Collie Psychology – Inside the Border Collie Mind

Collie Psychology – Inside the Border Collie Mind

Collie Psychology – Inside the Border Collie Mind

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What’s It About?
It has often been said that the Border Collie is the breed that has it all – brains and beauty. Initially bred to herd sheep, over time the Border Collie has developed into one of the most varied and versatile of all breeds, proving to be an expert in a huge number of fields including agility, obedience and working trials.

However, despite their many obvious talents, the strong instinct, drive and sensitivity of this breed has meant that the Border Collie is certainly not the most straightforward of dogs.

In this book, Carol Price, canine behaviour specialist and Border Collie expert, helps us to understand the intricate workings of this special breed’s brain. Covering a wide range of topics from the history of the breed, to understanding herding instincts, the reason behind obsessive and manic behaviour and providing the recipe for raising a problem free dog, this book is enlightening for even the most experienced Collie owner.

Chapter one begins by looking at the origins and history of the breed, studying how the earliest sheepdogs evolved into the modern day Border Collie. Price discusses factors such as why the Border Collie ended up predominately black and white, as well as the development of the International Sheep Dog Society.

Chapter two looks at the mind and instincts of the Border Collie. Price helps us to understand typical breed behaviours such as eyeing, sustained focus, stalking, chasing and the circular herd. She also examines varying levels of instinct and drive, as well as some classic personality and character traits found in many collies. These include obsessive and manic behaviour, sensitivity and reactivity, misdirected working instinct, ankle nipping, shadow chasing and anti-social behaviour.

Chapter three moves on to getting a Border Collie puppy, discussing what to look out for and what to avoid. Price looks at the influence of genetics, genetic priorities and faults, health factors, pedigree and non-pedigree Collies as well as introducing us to the different governing bodies. She also gives advice on finding the right breeder, discussing both farm and pedigree breeders, and what to look for when visiting potential puppies, in terms of the puppies themselves and the mother and father.

In chapter four Price discusses early rearing. She gives tips on understanding the mind of your puppy as well as how to manage fear and more manic behaviour. Price continues by looking at initial education, providing us with 10 critical lessons that all puppies should know. She also focuses on limits and boundaries, sleeping quarters, children and other dogs, down time, bonding and toilet training.

Chapter five looks at early training. Price explains how to establish the right relationship with our dog, as well as introducing us to steps to prevent problem behaviour. She shows how to establish basic house manners and gives advice on controlling the working instincts, providing us with techniques for focus training as well as more basic exercises such as recalls, retrieve, waits, etc. Price also includes a word about Collies and toys and the use of hand signals and body language in training.

Chapter six studies ongoing social training. Price shows us how, with the right training and handling, you can stretch your puppy’s social flexibility and tolerance. She covers visitors to the home, less familiar objects, meeting other dogs and introduces us to the ‘Go See’ command. Price also looks at the outside world and how to teach your puppy coping strategies.

Chapter seven moves on to analysing and adapting your training. In this chapter Price looks specifically at what to do when training goes wrong, and how we need to adapt our training to meet our dog’s individual personality. She takes us through common Collie related training problems such as active and passive resistance to commands, and shows us how to remedy these.

Chapter eight focuses on more advanced training. Prices first emphasises the importance of mastering the basics before moving on to more advanced exercises. She then takes us through some of these exercises which include anti-chase training, down on the move, distance control, training the ‘leave’ , scent and searchwork and finding objects. Price explains how these exercises are relevant to Collies and also looks at the use of clickers, toys and treats.

Chapter nine looks at the adolescent Collie. Price examines common challenges and changes in teenage dogs and explains how to deal with these. She also comments on neutering, debating the pros and cons of this.

Chapter ten examines the rescue Collie. Price discusses acquiring a rescue dog, looking at specialist rescue organisations, how to know if you are the right person to handle one, what challenges you will commonly face and how to overcome these.

Chapter eleven moves on to the competitive Collie, and Price looks at both the positives and negatives of competing. She explains in detail what is involved in showing, obedience, agility, flyball, working trials and sheep work, and how each of these activities are suited to the Collie. Price also considers the influence of stress and excitement on the dog in some of the more high-adrenalin sports.

Chapter twelve considers Border Collie health and provides details and explanations on breed specific disorders such as eye conditions, trapped neutrophil syndrome, epilepsy, overactivity, Border Collie collapse and shadow chasing, as well as advice on how to manage these conditions. Price also considers diet and exercise as well as common health emergencies.

In chapter thirteen Price looks at the older Collie helping us to understand the ageing process. She discusses brain function, senile behaviour, weight and diet as well as other relevant factors such as deafness and blindness.

Finally, there is a detailed and elaborative advice section which includes an A-Z of Collie-related behaviour problems with straightforward, practical guidelines on how to deal with these.

Also included is advice on where to seek help, a detailed index and a list of useful addresses.

Most definitely a book for every Border Collie lover’s bookshelf. Clarissa Baldwin, OBE and chief executive of the Dog’s Trust, describes it as; “The most comprehensive insight into the life and mind of the beautiful Border Collie. Every Border Collie owner should be compelled to read this intelligent and minutely detailed encyclopaedia of this outstanding breed. A thoroughly good read and so well researched.”

More about Carol
Carol Price is a canine behaviourist, author and writer who has owned, trained, bred and worked with Border Collies for nearly 20 years. A former feature writer and commissioning editor on The Sunday Times (in London, UK), she has written for a wealth of national newspapers and magazines and is also author of the two best-selling books, Understanding the Border Collie and Understanding the rescue dog. Today Carol’s knowledge about dogs – particularly their psychology and behaviour – is much in demand. She is a regular contributor and advisor for both of the UK’s top-selling dog magazines, Your Dog and Dogs Today and spends much of her professional time helping owners with problem dogs. Carol has four Border Collies of her own. They keep her busy and fit!

When was it published- 2013

Who published it- First Stone Publishing

Collie Psychology reviewed by Roy Goutte

Roy Goutté is a researcher, author and collator of ancestral data on the bloodlines of the Border Collie in all disciplines. Amongst his many publications are his ‘Bloodlines’ series of books on Sheep working, Obedience and Show bred Border Collies; his Obedience training book ‘Get it Right’ and his breeding book ‘So You Want To Breed A Litter Of Puppies’.

I’ve not personally met Carol Price, but I can tell you right from the onset that this lady knows her Border Collies inside out if her book ‘Collie Psychology…Inside the Border Collie Mind’ is anything to go by. I have been extremely impressed by her knowledge and understanding of the breed and if I am to be disappointed about anything, then it is that it wasn’t me that wrote the book…it is that good and I congratulate her!

Carol doesn’t pussy-foot around, she says it how it is and how she has found it. Sheepdog handlers will appreciate that fact as experience has taught her that, and not being airy-fairy as many outside of this discipline sometimes are, she has completely nailed the psychology of the dog.

As a breeder of the ISDS Border Collie myself as well as having an earlier background in Obedience and a family interest in Agility and of course my more recent trialling and training experience combined with my bloodlines research, ancestral profiles and publications, I believe I qualify to give an honest appraisal of her work.

The layout and illustrating photographs within the book are first class with the chapter contents following a general rule of progression starting with the origins of the breed which are as good as many and better than most. Too often when trying to impress, some authors overcook their ‘supposed’ knowledge of the origins of the breed and make too many outlandish claims that they cannot substantiate. Carol knows where to start and when to stop and I for one appreciate that.

She moves on to the ‘Mind and Instincts’ of the breed and has again, in my opinion, nailed it! Her work as a behaviourist has held her in good stead and although I have to admit to not really taking behaviourists too seriously in the past, this book has made me think again. I suppose it all comes down to the length of experience you have and what you have had to deal with during that time that gives you an edge over others. Carol has achieved that edge admirably.

Moving on, there are chapters on Getting a Border Collie Puppy; Early Rearing; Early Training and Ongoing Social Training. I cannot fault any of it as again it has been based on her personal experiences which to my mind is paramount when advising others who struggle with these things.

The chapter, ‘Getting A Border Collie Puppy’ should be read until you can memorise every single word, as along with a dogs health, it is of the utmost importance and can lead either to success or total frustration for you, but more importantly, for the dog!

I quote:

‘Genes do not just influence the way any animal looks, but also the whole way it behaves, and dogs are no exception to this basic fact of life. There are things about dogs you can always change. You can alter or modify what is going on in a dog’s external environment. You can manipulate external influences to shape what a dog learns. But you cannot change the way a dog is fundamentally programmed, genetically, to think, act or react.

Everything from the way a dog moves, barks and eats, to his individual fear or aggression responses, and how good or bad he may be at specific work or competitive pursuits, will be governed by his individual genes. So you always need to look for a collie whose whole genetic make-up, including character and behaviour, is most in line with what you want from a dog’.

Genetic Priorities and Faults are explained as are methods of breeding including the riskier ones and how once faults have been introduced how difficult they can often be to eradicate.

There is a well thought out chapter on Analysing and Adapting Your Training when things go wrong and a further chapter on More Advanced Training.

Further chapters cover The Adolescent Collie; The Rescued Collie; The Competitive Collie; The Older Collie and for me, in this day and age certainly, a most important one…Border Collie Health.

Fifteen pages are dedicated to health, genetic testing and all the worrying conditions that beset our breed today, with no stone left unturned. Read, digest, then act on the recommendations before breeding further.

Surprisingly, but not to myself and other dedicated breeders who have observed its growing unwelcome appearance or even experienced it, TNS (Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome) is highlighted first because it really does need addressing before getting out of hand. CEA (Collie Eye Anomaly) and other eye conditions swiftly follow, then, Deafness, Hip Dysplasia, OCD (Osteochondritis Dessicans), CL (Ceroid Lipofuscinosis or Battens Disease), Epilepsy, Shadow Chasing, MH (Malignant Hyperthermia) etc., including Skin and Digestive Problems and medications for various conditions.

All of the chapters have sub-chapters of their own going into much detail and really getting to the truths hiding away in the minds and bodies of our dogs.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Comprehensive, well researched, nicely presented and above all it shows the Border Collie up for what it really is and what we have always known it to be…the most versatile, intelligent, hard working and dependable canine breed in the world. After reading it you will surely realise that we must play our part and not let it down. It is a pleasure to have this book on my bookshelf.

Carol Price gives us the most comprehensive insight into the life and mind of the beautiful Border Coolie. Every Border Collie owner or aspiring owner should be compelled to read this intelligent and minutely-detailed encyclopedia of this outstanding breed. A thoroughly good read and so well researched.

Clarissa A Baldwin, OBE, Chief Executive, Dog Trust

This comprehensive book provides a thought provoking insight into an often misunderstood breed.
Ben Wilkes, Border Collie Trust of Great Britain

What a brilliant new book from Carol Price!

The collie is undoubtedly a very misunderstood breed and through no fault of their own many either end up in rescue centres or sadly, live very stressful lives within a home environment. But, through her deep love and respect for these intelligent dogs Carol has without doubt put a great deal of time and effort into bringing years of experience, knowledge and understanding together with extensive research to write this very comprehensive book which is obviously aimed at achieving a better quality of life for the collie through greater knowledge and understanding of the breed.

This unique book is superbly written and is both easy to read and understand. It contains everything you need to know about the border collie, including understanding their behaviour, advice on buying a puppy, various levels of training, has a detailed A-Z advice section and much more!

This book is a must for both prospective and current owners and trainers alike. As a trainer and an owner of rescue collies I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

Lorraine Sharp

5.0 out of 5 stars a labour of love that has become a tour de force

This book will do nothing but good to the worlds of countless border collies. The author has an unsentimental and deep love for these wonderful animals, whose intelligence, spirit, physical abilities and beauty makes them a privilege to live and work with. Sadly for them, many end up abandoned, dead, or in rescue because people do not know what they are taking on when they buy a BC pup. I work my Collies in Competitive Obedience and Carol’s insights and wisdom have proved a great support to me over the past few years, firstly via her earlier work ‘Understanding the Border Collie’ and later when I consulted her in person about a problem I could not resolve with one of my dogs. That dog benefitted greatly from Carol’s deep understanding of his struggles and her kind and effective ways of resolving them, and from her ability to teach me how to be a better owner and handler. I am delighted to see her understanding and compassion presented in the form of a book. This book will help the general public to think, about taking on a Collie, about how to choose one, and about every possible aspect of their health, domestic, and work needs. I only wish it could be handed out for free to new Collie owners along with every rescue Collie or Collie pup.
T Brooke
5.0 out of 5 starwow!!! mind boggling

I was expecting a general overview of the border collie traites – what I am reading goes way beyond that remit.
It’s absolutely mind boggling and as a border collie owner, very illuminating, and has given me a lot of answers
as to why my collie reacts the way it does in certain situations.
I still have a fair bit of reading to do, 206 pages of fantastic info will keep me out of mischief for a while longer.Patricia Cairns
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have book

This is a really comprehensive book for the border collie owner or about to be owner – a big help in understanding how they think & how to keep them happy and healthy. Practical rather than academic and well worth the cost.
5.0 out of 5 stars collie psychology brilliant

An absolute must for people who has and is thinking about getting a collie a great great book. I have had collies all my life and it is a true saying you learn something everyday thank you so much highly recommend.
Clara Hull
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant

One of the best books I have ever read. So well put together you can read and dip in and out. Great for both professionals and pet owners wanting to know more.
Steven Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely informative

What a great book, so much information. I’m dog owner and junior dog behaviourist, I will continue to reference all of Carols books . This lady has inspired me to continue with my training and development of understanding dogs. I apply what I’ve learnt from Carol practically, to dealing with my own dogs and new dog owners. When it comes to Border Collies , their isn’t anyone that understands these dogs better than Carol, she lives , breathes and sleeps border Collies! She has four amazing dogs, that all have individual personalities. If theirs anyone I would turn to for help , it’s Carols books, but personally , there isn’t anything better than walking alongside her. I would recommend this book to all my friends. Well done


5.0 out of 5 stars excellent

a really excellent insight into the collies mind and there little behaviour habits that they amuse us with everyday thankyou for a great book.
Sharon Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars I really like this book

In addition to the wealth of advice & guidance on all things “Border Collie” (from choosing your pup, through the training process & then pampering them in their old age) there are titbits which confirm to the reader that the author really knows her stuff. You can feel the understanding, respect and love she has for the breed, giving you confidence that you are in safe hands as you work your way though the chapters. I found the comprehensive index really helpful.


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