Geniuses have their eccentricities. Border collies, the geniuses of the canine world, are no exception. Some of the breed's "weird habits" result from not having an outlet for their tremendous energies. This is a working dog, not a couch potato. Channel that odd or destructive behavior into a constructive job, and your border collie will thank you for it by working his tail off for you.
It's Rude to Stare
That intense stare of the border collie is quite unnerving. It's meant to be -- that's how the border collie directs sheep or other livestock to do his bidding. That stare contains all of this extremely intelligent dog's focus. If he turns it on you, don't be surprised to find yourself moving in a direction you didn't intend to go.
It's a border collie's natural instinct to herd. If you don't happen to keep sheep, he'll make do with whatever is around. That might include kids, other household pets and party guests. Border collies can take the phrase "herding cats" quite literally if they share the same abode. Unfortunately, border collies herd sheep by nipping at the animals' heels, and that's exactly what they'll do to move small children around. Even if the dog's human family gets used to this behavior and learns how to control it, that won't be true for visiting children.
If border collies don't receive sufficient time on their job or an outlet for their energy, they can develop obsessive behaviors. Common examples include constant circling, shadow chasing and frequently getting up and down. A dog might exhibit individual obsessive quirks, such as waiting for lights and noises on an appliance to go off or snapping at bugs. The remedy for many of these behaviors is exercise, exercise and more exercise, or daily training sessions. A mentally and physically engaged border collie doesn't have the time to wait for the washing machine to change cycles.
Thunderstorms and border collies usually don't mix. These highly sensitive dogs react strongly to loud noises, whether it's thunder, Fourth of July celebrations or unpredictable events like a car backfiring. When startled by loud noises, border collies can go into freak-out mode. That might include biting any person, animal or item in the vicinity, turning into a 50-pound clinging lapdog or barking uncontrollably. In a worst-case scenario, the dog might flee the scene, even if that means going through a closed window. Ask your veterinarian about calming medications to give when storms are forecast, but work with your dog to help him accept loud noises. The U.S. Border Collie Club recommends trying a routine in which you make sudden soft noises while the dog is on a leash, eventually progressing to loud noises as the dog's tolerance level grows.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.