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The following article was sent to us by Sue Kinchin, a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and gives an interesting alternative insight into what makes Collies so special.
If you have a Border Collie you have a very special dog;
A dog that is intelligent, sensitive, eager to please and very quick to learn. Sounds like the perfect pet?
Yes, with our help they can make wonderful pets, but we need to remember that when we take one of these very special and complex dogs into our homes we have a responsibility to try to understand all the factors that make a Border Collie what it is.
The more we can understand our Border Collies the less likely it is that we, and our collie, will encounter serious problems.
Border Collies have been bred for generations in a very specific and restricted environment for a very specific task and, as a breed, are relative new-comers to life as pets. Some cope very well and others struggle.
It is our duty to try to understand these beautiful, clever creatures and to help them to cope.
We can easily find books that tell us what Border Collies have been bred for.
We will be warned about their sensitivity to movement and tendency to chase things and about the fact that they need to have their brains occupied, but what we are not generally asked to think about are those characteristics that are not necessary in a working sheepdog, but which make life easier for a pet dog.
Anyone who has owned Border Collies will be aware that they are generally cautious dogs.
Without intensive and sensitive socialisation as puppies they are often wary of people, intolerant of unfamiliar dogs and anxious about anything new or changing.
Even with intensive socialisation some retain these characteristics.
Border Collies are prone to being affected by a single bad experience and have poor "bounce back" when something goes wrong for them.
They are very sensitive to reprimands, but equally crave guidance and instruction. Because they are very sensitive to movement, any fast movement that they cannot control can be very disturbing to them.
No wonder so many Border Collies hate traffic.
Remember though, it is this sensitivity and intelligence that we find so appealing.
So why are they like this? Why can life upset them so easily?
To understand our collies fully we need not only to consider what they have been bred for,. but also what they have not been bred for.
When a shepherd is selecting dogs to breed from he is selecting for a specific task and characteristics that do not interfere with this task are likely to be ignored.
Over the generations your Collie has NOT been bred to:
Many sheepdogs will never leave their farms so traditionally they haven't really needed to get on with other dogs or unfamiliar people.
Sociability and resilience are not characteristics that have historically been important in the development of the Border Collie.
Although your dog may not be directly from working stock he will still have many of the characteristics inherited from generations of working sheep dogs and equally he may not have inherited those characteristics that would make life in a pet home easier for him.
Shepherds are the experts with Border Collies and we can learn a lot from them.
Yes, we've all heard of harsh and callous shepherds, but many value their dogs very highly, not just as working dogs, but also as members of their family.
Watch a sheepdog working, it is referring back to the shepherd for guidance all the time. His impulses to chase and control movement are under very tight control. The shepherd is guiding the dog and the dog is exhibiting self-control.
Ideally this is how we want our collie to be with us. If he is checking in with us to find out what do next not only is he under control and less likely to get himself into trouble, but he is also getting reassurance from us. He doesn't have to worry; we will tell him what to do in any situation.
Encourage your dog to look to you for guidance; it shouldn't be too hard, it's in his genes!
Watch the shepherd to, he has to keep very calm and guide his dog at all times. You just don't see excitable shepherds, an excitable shepherd would mean an excited dog and scattered sheep!
Be a calm owner.
Think about this if you are considering Agility or Flyball with your Collie, a good working sheep dog is fast and has lightning reflexes, but is not in a state of over-excitement.
Teach your dog calmly what you want him to do. If he understands and is enjoying what he is doing he will do his best; after all he has been bred from generations of dogs selected for their willingness to work as a team with their handler.
There is no need for your dog to be roused to a hysterical state for it to perform well, and it is bad for its mental and physical health to be in such a state. If your dog shows signs of stress or gets over-excited ask yourself is this is really the best activity for him.
A final thought... when a working sheepdog is not working alongside the shepherd he is shut away in a quiet, non-stimulating place to rest and recover and to keep him out of mischief!
Importantly, adrenalin levels that have probably been quite high while he is working now have a chance to return to normal.
Your sensitive, alert pet Collie is being bombarded with information from his environment all the time; make sure he has plenty of opportunity to rest in a secure, non-stimulating place where he can relax.
Think Border Collies, think working sheepdogs.....maximise their strengths, understand and respect their weaknesses.
"""""At ASTRA SHEEPDOGS; for over 30 years, we have been selecting not only for strong working instinct but also for the "Off Switch" and other traits laid out in "what is your border collie not good at>",
These traits are still rare in this breed.
Due to our dedication and research, we now have specific bloodlines which are more likely to exhibit these traits than others, so please ask us about this especially if you are wanting an active family pet. """""""
Whatever job you have for your border collie
Work or Play or Just an active Family pet.
Our vast experience can help you avoid many of the pitfalls by matching you to the most suitable pup by assessing his/her character/potential and matching the pup to your lifestyle/experience and job requirements.
we also provide an enormous amount of information in our puppy instruction manual, and provide FREE back up email support on behaviour/training and health.
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