Border Collies are instinctive work animals by nature; they will work until they are made to stop—often to the point of self-injury and exhaustion. But even the most intelligent and instinctual working dog (argued by many to be the Border Collie) requires dedicated, consistent training to hone his or her skills.
An Early Start On Border Collie Training
Training of the working Border Collie (in fact, every dog) needs to start when the dog is very young. Training for the Border Collie should start with socialization, which ensures that the dog does not become overly fearful of the unknown, and helps create strong bonds with its handler (critical to working success).
The most basic commands should come to the Border Collie pup first and come early. Even if a handler will be hiring a professional trainer to work with his or her dog, the owner and family members should start training the dog to come, sit, go down, and understand the meaning of the word "No".
It is also important for working dogs to be appropriately kenneled or crated early on. Pups that are let loose and allowed to chase livestock often end up either getting hurt or scolded for doing so; this teaches dogs that they are doing something they shouldn't, and they'll often resist livestock training when the time does come.
Introducing The Working Dog To Livestock
It is not beneficial to let the puppy frequently observe livestock prior to training. It might seem logical to do this, but in actuality it can cause the dog to be over-observant and start at every minute move within the flock or herd. To grow a competent, reliable dog, it is necessary to have one with a sense of intuition and reasoning that will not overreact.
Introduce the dog to livestock in short bursts of 10-15 minutes twice a day. Choose more calm stock to work with first so your Border Collie pup isn't scared off. Encourage the dog and get him excited about your activity. Be positive and praising, however, remember that a Border Collie is an intelligent breed that needs consistent correction right from the start; bad habits should not be allowed to develop by being permissive.
In order to be able to correct as needed, you need to maintain a short physical distance between you and your Border Collie until the dog is older and more knowledgeable. If there is too much distance, you will lose your dog's focus and not be close enough to correct effectively.
The first time your Border Collie is introduced to livestock, be careful not to expect too much. Remember this is a first for your pup and a first for you as a pair. Make correction as needed, but don't be disappointed if the Border Collie isn't an instant expert. Border Collies are instinctual herders, but that does not mean they can do the job without training and guidance. With patient, consistent training, your Border Collie will be a highly effective member of your working farm crew.
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