Kids and border collies are often assumed to make great matches. Border collies are a loving breed that will instinctively want to protect children. However, the instinct of border collies and children in certain situations can be completely opposite and therefore can cause serious problems.
Sometimes a border collie’s herding instinct can cause the dog to actively herd children keeping them from running away from the dog. This instinctive behavior can be a serious problem as some border collies have been known to nip at kids’ feet similar to the way they nip at a sheep’s feet in order to get them to do what the dog wants them to do. This nipping behavior is something that can be managed with consistent corrections and training. The herding instinct is hard wired into a border collie’s brain so the desire to herd children, animals, or whatever is something that will never go away.
A border collie herding instinct clashes with the instinct of children to run when they are scared. For instance, a child playing will start running. The border collie sees the child running away from the group and their herding instinct kicks in and so they immediately run to the opposite side of the child in order to get them to return. Part of the herding instinct is a threatening stare which may co-exist with growling and a show of teeth. The intimidating staring eyes, threatening crouching position and possibly a growl and show of teeth will cause the child to become frightened. The instinct of a frightened child is to run away and scream. The child running away causes the herding instinct in the border collie to trigger more and the dog will escalate his use of force to control the child. This escalation can result in nipping or even biting in an attempt to control the child.
Unfortunately, many Border Collies end up being given away to the pound or shelters because of this situation. This increases the burden on border collie rescue.
Parents should never leave their dog and children alone so supervising the play of kids with their pet border collie is must for child safety to prevent dog attacks. Teaching your children that when a border collie shows their aggressive herding instinct the best thing the child can do is to stand still and not run is important. However, it is hard to teach young children this and it is not always easy to teach the friends of your child this concept. Again supervising a border collie playing with children is very important.
Children and Border Collies definitely have one thing in common and that is energy. With a great amount of stamina a Border Collie will want to play with kids for as long as the kids want to play. Chasing dog frisbees around the yard and teaching him the exciting game of flyball will make a border collie a great playmate.