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Welfare Issues - General Care of The Working B.C.

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A number of things need to be considered for the overall physical and psychological well being of a Border Collie - whether working dog or pet.

A regular programme of general health checks and remedial or preventative action should be implemented and maintained. Speak to your Vet about this and follow the advice given.

In matters of general hygiene it is important to regularly clean compounds, runs and sleeping areas. Wash food bowls after use and water bowls when refilling. Don’t use rusting metal bowls, chewed or scratched plastic bowls or cracked ceramic bowls. Throw them out and get another. Stainless steel is the best material but even these have a limited life.

If one of your dogs develops a health problem that may be contagious, it needs to be isolated from contact with other dogs. Isolation means that food bowls, water bowls, any equipment used for the infected dog need to be kept separate from others and cleaned with a suitable disinfectant before going back to general use. Infected dogs should be exercised away from the others. Excreta and used bedding materials should be incinerated.

Inoculations are covered elsewhere, but we stress the importance of continuous immunity. Initial and annual booster inoculations are needed. Members of the public walking dogs on public footpaths over farmland can introduce infections that un-inoculated dogs can pick up.

Regular worming also prevents the accumulation of parasites in a dogs intestines that will weaken it and present long term problems if not eliminated.

Grooming may be regarded as time wasting by some, but regular brushing and combing will help keep the dog free of uncomfortable external parasites that may prove distracting and will further improve the skin and coat by stimulating the production of natural oils.

Additionally grooming will remove dead fur that would otherwise mat into uncomfortable knots. Particular attention should be paid to the area behind the ears and the base of the tail.

Anti parasitic shampoo should also be used regularly, especially if the dog is bedded in straw. Grooming also re-enforces the bond between you and your dog. Never use sheep dip to ‘cleanse’ the dog. Get veterinary advice on suitable products.

Handle your dog gently and frequently - from as young as possible. On a weekly basis check the dogs coat, skin, ears, mouth, nose and eyes for any abnormalities and parasite infections. Feel the dogs throat, chest and abdomen for unusual lumps under the skin. Examine excreta for signs of worm infections or abnormalities.

Consult your Vet immediately should any problems be noticed. Prompt action may save a dog’s life to work another day.

If you breed a litter, bear in mind that puppies learn manners, cleanliness and social inter - action from their mother and litter mates. Removal and splitting up of litters from the mother at too young an age is counter productive and may leave the pups socially disadvantaged. The pups should stay with mum until they are 8 weeks of age.

During this time they will learn to interact with other dogs and get some groundwork in dog ‘manners’ and body language. This will assist them in mixing with unknown dogs later in their lives and avoid many confrontations and fights that occur due to ‘misunderstandings’.

It is important that the pups learn trust of humans. To achieve this, pups should meet and be gently handled by as many different people as possible once their eyes are open. When in contact with humans the experience should be pleasant. This teaches them to trust strangers avoiding a common behavioural problem of many Border Collies - Fear Aggression, which may lead to humans being nipped or bitten as an act of pre-emptive defence.

As a breed, the Border Collie is a dog born with a mission - they need something to do, not just for the sake of physical exercise - more for the sake of their active minds and inquisitive, exploratory nature. A lot of problems relating to Border Collies stem from lack of mental stimulation or poor social conditioning, as outlined above.

Working Border Collies will get most of what they need from the company of their handlers, interaction with other dogs and animals on the farm and from the work they do, - providing they have enough of it ! Pets, non workers and ‘off duty’ dogs may find themselves getting bored on occasion and a bored Border Collie usually means trouble.

Regular exercise and interactive roles with handlers are what makes the Border Collie tick. Pet owners take note and spend more time with your dog - doing things dogs like to do.

 

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