We’ve all heard it – when your dog is bored, they become destructive. But have you ever wondered why?

Over 100 years ago, Border Collies were bred to be working dogs – intelligent, attentive, alert and ready to work. They were not just fast, but fast reacting. And they were able to work all day for their master.

These wonderful traits are still very much in our dogs – instinct, rather than learned behaviours. One of my first Border Collies was purchased when I lived on a dairy. I still remember the awe of watching her spend hours at a time ‘working’ the cattle. No one had ever given her instruction, and yet she knew instinctively how to move through them, use ‘eye’ to control them, lie quietly watching and then move them either singularly or as a mob.

Given the choice, this is how Girlie chose to spend her day. She enjoyed it, she felt useful and she was physically and mentally stimulated. Had she spent those five years cooped up in a little back yard without engagement, she certainly wouldn’t have ended up the happy dog that she did.

And yet so often, this is what occurs. Usually, we have no choice – while staying home and keeping our dogs company is highly desirable, it doesn’t pay the bills. So for 10 – 12 hours per day our ‘working dogs’ are at home, alone. Or they’ve escaped and are out looking for something to do. Or they’ve found something to do – they’re rearranging your garden bed. So what to do about it?

Throwing the ball a few times in the afternoon is a good start, but not nearly enough for dogs such as Border Collies. They need to work. And ‘work’ for a Border Collie, can mean many things. It can mean doing their job on the farm every day. It can mean walking to the shop every day and carrying something home (consider a dog backpack for this). Or it could mean participating in dog sports / activities such as Obedience, Agility, Herding or Disc.

As my dogs no longer have the run of the dairy, I started looking for something that they could do instead. Tilly was approximately six months old when she started attending the Continental Herding Club. It was amazing to watch her ‘come alive’ when put in front of sheep – something that she was born to do. Proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks, Cobber was six when he first started attending our local Disc (or Frisbee) group. He absolutely loves it and has started to show real progress. While these two options work for us, they may not work for you. It is important to find something that fits into your timetable, and most importantly, provides the stimulation that your dog needs and wants. Not every dog will find enjoyment in every activity. While Tilly loves herding, she couldn’t care less for a frisbee. And while Girlie would probably love herding, serious injury has meant that it can no longer be an option for her. Be prepared to try something, but to discontinue it if it isn’t working for you. Be prepared to give up a Saturday, or to drive long distances. Be prepared to devote some time at home to practising. But also, be prepared to have fun, meet new friends, get active and enjoy the company of your dog.

To get you started, I’ve included some links to various groups, mostly within driving distance of Brisbane. If these aren’t in your area, jump onto Google – there are plenty more!

Sunshine Coast Dog Obedience Club (Buderim)

Obedience, Agility, Rally-O & puppy pre-school

Ipswich Dog Obedience Club

Obedience, Agility, Rally-O & puppy pre-school

The Dog Obedience Club of Brisbane (Oxley)

Agility, Tracking, Retrieving, Endurance, Lure Coursing

Toowoomba Dog Obedience Club

Obedience, Rally-O, Dancing with Dogs,Tracking

Caboolture Sports Dog Obedience Club

Obedience, Rally-O, Agility, Tracking

Canine Disc Australia

Provides links to a variety of Frisbee groups

Suncoast Fundogs Agility Club (Elimbah)

Agility & Frisbee

QLD Lure Coursing Association   http://www.qldlurecoursing.com/
Evergreen Tracking Dog Club (Kilkiven)   http://www.evergreentrackingdogclub.org/
Sheep Herding for City Dogs

Provides links to various herding clubs

Working Dog Club of Queensland

Trials & events, information about showing