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Border Collie Rescue - On Line - A Point of View on the Border Collie

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A Border Collie Warning

An e.mail sent in by Miss 'C' on 2/7/2000

I've just found your site, and I see you have much to say about people taking on border collies and then not being able to handle them!  How right you are, I'm one of those people! 
5 years ago, I decided I would like a puppy to go with my then 11 year old collie/spaniel cross, and a neighbour's collie had just had a litter.  I was smitten and chose Dennis.  He came home with me when he was 8 weeks old. 
From the start I was smitten, and so was my older dog Stevie, who has all the instincts of a soppy spaniel, whilst looking more like a border!
Things were fine for about 18 months, we did the basic dog training, went on hikes every Sunday, with at least two hours exercise each day besides.  We both work full time, but this has never been a problem because mum (both boys know her as grandma!) has them each weekday and sees they get their exercise.
We never really had the chewing problem - only one pair of shoes and the bed!  He was so clean from the start as well.  Then the trouble began - aggression towards Stevie to start with - I now realise he wanted to be top dog over Stevie.  This started shortly after Stevie had a stroke.  Then he started on other dogs who he normally played wonderfully with.
Neutering had no effect, and by now we had a large powerful and wilful Border collie on our hands.  No way could we part with him, we loved him!  I tried more advanced dog training, no good, I couldn't relax because I thought he was spoiling for a fight all the time.  Even muzzling did no good he just floored other dogs and rolled them over!  And the threatening noises he made were horrendous!
Through all this he has never once shown any fear or aggression towards a human!
We found the answer in a dog psychologist who visited our home for ten weeks at 30 a session!.  My partner and I were taught how to become joint top dogs in our home!  
We now have our breakfast first, then the dogs, same with dinner.  Dennis is allowed on the bed but only at our invitation and when we are in it! 
He goes on the lead immediately another dog appears, and any snarling is met with the same, and much louder from ourselves!  We get some very strange looks!  Any aggression towards Stevie is dealt with the same way, and in fact, there has been no physical attack on Stevie for 8 months now.  
The one time he managed to roll another dog because he was quicker than us, I got hold of him and rolled him and snarled at him!  He was so surprised!
What we have now is a beautiful pet, but one that does indeed need special attention.  We know that it is not enough to throw his ball, we have to hide it sometimes and encourage him to find it. 
I'm confident taking him to a class off all types of dogs, a sort of playgroup, where they go through tunnels, jump over things and find special bean bags etc., and I have no trouble because he is so interested in what he is doing he takes no notice of the other dogs. 
Whilst mum has him during the working week, she does all this with him too.  We are all very fit and healthy thanks to Dennis!
I would say to anyone who is thinking of parting with their collie because of the way they behave; get inside their heads - act and think like them - and make sure you are the top dog.
With persistence it pays off.                                        'Miss C'
BCR Comment
Miss C and her partner had their work cut out with Dennis and have done very well by their dog. They deserve and get our congratulations.
They had a number of factors against them from the start which would have made it impossible for them to adopt a dog from BCR or any other responsible rescue centre - primarily being the fact that they both work full time.
The dogs do go to 'grandma' during the week so they are not left 'home alone' but this is not an ideal situation and the split of loyalties can unsettle some dogs.
Although they have pulled through with a lot of work and expense, this is clearly not a situation that we can recommend to people to get themselves into if they can help it - in many cases that we hear of, the outcome is not so successful and a dog comes into our care with serious problems.
Miss C is correct by encouraging people to work at it if they have problems - sadly a lot of people can't spare the time, money and effort needed and many do not get good quality advice. Some people find it difficult to 'think dog'. Some people simply do not have the temperament to 'out dominate' a wilful Border Collie.
For them, there is little choice but for many out there - work at it and you will be rewarded.
For those contemplating taking on a Border Collie as a pet - we can tell you that this is not an unusual or isolated case. This is one amongst thousands and its an international problem.
Think carefully and check carefully - don' t take on a dog from working stock lines if you want a pet.
First - see our leaflets 'Advice on Acquiring a Pet Border Collie' and The Border Collie As A Pet
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