Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Train a Border Collie: 15 Tips & Tricks

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Border Collie puppy during obedience training outdoors

How to Train a Border Collie: 15 Tips & Tricks

We’re all pretty familiar with the Border Collie. These gorgeous and highly intelligent dogs make incredible working dogs and wonderful companions. If you’ve been thinking about bringing one of these dogs into your family, knowing how easy or challenging it might be to train this breed is essential.

If you’re unsure how to start training the Border Collie, we have an easy guide full of tips on the best methods for training your dog.

divider-dog paw

How to Train a Border Collie

1. Research the Breed

Before you even consider bringing one of these dogs home, you need to learn as much as possible about the Border Collie. Borders have long topped the most intelligent dog lists for their working intelligence 1. This breed is not for everyone—they have an almost unlimited amount of energy and need to be given a job to do.

If you don’t plan on using them as a working dog, you’ll need to provide a ton of vigorous exercise. But training can be relatively easy due to their high intelligence and eager-to-please nature.

female border collie lying on grass
Image By: Elayne Massaini, Shutterstock

2. Start with Socialization

Socialization is essential for all dog breeds, particularly the Border Collie. You must expose them to as many people, animals, places, and environments as possible. This is essential for puppies, but if you’ve adopted an adult dog, you can still socialize them.

Borders were bred to be sheepdogs, so they have strong herding instincts and will attempt to herd everyone they can. Which also means nipping at the heels. Socializing them will help to keep them in check and be less reactive when you start the training sessions and when out in public.

3. They Are Never Too Old or Too Young for Training

You should start training your puppy practically as soon as you bring them home. Eight weeks of age is old enough for training. You’ll want to start with some of the basic commands, such as stay, sit, and come. You’ll also be focusing on housetraining as well as crate training.

Keep the training sessions short, about 5 to 10 minutes, and end on a positive note (usually lots of praise and a treat and even a play session with you). Again, if you have an older dog, you can still train them as well. Forget about the “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” saying.

border collie dog getting trained
Image By: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

4. You Need a Training Schedule

When training any dog, you’ll need to create a schedule, make it a part of your daily routine, and stick to it. Consistency is absolutely essential, so as long as you stick with the schedule and train consistently, this will give the Border a job.

And as we said earlier, a Border Collie really excels when they feel they are working. Having a schedule is also a good way to ensure you stick to it without distractions, allowing you both to focus on the training.

5. Exercise First

Before you settle into a training session, you’ll want to get some of the dog’s excess energy burned off. Take them for a walk, get them running at the dog park, or do whatever you need to do to help them burn some energy.

Don’t go crazy and tire them out to the point where they want a nap instead of training, but just enough so they are in a calmer and more attentive frame of mind.

brown white border collie running
Image By: Krasula, Shutterstock

6. Come Prepared

Before starting the training session, you need to be prepared with the tools for training. This definitely needs to include treats and any other tools your dog responds to (like a favorite toy as a reward).

Also, depending on what you’re currently training your dog for—for example, if you’re teaching “heel”—you’ll want to have your dog’s leash. Always be prepared.

7. Short Training Sessions

We mentioned this earlier. Young puppies should only have about 5 to 10-minute training sessions. As your dog gets older, you can make the sessions a little longer, but you’ll want to aim for 10 to 20 minutes about once or twice a day.

Because of their energy levels, keeping them focused for longer periods will be challenging. It’s far more effective to keep them short.

border collie dog dropping the ball to a person's hand
Image By: Anaite, Shutterstock

8. Crate Training

It isn’t an absolute necessity to crate train your dog, but the crate is an excellent way to ensure they are housetrained. It also gives them a sense of security—they can go into the crate when they want to sleep or when they are stressed.

You can start crate training your Border when they are 8 weeks old, and it will eventually become a place of comfort for them.

9. Leash Training

Border Collies must be on a leash because their urge to chase and herd things will overtake everything. Leash training is essential because they also need to learn not to pull and how to walk next to you calmly. You can start leash training by about 10 weeks of age.

border collie on a leash during training
Image By: HRDL, Pixabay

10. Recall Training

Teaching your Border recall should start by the time they are about 4 months old. This is an important one because you need your dog to come to you when you call. This is particularly essential for those times when they are off-leash.

You’ll start the training when your dog is a short distance away and gradually increase the distance. You can also try adding some distractions so they will listen when you call when it’s absolutely necessary.

11. Clicker or Whistle Training

Border Collies will most definitely respond well to clicker or whistle training. Many shepherds use a whistle for their working Border Collies to issue commands, although these whistles are a different kind that fits inside the mouth.

Either way, these are effective tools that work to reinforce good behavior. This is a more advanced training technique, but your Border will learn good behaviors quickly.

clicker training a border collie dog
Image By: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

12. Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is everything when it comes to training! When your Border does something right during a training session, no matter how easy or basic it is, they should receive a treat and lots of praise.

This will show your Border that they did a great job and that it’s also made you happy. Both are things that Border Collies work towards and ultimately make them happy as well.

13. Patience and Gentleness

Never speak harshly or punish your dog when they aren’t picking up the training or is acting stubborn. Highly intelligent dogs can also be headstrong at times.

They are sensitive dogs, so they should be treated with love, gentleness, and patience. You should be firm as well, but you don’t want your dog to fear you. Patience is everything with the Border Collie.

border collie dog at the park with owner
Image By: Your Hand Please, Shutterstock

14. Obedience Class

Obedience classes can help supplement your training by reinforcing the basic commands and teaching them more advanced skills.

They will gain some extra socialization with other dogs as well. You can enroll them when they are 7 to 8 weeks of age.

15. Advanced Classes

Because Border Collies prefer to do a job, it can really help to enroll them in herding, agility, tracking, and rally classes and competitions. They are also excellent at things like flyball and flying disc.

Engaging your Border in these activities will help keep them busy, which will additionally make them happy.

border collie dog running on the boom on a dog agility course
Image By: Juha Saastamoinen, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

If you are still planning on adding a Border Collie to your family, you should read up on the best training techniques. Tackle the training one at a time, and remember to be firm but gentle and super patient!

But if you follow our tips and you’re prepared to train a very energetic dog that will take to training well, it shouldn’t be too challenging. Just as long as you remember to research the Border, be equally energetic, and enjoy spending time outdoors, you can’t go wrong with the Border Collie.

Featured Image Credit: sonsart, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.