If your Border Collie has run away one too many times, it may be time to step up and take action. By nature, Border Collies are highly intelligent, sensitive, and eager to please but they are also one of the most challenging to live with. For generations, Border Collies have been bred as working sheepdogs, having an almost obsessive zeal for running and sprinting. How do you cope with his relentless need to run away? You must first ask yourself, what drives him to act this way? Is the breed alone responsible for his hyperactivity or is there something more to it? Let’s find out…
The Root of the Behavior
One of the most noticeable personality traits in Border Collies is their acute sensitivity. To be more precise, Border Collies can be extremely sensitive to reprimands and fast movement that they cannot control. Combine that with their superior intellect and you will get the definition of an A-list escape artist breed. This working farm dog is famous for his ability to open closed gates and for his endless miles of sprinting and stop-and-go action. So why is he like this and why does he get upset so easily? A working sheepdog needs sufficient daily exercise so that they won’t feel the need to exhaust all of their unused energy on recurring negative behavior such as running away, compulsive staring, chasing, poking, and nipping at things that move. Add to that chewed drywall and baseboards, ripped out of sofas and toys, and you will quickly realize just how important physical and mental stimulation really is.
To understand your Collie better, you need to know that his innate characteristics are not entirely to blame for his “unruly” behavior. First and foremost, you need to take into account the fact that you, as the owner, remain the deciding factor in this situation. So you need to look at the bigger picture. Yes, your Collie may be smart beyond compare, an independent thinker, incredibly athletic and emotional, however, if you are willing to put in the time, learn to train, and provide the right attention, you won’t have to worry about the downsides of owning such a remarkable breed anymore. Proper socialization is also important because apart from the familiar dogs with similar characteristics that live on the farm with them, working sheepdogs are unlikely to need to mix with other dogs. You can also expect unwanted behaviors if your collie is kept closed in a small fence with no one around and nothing to play with.
Encouraging the Behavior
There are three major solutions to discouraging your dog from fleeing away. The first one and most practical for you, is making sure your yard security is top notch. And by that we mean 6 to 8 feet high fences with wire sunk into the ground along the fence line, so that your collie won’t be able to dig underneath it. Make sure the gates are extra secure, as Border Collies are known for being able to virtually pick the lock. Furthermore, provide your doggie with a properly confined area that will not, in any way, expose him to injury.
Secondly, take into account his breed personality and make sure you give him the right amount of physical exercise he needs to cope with his off-the-roof energy. If you live in an apartment, this could mean running in the park (on or off the leash), playing fetch or Frisbee or just taking him with you wherever you go. And thirdly… obedience training. Even though Border Collies are frustratingly difficult for the average person to train, you need to teach your dog calmly what you want him to do. In this case, you could research various training methods you can find online and choose those which fit you and your dog the best.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Don’t forget about their mental stimulation. Especially if your Collie is a puppy, challenging games along with a training regime are vital to his healthy development and overall well-being. You need to build a strong relationship with your Collie if you don’t want to start searching for him on the streets. Consider playing frisbee, fetch, and spend enough time training so that he won’t be able to find alternative ways to use his intelligence and free spirit. Your pup must know who the alpha in the pack is and respect every command and decision you make. You can start with smaller sessions of a couple of minutes every day and then work your way up to excellence from there.
Highly emotional, extremely active, and loyal, Border Collies can become the ideal family dog, provided that you do your part in socializing and training them correctly. You can ease their excessive need to run away by allowing them to get rid of all their unused energy through mentally and physically challenging games and outdoor activities. Keep him out of mischief and take the lead in your pack today!