If you are reading this, then chances are you have decided that a Border Collie might just be the perfect dog for you.
Alternatively, if you have just brought a new Borer Collie home, you might be wondering when the best time to start training your new family member is, and how you can make the process go a little smoother.
When researching which dog breed would make a good addition to your home, one of the most important things to consider is how easy they will be to train. You need to know how much time, energy, and even money might be involved in raising a well-behaved dog.
Border Collies have a specific set of needs that directly impact the training process. It is important to understand the complexity of the needs and what will be required to train your Border Collie well, and you have already taken the first step by clicking onto this article congratulations!
Here, we have laid out everything you need to know about training a Border Collie.
Are Border Collies easy to train?
The answer is not a simple yes or no. Border Collies are highly intelligent, fast learners. However, many people find training a Collie to be extremely frustrating.
Border Collies have complex needs and require a lot of mental energy to train. Their personalities are headstrong and they will require the establishment of strong commands and boundaries or else they will test limits.
Training will likely be a lengthy process that is going to take a lot of your time. If you do not have time to actively invest in teaching basic commands and house manners, then a Border Collie may not be the dog for you.
While there are some breeds that are very well-mannered by nature and will be well-behaved with the bare minimum amount of training, this is not the case with Border Collies.
Due to destructive tendencies caused by various breed-specific instincts, taking a passive approach to training is simply not an option.
Training tools for a Border Collie
What factors make training a Border Collie more difficult?
Even though Border Collies are intelligent, quick learners, they are also overly excitable.
If your Border Collie does not have constant mental stimulation, they will become bored and ultimately act out. For this reason, you may find it difficult to hold your Collie’s attention long enough for training.
Collies also have a series of tendencies that must be taken into account and treated as additional things to be trained.
One of the biggest is their herding tendency. Border Collies may nip, chase, and bark (a lot). If this is something that is not going to fly in your household, you need to put special attention into training against it.
The other is their need for socialization. If not adequately socialized, Border Collies are not the friendliest with strangers- both human and canine- so you will need to make sure they are well prepared for interacting with others, and a set of clear expectations you have for how they will treat them.
Both of these will take longer than normal to train your Border Collie in since they are deeply rooted in their instincts as a breed. This is where the help of an expert may be useful.
Are Border Collies food motivated?
Border Collies are not food motivated, which is one of the biggest barriers to training.
While treat training is usually an effective and highly recommended way of training a new puppy, you may notice that your Border Collie does not respond well to this form of training, since they don’t really care if they get the treat or not.
You will need to find an alternative way to reward them for good behaviour if treat training doesn’t work for you.
Are Border Collies people-pleasers?
Border Collies are very family-oriented dogs and especially once you have bonded they will always be eager to please.
While Collies are not food motivated, they are very praise motivated. Therefore, using praise as the primary reward during training as opposed to treats will be far more effective.
Border Collies are task-oriented and love to have a “job”. As such, they seem to take pride in a “job well done”. They constantly crave attention so giving them pats on the back or verbal affection for good listening will be a strong motivator for good behaviour in the future.
It is important to recognize that your Collie will want to make you happy, but this is only possible if they know right from wrong, and what you expect of them.
Don’t just assume your dog will be well behaved because they want to please you- you must actively teach them the house rules, which will require some effort.
What can I do to make training my Border Collie easier?
So, you might be wondering if there is anything you can do to make the process a little less difficult. After all, less strain from the struggle of training will benefit both you and your dog.
Here are a couple of tips to make training your Collie a little easier.
1 – Pay Attention to their exercise needs. If your dog is distracted by their physical needs, they won’t be focused on the behaviour or trick you are attempting to train.
A tired dog is much less agitated meaning you are going to have an easier time holding your Collie’s attention. It makes the most sense to train behaviours after long walks or trips to the dog park so they have already gotten rid of any pent-up chaotic energy.
2 – Beware of overstimulation. Border Collies are highly sensitive and prone to overstimulation. If they are experiencing too much touch or sound, they may withdraw or misbehave.
For this reason, it is important to remain calm and not be overly loud, though you must remain firm. Striking a good balance in this regard will reduce frustrations for both of you.
3 – Establish a routine. Border Collies adore routine and get frustrated when routines are broken. It may help to practice training behaviours every day at the same time, or after a landmarking activity like going for a walk.
At the very least, ensure you are being consistent with your training so they know to expect certain commands every single time something is
expected of them.
When training tricks, it is best to avoid starting anything new if your Collie
already seems agitated from a deviation in your daily schedule.
How old should my Border Collie be to start training?
Just like with humans, once a behaviour becomes habit, it is a lot harder to change. Obviously, start with necessary commands and basic house manners before trying to train your Border Collie to do tricks.
Separating tasks will allow your Border Collie to focus on each job at hand, or new behaviour, which is really important since their attention spans are
generally on the shorter side.
These basic tasks such as “sit”, “stay”, “come”, “no” and of course, potty training, should begin as early as possible.
This will allow you to work on your bond immediately, as well as lessen the
impact that a new puppy has on the household. The younger these manners and house rules are established, the better they will remember them.
Once your Border Collie knows that you are in charge and they should be listening to you, teaching them more complex tricks will be much easier.
If you can’t get their attention, you likely won’t be able to teach them much of anything. While you can start these tricks as early as 5 months, it is often recommended that you wait at least 7 or 8 months and really focus on
establishing your house dynamic first.
Should I hire a professional to train my Border Collie?
Since Border Collies have several problematic tendencies such as bad behaviour when bored and under-stimulated, it is really important to ensure that they have thorough training.
In general, all dogs need good training. While it is possible for new and experienced dog owners to well-train their dog, hiring a professional will give you a leg up, especially as a first-time puppy parent.
This can look like one of two things- private one on one training, or puppy
training classes. Since Border Collies need to be well socialized to prevent behavioural issues anyway, it’s probably a good idea to join a puppy training class and work towards both goals at once.
Plus, professional trainers will have breed-specific knowledge and will be able to help you troubleshoot any issues that are specific to your Collie.
If you do decide to take on the task of training your Border Collie without the help of a professional, just be sure to do your research and read some books that are breed-specific where possible.
Here are some Border Collie training books you can order online
- Teach Your Herding Breed to Be a Great Companion Dog
- The Complete Guide to Border Collies
- The Happy Border Collie
If you think there’s a chance your training is not as effective as you had hoped, then do not hesitate to reach out for help- the younger your Collie is trained, the easier it will be to encourage and discourage certain behaviours.
So, are Border Collies easy to train?
Ultimately, while Border Collies are extremely capable of being trained, and are very well behaved when given the adequate training, the process is often lengthy, daunting and frustrating.
Training a Border Collie requires a lot of time, and an active approach to training is absolutely crucial.
If you run into trouble, you can always enlist the help of a professional, but we recommend evaluating if you are able to invest all of the necessary attention (and potentially money) that may be involved, before choosing to add a Border Collie to your family.
If you do, you will not be disappointed. A well trained Collie is sure to be a perfect addition to your household and is
a favorite breed of many for good reason.
Article By: Brenna Harris