The Border Collie is a working breed that belongs to the Kennel Club 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 a canine sports, notably dog agility, canine freestyle, obedience, working trials and frisbee. So, as could be expected from this, Border Collie training can be very successful! They are also popular family dogs and thrive with experienced owners who have an active outdoor lifestyle and enjoy mentally stimulating activities with their dog. In this blog post, we’ll go over some top training tips and some specific Border Collie puppy training advice that may help you out if you have a new four-legged addition to your family!
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 Border Collie training. 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 behaviours. 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.
Border Collies are amazing animals, but they require the right training
Top 10 tips for Border Collie Training
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.
Border Collie puppy training requires socialisation
Socialise your puppy early on. Ensure that your puppy is allowed to experience in a safe and rewarding way 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 their 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.
Get your pup involved
Involve your dog in as many of your daily 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 fulfil the needs of your working breed dog, it will help you understand each other, and teach you mutual respect and teamwork. It will also be lots of fun and will bring you together with many other Border Collie enthusiasts!
Mental stimulation is an important part of Border Collie training
Apart from training, provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, including walks, swims, and sniffing opportunities. If your Border Collies puppy 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.
Work on your recall
Teach your puppy a reliable, fast and enthusiastic recall, so that no matter what other fascinating things are going on, they turn on a penny and 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.
Border Collie puppies are adorable, and early training is vital!
Self-control is vital when Border Collie puppy training
Teach your Border Collie puppy self-control, through impulse control games and real-life situations. This will helps 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.
Make sure they have their own space
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.
Ensure they’re not bored
Provide your collie 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.
Always stay calm when Border Collie training!
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 he is 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 your dog is likely to bite, teach your dog to enjoy wearing a basket-type muzzle.
Keep them as healthy as possible
Keep your Border Collie, healthy, slim and fit. You want to be able to see the waist and feel the ribs in an adult dog. Collies are a relatively long-lived and healthy breed, but you should be well informed about and prepared for the most common Border Collie health issues: 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 and don’t allow your collie to chew stones or pebbles, as this can damage their teeth.
Border Collie Training Video
Take a look at this video to some a prime examples of what can happen when Border Collie puppy training is taken seriously! A well-trained pup will grow up to be a disciplined worker as well as the perfect family pet!
Why are they called Border Collies?
They originated in the hilly area situated between the border of England and Scotland, where their main task was to herd the sheep for farmers. To this day, they are popular farm dogs around the world for their natural ability to herd with their amazing stamina, agilty, and reflexes.
Other jobs that can arise from Border Collie puppy training
Training your pup from a young age can lead to many paths in which they can excel! It’s not just sheep herding. They also have amazing potential for scent detection, obedience, agilty, working trials, frisbee, and a lot more. In fact, they feature at the very top of the canine intelligence and trainability rankings, so they have an innate ability and willingness to learn that helps their many talents.
Types of Border Collie training
Border Collies have a natural willingness to work, alongside being easily trainable from puppies. Reward-based training is particularly effective, as it builds enthusiasm, confidence, and trust between dog and handler. This method involves rewarding the dog with something they enjoy when they do a positive action. This could be food, their favourite toy, or encouragement from their owner. Many Border Collies enjoy play as their reward of choice!
Border Collies pick up new skills and tricks very quickly, which helps them become so talented at various skills. However, because of this innate trait, they also need a lot of mental stimulation to keep them happy, occupied, and prevent destructive behaviours. So, from Border Collie puppy training and into adulthood, if you like spending plenty of time playing and exercising with your dog, this could just be the ideal breed for you!
As we’ve mentioned before, early socialisation is key to prevent reactivity. Many Border Collies dislike unsolicited touch from humans and other dogs, but proper training can help combat this and ensure that they stay peaceful in the presence of others.
Ensure that your Border Collie puppy has the right training
What are the essential skills when Border Collie puppy training?
To develop into well–behaved pets, it’s essential that you work with your dog from a young age on some essential skills:
Interactive play with you: this is the basis of most training, as it can be used as a reward and can also be built upon to develop further skills.
Feeling safe and confident in the presence of possible triggers, for example, people, other dogs and traffic
If you work with your dog to develop all of these skills, then they are sure to grow into a happy, confident dog for the whole family to enjoy. Border Collie training can involve a lot of hard work, but the results are really worth it. They’re an amazing, energetic, and intelligent breed of dog that makes the perfect pet for many families, as long as they are trained to a good standard!
Here at Royvon, we love working with Border Collies, both puppies and adults alike, to ensure that they get the best training possible to reach their full potential as amazing pets! If you’d like to find out more about the training options we offer in Esher, Rugby, and Merthyr Tydfil, visit our website today!
Interested in learning about more dog breeds? How about this post about Rough Collies? Or what about Akitas?
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.