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kaitie
12-03-2011, 07:24 AM
Hey guys. I don't pop back down here very often anymore (because I'd never get anything done!), but I'm looking for advice.

My boyfriend and I are very seriously considering picking up a puppy tomorrow. We went today and met a couple, and there's one in particular we're considering, a lab/border collie mix.

Thing is, after I got home, I started doing some research on the breeds. Labs are all around great, and border collies are supposed to be brilliant, but I also read that they're herding dogs and thus not good to have around small kids. Everything I see about the mix says family friendly, but I've seen a lot of comments about the herding instinct as well.

I don't have kids yet, but I'm hoping to, and I really don't want to get a puppy that might prove to be a danger to children. I'm under the impression that the herding behavior can be very traumatizing to kids and that sometimes the dogs can nip and bite. I've never had a dog do this (though I did have a friend with a terrier who did this), and while we're both pretty dedicated about training, I want to make sure I've really thought this through before we make the decision.

I'm wondering if anyone here has a herding breed and what type of experiences anyone might have had. I'm also wondering if there are techniques to discourage the behavior. I've read that because it's an instinct it can't be "trained out," and with puppies there's no real way of knowing until it's older what it will be like.

areteus
12-03-2011, 01:38 PM
Any breed issue depends on how you manage it. The trouble with cross breeds is that you cannot tell which breed instincts are going to come out (and often it is both...) until it is too late.

The herding instinct of collies is actually not a bad one. It basically amounts to a 'running in curved lines' tendancy rather than straight at something (shepherds breed sheepdogs for this trait - they reject those that can't do it) and this is rarely an issue with children. In fact, collies are one of the most protective of the breeds over children. The trick with children and dogs (as I have learnt recently) is to:

- establish that the child is 'part of the pack' and the dog is below the child in the hierarchy of the pack.
- When the children are older (i.e. toddlers or older) teaching the child how to properly deal with the dog. In other words, giving commands, learning how to stroke properly, telling the dog off when he does something wrong and so on.

The last one is something we have had to deal with recently as several friends of ours have toddler age children. One of them has been brought up with 3 dogs and knows how to tell them to sit and how to treat them properly. The other wasn't had needed to be taught.

StellaArgentum
12-03-2011, 06:33 PM
Hi Kaitie,

My husband and I have two dogs (from the same litter) who are mixed breed, probably border collie/australian shepherd, plus a little extra variety. :)

We got them when they were puppies, and they definitely displayed herding tendencies (nipping at our ankles, etc.). But when they were old enough to take to training classes, we focused on "no nipping" and trying to curb their jumping habit. Now they are almost four years old. They still jump when they are excited (and the girl can be a little mouthy when she's excited, though she's never bitten), but they are in general very well behaved (as long as they get their walks and exercise!).

They are lovely dogs, very affectionate and smart. We don't have any kids, but they often meet kids at the park/on walks, and they are gentle with them. In any case, it depends on the particular dog's personality, and this is just my experience. Hope it helps! :)

Snowstorm
12-03-2011, 07:23 PM
And one thing about border collies, those dogs can be busy. You must give them a job to do, or they'll find something to keep themselves busy. And you're not going to like it.

ETA: Sounds like you're ahead of the game by doing your research. Hubby and I are thinking of getting a lapdog puppy (or two), but even with laid back dogs, we may not have the time to devote to them to train and watch for their needs right now. Likely we'll wait until we have time. (Although I don't WANT to wait.)

mirandashell
12-03-2011, 09:01 PM
A border collie is a dog that needs to be occupied. They need a lot of attention and stimulation. It's definitely not a dog that can be left at home on its own all day.

kaitie
12-03-2011, 09:06 PM
The reason we're considering now is because he's a student and I'm a teacher, so we're both going to be having a lot of extra time for about five or six weeks. I'm also around a lot, and while I'll have class a couple of times a week and I go to practice (~1 1/2 hours) a couple of times a week, but I should be able to walk them daily and spend a lot of time training.

I do worry about energy levels, but I've heard that this mix is less crazy than a purebred border collie, so that's good. They're still active, but I'd like to have a dog I can run with when he's older (I do this with my current dog) so I think I can handle it.

We're still considering, but we'll see.

mirandashell
12-03-2011, 09:13 PM
It's not just exercising them on runs or walks. A border collie is a very smart dog. They can work out how to get into stuff that you wouldn't believe. And they have the boredom threshold of a toddler.

Not trying to put you off but you do need to know what kind of dog a collie can be.

Of course, the lab genes may be stronger in your pup. And that's a whole different story.

kaitie
12-04-2011, 02:47 AM
Our current dog is very similar. We often say that she's too smart for her own good. She's also a chewer and has eaten the most ridiculous things, but we've learned to keep anything she might want up really high and after a lot of training she only chews her toys.

We went back to the Humane Society today and checked out a couple of the other pups they had. One was just fantastic, a three-month-old pointer, but she was actually more energetic and hyper than the other, not to mention a fair size bigger and thus harder to keep penned.

We ended up deciding on the lab/collie mix. He's a total sweetheart, and my other dog is super excited (almost too excited) to have a baby in the house. She keeps wanting to play, but we're trying to keep them mostly separated for now because she's so excited we're afraid she'll hurt the puppy on accident.

Anyway, I just thought I'd show a picture, and thanks again for the thoughts and advice everyone. We put a lot of thought into this, and we're big on mental stimulation as well as physical so I'm hoping this all goes great. Let me introduce Genghis Khan (Genji for short).

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7166/6449122333_420d6141d5_z.jpg

It's not the best picture but he doesn't sit still often, at least not unless he's curled up onto my lap. I'm currently his safe zone, so to speak, so he's spending a lot of time there.

10trackers
12-04-2011, 03:02 AM
Normally, nowadays I would advise against a lab (overbreeding caused too many physical and mental flaws in the breed) and against a border collie (they need to be worked both mentally and physically and can get neurotic), but with a mix you may just have struck gold. :) Friends of mine have a mix like that, which displays the best traits of both breeds.

Congrats, Kaitie, on this lovely pup!

And let's just hope nomen is not omen in this case. I named my youngest pup after a demon. Not the brightest idea I ever had :D

KTC
12-04-2011, 03:05 AM
Hi Kaitie,

My husband and I have two dogs (from the same litter) who are mixed breed, probably border collie/australian shepherd, plus a little extra variety. :)

We got them when they were puppies, and they definitely displayed herding tendencies (nipping at our ankles, etc.). But when they were old enough to take to training classes, we focused on "no nipping" and trying to curb their jumping habit. Now they are almost four years old. They still jump when they are excited (and the girl can be a little mouthy when she's excited, though she's never bitten), but they are in general very well behaved (as long as they get their walks and exercise!).

They are lovely dogs, very affectionate and smart. We don't have any kids, but they often meet kids at the park/on walks, and they are gentle with them. In any case, it depends on the particular dog's personality, and this is just my experience. Hope it helps! :)

This sums up nicely. Just have proper training.

My friend's lovely herder doesn't herd her children, but has a load of fun trying to herd the trees in the front yard. (-:

mirandashell
12-04-2011, 03:06 AM
I hope he doesn't live up to his name!

KTC
12-04-2011, 03:08 AM
Ooh. I should have read through the thread. (-; He's Beautiful!!!!

Fenika
12-04-2011, 03:10 AM
You could also get an adult (even a young adult) dog that's good with children and make sure to keep up the good habits. Dogs can do funny things even with good training, and though you can catch and correct problems early (the earlier the better), when you have a growing family it isn't always the best time to find your dog needs extra attention and training suddenly. Just my 2c.

Fenika
12-04-2011, 03:11 AM
Oops, I see you already got the cutie. Nice pic :)

sheadakota
12-04-2011, 03:16 AM
Oh Kaitie he's beautiful!! Congrats on the new little one- Oh man- now I want a puppy- I have three dogs already- drat- But oh cuteness!

kaitie
12-04-2011, 05:04 AM
I'd actually seriously considered an older one of the same breed. He was very shy and insecure and nervous. Also very calm (around us, but probably because he was shy), but when we spoke to the people about training and how we thought an older one would be easier, they actually suggested that the younger they are the easier they are to train because you don't have to undo any already learned bad behavior.

It made sense, and I was a little concerned that my current dog would be a little too aggressive (she's a sweetie but loves to play and let you know what she wants) for someone so nervous. One of my main reasons is because I wanted my dog to have a playmate. She's so social and just loves being around other animals. She's been thrilled so far. Honestly, I'm also just loving having a puppy. I haven't gotten to have an actual puppy in over ten years.

heyjude
12-04-2011, 04:28 PM
Aw, congrats, kaitie! He's gorgeous!

Snowstorm
12-04-2011, 07:45 PM
Ahhhhhh! What a cutie! Good luck with a healthy pup.

kaitie
12-05-2011, 05:48 AM
Thanks, guys. I'm super impressed so far. He hasn't had an accident since right after we brought him home. That's over 24 hours and we just got him yesterday. He even whined at the door to go out earlier!

My older dog is loving having a puppy around.

heyjude
12-05-2011, 05:49 AM
I'm so excited for you. Puppies are so much fun! (When I don't have to do any of the work, especially. :D) He sure landed in a wonderful home.

kaitie
12-05-2011, 06:12 AM
I'm loving it. I've wanted one for a really long time now but it just hasn't been feasible.