Training a Border Collie

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Are you thinking of bringing a Border Collie home to your family? The breed is highly intelligent and very trainable, but it will take dedication and consistency. If you’re prepared to devote leadership to your dog, train them fairly, and provide him with adequate physical activity and mental stimulation, a Border Collie may be the perfect dog for you.

Personality & Temperament Overview

border collie puppy training

A Border Collie’s intelligence should not be underestimated. They are considered to be one of the smartest breeds of dog and have been known to outsmart their owners if they’re not watched carefully.

Border Collies are medium-sized sheepdogs that were bred to be natural herders. They are very smart and thrive when they have a job to do.

The breed has unmatched focus and wit which can lead to destructive behaviors if they become bored. Their herding instincts and loyalty make them want to keep their family together at all times.

A properly trained Border Collie will grow up to be a well-behaved pet and an excellent companion. Learn more about training Border Collies below!

Start Early

You should start training a Border Collie puppy the day you bring him home. At just a few weeks old, they are able to absorb lots of information. If you wait a few months to begin training, you’ll be dealing with a headstrong dog that won’t be as susceptible to commands.

It’s a good idea to get your Border Collie puppy into a training class when he is about 12 weeks old, if possible. Just remember that most puppy training schools will require some vaccinations. Until you’re able to get your Border Collie puppy into obedience school, you can start the training and socialization process at home.

Crate & House Training a Border Collie

Crate and house training should be started right away. Your Border Collie puppy will be taking in new information whether you begin training or not, so it’s a good idea to start teaching him positive habits at a young age.

For crate training, you’ll want to keep your puppy in a confined space. It can be an actual crate, with a leash, or in a small room. This way, you can keep an eye on your Border Collie and take him outside right away if they start to go to the bathroom. Dogs tend to prefer not to go to the bathroom in the area that they sleep, so your pup will be less likely to go to the bathroom while in his crate.

It’s vital that you take your puppy out to go to the bathroom at frequent intervals and keep a consistent schedule. Additionally, feeding your Border Collie at the same time every day will contribute to more consistent bathroom times.

When you crate and house train a Border Collie, you’ll want to reward him for good behaviors. Immediately after your puppy successfully goes to the bathroom outside, praise your dog or offer him a small treat.

Obedience Training for Border Collies

training a border collie puppy

During obedience training, your Border Collie will learn to follow rules in your home as well as how to behave in various situations. The process will allow you to prevent aggressive or destructive behaviors from arising and teach your pet to obey your commands.

First, you’ll want to establish leadership and let your Border Collie know that you’re in charge. Then you’ll be able to teach him new rules and correct any adverse temperaments.

Use Affirmation

Border Collies love learning new things, so training them shouldn’t be forced. The intelligent breed is eager to please and responds well to praise and affirmations. Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train a Border Collie puppy.

The most reprimanding a Border Collie will need is just telling him he’s a bad dog and ignoring him for an hour or so. The breed thrives on attention and will quickly learn that breaking the rules will cut into his social time. In general, Border Collies will learn through positive affirmations, not punishment. Good behavior should be rewarded with treats or simple praise. If you show your pet that his actions are good, it will motivate him to try those behaviors again.

Trick & Command Training for Border Collies

Border Collies are excellent learners and can easily pick up new tricks and commands. When teaching your dog a new behavior, break it down for him. For example, if you are teaching him to stay, it can be broken down into a few steps. First, you’ll want to teach your Border Collie to sit and not stand back up until you tell him to.

Next, have your dog stay for a short period of time. After that, try having him stay for a longer period. By teaching this command, you’ll be able to reign him in when he misbehaves or try to herd people or animals. It will take a bit of time and effort to train your Border Collie puppy to sit or stay on command, but you’ll want to start laying the foundation for obedience as soon as you bring your new dog home.

Hold Your Border Collie’s Attention

In order to successfully train a Border Collie, you’ll need to have his full attention. Choose a place and time with little or no distractions before beginning a training session. An untrained Border Collie has a very short attention span and will be impatient when trying to learn new tasks. Take note of your dog’s mood and try to only train him when he is focused and energized. Because of this, developing a routine is vital. Your Border Collie will look forward to training when it occurs on a daily basis.

Be Consistent

If you are consistent with training, your Border Collie will learn quickly. Focus on a specific command and keep at it until the dog picks up on it. Begin with simple and clear orders, name the command, and stick to it. Soon enough, your Border Collie will completely grasp the concept.

It’s especially important to remain consistent when teaching your Border Collie to behave in your home. Since they are such an intelligent breed, a Border Collie will get confused if they are allowed to jump on the couch one day and are punished for it the next. To prevent confusion and delays in training, make sure everyone in your home is on the same page when it comes to house rules for your pup.  

border collie training

Stay in Control

While training a Border Collie, be sure to establish control. Training a puppy requires significant time and devotion. You’ll need to be constantly providing your Border Collie with outlets for him energy and smarts.

Aside from teaching your dog his name, it’s important to teach a Border Collie to sit, come, heal, and stay. These basic commands will help you stay in control of your pet. 

Remain Firm

Border Collies are known to be sensitive creatures and may shut down or refuse to follow commands if they are treated harshly.

It’s essential that you establish control in a kind, but firm manner. This will bring out the best of a Border Collie’s unique temperament and allow you to train him with authority. A well-trained Border Collie is happy to do whatever his owners ask and will be a sweet, loyal companion.

Learn Your Border Collie’s Growls

Border Collies have two different growls. One is playful and one is serious. You’ll need to be able to distinguish between the two growls in order to know when your dog is upset or having a good time. Pay attention to how your Border Collie growls when he is tugging on a toy so that you can differentiate between that and a more serious growl.

Keep Your Border Collie’s Herding Instincts in Mind

A Border Collie’s natural herding instincts are a huge part of his personality and temperament. It’s possible to train your dog to control his urge to herd, but it will always be a part of his natural instincts.


Border Collies were bred to help their owners work. Because of this, they thrive being with their families but are less social when they’re around strangers and may try to herd groups of people they don’t know.

It’s essential that you teach your Border Collie how to behave around people right from the start. As soon as your Border Collie puppy is immunized, start introducing him to animals and people of all ages. Once your dog grows accustomed to being around other people, you’ll be able to train him to behave in these situations.

Physical Activity & Playtime

border collie trainability

Since Border Collies are one of the most intelligent and athletic breeds, they require lots of physical and mental stimulation. In order to prevent behavioral problems, they should get at least two hours of activity every day, which can be a challenge for some dog owners.

If a Border Collie doesn’t get their exercise and activity levels met, they will often exhibit anxious or destructive behaviors. Some families are drawn to the breed because of its medium size and high energy levels, but this can become a problem if they don’t have a proper outlet to expel their energy.

Border Collies are not suited for apartment living. They need plenty of room to run around and play. 

Since they were originally bred to herd sheep, they are their happiest on a farm with a job to do. Farms are an ideal home setting for the breed but living in a house with a big yard and an active family will suffice too.

Adequate amounts of physical and mental stimulation will allow your Border Collie to live his happiest life. They need lots of space to move around and will be even happier with a canine friend to interact with. Even with a big yard, it’s important to take your pet off your property on a regular basis. Daily walks or runs are essential for this breed.

When training a Border Collie, the most important thing is to establish leadership and stay consistent. If your dog thinks of you as his pack leader, he will follow your command. Additionally, remain firm but use positive reinforcement. If you address your Border Collie puppy in a gentle but confident tone, he will respond well to training.

Border Collies make great companions and family dogs. However, it’s vital that they are paired with owners that can keep them busy with enough physical and mental stimulation. If you’re ready to provide your dog with lots of daily exercise and a variety of activities and playtime, a Border Collie may be the right dog for you!

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