Learning About Border Collies
A collection of resources for people sharing their lives with collies and working sheepdogs
A practical course with individualised coaching to develop your skills and those of your sheepdog.
Use the games and interaction to release and shape the innate behaviours your dog has inherited.
Our pdf of SheepBalls® Right Start to be sure you give your dog the best chance to learn well.
- Best Balls to source
- Skills you will need to practice
- How to make the balls behave
- The Foundations to get started
With tips from starting hundreds of dogs exploring their heritage and pleasure.
Learning About Border Collies
Learn how to bring a good quality of life to your companion, enjoy games designed specifically for collies and understand their quirks and special needs …
The Wrong Sheep
A practical course with individual coaching to develop the skills to manage a dog who is prone to chasing: traffic, bikes, joggers etc.
Understand why this is happening, and be able to select good management techniques and activities to rebalance the learning.
If you are looking for help or courses to learn more about Sheepballs®, always seek an approved member of our Teaching Team. They have proven their skills with their own dog, achieved a high standard of understanding and are skilful at arranging the learning to bring out the very best in your collie.
When you live with a collie it is like living with two different dogs: the one we love and the one we don’t understand; the one who is perfect and the one who does things we never asked for.
There are many myths created around these dogs some in admiration, some in denigration – but those are people that don’t understand a collie, or are just jealous.
Sadly modern media has bloomed more ignorance by labelling the dogs as Freaky, Obsessive, Addicted or having OCD. None of these terms are appropriate or correct and do not help our understanding.
This 30 minute presentation will hopefully bring a bit more light and help your collie share their true heart
Behaviours can go out of balance
To be able to function as a sheepdog two behaviours need to work together: stalking (creeping up to the sheep) and flanking (going around or from side to side). Over-stalking behaviour is balanced by flanking and too much flanking, circling, is balanced by stalking.
When you begin to train a young dog you will not know which behaviours are their strongest and will work to develop equal skills in both behaviours. Often the behaviours do not emerge until the situation presents itself, and this may be 10-14 months old.
The behaviours can be misbalanced genetically where dogs have been selected for nonsheepdog criteria, such as coat, colour, ear set (aesthetic appearance), or another sport criteria.
They can also be misbalanced in training: sheepdogs are valued for their chase skills in flyball and agility. Chase is not an inherited skill we should be seeking. Sheepdogs do not cope well with continual chase or bite (tugging) behaviours and unless they find some balance by being able to enjoy their inherited behaviours their stress responses will build up.
These are commonly exhibited:
- in agility or flyball where the dogs demonstrate high levels of frustration (aggression) towards other dogs, or bite their owner’s legs.
- Scream and launch at passing traffic or people.
- Uncontrollable spinning.
The build-up of frustration can also be revealed in other health issues, self-harming, breakdown of metabolic systems, diarrhoea etc. Sheepdogs should not be in a high level of arousal for any length of time, perhaps 3-4 minutes at most, and not on a regular basis throughout the day. They need lots of quiet time to adjust, and a balance of their natural behaviours to be able to find peace of mind.
The continual “challenging” presented by over arousal in training with bite and chase can push the dogs well beyond their coping mechanism.
We can measure the degree of compulsion – which translates to the degree of interrupter needed to break the focus. Some dogs can be easily “bought off” others not.
Well I don’t know about your evening’s entertainment at present, but it certainly is not on my TV ….. yawn …. so after some wandering around U-Know-Who I found a really tension filled, exciting sport to watch ….
This is a great introduction to the sport of Sheedog Trials. An invitation event set over three different days culminating in a gripping final.
Walking along a busy street with traffic can cause the dog to lunge out. Any uncontrolled movement such as joggers, bikes, other dogs doing agility will trigger the reflex to control the movement. The is a need, their purpose in life.
Learning and living with collies
Walking a busy street with traffic can cause the dog to lunge out. Uncontrolled movement: joggers, bikes, other dogs doing agility will trigger the reflex to control.
Training protocols are often about supressing annoying behaviours without realising that a sheepdog can no more stop being a sheepdog than you can stop being a human and become a hamster.
She is a wild running, butterfly-working dog. Or more scientifically: a dog with a compulsive behaviours that responds very fast to arousal and movement in the environment.
Why predatory behaviour is not a drive
By Thomas Riepe
– Translated by Simone Mueller and Charlotte Garner
“…. there is no such thing as ‘prey drive.’ Predatory behaviour is not triggered solely from within the dog. While it is a natural behaviour for dogs, they will only show this behaviour after being exposed to an external stimulus. So, a dog will not show predatory behaviour unless they have been triggered to do so by something externally (moving prey, etc)”
This is SUCH an important distinction when the “D” word is thrown around so casually.
“In many dogs, however, the stimulus thresholds that trigger this predatory behaviour have been greatly lowered by breeding. This means that the dogs then react faster to external stimuli, meaning they display predatory behaviour faster and more frequently.”
Essentially we can also add the b***ocks to term “high-drive” dogs as well. The mis-use of labels about behaviour or dogs only leads to spread misunderstanding.
Training an Over-Aroused dog
by Jill Breitner
This article is about an Australian Shepherd, but the situation is very similar for living with a collie.
“There is a widespread notion that the ideal way to manage hyperactive dogs is to try to tire them out, with treadmills, endless games of fetch, paid dog-runners, and so forth. I tend to disagree. I think less is more when it comes to dogs like Indy.“
What was normal in training 20 or 40 years ago is not the same today. There are folk persistently maintaining the normal of 1976, but fortunately there are enough folk with a deeper understanding of the processes that have moved normal forwards.