individuality of each dog.

“It’s a bit like saying everybody in Scotland drinks whiskey and eats deep-fried Mars bars.”

He added: “And so amongst all those Border Collies out there, you will see some that will make great working dogs, you will see some that will be hopeless working dogs, you will see some that might get there with a lot of training with someone who really knows what they're doing.

“And you'll get some that will be completely unsuitable because actually the instinct that makes them a good working dog is over exaggerated, and so they will become a risk to the farmer.”

READ MORE: Last chance to vote for your favourite dog breed

As someone who has owned four Border Collies himself, Ben is a big fan of the breed, his office even has its own resident Collie, six-year-old Bailey.

Speaking of his own dogs, Ben said: “They could not have been more different, could not have been more different in many, many ways.”

Although you might think someone wanting to rehome a Border Collie would need a big garden, Ben also spoke about one of his who he described as ‘agoraphobic’ and never wanted to go outside.

Again, he says it’s all down to the individual traits and temperament of a specific dog, not a dog’s breed.

Someone who shares his view about people making assumptions about Border Collies is dog trainer Joe Nutkins.

She said: “People kind of get the assumption that Border Collies are just easy to train. But the reality is...yes, they can pick things up very quickly but it also means they can pick up bad behaviours very quickly as well.

READ MORE: Border Collie who's never lived in a house needs a new home

“So then people get a Collie for the first time thinking It will be really easy. And actually if they don't give them that mental stimulation, if they don't give them an outlet for that working drive, you end up with a Border Collie that is digging holes all over the garden, that is jumping up and grabbing at things, that is pulling like a train, you know, herding everything.”

Joe has worked with a number of Border Collies, from puppies that need basic training to dogs taking part in competitions.

Although she says that they are easy to work with in terms of how quickly they pick things up, she agreed that how long it will take will depend first on what it is you want to teach them, and secondly, on the dog itself.

And she emphasised the importance of giving them clear instructions.

She said: “If we have a puppy Border Collie that joins puppy classes, by the end of a nine-week course...I've seen pretty much every Border Collie, if not majority of, will have mastered the foundations of every single one of the exercises where you might find other breeds maybe haven't quite got the down yet.

READ MORE: Your photos of the five dog types currently leading our UK's Favourite Breeds poll

“Whatever you teach them, it’s just making sure that you show them because they do want to learn very fast.

“If you're not very clear with what you're asking them to do, they'll either decide for themselves and you get a new behaviour, or you'll get maybe some barking or they'll jump out, or they'll offer you 100 other things that they've learned, none of them what you're after.

“You do have to be really clear and help them but they pick things up and it sticks in their mind forever. They're good with that.”

Cast a vote for your favourite breed in TeamDogs' Best Breed competition - but be quick, the competition ends on Saturday!

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