Border Collies are highly trainable dogs, so why not take advantage of it? Other than teaching them the basics, like potty training, you can teach them more fun stuff.
You can teach them silly tricks, like fetching a cold drink from the refrigerator for you. You can also hone their athletic abilities and train them for dog sports.
They can run with you for a marathon, be your hiking buddy, and more. The possibilities with this breed are endless. But this is not possible without a good foundation and reliable obedience.
Are Border Collies Smart or Dumb Dogs?
You are looking at the right breed if you want an intelligent dog. Border Collies are often regarded as the smartest dog breed. This makes them highly trainable and teachable dogs.
To give you an idea of how intelligent Border Collies are, you may want to know how they earned this title.
In The Intelligence of Dogs, Stanley Coren ranked Border Collies number one based on their IQ. He ranked the intelligence of 138 dogs based on the following criteria:
- The number of repetitions needed to learn an unknown command
- The success rate of a dog to obey a known command on their first try
The less repetition a dog needs to learn a new command, the smarter they are. And the higher their success rate in obeying a command, the higher their rank is.
The Border Collie’s performance was nothing short of stellar. They only needed less than five repetitions to learn a new command. This means that they are capable of learning commands within a few minutes.
They are also very obedient, having a 95% success rate or higher when it comes to obeying a command.
When you compare this to the results of average-intelligence dogs, you will see why this breed is so special.
An average-ranked dog will need 25 to 40 repetitions to learn a new command. Their obedience when it comes to carrying out command is at a 50% or higher success rate too. Border Collies learn five times faster and are way more obedient compared to these dogs.
But IQ is not the only measure of a dog’s intelligence. You also have to consider their instinctive intelligence and adaptive intelligence. These two are harder to quantify. That is why the ranking of the intelligence of dogs lists only factors the IQ of a dog breed.
Instinctive intelligence is a dog’s natural skills and abilities based on what they are bred for. And as you know, Border Collies are the premier sheepherding dogs. They have an innate ability to gather and move animals in the right direction. This requires a particular type of IQ, acting mainly on their instincts. So when they work, a large chunk of it is their nature and only a small part comes from training.
Adaptive intelligence is a dog’s ability to learn on its own. Problem-solving skills and learning from their experiences are a part of this. This varies from one Border Collie to another. Their lifestyle and personalities play a part in this. But in general, Border Collies have a high level of adaptive intelligence.
Why Is My Border Collie So Dumb?
There are two reasons why your Border Collie may appear dumb. These are their high sensitivity, fearful nature, and their need for a lot of stimulation. This is a smart breed, so when they seem dumb, oftentimes, they are being misunderstood.
Keep in mind that Border Collies are hypersensitive dogs to sounds, sights, and smells. They are also emotional dogs, their moods turn sour when you raise your voice at them. They read into situations too much, which makes them overwhelmed.
Once they have a sensory overload, they tend to shut down. They will not budge, stay in their place, and not listen to you.
It does not help that Border Collies are also fearful dogs. With the lack of socialization, any of these stimuli will not only overwhelm them but also make them scared. You can tell by their body language: tucked tails, lowered ears, and a crouched body.
You also have to consider that boredom often brings out unwanted behaviors in this breed. Border Collies have intense needs for physical and mental stimulation. Without these, they get bored easily and they may become destructive.
But boredom can also make them lazy. They are not interested in doing anything, even activities they enjoy. This makes them appear dumb when all it means is that their needs are not met.
For all the reasons above, all you need is a bit more understanding of this breed and its needs. Without proper training, your Border Collie can become a handful.
But what if you are already doing everything to keep them happy, healthy, and sane?
Although Border Collies are smart dogs, this is a generalization. There may also be outliers, as with humans. Each Border Collie has differences when it comes to intelligence.
While some Border Collies will take a few minutes to learn a new command, others may take days. Remember, dogs are individuals too, so do not box them into this generalization.
Are Border Collies Disobedient?
In general, Border Collies are obedient dogs. This trait is a need for the breed because they have been working alongside humans for centuries. They have to learn and carry out commands reliably as part of their daily work.
But of course, there will be some exceptions. This dog is an independent thinker, so it makes decisions that are best for them. If your Border Collie does not undergo proper training, they can become disobedient.
Why Is My Border Collie So Stubborn?
Border Collies may be trainable and often obedient, but they may also have a stubborn streak. They have qualities that make them difficult to train at times. This includes the following:
- Independent Thinkers
- Sensitivity to Stimuli
These are all due to their nature. But there are also other reasons why a Border Collie may become stubborn. If you are trying to figure out what this is, you will find all the reasons below.
They Are Independent Dogs
Border Collies are smart, which can work to your advantage when you train them. But this can also be the reason why it is tricky to get a hold of them.
Your Border Collie is smart enough to think for themselves. So while you have a command for them to do, they may have something else they find better to do.
They Are Sensitive to Stimuli
Your Border Collie has excellent senses, any sound or sight can catch their attention. Especially with anything that moves, like a bike passing by. When they see one, their herding instincts kick in and they want to herd that bike. These are all distractions to your Border Collie. When they are, they may get overwhelmed or fearful.
When training them, you should take the environment into account. Start in an environment that is free from any distractions. As they get the hang of it, you can gradually add distractions.
For example, turning on the television as white noise. Or you can have other family members pass by the room. If they learn to ignore these stimuli, you can move training sessions outdoors.
They Are Hyperactive Dogs
It is no secret that Border Collies are very active dogs, so they need a lot of exercises. Oftentimes, they do not get enough of this, so they have excess energy. When they have a significant amount of energy left, it is hard to grab their attention.
This can be a hindrance during training or when you are trying to get them to do a command. So before training, make sure to bring their energy levels down. Burn this off with frequent and intense exercise throughout the day.
They Are Not Motivated
You need to use high-value treats when you train your Border Collie. Regular kibbles will not get them to work for their reward since they get it all the time. So make sure to use a treat that you only give them during training.
A juicy piece of meat, for example, will make your Border Collie’s eyes sparkle. Compare this to your usual kibbles, it is easy to see a clear winner between the two.
But food rewards will not work for all Border Collies. Some do not care for food but will work hard to get their favorite toy or playtime as a reward. Or your Border Collie may like verbal praises and pets instead.
Figuring out the right motivator for your Border Collie needs a lot of trial and error. But once you find the perfect fit, it can help to curb their stubbornness.
They Fear You
Punishing your Border Collie can make them fear you. Physical punishment and even yelling at them for unwanted behaviors is not a good idea. Remember, Border Collies are emotionally sensitive dogs so you should avoid these. They may even fear you enough for them to run away from home.
If they fear you, they are reluctant to do anything. This is because whenever they make a mistake, bad things happen to them.
So you should only use positive reinforcement when training them. Do not punish them for bad behaviors. Instead, you can show them how to behave well and reward them for good behaviors.
They Do Not Know What to Do
In connection to the point above, you may have failed to teach your Border Collie what to do. What you may have been doing is only punishing unwanted behaviors. If you do not teach them what to do exactly, how can you expect them to act how you want to?
For example, you may find it hard to stop them from jumping on visitors you welcome at home. What have you been doing to train them? If you only tell them to go down, that does not teach them anything.
But if you train them to sit whenever you have people over, they will know what to do in these situations. When they know what to do and they get a reward for it, you can expect them to behave well.
They Get Confused
Do you live in a household with many people? Do they use the same commands as you? If not, this can confuse your Border Collie.
When they hear different command words for one action, they do not know what to listen to. They will also hesitate to act on these commands or will not know how to respond to them.
So make sure that all the members of the household are on the same page. You should all use the same command words, methods, and cues. Consistency is crucial when training dogs, otherwise, they will not listen.
How Do You Train a Stubborn Border Collie?
You need to go through several steps when training your stubborn Border Collie. Seeing success takes time, but with patience and consistency, this is possible.
Before you go through this tedious journey, here is what you need to know first.
Select the Right Reinforcer
If you read the previous section, you will know that the wrong reward can make them seem stubborn. So you need to have the right and effective reinforcer, one that makes training worth their time.
High-value treats that they only get during training are a great motivator. This should not be anything that they get on the regular, like kibbles.
Instead, opt for tasty treats like shredded, boiled chicken or a small slice of cheese. Your Border Collie may have a preference, so figure out what they like best.
Sometimes, treats will not be enough for them. You can try verbal praises or some ear scratches. This may be the best motivator for your Border Collie.
If they have a favorite toy, you can use that as a reward too. A good round of playtime after training sessions may even be what your Border Collie likes best.
There are tons of motivators for your Border Collie, so go ahead and experiment on these. If you have this figured out, they will become more enthusiastic during your training.
Pick the Best Training Spot
Border Collies are easily distracted by environmental stimuli. This is due to their sensitive nature, which makes them overwhelmed. When they are, they appear stubborn, but they cannot help it.
So before you start training, choose a quiet environment first. The fewer distractions in an area, the better. Begin training them indoors, where you have the most control of the place.
Make sure no one passes by the room, there is no disturbing noise or even other pets. Once your Border Collie makes progress, add distractions by increment.
For example, turning on the radio during training. When that goes well, have family members go in and out of the room while the session is ongoing. If your Border Collie passes all these tests, you can begin to take them outdoors.
Use Crystal Clear Communication
You and other household members should be on the same page about this. There should only be one command and one method for each action you want your Border Collie to do.
Take jumping on people as an example. You want to stop this by making them sit and reward them when they listen. This will teach your Border Collie that instead of jumping, sitting is good behavior.
But if another household member reacts differently, you have a problem. They may welcome the jumping by playing with your Border Collie. This reinforces the unwanted behavior, reversing all the efforts you made.
The way everyone communicates with your Border Collie should be the same. This makes things clear to them, avoiding any confusion. Remember, confusion is also a factor that makes your Border Collie stubborn.
Take Baby Steps
Progress does not happen overnight, especially if you have a stubborn dog in your hands. Do not pressure your Border Collie too much. It will only strain them, yourself, and your relationship.
Slow progress is still progress. And you should reward them for even the slightest success they make.
This makes the whole experience positive for them. With this, you keep them enthusiastic to take on the next training sessions you have.
Never Use Punishments
Aversive techniques like hurting your dog or yelling can make their behavior worse. If your Border Collie is afraid of you, they may not listen to you for fear of getting hurt. They think that it is better not to listen to you than to make a mistake and get punished again.
Training a stubborn Border Collie is a challenging process. But be sensitive and take a break whenever your patience is being tested. They only need some time to understand everything.
Once you have cooled down, pick up where you left off. Start with where your Border Collie showed success and reward them for that. Then move forward with positivity.
Consistency and Repetition Are Key
Be consistent with every aspect of your training sessions. The rewards, the commands, the training time, and more.
Keep in mind that Border Collies are creatures of routine. So this will help your Border Collie to better understand everything.
Once you have laid out the foundation above, repeat everything for as long as you see fit, like a broken record. Once they are reliable in carrying out commands, make things more challenging.
For example, do your training sessions in a dog park, where there are lots of distractions. Think of this as a test for them. Are they going to listen to you, or will they allow themselves to get distracted?
Even if they pass all the tests you hurl at them, you should still train them the same thing from time to time. This will refresh their memory and will also let you know if they need retraining or not.
Seek Professional Help
If you have done everything you can with no success, ask for help from an expert. Especially when you see signs of aggression or if your Border Collie has excessive fear. In cases like these, your Border Collie will benefit best in the hands of a professional.
How Hard Are Border Collies to Train?
With their high intelligence, Border Collies can learn faster than most breeds. This may make them easier to train, but it can still be challenging for a few reasons.
One is that they can use their intelligence against you. They can and will outsmart you if they see any holes in their training. So you will need to switch things up from time to time and get creative in training them.
Another thing is that they are very energetic dogs. If they have any pent-up energy, it will be hard to capture their attention. And they will need intense exercise before you can even leave a dent in their energy levels.
Border Collies are also quite attentive to their surroundings. Any slight changes in the environment will distract this sensitive breed. So if you train them outdoors, the process will be challenging.
In general, Border Collies learn at an alarming rate compared to other dog breeds. But you need to manage your expectations. Do not expect them to learn everything overnight.
Are Male Border Collies Easier to Train?
Male Border Collies are often regarded as harder to train. There are slight personality differences between them and female Border Collies. These can affect their trainability, which is something to consider.
Firstly, male Border Collies tend to have a more dominant nature. So they will challenge your authority during training sessions. They will not listen to you and may even display aggressive behavior.
Females are less likely to show dominant traits. But it is not unheard of. So this makes female Border Collies more open to accepting your authority.
It can also be harder to capture the male’s attention since they are more energetic than females. They still keep their very high energy levels even in adulthood. So rather than listen to you, they may want to play and goof around.
Conversely, females become calmer as they mature. This will make them better listeners and they will have better focus during training too.
Male Border Collies are also more likely to roam. So you may have a harder time training them for this since they may wander off.
The last reason is that male Border Collies need more time to mature. Females are more willing to take on bigger responsibilities at a younger age. But males may take more time for this since they may still want to have fun.
All these do not necessarily make male Border Collies more difficult to train. These are generalizations of their personalities, so take them with a grain of salt.
If you find the right reward for a male Border Collie, the training process will be easier for you.
Compared to females, male Border Collies are better built as athletes. They have the better muscle strength and are better outdoor dogs. They are better for ongoing training when you get a hold of them.
The training process may be tricky, but it will all be worth it in the end.
Why Is My Border Collie So Hard to Train?
Your Border Collie’s intelligence may work in your favor, or work against you. Sure, it is easy for them to pick up whatever you teach them. But if you do not know how to handle them, it can come with a cost.
This breed can outsmart you if you are not careful. They will watch your every move, analyzing and thinking of what you are going to do. If they see any loophole in their training, they will take advantage of it.
So you always have to be one step ahead when it comes to Border Collies.
Their high intellect can also make them strong-willed dogs. If you do not have good control over them, they will do what they want. With this, your Border Collie can often obsess over anything they want.
They take their job seriously and will run through a wall to get things done. High-strung Border Collies may even fixate over objects, like your vacuum. They will stare at it, somehow like they are herding it.
What Is the Best Way to Train a Border Collie?
There are many ways to train a Border Collie. But no matter what, you should always use positive reinforcement. Using this will yield better results, here is why.
Positive reinforcement makes use of rewards as leverage during training. The reward can be anything your Border Collie loves most. A high-value treat, their favorite toy, or even ear scratches. You use these as an effective way to communicate with your Border Collie.
For example, they sit down instead of bark when someone is at your door. You reward them for their good behavior.
This is far different from confrontational punishments. Kicking or yelling at your Border Collie when they bark does not teach them how to behave. It teaches them to fear you, which can make training ineffective.
With positive reinforcement, you do not have this issue. Instead of punishing them whenever they do something you do not like, you teach them what to do. The communication here is crystal clear to them.
Other than that, remember that Border Collies are very emotional and fearful dogs. Any form of punishment will bring their confidence down. This makes them appear stubborn and they will not listen to you for fear of punishment.
Border Collies also need a lot of mental stimulation, otherwise, they get bored. When bored, they can develop a lot of problematic behaviors. But since positive reinforcement keeps things fun, you can lessen this issue. It also builds up their confidence and allows them to make decisions without fear. You will build a stronger bond with your Border Collie with this method.
How Do You Train a Male Border Collie?
You need to have a solid understanding of how to handle your male Border Collie before you begin. Training males can be more challenging than females due to their nature. But if you follow the steps below, you will be on the right track.
Do Your Research
How you train your Border Collie should be appropriate for them. Consider their age, health, and behavior. If you have a rescue dog, you should see if they have any signs of trauma.
Knowing how they react or how they think is crucial. This will help you cater your training to their needs, making sessions more effective.
Use Simple Commands
One-worded commands are best because they are clearer to your Border Collie. All your command words should sound different from each other. This will avoid confusion as they will not mix words up.
So instead of asking them to “sit down”, ask them to “sit” instead. As soon as your Border Collie obeys, do not fail to reward them. This will help them know that they did something right.
This is especially important in male Border Collies as they are more dominant in nature. They should understand that you are the pack leader from the start, not them.
Once you establish this, they will respect you and listen to you. You do not need to be aggressive in making them understand this.
Be kind yet firm when teaching them this. You should also be consistent in reminding them of your role. In time, they will be your loyal and trustworthy companions.
Start in Familiar Areas
When you first start training them, do not go into unknown places right away. Your Border Collie’s focus will be on the environment instead of you. But within your home, there are fewer distractions for them, making them more obedient.
Embrace Their Herding Instincts
You can never completely get rid of their instincts to herd. The best you can do is to train your Border Collie to control this.
For example, they will always have a strong urge to chase anything that moves. This is a problem when you take them outdoors as they may get lost or get hurt.
This breed can also run faster than any human, so you cannot chase them once they are off. This is where a strong recall command comes in handy. They should be reliable in coming back to you when they run away.
Adequate Daily Exercise
With a lot of pent-up energy, your Border Collie will not want to listen to you. Instead, they will goof around to get rid of their excess energy. Especially with males, who are more hyperactive than females.
So before you start your training sessions, make sure that you have them play around first. This gets rid of their initial burst of energy so that they are more likely to listen to you.
Keep Encouraging Them
Other than treats, you are one of their biggest motivators. Border Collies are always eager to please their owners. So make sure that you give them lots of praise whenever they do a good job. This boosts their confidence and gives them the drive to keep going.
You can also use this to your advantage when disciplining them. They love nothing more than to have your attention on them.
So when they do something naughty, ignore them for a while. This will let them know that they displayed an unwanted behavior. Giving them the cold shoulder will discourage them from doing it again.
This is crucial for Border Collies who are often fearful of unfamiliarity. If they lack this, you will have a hard time handling them outdoors. Especially with how they interact with other people and other furry friends.
The more you socialize them, the more predictable and well-behaved they are.
Stay With One Trainer
If your Border Collie has a trainer or is in a training school, stick to them. Every trainer has their distinct methods and strategies.
Jumping from one to another can confuse your Border Collie. With this, they will make slower progress. They will also find it difficult to catch up with training sessions.
Keep Training Them
The training does not stop when your Border Collie knows all the basic commands. You have to keep on teaching them something, even if you teach them silly tricks.
With their natural athleticism, the possibilities are endless. You can try more challenging activities like agility training. Border Collies excel in this particular dog sport.
This will keep your Border Collie’s mind sharp and will prevent them from getting bored. Remember, they will flourish if you always give them something to do. This is a workaholic breed that loves to take on new challenges when it can.
How to Train an Older Border Collie
When training an older Border Collie, you need to take extra measures to ensure their safety. Although they are trainable, they need more of your patience. It will take your Border Collie time to master commands, but they will get there.
Even at this age, your Border Collie still loves getting stimulation. A daily routine that involves this will keep them happy and sharp.
If you are not sure where to start, here are the important steps you should do.
Step 1: Consult Your Vet
The biggest hindrance in training an older dog is not their age. It is any health issues they may have that cause them pain or discomfort. Some even affect their brains, making it difficult for them to learn new commands.
As your Border Collie ages, they may develop age-related health problems like:
- Heart Disease
- Gastrointestinal Issues
If your Border Collie has health problems, you need to tweak your training methods. Training them like healthy adults may do more harm to them than good.
So before you start with anything, talk to your vet. Make sure that they clear your Border Collie so you can proceed. It is also a good idea to ask them how you can train your older Border Collie without overworking them.
Step 2: Set Realistic Goals
Always keep in mind that your Border Collie is not at their prime anymore. They have lesser capabilities and more limitations that come with age. For example, their vision may not be as clear, or they may be losing their hearing.
Do not compare their progress with a younger Border Collie. You should expect to see slower progress, but they are trying. So do not pressure your poor dog, they are still as eager to please you.
Step 3: Use Positive Reinforcement
Regardless of a dog’s age or breed, you should only use this method. Age will not harden your Border Collie, they are still as sensitive as when they were puppies.
Any form of punishment will only cause them fear and anxiety. This can make your Border Collie shut down and discourage them from learning.
So be sensitive with handling them, and treat them with kindness. With positive reinforcement, you are rewarding their good behaviors. This will encourage them to repeat these actions because it means they get rewards.
Step 4: Start Small
With an older Border Collie, they may be set in their ways. You may find them to be stubborn, so there is a lot of untraining of bad habits involved.
Before taking on challenging commands or tricks, start with easy ones. You can begin by teaching them to come to you whenever you call their name. Or, you can tap into their instincts and train them to herd large balls.
Step 5: Shorten Training Sessions
Your Border Collie is not in tip-top shape anymore, they tire easily. They are more prone to fatigue, joint pain, and other age-related physical issues. So they need to have more breaks between training sessions for them to regain their strength.
This is also for their shorter attention spans. It will be harder to make them focus compared to a young puppy who is beaming with energy.
Use this as an opportunity to give yourself a break, too. Training an older dog can be draining on you as well. So take a step back and cool off.
Step 6: Practice Patience
Keeping your cool throughout the training session is essential. Do not lash out at them or show any signs of frustration. They can sense your mood pretty well and this may affect how they perform.
So always practice taking a step back once you feel that you are getting irritated. This is a good sign to call it a day and resume training tomorrow. But not before praising your Border Collie for their good job.
How Long Does It Take to Train Border Collies?
There is no cut-and-dry answer to this as Border Collies will vary in how fast they master commands. This will also depend on what kind of training you want to do with them.
For example, potty training your Border Collie may take you 4 months or more. While they are smarter than most dogs, this takes roughly about the same time as other breeds.
The difficulty of their training sessions should be appropriate for their age. This will give you faster and better results.
You cannot expect a young puppy to learn advanced tricks overnight. They should only learn these once they are about 7 or 8 months old.
How Do You Train a Border Collie Puppy?
The important thing when training a Border Collie puppy is setting a good foundation. If you have this down, future training will be easier for both of you. You can do this by teaching your puppy these 5 basic commands:
- Lie Down
Once they obey these commands reliably, you can teach them trickier ones.
Other than those basic commands, you should also train them in the following:
- Crate Training
- Potty Training
- Discourage Biting
Crate training is crucial as it opens many doors in teaching your Border Collie how to behave.
Dogs are den animals. So a smaller area like a crate can be their safe space where they can calm down and take a break from work. After a long day of training and working, your Border Collie can find comfort in their crate.
But that is not all, it also teaches your puppy how to spend time alone. This sets them up for success, as this breed is prone to separation anxiety.
If they are so used to being around you as puppies, they will feel distressed without you when they are adults. This brings out many unwanted behaviors, like chewing anything they see.
But if you teach them that being alone is not such a bad thing, you can prevent this problem.
Crate training also goes hand in hand with potty training. It teaches them to control their bladder and bowel movements. But how does putting them in a crate do this?
Dogs will not poop or pee in their crates if it is the right size. So if you put them in their crates for a while, they hold their pee in. Once you get them out, go to their potty area right away for them to do their business.
This way, you are teaching them where the right area for the potty is. Make sure to reward them whenever they do this right. This will encourage them to keep going to their potty area when they need to.
And since you are training a puppy, expect them to be nippier than adults. This does not mean that your Border Collie is aggressive. All puppies of all breeds go through this phase, especially when they are teething.
But they will not understand that biting on your hand is bad. Do not punish them for this, they are only trying to soothe their gums. Instead, you have to teach them what they can bite on.
So chewing toys will come in handy for your Border Collie puppy. Cooling ones give an added level of comfort to their aching gums. Remember to reward them if you see them biting on their toy instead of your favorite shoe.
Border Collie puppies are smart, but training them is not a walk in the park. So you always have to keep these in mind:
- they should know that you are their pack leader
- they like to have a routine
- they are sensitive dogs
If you understand how to incorporate these in training, you will have a better time.
When Should I Start Training My Border Collie?
You can start training your Border Collie once you bring them home, which is when they are about 8 weeks of age. Of course, this does not mean you should teach them tricks and difficult commands. Only start with the basic ones that are appropriate for their age.
Teach them not to bite you or how to take food from your hand. Make them learn basic commands “sit” and “lie down”, which will help you train them harder ones in the future.
Once they reach 12 to 16 weeks old, you can train and teach them more tricks and commands. You can start to potty train them at this age as they have better control over their bladder and bowel.
Save the advanced tricks for when they reach about 7 or 8 years old. At this age, they already know basic commands which can make the process easier for you. They are also better equipped to understand more challenging concepts during this stage.
How to Discipline a Border Collie
The main idea when disciplining your Border Collie is to withhold rewards. This is why you should only use positive reinforcement when training them. It allows you to reprimand your Border Collie humanely.
You should never use punishments to discipline them. This includes yelling, slapping, or physically correcting their behaviors. They will not understand what you are doing and you are not teaching them anything this way.
Also, this sensitive breed may end up fearing you. You are only creating a tense and hostile environment and relationship.
So when you catch your Border Collie doing something bad, tell them “no” in a firm and sharp voice. Then divert their attention onto something else that they can do. Praise and reward them after.
Reprimanding your Border Collie is tricky. It is tough to get your message across while still being gentle.
If you are having this issue, consider following these steps:
Use Short Reprimand Words
Concise and simple words are better understood by your Border Collie. One-worded cues like “off”, “no”, and “out” will get your message across fast. So instead of “leave it”, make it easier by changing it to “leave”.
Reprimand Them Immediately
As soon as you see them being mischievous, go ahead and stop them right away. An instant discipline will help them associate the behavior with getting told. If you wait too long to reprimand them, they will not understand this.
Take One Step at a Time
Give corrections or commands one by one. Bombarding them with these will not help you at all. This will only make your Border Collie confused, which can make them shut down.
So focus on one correction each time. This sends a clearer message to them, so you get better results.
Follow Up With Praise
As soon as they get things right after you discipline them, do not forget to reward them. Like reprimanding them right away, an immediate reward helps with the association. Your Border Collie will understand that a particular act, the one you want, will give them rewards.
As their pack leader, you should always be fair when you reprimand your Border Collie. Penalize them according to the severity of their bad behaviors.
But you should never be harsh. You will only lose their respect and trust this way.
For example, not obeying a sit command may get their favorite toy taken away from them. But when they bite you, this is a more serious issue.
Instead of hitting them, make them go to their crate for a time-out. Do not give them any form of attention during this time, even eye contact. Since Border Collies love to have their human’s attention, this is enough punishment. It is also a more humane way of disciplining your furry friend.
Again, you should send crystal clear messages to your Border Collie. If you do not want them jumping on people, reprimand them every time you catch them doing this. Do not slip even once.
The moment you forget to do this, they will think that you are now allowing this kind of behavior. This will cost you a few steps back in the process.
How Do You Discipline a Border Collie Puppy?
There are a few steps you need to take when disciplining your ever-energetic puppy. They may be a handful at times, getting on your nerves. But remember that treating them with empathy will keep their respect and trust for you.
With this, here are some ways you can discipline your Border Collie puppy.
Only Use Positive Reinforcement
When you reward them for good behaviors, you can always hold back rewards when they act out. The good thing about this method is that you are encouraging them to keep on doing good deeds. You are showing your Border Collie what they have to do to be a good boy.
But if they are being naughty, withholding their rewards will be a good form of punishment.
Keep Your Cool
This is a frustrating task, but never lash out at your puppy by yelling at them. Border Collies are extra sensitive to sounds and you are not helping with that.
You will make them anxious, fearful, and unenthusiastic to do anything. This will also sour your relationship with them as they will avoid you more.
So when talking to them, use a calm yet firm voice. This will help them focus on what you are trying to say, instead of focusing on your bad mood.
Control Your Reactions
Of course, you know that Border Collies are intelligent dogs. But they may be smarter than you think.
They are constantly thinking, watching, and analyzing your every move. So they will always look for your reactions during training. Be careful with this, they may take your reaction the wrong way.
For example, laughing when they chew on your furniture does not give them the right signal. This may encourage them to be more destructive since they think this makes you happy.
Distract Them From Bad Acts
So you caught your puppy in the act chewing on your favorite chew. A great way to discipline them is by redirecting their attention to something else.
What you can do is to stop them, take away the shoe, and give them something else to chew on. If your Border Collie puppy listens, shower them with praise and reward them.
The next time they want to munch on something, they are more likely to pick their chew toy instead of your shoe. That is because they know that picking the former will make you give them tasty treats.
Time-Outs Are Your Friend
Like with toddlers, you can discipline your puppy by giving them a time-out. Choose a spot in the house for this, where they can relax and calm themselves down. Or you can use a crate as well.
But do not do this too much. Overdoing time-outs can lead to separation anxiety. And Border Collies are prone to this disorder, to begin with.
So if you want to make them stand in a corner, do so for only about 3 to 5 minutes. Anything longer than this may do them more harm than good.
Consistency Is Key
Use the same commands and methods every time you catch your Border Collie being naughty. If you fail to reprimand them even once, you are hurting the progress you have made with them.
Consistency will help to ingrain your teachings in their minds. Think of it as a constant reminder for them.
In time, they will know that certain behaviors have certain repercussions. So to avoid getting told off, they will not do the same mistakes again.
Why Does My Border Collie Ignore Me?
Your Border Collie can ignore you for a few reasons. This is an issue that you need to address. If they pretend not to hear you, how are you going to train them?
If you have this issue, here are some possible reasons to consider.
This is the first thing you need to rule out with any behavioral issue you may face. If your Border Collie ignores you out of the blue, it can be worrying. This may be a sign that they have ruptured eardrums.
A damaged eardrum leads to loss of hearing, which can explain this. They may not be actively ignoring you, but they cannot hear what you are saying. You can tell that this is the cause because your Border Collie will display other symptoms:
- Appearing Off-Balance
- Easily Startled
- Head Tilting
- Frequent Ear Rubbing
- Ear Discharge
But how did this happen to your Border Collie? These are the common causes of a ruptured eardrum:
- Very Loud Noises
- Middle Ear Infections
- Head or Ear Trauma
- Change in Atmospheric Pressure
Loneliness or Depression
Does your Border Collie seem lazy and unenthusiastic lately? They may be ignoring you because they have depression. You can also tell this if they sleep more, eat less, and hide whenever they see you.
There is a wide variety of reasons why your Border Collie developed depression. But pinpointing the cause is already a big step in finding ways to help them.
Environmental changes, like moving to a new house can be one. There may also be a new baby in the home, or you may have lost a pet, their furry friend.
Medical issues can also cause depression and will make them ignore you. This includes cancer, kidney failure, and diabetes. So rule out any health issues first before you do anything.
Your Border Collie will not always be the well-behaved dog that they are. Remember, they tend to be strong-willed dogs. If they want to do something, they will do it even if you do not want them to.
When you discipline them, make sure you are not being too harsh with your punishments. If you do, they will associate you calling them back with getting yelled at or hit. In this case, you are conditioning them to associate certain commands with negativity.
You can make mistakes in training your Border Collie, like rewarding them too late. This does not help to associate you, the command, and the action with a reward.
So when you call their name or give them a command, they are not interested in listening to you. This is why you should always reward them within 3 seconds after they have done an action.
What if you trained your Border Collie well, gave rewards right away, and they still ignore you? In that case, you can blame learned irrelevance.
This occurs when your Border Collie is not interested in whatever you are offering them. They deem the reward that you have as something not worth their precious time.
For example, you are giving them their usual kibbles as a reward. This is not enough for them to listen to you, since they get this all the time. So instead of kibbles, give them high-value treats instead like a slice of cheese.
But it may not be food that motivates them. Border Collies are individuals, driven by different things. Some are more interested in playtime, verbal praise, or physical touch as rewards.
So figure out what your Border Collie likes best first. Once you know that, you can start to train them to listen to you.
Why Does My Border Collie Not Come When Called?
They do not come to you because they are not interested, scared, confused, or distracted. When you research more about their nature, you will understand why you have this issue even more.
Passive and Active Disobedience
If they do not come to you because they are not interested, it is due to the following:
- Passive Disobedience
- Active Disobedience
The difference between the two is what they are doing at the moment you call them.
Passive disobedience is when they are sitting down, standing, or lying down. There are not moving or doing anything, but they still do not come to you.
This happens when you do not use the right reward when commanding them to come to you. You may be giving them their everyday kibbles as a treat. Or they may be more driven by verbal praises and pets instead of food.
Whatever it is you are rewarding them, it is not enough to make them budge.
Active disobedience is when your Border Collie is in action and they do not come when called. They find what they are already doing more interesting than coming to you or listening to you.
This issue is due to a lack of proper training. Their stubborn streak will only get worse if you do not take action right away.
Sometimes, they do not listen to you because your message is not clear.
Your Border Collie can get confused if you give them too many commands at a time. Or, your other household members are using a different command word to let them come.
If it is the former, your Border Collie does not know what to do first. Are they going to come to you? Are you asking them to stop and sit?
You should always let go of commands one at a time so they know what to do at that moment.
But if other people are using a different command word, you should all be on the same page. This is where consistency comes in. Your Border Collie will only know one word for one action, and you should all decide what that word should be.
How are you disciplining your Border Collie when they become naughty? If you use aversive techniques, like hurting them as a form of punishment, you are doing it wrong. This made your Border Collie fear you, so they do not want to come because you might hurt them.
You should never use extreme punishments against your Border Collie. Do not scream at them, kick them, or slap them. There is a better way to tell them off whenever they act out.
This is why you should only use positive reinforcement. With this method, you can always withhold their reward whenever they do something bad. You get your message across with compassion using this.
It is in your Border Collie’s nature to be hyperaware of their surroundings. They are sensitive to any sound or sight that they hear. If you are in an unfamiliar place, there may be too many distractions around for them to listen to you. So their focus is on the stimuli instead of on you.
If you do not have a solid recall command, you should not let them roam freely outside without a leash. They may get themselves hurt or you may lose your furry friend when they run away.
How Do I Get My Border Collie to Come When Called?
You can train your Border Collie to come to you in a few easy steps. But what will take time is for them to associate this action with something positive. This is a crucial step in the process, as this will encourage them to go to you.
So prepare your treats, and toys, and muster up all your patience. Below are the steps you need to follow for this training.
Step 1: Get Their Attention
Start training your Border Collie indoors, where there are fewer distractions. All you need to focus on now is to grab their attention.
It can be a whistle, a silly sound, you can even call their name if they know it. Do what you can, whatever goes!
Step 2: Greet Them Happily
Once they come to you, use your fun and upbeat voice and say “come”. Then give them ear scratches and some tasty treats. This way, they will learn that coming to you is a good thing since you give them rewards.
If they do not come to you, never go near them. Your Border Collie should always be the one to move closer.
When this happens, toss some treats their way. Once they look at you, show them that you have a bag filled with more treats to persuade them. Use all the silly sounds you can make to grab their attention.
Step 3: Keep Repeating This
Do steps 1 to 2 like a broken record until your Border Collie gets the hang of it. Even when they do, keep offering them rewards. This will always make them eager to come to you.
It does not have to be their favorite treat if you are watching their weight. You can always give them a pet or reward them with playtime.
Step 4: Increase the Difficulty
While still indoors, command them to come to you while you are hiding. If they find you and come to you, reward them and shower them with praise! This is one way to prepare them for the command outdoors.
Step 5: Practice Elsewhere
Move your training sessions to other places of the home. Once you are confident, bring them outdoors and practice there.
You have more distractions here, like the sound of and sight of cars passing by. But in your yard, you have more control over your Border Collie when things go wrong.
In a public area, you cannot control what they see or hear and this can make them go nuts. But they will master this command in time. When they do, you can take them to your local park, to the beach, anywhere you want!
Why Does My Border Collie Jump So Much?
Border Collies jump for several reasons, depending on the situation. It can be a form of greeting people, or it can be a sign of fear or aggression. But there is more to this action than these.
Trying to decode this doggy behavior? Here are some possible reasons you should consider:
They Are Greeting You
Border Collies are not only enthusiastic about their jobs. They are just as eager to greet their humans too! Their idea of greeting you is getting into your face, so they will jump at you to achieve this.
They Are Showing Affection
Your Border Collie may jump to show you that they trust you and they consider you as a part of their pack. Dogs will get into each other’s faces to show affection. So if they do this to you, it is safe to say that you are treating them very well.
They Are Herding You
Their herding instincts may kick in when there is a group of people in front of them. Your Border Collie will gather everyone up by jumping. This way, they make sure that no one strays from the pack.
They Want Something
After working alongside humans for so long, Border Collies need a lot of attention. When they feel like they lack this, they will jump at you to get your attention.
Remember that this breed is highly emotional. Leave them at home for too long and they will feel neglected. This behavior is their way of asking you to make up for the lack of cuddles or play.
Other than attention, they may do this tactic to ask for food. They may feel hungry or they are reminding you that it is way past feeding time. Or you may be eating something so irresistible to them that they want a bite of it too!
They Are Getting Aggressive or Fearful
You can tell with one look if their jumping is a sign for you to back off. If you see their hackles up and if they show their teeth, they are getting defensive. Jumping is their way of telling you or other people that they feel threatened, so be careful.
They Feel Bored
When Border Collies are not sleeping, they need to do something to keep them occupied. This workaholic needs plenty of stimulation, more than most dog breeds.
If you cannot provide for their needs, boredom can drive them mad. This can lead to many unwanted behaviors. But it can also make them jump at you incessantly to ask for something to do.
They Lack Proper Training
Have you taught your Border Collie not to jump? If so, they do not know that this behavior is not welcome.
You cannot expect them to know this right off the bat. So you need to teach them what a well-behaved dog can and cannot do. But since this breed is smart, they will understand this faster than most dogs.
How to Stop Border Collies From Jumping
If you want to stop this behavior, you need to make your message clear. Since you cannot talk them out of this, you need to show them. With this, here are some tips on how you can put a stop to your Border Collie’s jumping issue.
Give Them the Cold Shoulder
When your Border Collie jumps, ignore them completely. Make sure other household members and guests do the same. Turn your back at them and do not look them in the eye.
Once they calm down and all four paws are on the floor, give them your attention. Reward them with praise and treats so they understand that this is how they get your attention. You are discouraging them from jumping since they know this tactic is not effective.
Teach Them to Sit
You should know what situations get urge your Border Collie to jump. So before they even get to do this, ask them to sit instead of jumping.
For example, your Border Collie gets so excited and jumps on guests entering your home. Once someone is at the door, command your Border Collie to sit.
Remember to always reward them whenever they sit. Consistency is crucial, it helps them associate the reward with the action.
Keep Them Separate
If you have guests over, sometimes, it is best to keep your Border Collie away from the group. You can keep them on a leash or in a separate room and wait for them to calm down. Once they do, you can have your Border Collie meet your guests and reward them for being calm.
Do Not Make a Fuss About Coming Home
Your Border Collie wants their pack to be close to them all the time. So when you leave they will jump on you and use their body to prevent you from going. And when you come back, they jump at you to show you how much they missed you!
But if you keep comforting them with pets and greeting them with love, what are you rewarding? You are accidentally rewarding this unwanted behavior.
It may break your heart to ignore your loving Border Collie whenever you leave or come home. But this is necessary when training them not to jump.
So when you leave, give them a simple goodbye and do not be extra comforting. When you come home, ignore them for a few minutes. Then give them your full attention once they calm down.
This way, they will know that it is not a big deal whenever you go through the front door. So they should not be overenthusiastic about it.
How Do I Keep My Border Collie Entertained?
With a smart and athletic breed like Border Collies, you have a plethora of ways to keep them entertained. Normal walks will not be enough to excite this breed. They need extra activities to burn off their high energy levels and avoid boredom.
To do this, you need to provide them with mental and physical exercises. You need to give them a variety of tasks to do to keep them on their toes. Below are some activities that you and your Border Collie can try.
Border Collies are often outdoorsy dogs. So playing outside is one of the best ways you can amuse them. Here are some activities you should consider:
- Playing Fetch
- Marathon Runs
- Trail Runs
You may be wondering, why is digging on the list? Well, digging is an instinct for your Border Collie. They do it for many reasons and one of those is for entertainment.
Digging may neither be the safest activity nor is it something you may want. They may hurt their paws if the ground has too many rocks and debris. You may also get frustrated to see so many holes in your yard.
What you can do is to give them their designated digging area. You can use a sandbox and fill it with dirt, making sure nothing in it can hurt your Border Collie.
You can play treasure hunt with their sandbox. Hide some of their toys, and a few treats, and let them have fun finding these.
Marathons, trail runs, and hiking are also great activities to do from time to time. All these will also fall under socialization. When outdoors, they get to experience new things like meeting new people.
Sometimes, the weather may not be ideal to take your Border Collie out. But that should not stop you from having fun with your Border Collie. You can keep them entertained by doing these:
- Treadmill Runs
- Houdini Hound
- Red Light, Green Light
- Nose Work Activities
- Treasure Hunt
If you have a treadmill machine, you can use that to walk your Border Collie if the outdoor weathers are extreme. But that will not tire them, so play games with them for mental exercise!
With a Houdini hound, you hide treats in your hands. Put a treat in one of your fists, hold them out, and make them guess where the treat is. If they put their nose on the correct hand, your Border Collie gets the treat as a reward.
Red light, green light is like playing stop dance. Use a toy to play with your Border Collie and say “stop”. They should stand still, ending the play. This is their red light. Once you give them a release command, they should continue playing. This is their green light.
Make Mealtime Fun
You can even keep your Border Collie stimulated while they eat their meals. Make them work for their food with the following:
- Scatter Feeding
- Foraging Mats
- Toy Stuffing
In the first example, you can use a toy dispenser so they try to get their kibbles out. But once it gets easy for them, you can hide their kibbles around the house for them to find. You can make this challenging by hiding the treats in trickier spots.
But if you are not in the mood to move around, you can use a foraging mat. Hide the treats in the folds of the mats and they will use their nose to find the kibbles.
These are not everyday activities as you may overwork your Border Collie. But dog sports will keep them entertained, tired, and happy. Doing sports gives your Border Collie a sense of purpose, which is great for their well-being.
Agility is where Border Collies excel most. They are very popular in this sport since they are naturally agile breeds. But this is not the only dog sport your Border Collie can do.
You can also try the following:
- Herding Trials
- Flying Disc
There are many other types of dog sports, these are only some that your Border Collie may enjoy.
A lot of the activities above are more of physical exercise for your Border Collie. But you should also consider activities for their mental stimulation.
You can do these by constantly teaching them new commands and tricks! There are so many things that you can teach them, so you may never run out of this.
Here are some that you can try:
- Play Dead
- Shake Hands
- Spin Around
- Riding a Skateboard
How Do You Keep a Border Collie Puppy Entertained?
You can make use of a variety of toys to keep your Border Collie puppy entertained. While they are young, you should be careful. Their bodies are still developing, so intense activities may harm their growth.
So having them play on their terms is best for now. This way, you make sure that the intensity of their play is not too much for them.
Here are some fun toys that your Border Collie may enjoy:
- Squeaky Toys
- Tug Toys
- Treat-Dispensing Toys
- Soft Toys
Do Border Collies Get Bored Easily?
Border Collies get bored pretty quickly. This is a breed that worked for centuries with intense daily tasks. So as pets, they may not get enough stimulation as when they are working dogs.
This is a very intelligent workaholic who is happiest when they have something to do. So if they do not get enough mental and physical exercise, they will get bored almost right away.
And boredom can bring out unwanted and destructive habits. Some of these include excessive digging, chewing, and barking. It can also make your Border Collie seem lazy and disinterested, which is unusual for this breed.
What Does a Border Collie Like to Do?
Border Collies are always happiest when they are in action. This athletic breed needs an outlet to channel its high energy. So they are most contented whenever they get a chance to use this all up.
Since they have a long history of being working dogs, having a job is something they enjoy. This fulfills their herding instincts, which they find great pleasure in. For Border Collies, work is also their playtime.
So on farms, they light up whenever they herd sheep and other animals.
This is also why they have a great passion for gathering almost anything that moves. Border Collies like to gather bikes, cars, other dogs, and children.
But since some are pets, this may not be possible for every Border Collie. If this is the case for your dog, then you should give them a ton of stimulation every day.
Low-intensity walks are not enough to make them happy. They enjoy doing more vigorous tasks, like endless sprinting around your yard. This comes as no surprise, as Border Collies are naturally outdoorsy dogs.
So if you love hiking, take your Border Collie with you. You can also take them on marathons and have them as your running partner.
You can even take advantage of their athleticism and have them do dog sports. Agility is one where Border Collies are very good at. But you can have them try any type of dog sport, they are happy to work through it with you.
Your Border Collie does not only like activities where they break a sweat. They also like spending time with you indoors, where you can mentally exercise them.
Teach them new tricks, play hide-and-seek, and have them solve a puzzle. Physical stimulation is not the only way to keep them happy.
Do you see a pattern here? All these activities involve you. Whatever your Border Collie is doing, they prefer to do it with you.
When they are not working or playing, they want to spend time with you. Many people forget that Border Collies are very affectionate towards their pack members. So they love cuddling you and bonding with you as much as they enjoy goofing around.
How Playful Are Border Collies?
Your Border Collie can be very playful to the point of them being boisterous. This is because they have so much energy packed in their bodies that they want to release. There are some instances where they are more playful than usual, though.
One is if you treat them with the same energy they give off. Dogs often feed off of the energy of the person in front of them and this breed is no different. So if you are in the mood to play, they are more ready for fun than you are.
Another is if they lack mental and physical stimulation. If they have so much pent-up energy, they might burst at any given moment. So they will look for outlets, even if it means pestering you to go outside and play fetch.
So you have to work on their mind and body each day if you want them to be better-behaved dogs. Especially for the first 3 years of their life, when they are most active.
But take all these with a grain of salt. Remember that each Border Collie is unique. While some have exuberant personalities, others are calmer and more placid.
What Games Can I Play With My Border Collie?
You can play any game with your Border Collie, as they are always up for a challenge. This sturdy breed loves to do intense tasks, casual walks and playing tug may not be enough for them. So Border Collies love games that make use of their:
- Physical Potential
- High Intellect
- Obedience Skills
So while any game will do, not every game will fulfill their stimulation needs. This is why you need a variety of daily activities to hit all the points above.
For mental games, you can play hide-and-seek with them. You can hide yourself, their toys, or treats around the house for them to find. The good thing about this game is that you can always make it harder each time, good for endless fun!
You can also play Houdini hound with your Border Collie. Do this by hiding a treat in one of your fists and making them guess where it is. When your Border Collie noses the right fist, they get the treat and some praise.
And keep in mind that your Border Collie considers working as playing too. So take this as an opportunity to teach them new commands and tricks. If you have covered the basics, teach them silly ones like play dead, spin, and hug.
For physical stimulation, you can play chase with your Border Collie. This will be tiring if they chase you, as they can outrun you every time without breaking a sweat. So you can use a flirt pole instead.
You can also take advantage of your Border Collie’s impressive agility. This is a physically demanding activity that will always be fun for them.
Training for competitive agility is not necessary, you can do this in your yard. Set up an obstacle course and guide your Border Collie through it. This is a fun game that is also a great bonding activity for both of you.
Do Border Collies Play Fetch?
Fetch is a game that many dogs enjoy and Border Collies are no different. This simple yet fun activity is a staple in most dogs’ daily routines. This comes as no surprise since playing fetch can keep them entertained for hours on end.
In time though, your Border Collie may get bored with the normal play of fetch. Once this smart breed gets the hang of things, they may not find a task challenging anymore. And they love it when you make things trickier as it makes them use their mind.
So how do you make playing fetch more challenging for your Border Collie? There are two simple ways you can do this.
One is that you integrate commands with this game. For example, have them sit before you throw their toy. Then say a release command before they can fetch it.
Another is that you throw many toys at once. Then your Border Collie has to fetch each one and put them in a basket beside you.
You can always find more ways to tweak a good game of fetch. This way, you can combat Border Collie boredom!
How to Train a Border Collie to Fetch
A big factor in teaching your Border Collie fetch is to use their favorite toy, one they cannot resist. This will ensure that they will run to their toy when you throw it, making the process easier.
There are many methods in teaching your Border Collie how to play fetch. If you have another dog who knows this, you can use them as an assistant. They will show your Border Collie how the game works.
But if you do not have a canine assistant, do not worry. Below is a good method for teaching your Border Collie how to play this game.
Step 1: Grab Their Toys
For this method, you need two identical dog toys. Frisbees, tug toys, and even tennis balls are all popular options.
Make sure that you only use these toys for playing fetch. This will maintain the toy’s value so your Border Collie always has the drive to chase the toys. If the toy is always within their reach and they get to play with it every time, the value is gone.
If your Border Collie is more motivated by food, use a toy dispenser instead. A Kong is a wonderful toy for you to use.
Step 2: Toss One Toy
Hide one of the toys from your Border Collie. Hold their collars and only release them once you say your command word.
Throw one of them as you say “fetch” in your happy and upbeat voice.
Border Collies love. gathering moving objects. So naturally, they will go and chase the toy and put it in their mouths.
When you first start to train them, do not throw the toy very far. The goal here is for them to understand what you want them to do. Once they get that, you can gradually increase the distance.
Step 3: Bringing the Toy Back
Once your Border Collie comes back to you, show them the second toy. They are likely going to drop the first toy to make way for the new one. Now is the time to give your Border Collie treats and shower them with praise!
If your Border Collie does not come back to you, do not go to them. Instead, you should run away from them. This loyal breed will chase you down to return to you.
Step 4: Repeat the Process
Pick up the toys and hide one from your Border Collie again. Every time you throw a toy, do not forget to say “fetch” with a happy tone. Keep repeating steps 1 to 3 until your Border Collie gets the idea.
Can You Play Tug-Of-War With a Border Collie?
You can play tug-of-war with your Border Collie as this is natural canine behavior. This game may not make sense to you and it may seem scary. But with the many benefits of tug, you will see why your Border Collie enjoys this.
Tug Satiates Their Instincts
This game is a healthy outlet for a dog’s predatory nature. Dogs tug, shake, and kill prey in the wild and this game mimics that. It is also like tearing off bits of their prey.
Tug Is an Exercise
It is a great way to release your Border Collie’s pent-up energy. Whether you play this indoors or outdoors, your Border Collie does not mind.
Tug Teaches Impulse Control
Playing tug-of-war includes many rules that your Border Collie should always follow. This includes your Border Collie obeying all your commands whenever you say them. With this, they learn to follow you and the rules and not their impulses.
This is a wonderful game for your Border Collie to display their obedience skills.
Tug Increases Their Confidence
Border Collies are very sensitive to whatever is going on in their environment. This is their nature and while you cannot get rid of it, you can control it.
When playing tug-of-war, their focus is on you and not on environmental stimuli. They learn to be more accepting of anything new to them. This will help them to come out of their shell and trust people more.
Tug Cleans Their Teeth
A good game of tug is like hitting two birds with one stone. The tug toy constantly brushes your Border Collies teeth as you play. You can think of it as them flossing their pearly whites.
Tug Strengthens Your Bond
Tug-of-war is a collaborative game between you and your furry friend. Remember, your Border Collie prefers to do activities with you or alongside you!
Is Tug-Of-War Bad for Border Collies?
With all the benefits of tug, this fun game is not bad for your Border Collie in general. But there is some controversy with this game that gives it a bad reputation. But what you should take away from this is that tug is not for every Border Collie.
Many people say that playing tug reinforces your Border Collie’s aggression. Or, it may make your furry friend aggressive. But this is not necessarily true if your Border Collie does not have behavioral problems.
Here is how you can tell if you should avoid playing this game:
- If your border collie has dominant tendencies
- If your border collie is aggressive
- If your border collie is unreliable in obeying commands
The key to playing tug-of-war is having firm rules. Your Border Collie should know and follow these rules. And you should always enforce these during playtime.
So if your Border Collie is fit to play, here are the 10 rules you need to know about.
Rule 1: Only You Can Start the Game
Your Border Collie should not demand to play tug. So they should not put the tug rope on your lap whenever they want to play. They should learn that being pushy will not get you to play with them.
Rule 2: They Should Drop the Toy When Commanded
A good foundation in the “drop” command is necessary for the game of tug-of-war. This is for your safety whenever things get too rowdy.
Rule 3: The Game Is Over When You Say So
Have a verbal command whenever you want to stop playing, like “drop it”. Your Border Collie may not like this, but this teaches them impulse control.
Rule 4: The Game Is Over When Their Teeth Touches Your Hand
Again, this is for your safety. If they get used to having their teeth touch your hand, who knows what could happen in the future. This will teach your Border Collie to be careful with their sharp teeth, as they may hurt you.
Rule 5: There Are Specific Tug Toys
Not all toys are durable enough to withstand your Border Collie’s strong jaws. Some are also not suitable and unsafe when they break.
For example, the filling material in some toys is harmful when they ingest it. Or in the case of a frisbee, the broken pieces may hurt and wound your Border Collie’s mouth.
Rule 6: If You Cannot Control the Play, Then Do Not Play
When playing tug, you have to make sure you can withstand your Border Collie’s strength. Not everyone can play this game with this sturdy breed.
So if someone weaker than your Border Collie wants to play this, do not let them. Especially if children want to be on the other end of the rope.
Rule 7: Border Collies With Behavioral Issues Cannot Play
You should always check your Border Collie’s history before you play tug. If they have a past of resource guarding or aggression, then tug is not for them.
Rule 8: If They Have Dental Issues, They Cannot Play
Make sure to talk to your vet before you play tug with your Border Collie. If their teeth are fragile or if they have dental diseases, avoid playing tug. You will risk making their condition worse if you do.
Be extra careful if you are playing with a puppy. If you get too rough, their teeth may pop off. This can change the direction of their adult teeth once they grow out.
Rule 9: If They Have Back, Neck, or Shoulder Problems, Do Not Play
Tug-of-war is a very physical game that can get too rough. So have your Border Collie checked by your vet to see if they do not have these problems.
Rule 10: Reward Them for Obeying Commands
Your Border Collie should know that obeying your commands is a good thing that gets them rewards. This will reinforce their good behavior, making them more reliable when playing tug. You can also think of this as thanking them for putting in hard work.
Is It Normal for Border Collies to Play Fight?
Play fight is normal canine behavior that also has many benefits. It is how they exercise, get rid of stress, and learn social skills, to name a few. This activity also helps them build relationships with other dogs and humans too.
This may look like they are getting aggressive to you. During play fights, they will growl, bite, show their teeth, and more. Especially if they are having fun with other dogs.
So if your Border Collie enjoys this activity, you should know the good and bad signs of play fight.
Here are some signs that they are fighting for fun:
- Play Bow: This occurs before the play when they are asking for permission to play fight. They have their front end down and their butt up in the air.
- Exaggerated Growling and Snarling: These vocalizations are loud and continuous.
- Showing Their Bellies: They are making themselves vulnerable to you or the other dog.
- Open-Mouthed Smile
- Silly, Bouncy Movements
- Relaxed Ears
- Loose, Wagging Tail
- Gentle Bites That Leave No Marks
And here are some signs that your Border Collie is not play fighting anymore:
- Quick Movements
- Ears Pinned Back
- Closed Mouth and Curled Lip
- Stiff Body
- Raised Hackles
- Body Slamming
- Baring Teeth
- Neck Biting
How Much Playtime Does a Border Collie Need?
Border Collies need around 1 to 2 hours of playtime each day. This may seem a lot to you, but this makes sense given their history.
This breed has worked as herding dogs for centuries. This is physically and mentally taxing. They had to control a flock of sheep while following commands in an unforgiving terrain.
So this high-energy dog needs a lot of work or plays to keep them happy and sane.
Of course, this does not mean that you have to play with your Border Collie for hours in one go. You can divide this time into shorter sessions each day.
This is safer since you prevent the risk of overworking your Border Collie. But it is also better for you so you can keep up with this furry ball of energy!
How to Play With a Border Collie Puppy
You can play with your Border Collie puppy with less intense activities first. This includes playing fetch and hide-and-seek indoors. But since this breed considers working as playtime, you can also train them in some basics.
Fun and light activities are best while your Border Collie is still growing. Strenuous activities at this age are too hard on their bodies. This can lead to life-long consequences such as misshapen legs and stunted growth.
You should also not do outdoor activities until they are fully vaccinated. This puts them at risk of contracting deadly diseases. So you should keep them indoors in the meantime for their safety.
But who says you cannot have fun indoors? You can play fetch with your Border Collie indoors. Do not worry about the small space, they still need to learn how the game goes.
You can also play hide-and-seek with them. Hide their favorite toys or treats somewhere in the house and make them find them. You can even hide yourself to make things more interesting.
Playing tug-of-war is also fun and exciting for your Border Collie. But make sure that they know the rules and obey them. This is a highly stimulating activity that fulfills their canine instincts.
But you may have noticed that your Border Collie still needs to learn these games. What is silly is that this workaholic finds immense joy in training too. This is because this means they get to use their smart minds.
So apart from teaching them games, teach them commands as well! The basics like sitting, lying down, and staying, are crucial. These commands will make trickier future training easier for both of you.
You should also start potty training and crate training your Border Collie young. The former takes a long time, even for this breed. So starting early could mean that they get the hang of it sooner.
Crate training is also important. It teaches your Border Collie how to calm themselves down. And their crate also serves as their safe haven when they need a break from everything going on.
You can use their crate for many purposes too. Like helping to potty train them, easing separation anxiety, and more.
How Long Should I Play With My Border Collie Puppy?
Your Border Collie’s playtime will depend on how old they are. They need much less than an adult does. But your puppy will not understand this and they will beg for more play.
But their bodies are still developing, so they are more prone to injuries. Overexerting them can also lead to long-term issues. So never give in to their demands, even if they may get too pushy.
Below, you will find how long their playtime should be depending on their age.
- 1 Month Old: 5 minutes daily
- 2 Months Old: 10 minutes daily
- 3 Months Old: 15 minutes daily
- 4 Months Old: 20 minutes daily
- 5 Months Old: 25 minutes daily
- 6 Months Old: 30 minutes daily
- 7 Months Old: 35 minutes daily
- 8 Months Old: 40 minutes daily
- 9 Months Old: 45 minutes daily
- 10 Months Old: 50 minutes daily
- 11 Months Old: 55 minutes daily
- 12 Months Old: 60 minutes daily
If you notice, they get an extra 5 minutes of playtime for each month they age. This is a general rule of thumb that many puppy owners follow. If you use this, you can prevent overworking your puppy to the point of exhaustion.
Can Border Collies Learn Tricks?
It is easy for this intelligent and trainable breed to learn a variety of tricks. They learn quite fast, too. You can motivate your Border Collie using treats, but their main motivator is to please you.
So if you want your Border Collie to learn a new trick, give them a lot of praise and love. This will encourage your furry friend to keep on trying their best.
How to Train a Border Collie Puppy Tricks
To teach your Border Collie puppy tricks, you must first settle on what trick you are going to teach them. Start with the basic and simplest ones first and then work on more tricky ones as they grow older.
An easy one is to teach your Border Collie how to shake hands. Begin by lifting his paw and saying “shake”. Repeat this a few times for your puppy to understand.
Then put your hand up near their paw and say the word again. If your Border Collie pup lifts its paw, give them a treat and tons of praise.
If they do not, lift their paw and say “shake” again and again. Your puppy should catch on after a while, but be patient with them and make the session fun.
You can also teach them the commands “take it” or “leave it”. These are both very helpful when training your Border Collie pup in the future. But it can also save their life, like when they may pick up toxic substances.
Start by teaching your Border Collie puppy the “leave it” command. Place a treat on the floor a few inches away from them and then say “leave it”. Make sure to be alert so you can cover the treat whenever they attempt to get it.
Once they stop trying to get the treat, pick it up, say “take it” and give it to them. Make sure to also reward them with tons of verbal praise and some ear scratches!
Keep repeating this process a few times a day for them to get a hang of it. Make it more challenging by placing more pieces of treats scattered on the ground.
Seeing progress? Take it up a notch by placing the treat on their nose or their paws and ask them to leave it.
These are only a few examples of what you can teach your puppy. With their sharp minds and trainability, there is no limit to what tricks they can learn. But you have to make sure that these are appropriate for their age.
What Tricks Can Border Collies Learn?
There is a big number and a wide variety of tricks your Border Collie can learn, even challenging ones. So other than the basics, like sitting, you can even train them to get you a drink from the refrigerator. But of course, before you jump into teaching them hard tricks, you need to start with easy ones.
To help you out, here are some tricks that Border Collies can learn. The list below classifies them into easy, intermediate, and hard.
- Paw Shake
- Bow Down
- Take It or Leave It
- Roll Over
- Leg Weaving
- Back Up
- Spin and Twist
- Sit Pretty
- Hoop Jump
- Moving Hoop Jump
- Open the Door
- Stand on Hind Legs
- Bang (Play Dead)
If you notice, many of the harder ones are something they do not do. Take opening the door for you, for example. This is not a normal action for dogs and you may not even want them to learn this for fear of escape attempts.
Singing is particularly hard since you have to look for the right song that they like. But if your Border Collie likes to bark or howl, this may be easier.
The tricks you can teach your Border Collie are not limited to this list. You can even teach them everyday actions like wiping their paws on the mat before entering the home.
And if you are a skater, your Border Collie can also learn how to do this so you have a skating buddy!
How Many Commands Can a Border Collie Learn?
In general, Border Collies can learn about 200 to 250 command words. This impressive number is why Border Collies are often known as “super dogs”.
The average number of words a dog can learn is around 165, so this breed is on a different level. But this is only a generalization. There is no fixed number of words your Border Collie can learn.
Three factors affect this capability, though. These are the following:
- Your Border Collie’s Focus
- Your Consistency
- Your Encouragement
It will also depend on whether you want to keep training them new tricks too. But given their high mental-exercise needs, this will keep your Border Collie happy.
If your Border Collie cannot focus on the task at hand, then you cannot teach them anything. This is crucial yet so hard to do.
Grabbing and maintaining the focus of Border Collies is tricky. They are very sensitive to stimuli in their environment, so they get distracted a lot. They are also sensitive dogs and their moods can switch in a snap of a finger.
So before you teach them new tricks, you need to figure out how you do this. Once you do, everything else is all up to how you train them.
You will keep on hearing this about training a dog but consistency is key. You need to be consistent in your method, your rewards, your timing, and a whole lot more.
This is important for your Border Collie to ingrain all the information into their minds. Also, this will help to make your message clear to them, avoiding any confusion. Remember, a confused dog can seem stubborn as they will not obey your commands.
Border Collies are very eager to please their humans. So you need to know what kind of reward they like. This can be treats, cuddles, playtime, or toys.
Think of this as acknowledging all the hard work and good job that they are doing. You are also encouraging them to keep on doing the behaviors you want.
How Do I Get My Border Collie to Sit?
There is no one method to train your Border Collie how to sit. Some may not work for them, so it is best if you know how to train them in a variety of ways. Here are the 4 methods you can try to help them learn how to sit:
- Luring Method
- Capture Method
- Timing Method
- Clicker Method
Have your Border Collie’s favorite treats on hand. A high-value treat is essential to have when using this method.
- Step 1: Kneel in front of your Border Collie, show them the treat, and have them smell it. This will let them know that you have a tasty treat with you.
- Step 2: Hold the treat high up over their head. Then move your hand towards their back and onto their tail.
- Step 3: Their eyes will follow the treat, putting them in a sitting position on their own.
- Step 4: Once their back end touches the floor, say “sit” and reward them right away.
- Step 5: Repeat steps 1 to 4 a few times each day until they sit when you command them.
You need to be very alert when you use this method. This is because you need to catch them in the act whenever they sit down on their own.
- Step 1: Keep a watchful eye on your Border Collie when during training sessions or playtime.
- Step 2: When they sit down, say the command word “sit” and reward them right away.
- Step 3: Repeat the steps above until your Border Collie understands the concept.
In this method, you need to use a clicker. But if you do not have one, you can make a clicking sound using your mouth. Or, you can snap your fingers as an alternative as well.
- Step 1: Get your Border Collie used to the clicker for a few days. Whenever they behave or obey you, use the clicker and follow this with a treat right away.
- Step 2: In time, they should understand that the sound of a clicker means they did something good.
- Step 3: Grab their favorite treat and hold it above their nose. Make sure they see and smell it so they know what to expect if they obey you.
- Step 4: In a playful voice, say the “sit” command, but only once.
- Step 5: Using the hand with the treat, move this over their head and towards their back. This will naturally make them sit down.
- Step 6: Once they sit down, give them the treat within three seconds. This helps them associate the act with the reward.
- Step 7: Keep practicing the steps above until your Border Collie sits down with ease.
Using this method, you need to wait before mealtime to begin training your Border Collie how to sit. They will be hungry so you have their full attention if you use food to motivate them.
- Step 1: Kneel in front of your Border Collie and hold their treat above their face. Have them see it and smell it, but they should remain calm and focused.
- Step 2: Say your command word in an upbeat voice. Once you do, start moving the treat over his head and towards his back end.
- Step 3: This motion should put them in a sitting position. If they do not, use your free hand to make them sit.
- Step 4: Once their bottom touches the ground, reward them with the treat and praise.
- Step 5: Keep repeating this until they get the hang of it. But switch it up by training them at various times of the day, not only before mealtime.
How to Teach a Border Collie to Lay Down
If you want to teach your Border Collie to lie down, they must first know the sit command. So have your Border Collie’s favorite treats and your patience ready! Here is how you teach them to lie down.
- Step 1: Command your Border Collie to sit down. Hold up the treat close to their nose then move it slowly to the ground.
- Step 2: Your Border Collie will follow the treat with their nose. Now you can move the treat further away from them to get them to lie down and reach it.
- Step 3: Once they lie down, give them the treat within 3 seconds. This instant treat will make them associate the act with the reward.
- Step 4: Keep repeating this process many times during your training sessions. Repetition will help them understand what you want them to do.
- Step 5: Once they predict what you want them to do whenever you have the treat on the ground, add a command. Use simple commands like “lie down”, “down” or “drop. The latter two are better as they are shorter.
- Step 6: Whenever your Border Collie lies down, say your command in a clear voice. This will get them to associate the act with the word. Remember to shower them with praise and give them a treat!
How to Teach a Border Collie to Heel
Before you train your Border Collie how to heel, you first need to pick a side. The traditional way is to have them heel on your left side. But you can pick the right side if you prefer.
Once you decide on that, you have to stick with that site for the rest of your training. Switching will only confuse your Border Collie. This will not help with speeding up their process and can make them appear stubborn.
Now, prepare your Border Collie’s favorite treats! Below are the steps you need to follow to teach them how to heel.
- Step 1: You need to have a sturdy leash with you so that you can control your Border Collie.
- Step 2: Have your Border Collie come to you. Use a treat to get them at their correct heel spot. Once they are, give them the treat and shower them with praise.
- Step 3: Repeat this a few times each day until they always go to their correct spot.
- Step 4: Now whenever your Border Collie goes to their heel spot, say “heel”. This will help them to associate the word with the act. Remember to give them treats whenever they are successful.
- Step 5: Prepare your Border Collie’s leash and give them the heel command. Once they are in their position, make them wear the leash and give them their treat.
- Step 6: Take your Border Collie outdoors for a walk. Whenever they stray away from you, stop and make them sit to calm them down.
- Step 7: Once they are calm, continue the walk. Praise them throughout the walk for walking on the correct side.
- Step 8: Keep practicing this by repeating the steps above. This will help your Border Collie understand the command and concept.
How Do I Get My Border Collie to Roll Over?
To teach your Border Collie how to roll over, they must first master how to lie down or play dead. These commands will get them in the right position before rolling over. And in time, your Border Collie will learn that rolling over is a distinct command.
If you have trained them how to play dead or lie down, you already have a good idea of how to start this training. Prepare a high-value treat before you start, this is essential in teaching them about this.
- Step 1: Command your Border Collie to lie down or play dead. They should be on their bellies to start so you can get them to roll over.
- Step 2: Show them their favorite treat and have them smell it. Their focus should be on the treat so that they will follow it.
- Step 3: Move the treat closer to their shoulder. This should make them go from lying down on their bellies to lying down on their side.
- Step 4: Now have the treat move over and past their ribs, out of their reach. Their attention should be on the treat and this encourages them to roll over.
- Step 5: Keep repeating the steps above until your Border Collie gets the hang of it.
- Step 6: Add a verbal command like “roll”. So as you move the treat over their ribs, say the command. Do this over and over again until your Border Collie understands the command.
- Step 7: In time, you can test your Border Collie. Say your rollover command and when they follow, do not forget to shower them with praise and give them a treat.
Teaching Border Collies to roll over usually takes about a week. This is possible if your Border Collie already knows the lie-down or play-dead command. If not, this will take longer as you need to teach them these first.
Is It Bad for Border Collies to Roll Over?
Rolling over is perfectly fine for a healthy Border Collie who enjoys doing it. This breed loves to show off the tricks they know as much as they love learning them. But there are a few factors that could make this fun trick bad for your furry friend.
One is if they have any existing health issues. If your Border Collie has any injuries or trouble with their backs, they should not do this. Medical issues often cause pain to them and this trick might add to that or make it worse.
This is especially true if your Border Collie is already a senior. Usually, older dogs suffer from health problems like arthritis. So it is best to make them do a different trick that is gentler on their joints.
Another thing to consider is the surface that they are rolling on. Of course, you should not make them do this neat trick if there is anything rough on the ground. Or worse, there could be something on the ground that could prick or wound them.
Without these issues above, your Border Collie is okay to show off this cool trick.
What Makes a Border Collie Happy?
To keep your Border Collie happy, you should fulfill their needs and embrace their instincts. The number of ways you can do this could go on and on. But the basics of making them happy are the following:
- Physical Exercise
- Mental Stimulation
- Affection and Encouragement
- Health and Well-Being
The key to maintaining your Border Collie’s happiness is to make sure you understand them. This breed is highly active, smart, emotional, and loves to do work.
So starting with a routine that involves physical and mental exercise is crucial. Border Collies love it when there is a daily schedule to follow since it lets them know what to expect.
You need to have a variety of ways to keep them active. Have them on daily runs, bring them to a marathon, and go on a hike. Anything that involves the outdoors means that they get to have fun.
You can also tap into their impressive natural abilities. Take advantage of their athleticism and have them try out dog sports.
Agility is where they excel, but herding trials are ideal for this breed. Remember, they are the premier herding dogs!
But this does not mean that those two are the only ones you can try. Have them join as many dog sports as they want. This keeps their minds sharp, and their bodies healthy, and gives them a sense of purpose.
By exercising them, you will help in maintaining their physical and mental health. A healthy Border Collie is a happy dog. Since there is no pain in their way to prevent them from having fun!
Other than these, keep in mind that your Border Collie adores you. They will do anything to please you and they are also quite affectionate.
So you should show them that you love them back as well. Cuddling them and giving them your undivided attention are some ways you can do this.
Many people forget that this breed is also very loving. Oftentimes, the focus is on their physical abilities and their intelligence. So make sure that you should not forget this.
How Can I Make My Border Collie Puppy Happy?
Giving your Border Collie puppy a lot of playtime is a great way to make them happy. At this age, this is the only thing that they think about. They can be very selfish, always asking you to play and constantly testing boundaries.
But remember, their body has not fully developed yet. All their puppy energy cannot keep up with their bodies. So make sure that you give them adequate exercise and that you do not overwork them.
A healthy puppy is a happy one since they do not have any physical barriers to prevent them from playing. But if they play too much or too rough, there can be life-long consequences. This includes misshapen legs, which bring them life-long discomfort.
How Do You Know if Your Border Collie Is Happy?
Border Collies who are not scared, bored, or have behavioral issues are happy dogs. These are signs that their needs are being fulfilled and that you treat them well.
Your Border Collie should not have a problem being near you and showing you affection. When they get excited at the sight of you and are affectionate towards you, that is a good sign. If they act submissive around you and show you their bellies, they trust you.
Boredom in Border Collies can lead to a lot of behavioral issues. But it can also make them lazy, disinterested, and depressed. If your Border Collie does not sound like this, then you are doing a good job in making them happy.
Why Does My Border Collie Look Sad?
Like humans, your Border Collie can be sad for various reasons. Canine depression can be debilitating for your furry friend. So you need to assess their situation and environment to figure out the cause.
Here are the common reasons why Border Collies get depressed.
Losing a Family Member or Pet
Border Collies also grieve the death of a loved one. It is hard for dogs to come to terms with what happened, so they may feel sad for a long time. While they will feel better in time, you need to give them extra love and support through this.
As a creature of habit, your Border Collie does not like change. This can be a tweak in their daily routine, their home, and more. Change can affect their mental well-being more than you can imagine.
Lack of Attention
Border Collies are very loving towards their immediate circle. They form close bonds with their humans and they love being near their family all the time. This is why Border Collies are prone to developing separation anxiety.
If you have not given them much attention lately, they can get depressed. They hate feeling left out or feeling neglected. Remember that this breed is quite sensitive, so you should consider this possibility.
Lack of Exercise
Your workaholic and energetic Border Collie loves to be active all the time. But if they cannot have this, their mental health will take a toll. This does not fulfill their needs and makes them feel useless to their pack.
Change in Diet
Any abrupt changes in their diet can make your Border Collie appear sad. This does not necessarily mean that they are, but this quick switch can upset their stomach. With this, they do not feel like their usual self.
Stress or Anxiety
Border Collies are sensitive dogs. Anything in the environment can scare them, especially loud sounds. When this happens, they cower away and hide to get away from the scary stimuli.
This sensitivity can also encompass their emotions. When you yell at your Border Collie, it can hurt them more than you can imagine. Their mood turns sour and when this happens a lot, this can push them to run away from home.
Medical problems often bring your Border Collie varying degrees of pain. This discomfort can change them overnight. So if they are usually friendly and cuddly, they may want to stay away from you the next day.
They may not want to do anything and even get aggressive when you come near them. This can be a sign of something more serious. So you should watch out for these symptoms:
- Change in Appetite
If your Border Collie displays any of these, take them to the vet right away.