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How to Train a Border Collie: 15 Tips & Tricks

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on June 7, 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. They’re gorgeous and highly intelligent, and they make incredible working dogs and companions. If you’ve been thinking about bringing a Border Collie into your family, knowing how easy or challenging they can be to train 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.

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How to Train a Border Collie

1. Research the Breed

Before considering bringing a Border Collie home, you need to learn as much as possible about them. Borders have long topped the most intelligent dog lists for their working intelligence 1. They make excellent pets but aren’t for everyone since they have an almost unlimited amount of energy and need more exercise than most breeds.

If you don’t plan on using them as a working dog, you’ll need to provide plenty of vigorous exercise. However, 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 breeds, particularly the Border Collie. You must expose them to as many people, animals, 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 involves nipping at the heels. Socializing them will keep them in check and less reactive when you start the training sessions.


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

You should start training your puppy as soon as you bring them home. Eight weeks of age is old enough for training, and you can start with 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. 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 your pup, you’ll need to create a schedule, make it a part of your daily routine, and stick to it. A Border Collie 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 burn off some of the dog’s excess energy. Take them for a walk, get them running at the dog park, or do whatever you need to do to help them burn off energy.

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

brown white border collie running
Image By: Krasula, Shutterstock

6. Come Prepared

Before starting the training session, you need to be prepared with the necessary tools. This should 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 them for, you’ll want to have your dog’s leash. Always be prepared.


7. Short Training Sessions

Young puppies should only have about 5 to 10-minute training sessions. As your dog ages, 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, it will be challenging to keep them focused for longer periods. 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

Crate-training your dog isn’t necessary, but it 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 animals 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 Collie recall should start when they are about 4 months old. This is important because you need your dog to come to you when you call. This is particularly essential for 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 distractions so they will listen when you call when it’s necessary.


11. Clicker or Whistle Training

Border Collies respond well to clicker or whistle training. Many shepherds use a whistle to issue commands to their Border Collies. Clickers and whistles are effective tools that 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 dog 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 made you happy.


13. Patience and Gentleness

Never speak harshly or punish your dog when they aren’t picking up the training or are acting stubbornly. 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 also be firm, 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 supplement your training by reinforcing the basic commands and teaching more advanced skills. They will also get to socialize with other dogs. You can enroll them when they are 8 weeks old.


15. Advanced Classes

Because Border Collies prefer to do a job, it can help to enroll them in herding, agility, tracking, and rally classes and competitions. They are also excellent at flyball and flying disc. Engaging your Border in these activities will keep them busy and make them happy.

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

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Final Thoughts

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

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. As one of the world’s smartest canines, Border Collies learn quickly and seem to enjoy training.


Featured Image Credit: sonsart, Shutterstock

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