When it comes to choosing the ideal dog breed as a companion in the family, the affectionate Border Collie wins a lot of votes and is often listed among the smartest dog breeds. Originally, Border Collies were bred to work with farmers, herding flocks and guarding the farm. That allowed them to cooperate with humans hundreds of years ago. Although most of Border Collies have “lost” their previous job in modern times and are now acting as pets in the house. However, some of their innate traits remain and could make them excellent service dogs to help people with disabilities. This post will take you into the world of Border Collies and analyze whether they are great service dog candidates by looking at their characteristics and trainability.
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Border Collie Characteristics
Border Collies were used to working with farmers, gathering sheep, and “staring” at visitors, including strangers and animals. Gradually, they have developed some brilliant characteristics due to their working heritage: smart, sensitive, protective, energetic, and hardworking.
1. They are incredibly smart. Border Collies have a high level of intelligence in learning new skills such as words, cues, hand gestures, and whistles. They are good at memorizing objects and scents. For instance, finding a particular toy in the toy pile is just a piece of cake for them.
2. They are very sensitive to subtle changes. Through their job as a shepherd, they developed a sensitivity that quickly detects changes in flocks, and is aware of dangers. This also applies if owners or other persons use body language (like hand signals or a raised eyebrow). Even emotional fluctuations are perceived by the Border Collie.
3. They are very protective. As a responsible guard on farms and in the family, Border Collies have been trained to protect their owners, families, flocks, as well as the house. This trait not only makes them a great guard dog in the family but also a reliable partner for kids. However, this breed should undergo socialization training from the beginning in case they hurt some because they want to protect others.
4. They have lots of energy. Border Collies are physically and mentally energetic and active. Their stamina and strong work ethic are the result of their former herding job and can be used in different ways today. For example, children with autism are willing to open their hearts and make friends with a Border Collie. The positive dog introduces the kids to outdoor activities where they can fight depression, which also benefits the kids’ health. Sometimes, these dogs tend to get bored and frustrated if they are not stimulated enough.
5. They are hardworking without complaining. There is no concept of “work” in their mind. The Border Collie can easily feel fulfilled and content when chasing, supervising, or feeding sheep for a whole day. For these energetic canines, these jobs are purely daily fun or playtime. In addition, they will be even more thrilled if you offer delicious treats and praises after their brilliant playtime.
Border Collie Trainability
After reading the characteristics of Border Collies, you might be attracted to these cute herding dogs. If you have thought about getting a Border Collie, you certainly have one question: can you train this breed well?
My answer is generally, YES. The great traits of the Border Collie make them very trainable. They learn quickly, often beyond your expectations. The first thing you should do before training is to prepare a large number of treats and set a training plan. However, some owners complain that their Collie is learning too fast and coping with all the challenges you set up too quickly.
The sensitive ability of a Border Collie can be used to help a human struggling with discomfort or illness. Most case studies indicate that the trained Collie can detect bodily changes caused by diseases like PTSD or diabetics, and alert the owner of an impending seizure attack by nosing, licking, or barking.
Besides daily walks and exercises, another way to consume their energy is to give them proper training, such as agility, obedience, or intensive service dog training. They always respond brilliantly and happily to this additional training.
Can a Border Collie be a Service Dog?
1. What is a service dog?
Service dogs are specially trained to assist people with physical or mental disabilities and improve their quality of life by performing tasks and providing emotional comfort. Because most illnesses and disabilities occur suddenly with no obvious signs, service dogs can protect their owners from unpredictable risks and respond quickly to seizures everywhere. This is why they are allowed to live with the owner and enter most public places under the role of “working dog” instead of “household pet”.
Any breed and size can be a service dog. However, it is recommended to choose a suitable breed dog depending on the disability, living environment, and financial situation.
2. Does a Border Collie make a good service dog?
The medium stature and abundant energy enable Border Collies to serve many types of disabilities that require moderate physical assistance and outdoor activities, including diabetes, autism, PTSD, ADHD, social anxiety, and other invisible disabilities.
This breed has plenty of affection for its loved ones but does not require too much emotional stimulation. An easygoing Collie will build an unbreakable bond with you as soon as he is brought home. Sometimes, they are extremely distant towards strangers and children, which is not bad news because it can be useful in a service dog who needs to focus on the owner and remain well behaved towards others.
The Border Collies are sensitive to sounds and smells/chemical changes, which makes them good alert dogs for people with sleep disorders, epilepsy, or diabetes. These illnesses often occur suddenly and quickly, but the early warning from a service dog can avoid a lot of fatal accidents, especially when the owner is alone.
The smart Border Collie quickly learns the words of humans and masters the content of the service dog training sessions efficiently. This significantly shortens the training period and benefits the owners, who soon want to take the service to public places.
Because of the active traits, people who have a Border Collie service dog require to walk their furry friends longer than the “couch-potato” dogs. Outdoor activities are of great benefit to modern people and patients. You will breathe in the fresh air, interact with other people and listen to the sound of nature. All of this is good for your health and well-being.
All these good qualities make a Border Collie both an affectionate pet and a trainable service dog. However, it should be noted that shedding is a serious and unavoidable problem for this breed. In addition, a Collie puppy might be more active and uncontrollable. This is not suitable for the elderly and people with reduced mobility.