The family dog is an icon nowadays. It dates way back, from Old Yeller and Lassie to Snoopy and some modern-day pets. But since most of us can remember, dogs have been part of the family. But what is the best family dog? Are Border Collies good with kids? Should you consider this herding dog as your next family pet?
Generally speaking, medium-sized dogs make great family pets because they pack a great combination of attributes and personality traits. They do not have the high energy of small dogs like Jack Russells and do not carry the health risks of large dogs.
Yet, they are still quite active. In the past several years, Border Collies have become a staple companion among families in the United States. Their strong work ethic, sweet affection, and high intelligence make Border Collies ideal family dogs.
Today, we will take a look at what makes them great family dogs.
Why Choose A Border Collie As A Family Pet?
When you get a Border Collie, it will raise your family’s IQ and work ethic. We are talking here about an extremely smart, hard-working, and task-oriented dog breed. This loyal puppy can be good with children of all ages. At the same time, the Border Collie dog breed is wary of strangers, making it a good watchdog.
Now, while the Border Collie puppy is a great family dog, it might not be ideal for every family. We have to mention that this puppy is a high-maintenance dog because of its high energy. Border Collies need constant training, physical exercise, and mental stimulation.
If your Border Collie puppy doesn’t get any of the three, it will become destructive, hyperactive, and bored.
We have to mention another thing. While this herding breed is an amazing family pet, it doesn’t do well with kids that chase their pet. Remember, this herding dog has a strong herding instinct and will herd anything that moves, including your playful child.
It might head off a running child and try to corral him. This can frighten your child and create a vicious cycle, the dog chases the child, the child runs faster, the collie runs faster, and nips or bites the child trying to get him in line.
So, what is the right family for a border collie? Well, they need an experienced dog owner with enough time and energy to devote to the pet and a family with older children. A home with outdoor space would be a nice bonus.
Understanding Border Collie’s Temperament
When we try to answer the question are Border Collies good with kids, we have to take a look at the temperament of the dog breed. It is one of the most important things to understand.
These dogs are intense at all times. They are scary intelligent, but also fierce workaholics. That might not be ideal for every home with children. So, let’s take a look at the breed standard according to The American Kennel Club.
When you own a herding dog, be it Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, or similar, be ready for some challenges. These intense dogs have an instinctive intelligence that is off the charts. They have high herding instincts, even with small children.
Now let’s take a look at some other personality traits of the herding breed.
- They have a fragile balance of reactiveness and impulse control, drive and biddability, work ethic, loyalty, intensity, and patience
- Highly adaptable dogs that can thrive in different environments on the field, but are not as adaptable at home. They do not do well in apartments for long times
- They are not as easy-going as other breeds. Instead, they are sensitive dogs that need constant reinforcement and stimulation
- As herding dogs, they love to be around people and have a hard time tolerating being left alone
- Hardworking dogs. These puppies are focused, driven, and have a natural instinct to herd
- They are extremely loyal and form deep bonds with their owners
- Naturally watchful and alert, with a keen sense of their surroundings
- While obedient and responsive, they are also independent thinkers. And if you do not reach their level of intelligence, Border Collies might try to outsmart you
Training Your Border Collie To Love Kids
The key to successfully raising a dog that loves children is to train him to do. The task lies heavily on you, the dog owner. These dogs need socialization and obedience training. Bred to work all day long, they are naturally alert, watchful, and wary of strangers.
So, you need to socialize them in different environments, with different people, and children of all ages.
The best advice is to start young when you have a small puppy. Expose your little dog to as many children as possible. You might notice they will be hesitant in the beginning. But you can reinforce good behavior with treats and dog food.
These puppies love food. They will do anything for food. Bred to be a working dog, they have an instinct to work for food. So when you reinforce their good behavior, you cater to their instinct and need to work.
Now, there are challenges with a Border Collie. Their herding instinct to nip and bite might be too much. But if you start young, and teach your dog to play with children and interact with them safely, you will have a fantastic family pet. Not many dogs out there that love to work, train, and play as much as the Border Collie.
If your dog learns to play with children of all ages, your family will thrive. You can have your dog meet kids at the park, and interact with them. Whenever you notice your Border Collie displaying some unwanted behavior, correct them.
At the same time, do not forget, children need training about how to interact with dogs. They must understand to behave and treat the family dog with respect.
If children are not old enough to understand how to treat the dog with respect, they should not be playing with them. Rough play can traumatize the dog and may cause accidents. This is not a Golden Retriever you can touch, grab, and torture all day long. Eventually, a dog that suffers rough play from children may retaliate out of fear.
Challenges When Owning A Border Collie
Whether you own a purebred Border Collie or a mixed breed there are some challenges with this puppy. The good news is that you can solve most of the challenges with consistent training and socialization. That being said, here are some.
- Herding and nipping tendencies, these herding dogs have a strong urge to nip, especially at the ankles to make cattle (in this case children) run faster or get away
- They need a lot of exercise, training, and mental stimulation. As a working dog breed, they have a natural desire for attention and work
- They are the world’s smartest dog breed, meaning they can sometimes outsmart you