It is hard to think of a breed more closely associated with wide open spaces and farms than the Border Collie. They are often pictured in beautiful lush pastures and meadows or with a background of rugged mountains, herding in flocks of sheep or herds of cattle as the sun sets in the west. However, with all that imagery in mind, there are actually a large number of Border Collies that are completely urban dogs, never having lived in the country and never having been used in their traditional role as herding dogs.
Border Collies are very adaptable and they can adjust to different living environments, although taking a dog that is used to living in the country and moving him or her to the city is going to be very difficult for the dog. Often Border Collies don't do well with this type of transition, especially if they are older dogs when the move occurs. If you do live in the city and want a Border Collie it is best to either raise a pup or adopt an older Border Collie from a rescue that has always lived in an urban environment. For younger adult dogs, gradually adjusting them to city life in more confined spaces before the move is beneficial with the overall transition.
Raising a Border Collie in an apartment in the city is not recommended and usually results in the dog having to be rehomed. This is nothing negative about the breed, it is just that they are a dog that needs space and really needs to have regular, lengthy time outdoors in a large fenced yard to be truly happy. A bored or unexercised Border Collie can be highly destructive and may turn to chewing furniture, destroying items in the apartment as well as constant barking. All of these behaviors are not typical of a well adjusted, well trained and well exercised Border Collie. They are however, a typical sign of a dog that is under stimulated both mentally and physically.
Often the Border Collie dogs that are turned over to rescues and reported to be hyper, out of control or crazy are given to people that live in more suburban or rural areas, or people that are at home most of the time and lead very active lives. Within a few weeks or months the reported insanely hyperactive, highly destructive Border Collie is a perfectly well-behaved highly social companion pet that is adored by everyone that meets the dog. While some of the issue is training, most of the issues with this breed are because of lack of physical exercise coupled with lack of mental stimulation.
There are, however, many very well behaved, highly socialized Border Collies that live in the city and do wonderfully with their owners and families. Typically these dogs are in homes where the owners are already familiar with training and working with herding and working dogs, or where owners have taken the time to learn about the breed. Preparing a home in the city for a Border Collie can be done very successfully but the owners have to make the environment work for the dog, not try to make the dog fit into the city lifestyle.
One obvious way to help keep a Border Collie happy even in the city is to have a home with at least a medium sized fenced yard. The larger the yard the better, but it will need to have a secure, well built fence and a gate that the dog cannot learn to open. Although Border Collies are not prone to roaming, if they do learn they can jump, chew or dig their way out they will.
Keeping the dog happy and entertained while you are gone isn't hard. A few balls in the yard, some favorite toys and perhaps a large, meaty knuckle or joint bone to chew on will keep the dog happy and focused. Of course having a companion dog to play with in the yard is another option, perhaps even setting up a friend or family member to stop by and check on the dog or bring their dog over for some interaction could be arranged.
When people work close to where they live a lunch at home is a great way to break up the day for the dog. Even if you don't have time for a long walk, a brief walk around the block or some time playing during the day will help them stay happy and content in the yard. If the dog is being crated when you are away this is essential as too long in the crate will create behavior problems when the dog gets out.
Walking your Border Collie is going to be a key part of your commitment to ownership. This will need to happen every day, at least twice a day, for at least 30 minutes or more each time. You can vary this with times in an off-leash dog park where your Border Collie gets to run and play with other dogs. This is a wonderful mental and physical exercise option and helps your dog with socialization all through his or her life.
Dogs in the city, just as dogs in the country, need to be routinely vaccinated for all the typical health concerns. In addition dogs in close proximity with other strange dogs should be routinely vaccinated for Kennel Cough and any other viruses or other diseases that may be prevalent in a given area. Flea treatment, heartworms and regular worming is also essential. The more dogs your Border Collie is in contact with the more important these aspects of down ownership will be.
Having a Border Collie in the city isn't an impossibility but it does take commitment. You may want to get your dog involved in some type of training class to provide that extra exercise and keep them thinking and learning. If you have friends or family in the country, plan to take your dog out for some open space time as often as possible. Your dog will be happier, healthier and better adjusted to city life when they have all these extra benefits.