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My BC mix is very smart, yet he failed his elementary obedience exam!

Our dog is a Border Collie mix. He is very sweet, and also quite energetic. Obsessive play is one of his daily occupancies. This means he continues playing with a ball until you go outside with him. We do this about 1 hour a day, varying from playing with the ball to swimming with a branch. Furthermore, he is walked at least 2 times a day for 1 hour, and we are attending a course in elementary obedience. The problem is the following. At the elementary obedience course, he behaves like he knows it all. In the beginning he was one of the best performing dogs. Specially the heelwork he does not do anymore, he is constantly sniffing the ground. Even "sit" and "stay" he does not do anymore, while he used to do this very well. When he plays, he obeys very well. Even when he is up to his neck in the water, he will go down, and the same at a distance of 50 meters with the ball.
We have the feeling that he gets bored at the course, because sometimes it takes too long before he gets to do something. Because he failed his exam (since he did not follow very well), we want to redo the course, but we are afraid it only makes things worse.

With regards to his behaviour, your dog acts very much like a Border Collie. Borders are known for being very intelligent and easy learning. This also has a disadvantage; they get bored very fast, and need to be kept busy mentally. For a Border things like walks are not very inspiring. Throwing and fetching a ball is fun a few times, but a Border needs more variety. Every time the ball seems to fly away, something exciting needs to happen. You can change the throwing direction, throw the ball vertically up, hide the ball, throw the ball backwards, etc. But don't put a regular pattern in it! You can also use the ball as reward for other exercises (down, sit, stand, play dead, etc.)

Such an intelligent dog can be quite difficult, since you have to come up with new challenges time and time again. You can do search and fetch games with different objects, while giving each object its own unique name. It is important that he needs to think continuously to fulfil his task. An extreme example is the signal dogs for the deaf. Border collies are very often used for this. It is their task to pay attention to the doorbell, phone, someone calling the name of the deaf, etc., the whole day. This means relatively little physical exercise, but his mind is occupied continuously.

It looks like the elementary obedience course is too dull for your dog. The same things over and over again, and nothing much to explore. Depending on your own interests, there are plenty of alternatives. Agility, flyball and of course sheep herding are enjoyed by a lot of borders. Note that a dog needs to be older than 12 months for this, otherwise his bones are not completely full-grown to make all the different moves in a safe way. If you like obedience, try to do the English styel Obedience training. This is similar to the obedience course, but the focus is more on perfection and that requires much more contact and interaction between dog and handler. Often a toy or some food is used to teach the exercise. The interaction between the combination and the mental activity of the dog is much more intense than with normal obedience. You won't get any diplomas, you just go to the next group when you and your dog are ready for it. This could be after 3 weeks or a month, but also after a few months. In any case, not depending on a course program which is often 13 weeks.
My advice would be to definitely not redo the elementary obedience course, I think your instructor should tell you to continue with the next step, despite the fact you failed the exam. This person should notice that your dog is bored, and that it will only get worse.

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