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. With a 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 others have a hard time. Whether they’re a great 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 Children. Though they can make great family pets, there are several things to consider.

RECOMMENDED: Border Collies vs. Australian Shepherds

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 these dogs can be intense. Not only are they scary intelligent, but also fierce workaholics.

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

They’re some of the most adaptable dogs in law enforcement, which makes them ideal for the bomb squad and narcotics department.

However, they may not be the most adaptable dogs at home. For instance, they don’t do well in apartments for long periods of time. 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. Border Collies are very sensitive dogs. They require positive reinforcement, and lots of it.

If you’re a busy person, these dogs won’t enjoy it. They love to be around people (especially their pack) 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 an excellent family dog.

By introducing these two types of training, you’ll be significantly decreasing the possibility of any mishaps with your children and the Border Collie. It’s really that important.

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.

They need to understand that kids are great and friendly. If your Border Collie gets a little too rowdy with the children, make sure to let them know it’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.

A great place for your BC puppy to meet kids is the dog park. Not only do they get the chance to interact with other dogs, but also humans of all ages. If possible, bring them at least once a week, especially while in puppyhood.

The Most Obedient Dog

Another significant aspect of dog training is of course, obedience training. Fortunately, the Border Collie is arguably the “most obedient dog” in the world.

But just because they’ve been called this doesn’t mean they’re obedient without human intervention. It 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. It’s why they’re ranked number 1 for obedience and working intelligence.

Providing Border Collies with proper obedience training means you’ll be able to control them much easier in environments and situations involving children.

Your Border Collie will learn to follow the rules of the home. Furthermore, they’ll likely behave properly in uncertain situations. Not only can it prevent aggression, but also destructive behaviors.

The key to obedience training is to establish yourself as the leader and train with only positive reinforcement. Following these two things will ensure a well-behaved BC around kids.

Teaching Kids to be Around Border Collies

Like with the Border Collie, kids need to be trained too. Yes, you read that right. Your children need to learn how to act around all dogs in general.

With that said, if your children aren’t old enough to understand the need to treat the Border Collie with respect, they should not be playing with the dog.

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.

This type of behavior can scare your Border Collie, losing any trust that’s been built up between the dog and children. It’ll also increase the possibility of the dog biting the kids.

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.

Personally, I don’t think it’s 100% safe to let any dog play with infants. They’re just too fragile and you 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.

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

Excessive Barking

Regardless, 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.

Like with nearly all dogs, Border Collies 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 BC is no exception.

Border Collies will bark when they’re lonely, happy, fearful, distressed or just bored. In other words, they’re big barkers and can become a problem for households with infants.

If you’re looking for a quieter dogs, then I highly suggest checking out this article on the best apartment dogs. What makes them ideal is that they’re relatively quiet dogs.

Border Collies and Small Children

If you’ve read up to this point, you know that Border Collies can make wonderful companions for children. But only with the necessary socialization and obedience training.

The biggest problem that arise with small children and Border Collies is that these dogs may try to herd the kids. Again, these dogs have strong herding instincts. 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. Don’t be surprised if you find your BC circulating your children and nipping their heels.

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. Make sure to address this behavior in obedience training.

Parent Tips for Border Collies 

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 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).

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 in the beginning when your Border Collie is getting to know your children.

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.

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.

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 affectionate 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.

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