Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tuesday Temptation: Border Collie Puppy love

Michelle Styles indulges in the temptation to play with Border Collie puppies.

In early May, our ten year old Border Collie died from post operative complications. Although we loved him dearly, for years we said when he went, we would get a different breed of dog. Border collies are manic. However, within hours after his death, it was evident only a border collie would do and in our case, we ended up with two -- Tess and Hardy. It was not until a few days afterward it twigged -- the reason you don't get two puppies at the same time is that they are twins. Anyway, getting the puppies has brought a lot of joy and laughter back into the house. And while they will never replace Joss, they are there because of him. Border Collies just add a certain something to a house.

So why get a border collie? Border collies are notorious for digging, nipping, and the ability to destroy a room in a few hours. They are also not supposed to be so good with children. But one could argue that this is more a problem with training than the dog. Joss was excellent with the children, did not nip, destroy rooms and after his puppy stage, did not dig. He just needed to be busy.

Border collies are consistently rated the most intelligent breed. They are very loyal and like to work. Border collies hate being bored and have a wicked sense of humour. They are bred to be nimble and when they run, they are graceful. They are very energetic and need exercise.
Border collies excel at obedience work, at agility, and can be trained to be seeing eye dogs, snifter dogs etc. In other words, they can be trained to a high standard. They want to do a job and to know their role in life.
As they are still very much a working breed, they are also in the main healthy dogs. They tend to live fast and die suddenly. Border collies have an average dog life span -- which means anywhere from 9-12 years, although a few live far longer.
With so many rescue dogs about, why get a puppy? One good reason is that we have an older Labrador. With old dogs, they are more likely to accept a puppy rather than an adolescent dog. We also live in an area where there is a lot of livestock. It is important that the dogs learn -- they can round up the ducks and hens, but never ever sheep.
Getting a puppy also means that you get to mould it. You get to teach it manners. Any problems are yours but you do have to be prepared to put the time in training and working with the puppy, seeing the puppy through teething and other puppy scrapes. Also in theory puppies will be around longer than dogs. So on balance we decided to get puppies. And as I am the one at home all the time, I was willing to put the time into training. Puppies need someone there, and someone prepared to take a proactive role.

There are lots of theories of how you choose a border collie puppy or indeed any puppy. Provided you are getting the dog from a reputable breeder, basically you decided whether you want a female or a male, reach in and pick. Each puppy is nothing more than a bundle of potential. And once you have your puppy, it stops being a theory and becomes yours.

Before you pick up your pet, make sure you know as much about training a Border Collie as possible. Border collies have good memories and they try to think ahead and anticipate what their human pack leader will do next.

The training begins from when you get the puppy home. Some of the training with a puppy is more training the owner to recognise the puppy's language than training the puppy.

For example, puppies do not know how to cross their paws and wait. When they have to go to the toilet, they have to go. Dogs in general like having a clean kennel and the trick in housebreaking a puppy is to get the puppy to recognise that its toilet area is outside. A small confined space like puppy crate can help, particularly at night as then the puppy does not move about. Once dogs learn to stay on their bed at night, they can be dry overnight. All puppies need to chew. It is a matter of providing appropriate chews such as pig's ears rather than letting them choose the object. Pet behaviour spray on inappropriate objects can help as it makes the object taste horrid.
With puppy training, it is all about fun and positive reinforcement. The time you put in the early days pays off later. With puppies everything is a learning game. They are new to the world and need to how to be acceptable members of society. They also need to learn the limits.
Border collies are happiest in a pack, and being a pack follower rather than the leader. However, as with any intelligent animal, if they see a niche to be filled, they will fill it. They are experts at reading body language. So give them a pack leader to respect, and they will return that leadership with love and devotion.

And there is nothing quite like Border Collie love...

Michelle Styles is busy playing with her puppies and writing her next historical romance which has a deadline of 31 July.... Tess & Hardy's progress and general antics can be found on her blog.


  1. Thanks to your blogging about border collies, I have been able to talk intelligently to my friend who has a brand new border collie puppy. I know very little about dogs. The info was interesting and appreciated!

  2. Jill --
    Glad it helps.
    One other thing is that sometimes people say that border collies think children are sheep and need to be herded. NO. Border collies sometimes confuse children with fellow littermates. And sometimes think children are lower in the pack order.
    It is why it is so important for children to play appropriately and to learn to say OW, and to give a growl if the puppy starts nipping.
    It is all about teaching good manners in a language the dog will understand.
    I find if my two are over tired and over excited, just like toddlers, they tend to be silly and then they might need a time out etc.

  3. Awww you know I love Border Collies. Thank you for telling us all about it and sharing the photos.

  4. I am sad to hear about Joss, but Tess and Hardy and gorgeous!! My cousin had two Border Collies and I agree, there is nothing like Border Collie love, except Labrador Love!!!

  5. 2paw -- yes I agree about Labrador love. We also have a 12 year Labrador. And Labradors are special. Until Joss went, I thought oh I am more of a laid back labrador type, but then border collies just get into your heart!
    I had thought about calling it puppy love but then -- hang on, otrher people could do temptation posts about other breeds...
    I just like animals.

    Liz and Biddy -- thank you for enjoying the pictures.

  6. They're utterly adorable, Michelle.

    And I'll put in a bid for English springer spaniels :o)

  7. Oh Kate H would you?
    English Springer Spaniels are very cute. And I know you have the pictures...

  8. I want one! I've noticed that border collies are the dogs my big old Rhodesian Ridgeback will run and play with at the park. And they like to wrestle too. I love to watch it. thanks for a great blog

  9. Lynne --

    Yes Border collies love to play and are v energetic. A one point my mother had a Rhodesian Ridgeback -- they are big dogs, bred to hunt lions.

  10. Oh I love Rhodesian Ridgebacks! I had never even heard of the breed until I met a neighbour here with one.

    Our friends have a Brittany Spaniel and she is personality plus. And a very nice size. The friendliest dog you will ever meet...she wants every other doggie to be her friend! I always think of Anne McAllister as well as there are often a pair of flatcoats at the park where we take them swimming.

    I do love my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (that's a mouthful!) though and we'd have another in a heartbeat - despite the hair. :-)

  11. You see, Donna this is why we could really do an occassional series of puppy love. There are just so many breeds to love.
    Equally some might want to do cat adoration...