The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Border Collies" by David Anderson. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: David AndersonPreparing to bring your new Border Collie home is just as important as preparing your home. Remember, Border Collies are highly sensitive and intuitive dogs. If they sense your stress levels rising, they might panic. While some Border Collies like an adventure, others are more timid and cautious. No matter what your dog’s personality is, they will certainly be curious about anything new or exciting.
Going to a new home can be scary for a dog, regardless of how well you planned for their arrival. Be prepared for some crying and nervousness. The first night at home might not be the best time to have a big party with lots of strange people and noise. The time to introduce your Border Collie to friends and family will come later.
If you find yourself worrying that your new Border Collie isn’t happy in their new home, remember that they might feel confused. If you bought the dog from a breeder, he is away from his mother and siblings for the first time. If you adopted your dog, she might think she’s being abandoned again. In time, your Border Collie will learn to love their new home. In this chapter, you’ll learn more about what you need to do and what to expect in the early days of having a new Border Collie.
The First Few Nights
Prepare for some lost sleep at the beginning of your new adventure together. Border Collies are social creatures and if you have a little “Velcro dog,” he might cry if you’re not within eyesight. But not all owners want a dog sleeping in their bed. A fully-grown Border Collie takes up a lot of space in a bed, especially when they stretch out on their back! If your dog displays signs of separation anxiety—even though you’re right down the hall—you may want to move their kennel or dog bed into a hallway, or even into your room. As they become more comfortable in your home, you can move their bed somewhere else within the home, especially if they are noisy sleepers.
If you have a young dog with a growing bladder, make sure you can hear your Border Collie if he begins to whine in the middle of the night. Otherwise, you will awake in the morning to a puddle and a very uncomfortable dog. If your Border Collie is under six months old, they may have a hard time holding it throughout the night.
Going to the Vet
If you haven’t already chosen a vet, this is the time to do so. Luckily, Border Collies are so common that it would be hard to find a vet that didn’t have experience with this breed. But if you find yourself lost on where to start when it comes to finding a vet, here are a few tips to get you started.
Perhaps the easiest thing to do is ask for recommendations. If you’re buying a puppy, ask your breeder where they take their dogs. If you have a reputable breeder, there’s a good chance their chosen vet is of high quality. If you’re adopting a dog, ask the employees where they take their dogs. If you’re in a situation where you can talk to the former owners, you may decide to continue taking your dog to the same place, as your Border Collie will be familiar with the clinic and employees. If all else fails, ask a friend in the area for their recommendation.
If you have any concerns about the quality of a particular clinic, a visit can put your mind at ease. If the facilities are clean, it appears to be smoothly managed, and the vets and support staff are friendly and attentive to their patients, then you’ve probably found the right place. You might also want to decide if you would prefer a clinic with operating rooms, a full laboratory, and emergency services, as not all clinics have these capabilities.
Your first visit to the vet will likely be stressful for your Border Collie. To decrease nervous energy in your Border Collie, give your dog lots of exercise before you go. As you’ll find out, a tired Border Collie is a well-behaved Border Collie. Throw the ball back and forth in the yard until your dog is panting hard, then get in the car for your visit. Pack lots of tasty treats and give them often to let your dog know that the vet isn’t so bad after all.
Basic Obedience Classes
No matter your dog’s age or skill level, you’ll want to enroll your Border Collie in some sort of training class. It’s good to do this right away because it’s a great time for you to get to know your dog and for your dog to understand who’s boss. There are lots of classes out there that have courses specifically for new puppies. These will teach you how to give commands and teach your dog how to learn the proper way to behave. You will both benefit by working together for a set time every week.
Even if your Border Collie is an adult, there are still basic obedience courses for dogs of all ages. If your Border Collie already knows a few basic commands, it’s still worth it to revisit those basic skills in a classroom setting. Your dog may know a lot, but he isn’t used to taking commands from you. Revisit old commands in a positive environment with a trainer that can give you advice as you learn more about your new dog’s quirks.
While it may take a little time to learn your dog’s treat and toy preferences, it’s a good idea to have some supplies ready before you bring your Border Collie home. That way, you don’t have to worry about leaving your pup at home while you go on puppy shopping sprees. Whether you do your shopping before your dog’s arrival or you bring him along on the trip, here is a list of a few items you’ll want to have on hand in the early days.
Especially if you have a puppy, it might be a good idea to have what is essentially a playpen or baby gate. If you’re concerned about your new dog having free rein of the house, it’s helpful to set up barricades to prevent your pup from piddling all over your carpet when you’re not home to supervise. Just keep in mind that barricading your Border Collie in a confined space for long periods of time will make him go stir-crazy. It’s okay to keep your dog in one part of the house for short periods of time, but make sure your Border Collie has plenty of room to roam throughout the day. Put your dog’s kennel, dog bed, or both in this designated space. You will also want to keep food and water dishes here.
Next, you’ll need a good collar and leash. To start, choose a flat-buckle collar. Later on, you can decide if you want to use a harness or different training collar, but the flat collar is appropriate for most dogs. While you’re at the pet store, have a tag engraved with your dog’s name and your contact information. Choose a sturdy 4-foot or 6-foot leash for your dog. Retractable leashes are popular but not really appropriate for a Border Collie. These leashes are comprised of a thin cord that can easily snap if your strong (and strong-willed) dog decides to charge after a car. Also, it’s better to practice walking with your dog on your side, as opposed to leading the way or trailing behind. A sturdy leash that you can control your dog with is a much better option.
To keep your Border Collie entertained, you’ll want a few toys that can stand up to your dog’s jaw strength. A Border Collie can tear through a stuffed animal in no time, so don’t waste your money filling up their toy basket with flimsy toys. Nylon, rawhide, and cow femur chews are a necessity when it comes to appeasing your dog. Choose a chew that will not splinter or be easily gulped down and is large enough that they will not choke. When your dog is feeling destructive, a good chew will preserve the sanity of both owner and Border Collie.
Good toys can be expensive, but they will last longer than soft toys that will easily be destroyed. Anything made of rope or similar materials is a good option. And if all else fails, a can of tennis balls can keep your dog occupied in the yard for hours. You can buy more toys as you see what your dog prefers, but it’s necessary to have a few options available to keep your new dog occupied.
Finally, you’ll want to have a few grooming tools on hand. A pin brush—and perhaps a slicker brush for the rough coated types—will keep the top coat shiny and tangle-free and the undercoat from matting. A toothbrush and special dog toothpaste are helpful for keeping your Border Collie’s pearly whites fresh and clean. Nail clippers are essential for regular trimmings and to take care of uncomfortable split nails. It’s also a good idea to have gentle dog shampoo or wipes on hand for when your dog inevitably rolls in something he shouldn’t.
Cost Breakdown for Year One
The initial price of getting a Border Collie can be very overwhelming, especially to a first-time pet owner. While you might feel like you’re draining your bank account on your dog, remember that there are a lot of costs up front. While some items, like dog food, will need to be purchased on a regular basis, things like nail clippers should last the life of your pet. Of course, the price of dog supplies varies due to location and quality of supplies, but here is a rough estimate of what it will cost to take care of your Border Collie in its first year.
First, let’s start with the cost of the dog itself. Here, we have a very wide range because there are different avenues of acquiring your new best friend. The low-end cost of adoption is around a hundred dollars and the high-end of purchasing a dog is upwards of a thousand. Depending on your overall budget, this could make a huge difference in whether or not a Border Collie is an affordable option.
When it comes to purchasing the supplies listed in the previous section, you’re looking at spending around $200-$400 up front. But items like gates, kennels, and grooming supplies will last a long time, so you likely won’t have to pay for these things again.
Next, you’ll need to buy lots of food and treats. On average, a large bag of dog food is about $50. Depending on your Border Collie’s weight, you’ll go through a large bag in roughly a month. So, over the course of a year, you may be spending around $600 annually for food. Treats are roughly $3-$5 dollars a bag, and because you’ll be training your Border Collie often, you’ll need to keep plenty stocked up. In a year, it’s all too easy to spend nearly a hundred dollars on training treats alone.
Then, you’ll have to factor in veterinary visits. With any luck, your dog will be perfectly healthy and will only require a yearly checkup and vaccinations according to his schedule. First-year vaccinations, examination, flea and tick prevention, and heartworm medication could run you about $200.
Finally, if you choose to enroll your dog in training classes (which you should seriously consider), you’ll find that basic, group sessions cost around $75 for a six-week session. In the course of the first year, you may complete one or two training courses, if not more.
So, by the end of your dog’s first year in your home, it’s not inconceivable to spend around $1,000-$2,000, not including the price of your Border Collie! The price of taking care of a Border Collie is definitely something to keep in mind before you buy or adopt. And this is only a rough estimate of basic care. If you plan on training your dog for competitions or they have an unexpected health issue, this number could increase dramatically. This number may seem discouraging to a new pet owner, but just remember, a new fur baby is still less expensive than a human baby!
All of this preparation may seem overwhelming, but it’s worth knowing what you’re getting into before you bring your Border Collie home. As far as dogs go, this breed requires a ton of attention as well as mental and physical stimulation. Cheap dog supplies exist, but a Border Collie can destroy a flimsy leash or chew toy very easily. Skimping on chew toys or other methods of entertainment will leave you with an unruly dog. And while classes can add up, training is vital to your Border Collie’s wellbeing. In short, this is definitely not a dog that can stay at home alone all day and be expected to sit still and stay quiet. Again, preparation is key. Join a pet store’s rewards program and buy items when they’re on sale. Some stores even give away free five-pound bags of dog food for your Border Collie to sample. Stock up on necessities, like food and treats, when you spot a sale, and you’ll breeze through the first year without worrying about blowing your budget.
To read more from "The Complete Guide to Border Collies" by David Anderson, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below: