The Border Collie is a working breed, belonging to the KC Pastoral Group. This sensitive, athletic and highly intelligent herding breed is also employed in search and rescue operations, scent detection work, and a variety of other canine jobs. Border Collies achieve the highest awards in a range of canine sports, notably dog agility, canine freestyle, obedience, working trials, and frisbee. They are also popular family dogs. These dogs thrive with experienced owners who have an active outdoor lifestyle and enjoy mentally stimulating activities with their dog. Border Collie training can be very fun and rewarding!
Border Collie Training: Things To Consider
This highly athletic and agile breed needs plenty of physical and mental exercise to stay healthy and happy. Interactive play, reward-based training, outdoor activities and participation in canine sports are great ways to engage, teach and exercise your Border Collie. Teaching tricks and other clicker games, as well as scent games, are great ways to stimulate the mind and strengthen coordination, body awareness and confidence. Cultivating calm and relaxed behaviour helps this canine workaholic switch off and recharge their batteries.
Border Collies are highly sensitive and have very keen observation skills. This makes them excellent at reading subtle cues and noticing changes in their environment, but it also means they can become irritable and reactive to the slightest of triggers. This is why early socialisation and desensitisation to all normal stimuli is particularly important for this breed. Border Collies enjoy touch and affection, but normally on their own terms. They like their space and need a peaceful and quiet place to rest. When stared at or approached by strangers, some dogs may feel threatened and react with appeasement, cowering or an aggressive display.
A bored, frustrated, under-socialised and untrained Border Collie is likely to find himself a job or another outlet to release that energy. This can lead to destructive, obsessive and inappropriate behaviour. An out of control Border Collie is likely to escape, become reactive and aggressive towards people and dogs, snap or bite when touched, chase cars or bicycles, nip and bark, “herd” people, chew objects and dig up the garden, attack the television and more. This is why Border Collie training is so important!
Border Collie Training: Top 10 tips
Play with your dog!
Interactive play such as tug, ball chasing, and roughhousing is a great way to develop trust and make interactions with you more valuable than independent exploits and getting into trouble. You become the centre of your dog’s universe and the source of all the things they desire. High excitement games can also be used to develop excellent self-control and teach many basic life skills to your dog.
Socialise your puppy early on.
Ensure that your puppy is allowed to experience all kinds of places, surfaces, people of all ages, sizes, genders, attires and ways of moving, touching and being handled, vets and buildings, livestock, other dogs and pets, sounds and other sensations, that will be a normal part of his life by the time he or she is 12 weeks old. This exposure should work in line with the puppy’s natural curiosity so that they can approach and discover new things and experiences at their pace.
Involve your dog in as much of your life activities as you can.
Engage in a canine sport that both of you will enjoy. Sheep-herding trials, flyball, agility, scent work, and trick training are some examples. This will fulfill the needs of your working breed dog. It will help you understand each other, teach you mutual respect and teamwork. It will also be lots of fun and will bring you together with many other Border Collie enthusiasts.
Apart from Border Collie training, provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, including walks, swims, sniffing opportunities. If your dog doesn’t have a good recall yet, or if you can’t let them off lead for another reason, learn how to use a long lead on walks, so that they can enjoy some freedom to engage in normal dog activities.
Teach your dog a reliable, fast and enthusiastic recall. So, no matter what other fascinating things are going on, they will run like the wind back towards you. This can get your Border Collie out of trouble and even save their life, but it will also allow them to enjoy the freedom of running off lead.
Teach your Border Collie self-control, through impulse control games and real-life situations. This will help with basic doggie manners such as walking on a loose lead, polite greetings with people and other dogs, waiting for the lead to be clipped on or for the ball to be thrown, and refraining from chasing moving objects.
Provide a quiet and peaceful place for your Border Collie to retire to and relax in. This could be a comfy crate in a quiet corner of the living room or kitchen. Take time teaching your Border Collie to love their crate- this will take about one or two weeks. Avoid forcing your dog in the crate, shutting the door when want to get out or sending them in the crate as punishment or time out. If you make this mistake, you will turn this place of peaceful relaxation into a prison.
Keep them busy
Provide your dog with something appropriate to do if you have to leave them alone. Food dispenser toys, puzzle games for dogs and appropriate raw bones can keep your dog busy and calm while your furniture and shoes stay whole.
If your dog reacts towards something scary or startling and barks or growls at people, dogs, livestock or TV, move away from the trigger and stay calm. If they are barking through the window, block the view. Manage your dog to radically reduce the opportunities for this behaviour to repeat and find professional behaviour help and guidance if needed. If your dog is likely to bite, teach your dog to enjoy wearing a basket-type muzzle.
Keep your Border Collie, healthy, slim and fit. You want to be able to see their waist and feel their ribs. Border Collies are a relatively long-lived and healthy breed. But, you should be well informed about common Border Collie health issues. These include hip dysplasia, epilepsy and “Collie eye anomaly”. This may involve setting up a private fund or taking out an appropriate pet insurance cover. Keep their coat and teeth in good condition. Don’t allow your collie to chew stones or pebbles, as this can damage their teeth.
All You Need To Know
Border Collies are an amazing and much-loved breed of dog. Want to find out more about them? Watch our short YouTube video for everything you need to know!
Need some help with your Border Collie training? At Royvon, we’re happy to help! We offer a range of training options, including residential stays, 1-2-1 sessions, and much more. Please get in touch to learn more and pick the perfect option for you and your furry friend.
Want to know more about dog breeds? How about our post about Rough Collies?
Darren is the Managing Director of Royvon Dog Training & Hotels. The business has been in his family for over 60 years! Darren uses this blog to share knowledge and information about dog training and more.