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Five Great Sports for Border Collies
© By Charlotte Mielziner
Professional Member, APDT
Certified in Canine Behavior, Purdue University
Certified Private Trainer, ABTA
Rally Judge, AKC and MBDC

A good friend who raises both Border Collies and German Shepherds once told me what he saw as the main difference between the two breeds. “German Shepherds,” he said, “want a job, they need work to be happy, but Border Collies want…well, about forty jobs.” Any BC (border collie) owner will tell you this is an apt analogy. Remember, this breed was bred to control herds of sheep, make decisions, plan solutions to problems, carry them out and run for miles each day. BCs are renowned for a sense of work ethic, drive, intelligence and energy.

However, that lovely drive and intelligence that makes this breed so attractive, can work against an unwary owner. One of the main causes of behavioral issues reported by BC owners is boredom. If you don’t entertain them, they will entertain themselves and you probably won’t like the results. Follow the old trainer’s adage to train, don’t complain.

We’ve listed five great Canine Sports you may wish to try. They were selected for their aptness to border collie mentality and abilities and ease of finding training clubs. Through any of these sports you will meet a great group of like minded people who are also adding to the list of “forty jobs.”

Obedience and Rally – It all starts here. Even if you plan to pursue another sport, you need at least a smattering of obedience. Basic classes introduce sit, down, heel, recall, sit-stay, down-stay and attention. Handlers discover how dogs learn, increase socialization, solve problems and generalize behaviors. More advanced classes include Rally, Open and Utility which include jumps, scent discrimination and other behaviors. Look for positive motivation trainers. Our BCs are too sensitive and intelligent for the old yank and jerk methods. A good place to start is through your local kennel club, rescue group, the National Association of Dog Obedience Trainers (www.nadoi.com) or the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (www.apdt.com) for a referral.

Agility – Over, under, around and through, your BC can exercise his mind, release energy and have fun. Courses have a variety of jumps, tunnels, weaves and contact obstacles. Agility is a timed event, but accuracy is the primary criteria. During training, you will learn distance control as your dog learns to read your body language. This is an excellent sport to build confidence in shy dogs, gain control over high energy dogs and build communication. There are several organizations that sponsor titling events in agility. See the American Kennel Club (www.akc.org) National Association of Dog Agility Council (www.nadac.com) and the United States Dog Agility Association (www.usdaa.com).

Flyball – This fast action sport beautifully suits border collies. Two teams of four dogs each race in relay fashion down a lane with four jumps to grab a tennis ball sprung from a box and race back to their owners. Jump heights are based on the smallest dog on the team. The first team to finish in the fastest time and without error wins the heat. Tournaments have different speed categories to make competitions fair to all types of dogs. If your border collie loves tennis balls and running, Flyball may be for you. Titles are based on a graduated point system according to accuracy and speed. For more information see North American Flyball Association (www.nafa.com).

Disc Dog – If your border collie loves to fetch the Frisbee you are just a few tricks away from being able to compete in one of the many Disc Dog tournaments in the country. Leaping, vaulting and trick throws for distance, accuracy and creativity are all factors in training. You only need a few Frisbees, some space and a high drive dog. See the United States Disc Dog Nationals (www.usddn.com) for more information to get started in this exciting sport.

Remember to check with your veterinarian and/or doctor before beginning one of these sports to make sure you are both healthy and ready to go. As you may know those who have a pet tend to be healthier and live longer happier lives than those who do not. However, those who exercise with their dogs have an even higher level of health and satisfaction with life than those who have another type of domestic pet. So the moral of this tale is…get out there and go for it!

Are these the only things that border collies can do? Of course not! Remember those forty jobs from the first paragraph? This is the ultimate versatility breed with capacities that we have just begun to tap. Life is an adventure and meeting it with a border collie at your side is a wonderful way to live it.


You are welcome to use this article but please give credit to Charlotte Mielziner and Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue. Please let us know by emailing us!

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