Dog Breeds Dog Training

Are Border Collies Good With Children? – A Parents Guide to Raising Border Collies

Whether a Border Collie gets along with children depends heavily on the owners.
Written by Richard Jeng

Border Collies have become a staple canine companion among families in America. Thanks to their strong work ethic, lively temperament, loving personality and high intelligence – it’s easy to see why. But as a parent, safety is always the number 1 priority in the home.

So, are Border Collies good with kids? There’s a long-standing debate over whether Border Collies are ideal for families with kids. Some thrive in family environments, whereas most Border Collies have a hard time due to their work ethic and lively nature. Whether they’re a good fit depends on behavioral issues, socialization, proper training and physical activity. 

Let’s discuss the potential issues that may arise with raising Border Collies with kids. Though they can make great family pets, there are several things to consider. Read on to learn more about the BC’s temperament and adaptability.

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The Border Collie’s Temperament

Is you Border Collie smart? How smart are they?

Before we continue, it’s important to understand what these dogs are all about. There’s no doubt the Border Collie can be intense at times. Not only are they scary intelligent, but also fierce workaholics, which isn’t always ideal for homes with kids.

When you have a herding dog as intense as the Border Collie, there can be some problems. This dog breed’s instinctive intelligence is off the charts. In other words, they have high instincts to herd – even if it’s with small children.

In addition, the Border Collie is a highly adaptable dog. In fact, they are some of the most adaptable dogs in law enforcement, which makes them perfect for a bomb squad or the narcotics departments. A Border Collie can really do it all!

Border collies are a fragile balance of reactiveness and impulse control, drive and biddability, work ethic and loyalty, intensity and patience, athletic prowess and structural balance.

– Rebecca (bordercollie.org)

While this is true on the field, they may not be the most adaptable dogs at home. For instance, the BC does not do well in apartments for long periods of time. As such, these dogs need a great amount of physical exercise (around 1 to 2 hours a day), so a large backyard is ideal.

As you may have guessed, these dogs aren’t as “easy-going” as other breeds. In other words, these Border Collies are very sensitive dogs. They require positive reinforcement, and lots of it. They love to be around people and have a hard time tolerating being alone.

Training a Border Collie to be With Children

The key to successfully raising a happy Border Collie with children lies heavily on you (the owner)! They absolutely need both socialization and obedience training in order to develop into the best family dog that they can be.

By introducing these two types of dog training, you’ll be significantly decreasing the possibility of any mishaps with your children and the Border Collie. It’s really that important. But just because you train your Border Collie doesn’t mean you can be careless.

Socialization Training

The best advice is to start young. While your Border Collie is still a puppy, try to expose the dog to as many kids as possible. They may be a little hesitant at first, but you can bribe them by letting the kids give them treats.

According to Rover, the “sweet spot” for socialization is between weeks 3 and 12. During this time, a puppy is still courageous and willing to interact with all types of kids. In other words, your BC is less likely to develop anxiety during play time with kids.

The Border Collie needs to understand that kids are kind and friendly. If your Border Collie gets a little too rowdy with the children, make sure to let them know that’s not okay. And if the dog attempts to herd the children, stop him or her immediately.

By learning this early on, life with children will be easy for your Border Collie. If they know how to play with all types of children, they’ll do much better in the home with your kids. Still, I would advise some caution when letting the two play together.

A great place for your Border Collie puppy to meet kids is the dog park. They get the chance to play with other dogs, but also humans of all ages. If possible, bring them at least once a week, especially while in puppyhood (for best results).

The Most Obedient Dog

Another huge aspect of dog training is of course, obedience training. Fortunately, the Border Collie is arguably the “most obedient dog” in the world. Really – among 138 dog breeds, Border Collies are at the top for obedience & working intelligence.

But just because they’ve been called this doesn’t mean they’re obedient without training. This requires time, effort and patience to groom them into the obedient canines that they’re meant to be. The good news is that Border Collies are highly intelligent workaholics.

This means they’re eager to do obedience training for the sake of working. After all, there’s a reason why they’re ranked 1 for obedience and working intelligence. Providing them with obedience training means you’ll be able to control them much easier in situations with kids.

For example, if your Border Collie is nipping at your kids, you’ll be able to tell a trained dog that you don’t like that behavior. Commands like down, stop, come, all may stop them. However, with an un-trained dog, this may be harder to communicate this.

Your Border Collie will learn to follow the rules of the home. Thus, they will likely behave properly in uncertain situations. Not only can it prevent aggression, but also destructive behaviors. And if you can, let the kids participate in obedience training too!

The key to obedience training is to establish yourself as the leader. In addition, you’ll want to train with only positive reinforcement thanks to the sensitive nature of the Border Collie. Following these two things will ensure a well-behaved Border Collie around kids.

Teaching Kids to be Around Border Collies

Like with the Border Collie, kids need training too. Yes, you read that right. Your children needs to learn how to act around all dogs in general. In other words, they must understand how to behave and treat the family dog. This will further minimize mishaps.

That said, if your children aren’t old enough to understand how treat the Border Collie with respect, they should not be playing with the dog. Rough play from children can traumatize a dog. Plus, the dog may eventually “retaliate” out of fear.

As parents of young children, let’s be honest. Kids can be rowdy at times. It’s a big NO for kids to try to ride the dog, pull on the tails or ears and harass the dog in unpleasant ways. We suggest that you come up with house rules when interacting with the Border Collie.

This type of behavior can scare your Border Collie, losing any trust that’s been built up between the dog and children. It may also increase the possibility of the Border Collie biting the kids, which no parent wants.

Border Collies aren’t aggressive by nature. In fact, not many dog breeds are. However, they may bite out of fear, not anger and or aggression. But as long as your kids provide the same affection that you provide your dog, they’ll get along great. After all, Border Collies are innately affectionate.

Border Collies and Infants 

Border Collies are the most intelligent dog breed in the world.

I don’t think it’s 100% safe to let any dog play with infants. They’re just too fragile and you never just never know what a new puppy might do. There’s a lot of debate about this, so I don’t want to get into it. However, infants and dogs don’t always go well together.

If you’ve known the Border Collie for a long time, then it may be okay with some extra precautions. Even so, be vigilant when they are interacting and never ever leave them alone together.

Excessive Barking

Border Collies may not be the best fit for homes with infants. If you’ve ever been a parent, you know that loud noises and babies don’t mix well. And like with nearly all dog breeds, Border Collies are known to communicate by barking.

With that said, they’re some of the most vocal dog breeds you can find. Herding dogs bark quite a bit and the Border Collie is no exception. Border Collies will bark when they’re lonely, happy, fearful, distressed or just bored.

As such, their barking can become a problem for households with infants. If you’re looking for a quieter dog, then I highly suggest checking out this article on the best apartment dogs. What makes them ideal is that they’re relatively silent dogs.

Border Collies and Small Children

If you’ve read up to this point, you know that Border Collies can make wonderful companions for both kids and adults. But only with the necessary socialization and obedience training. The top problem with small children and Border Collies is that these dogs may try to herd the kids.

Again, these dogs have strong herding instincts that can be difficult to control, especially with little focus on training. It’ll take some time to get this out of their system, if ever. To an untrained Border Collie, a child is just a sheep without the wool coat.

Border Collies herd by nipping the heels of the sheep to keep them in place and direct them toward another direction. So, don’t be surprised if you find your Border Collie circulating your kids while they nip at their heels and feet.

If this happens, it’s important that you stop this immediately. It may seem like all “fun and games” if it’s not intense, but encouraging this behavior can lead to mishaps with your children.

It’s also worth noting that Border Collies are ultra-energetic dogs. Sometimes it feels like they have an endless amount of energy.

This means they may get a little too excited when they see familiar faces (like your kids) and try to jump on them. They can unintentionally knock over your kids and hurt them. So make sure to address this behavior during obedience training.

Border Collie Tips for Parents 

When you plan to introduce your children to the dog, it’s important to train both the children and dog as much as possible beforehand. With training in place, there are still other things you can do to try to minimize mishaps.

For instance, the best time to let your small children play with the dog is after a good amount of exercise. By letting them play after their daily exercise, the dog has less energy. They’re less likely to jump on your kids and or herd them.

At this point, they’re the most calm because, well, they’re just tired (yes they can get tired). There is no guarantee that an hour of walking will slow down a Border Collie though. Most likely – you’re going to get tired before they do.

In addition, these dogs are extremely smart. But with smart dogs, comes with a lot of responsibilities. In other words, they need a lot of mental stimulation. It’s important to keep the dog’s daily routine of obedience training while they’re actively playing with kids.

Without enough mental stimulation, Border Collies can exhibit destructive behavior. And, no one wants a destructive Border Collie playing with their kids. Both mental and physical stimulation is key when your Border Collie is getting to know your kids.

Is the Border Collie Right For My Family?

It’s not my intention to scare you from raising a Border Collie. They’re some of the best dogs and the world and their consistent increase in popularity speaks volume. But if you’re here you’re certainly wondering if Border Collies are a great fit for your family.

These dogs require a decent time commitment. They’re no walk in the (dog) park.

Whether with kids or not, as long as you provide these dogs with the necessary stimulation, then they will be perfect for your family. For that reason, I’d highly recommend these dogs to families with an active lifestyle and those with the time to care for them.

If you’re a couch potato or constantly working, then the Border Collie is not a great fit. Not only do they require time commitment, but they require you to actually be there. Border Collies are loving dogs and love to be around people.

Though they can tolerate being alone, it’s not easy for them. If you believe that these dogs are right for you, then I highly recommend go getting one. There’s so much to love with these dogs and you won’t regret it!

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

1 Comment

  • Border Collie is a wonderful breed in fact, some people just don’t learn about the behavior and life of dogs before getting a dog. Many parents believe that it is enough to just have a dog and it will initially behave correctly and will never offend their child. But if the child hurts it, then it can respond. Therefore, it is always important to know which dog you are choosing for your children. It can become a friend to your child only if the child also makes an effort.

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