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Do I have enough time to have a Border Collie?

I would love to have a Border Collie. As it looks right now, I do have sufficient time for a dog. The work I will be doing, and am currently doing is mainly at my home, and at a colleague who also owns dogs. I have time for the dog the whole day, and he will have some playmates. I also have a horse, but the dog could join on rides or stay at home for a couple of hours. I cannot take the dog for say 5 hours walks or something. Is it sufficient for a Border Collie to go for a walk several times a day, often to the woods, beach or park, having some playmates (about 5 days per week), and going to dog-school every week for training?

When you are in the position to work while your dog is around, you definitely don't have to worry about your dog being alone for too long a time. You probably will have plenty of opportunity to take him for short walks in between your activities. By the way, I don't see many problems in leaving dogs alone for longer periods of time, as long as you keep them busy the rest of the day.

With a Border Collie, the quality of the time you spend with him is much more important than the quantity. Meaning that in principle it is much better to spend one very intense hour (and some short walks during the rest of the day) than walking in the woods for 5 hours on end. Although physical exercise is important, a Border foremost needs to be challenged mentally. It is and always will be a working dog, so you will have to come up with some work for him. Whether this is herding sheep, obedience, agility or tracking is less important, as long as he is put to work mentally. As you might have read in other articles on this site, our dogs come home after a few hours walking in the woods, looking at us like "so, when are we finally going to do something?" But when we have been with the sheep (which is almost daily), they immediately fall asleep when we get home, although each dog has been working for about 20 minutes only.

The weekly training at the dog school you are mentioning won't be sufficient, you will need to take time to train at home too. Watch your dog closely so you will notice when he gets bored, and find a training/sports he does with heart and soul. A lot of Borders think the obedience training is way too dull. For owners of such dogs, it is recommended to find out how they like agility, flyball, English style obedience (which requires much more precision and handler-dog contact than the elementary obedience training), Breitensport, herding sheep, etc.

The bright mind of a Border also has some disadvantages; they learn things very quickly, also unwanted things! And a fast learning dog will know the whole program (all tricks and exercises) very fast, and thus will get bored easier. The first one is a matter of watching him very closely and making sure no unwanted behaviour will creep in; the second will ask creativity of the owner who will have to think of new things for his dog time and time again.

You see it does not have to be a problem to own a Border collie next to a full-time job, as long as you make enough time to work with him very intensively. Hitting the streets every night, or getting visitors often won't be possible anymore. You will have to give you dog a lot of attention.

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This page last modified: Friday, 01-Aug-2008 17:07:11 CEST
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