Breed of the Month

Border Collie

bark busters

published 8th June 2017

This month’s medium-sized breed -The Border Collie - continues to hold popularity with many dog lovers because of its intelligence.

Border Collies make a great family dog, and have few aggression issues or other problems, providing they are kept entertained. This breed needs determined training to channel their energy in the right direction.

If Bark Busters is called in to deal with Border Collies, it is mainly because of their barking or herding issues. Check out our behavioral/training issues in relation to Border Collies further on in this article.

The Border Collie


Ever since man started raising sheep, they needed a trusty dog to help protect stock and herd from pen to pen for safe keeping. A dog’s natural herding traits was carefully bred into the Border Collie's ancestors, which originated in the border regions between Scotland and the Northern parts of England.

Farmers would show off the prowess of their best sheep dogs to other farmers while at the markets and soon developed a reputation for having the best working dog litters. The original outstanding dogs that were used to herd and guard sheep or livestock in the 1800’s were further enhanced through breeding and natural selection.

In the late 1800’s, Queen Victoria saw one of the dogs at a show and became an enthusiast of the breed.

A gentleman by the name of R.J. Lloyd Price is one of the first people to organize sheepdog trials. In 1876, he brought a hundred wild Welsh sheep to the Alexandra Palace in London for a sheep herding demonstration. The Livestock Journal described the astonishment of the spectators at the sharpness of the dogs, whose only assistance from their handlers was in the form of hand signals and whistles.

Border Collie


If thinking about a Border Collie as your next dog, you need to give some thought to the time you can devote to such an energetic breed. It would be unfair to keep this breed couped up for long hours – they are definitely not “couch potatoes”. . They do not do ‘home alone’ too well and can exhibit separation anxiety. If you lock them up for hours on end, it won’t be long until you get complaints from your neighbors about endless barking.

In order to establish yourself as the “Top Dog”, you will need to provide a comfortable “time-out place” if you need to go to work or out for the evening.

In reality, you can’t spend 24/7 with your dog. For this reason, we recommend that you practice some good management of your Border Collie for those times when you are not able to keep them actively engaged. You will need to provide some kind of entertainment for them, something that keeps them busy and something that engages their brain. Be sure to pick an activity that does not over-excite them or visually stimulate them such as a lure or a windup toy.

Never use laser beams or torches to entertain your dog. These type of activities over-stimulate the dog’s senses and can scramble a dog’s brain, sending them over the edge mentally. See “games to play with your Border Collie”, further on in this article.

If you have a busy lifestyle, then consider day care or dog walkers. Always do your own research into the right people to care for your precious pet. Also check that they hold adequate insurance and have experience in dealing with this breed.


Points of interest

  • Great all-round fun dog
  • Easy to train
  • Stable temperament
  • Good family dog
  • Need to be monitored when with children, due to their herding traits
  • Energetic and athletic-great companion for the fitness loving dog owner
  • Not commonly known for aggression to humans or other dogs
  • Great dog for things like agility, obedience competitions, Frisbee throwing, dancing with dogs and much more.
  • Love retrieving, often obsessively, especially with tennis balls
  • Must be actively engaged regularly
  • Highly intelligent and easy to train with basic obedience and general commands
  • Barking issues are high on this breeds issues, but fixable

Popular Working and Sporting Dog

The keenness of the Border Collie and its attractive look and appeal, is what made it a popular dog for obedience trials, dancing with dogs’ competitions, and agility competitions. Once you see a Border Collie perform, you will be impressed.

They move gracefully with determination, focused on the task ahead which is a learned behaviour from their sheep dog herding ancestry. Once they lock their interest on something, nothing else takes their focus.

Border collies were bred for their stamina, always presenting their ‘A’ game. They ran all day, without exhaustion, as they accompanied the shepherds at a moment’s notice.

Border Collies are easy to train, but beware if they get bored … that’s when mischief begins. Suddenly they will be chasing squirrels, barking, chasing cats or digging. Make sure you have the time to devote to keeping their mind and body engaged. Their personality is characteristically alert, energetic, hardworking, and smart. They learn quickly — so quickly that it's sometimes difficult to keep them mentally challenged.

They are a visual breed who constantly scrutinises your face. They are highly sensitive to your moods and subtle looks and will predict what you are about to do, even before you know what you are about to do yourself.

Personality and Temperament

The Border Collie is renowned as a fun loving energetic breed with an outgoing personality that is constantly seeking gratification from activity. They love activities that are focused on running or chasing after things and often mix well with people and other dogs. If their energy is not pointed to something meaningful, their strong herding instinct can lead to chasing cars and small animals.

They generally have a very stable temperament, capable of fitting into most households. They can be trained to herd chickens, ducks, geese, and any livestock.

The Border Collie is a breed without too many ‘hang ups’. They generally have the perfect temperament/personality to be a safe family dog.

This can of course be dependent on their temperament, upbringing and positive exposure to things as they grow and mature.

The breed is not generally renowned for any guard dog abilities, but will naturally bark at strangers or a perceived threat. They do need to be strictly controlled or they will bark at any kind of movement if their behavior is not kept in check.

See barking issues this article.

The right training for your Border Collie

You need to be absolutely sure what type of training you need for your Border Collie. These are a very trainable breed but they do need understanding, patience and some thought to the type of training that suits their intelligence. They need consistency and direction and some guidance in how to hold their focus.

A highly intelligent breed such as the Border Collie needs to be doing something every single day.

What the American kennel Club says

about Border Collies

“The Border Collie is a well-balanced, medium-sized dog of athletic appearance, displaying style and agility in equal measure with soundness and strength. Its hard, muscular body conveys the impression of effortless movement and endless endurance. The Border Collie is extremely intelligent, with its keen, alert expression being a very important characteristic of the breed. Any aspect of structure or temperament that would impede the dog's ability to function as a herding dog should be severely faulted. The Border Collie is, and should remain, a natural and unspoiled true working sheep dog. Honorable scars and broken teeth incurred in the line of duty are acceptable.

Border Collies thrive when they have a job to do and space to run.

This high-drive breed is extremely energetic and requires beyond just a walk around the block or a romp in the yard.

Due to their tendency to herd objects and people, they do their best with mature, well behaved children. They love their families but may be some what reserved with strangers.”


of the breed

This is a highly capable breed that likes nothing more than to be working at any task you set for it.

  • Great dog for farm work of any kind
  • Excellent Frisbee catching breed
  • Top dog for sheep and agility trials
  • Excel at obedience competitions
  • Brilliant breed for Dancing Dogs Competition
  • Search and rescue
  • Great family dog
  • Good companion for jogging

Donna Ryan Bark Busters International Head Trainer

Border Collies are an all-round sweet dog, usually very soft in nature, but are highly driven by the chase of a ball or something that moves quickly. They are generally easy to train and love to work either in obedience trials or other types of events such as fly ball, agility or sheep herding trials.

They are fairly easy to care for, just a brush every day to make sure their coat does not get tangled, especially behind their ears.

Border Collies love to be around the family, but still happy to be on their own, but without proper training they can be a nuisance with their barking and herding tendencies.

In the tropics flies can pose an issue as they will snap and bite at them.

If you are consistent you will have no problem training a Border Collie, they love to learn new things.

Donna Ryan

Case History

Aggression Towards Strangers

Millie – a rescue puppy -- was 6 months of age when Bark Busters was called in to address her unpredictable aggression towards strangers.

Millie would growl and snap if strangers approached or tried to touch her. This is quite common behavior in temperaments such as the one that Millie has, which we diagnosed as ‘fearful’.

Many puppies are born with a fearful or shy temperament that makes them predisposed to overacting when strangers approach or try to touch them.

We started out explaining dog psychology to her doggie parents and the fact that all dogs need strong leaders and especially dogs with Millie’s temperament.

When they don‘t get the much-needed leadership and security they crave, they become concerned for their own well-being and they then take matters into their own control and start acting out.

This aggression can commence at about 6-12 months of age and when it happens it catches everyone, who knows and loves them, by surprise.

It’s a self-protection response that is simply indicating to the approaching stranger that they should STOP their approach or the consequences could be dire.

The reason that this ‘aggression to strangers’ generally starts somewhere beyond 6 months of age, is due to the fact that young pups won’t deal with things, they usually just practice avoidance, until they feel capable of seriously repelling an approach.

We started her owners off with some basic commands for them to gain control of Millie’s aggression. We explained that she needs to always know that she can default to them when things don’t go her way or when she feels she needs protection. Where the owner is concerned, it’s a ‘we have this’ approach, so she learns that her humans will take care of things that scare her.

We also had them change the way people interacted with her. They have to be pro-active, raise their hand in a STOP signal, and hand the approaching person a packet of treats. Visitors should then throw her a treat versus trying to pet her or stare directly into her eyes.

This worked amazingly. In no time Millie felt less concerned or worried about approaching strangers, knowing the humans had control and she was in safe hands.

She actually began seeking people out more as they approached and waited for the treat she knew was coming.

This Month’s Bark Busters Guest Trainer

-Patrick Logue-Florida

and his trusted companion ‘Theodore’ that was rescued as a puppy

I joined Bark Busters in January of 2007. I have worked with over 3,500 dogs. My favorite training issue is helping owners teach their dog front door manners and other boundaries because it has so many real life implications. How nice would it be to be able to answer your doorbell in peace, or train your dog to stay out of the kitchen, or away from the dining table? I have found the most common thing my clients say is how much sense Speaking Dog makes. The largest mistake people make in training is they try training and when it does not work, they stereotype that all training does not work. This again gets back to how you are communicating with the dog. Using devices and bribery is not communication. Once someone learns to Speak Dog, the training begins in earnest. Once someone learns to Speak Dog the Bark Busters way, the biggest mistake is they stop Speaking Dog and think that their dog is done training. However consistent communication with your dog and speaking the canine language is the foundation of any dog-owner relationship.

The best part of my job is helping people have a better relationship with their dog. We teach people how to effectively communicate with their dog in a natural and instinctual manner. Many people try to train their dog to not jump, or pull on the leash, or rush the front door when the doorbell rings. However, if it were as simple as telling a dog “no”, then no one would need a dog trainer. People work hard, have family commitments and sometimes “training” the dog gets put on the back burner. It seems like a monumental ask when all it really takes is a few minutes every day. Training the Bark Busters way is about opening up the lines of communication and speaking dog. Dogs can’t speak human and until humans learn to Speak Dog, mis-communications will occur. Once people start speaking dog, it truly is amazing what can happen with a little bit of practice and a few minutes a day.

The best part about working with Bark Busters is the comfort and assurance that should you need anymore help after the lesson, it is taken care of with our life of dog guarantee of support.

World class, instinctual, intuitive training, the convenience of working in your own home and the peace of mind from guaranteed support.

YouTube story link

To see what pet owners have to say about Patrick's training.


Border Collie Health

Everyday Illnesses and Injuries

At any stage of life, here are some of the most common injuries and illnesses you should be aware of when bringing home a Border Collie:

  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Eye issues
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Joint disease

Your Border Collie’s health concerns will change over the course of their life. A puppy might be more prone to eat something they shouldn’t, a 2-year-old Border Collie may be more likely to show signs of separation anxiety, and a senior Border Collie is far more likely to develop arthritis as they age. Border Collie’s also have personality and physical traits that may make them more prone to certain conditions or situations—because they are an incredibly intelligent breed, a Border Collie without enough mental stimulation may become frustrated more likely to get into trouble.

If you are ever concerned about your dog’s health, your local veterinarian is a great resource—no matter how small the question.

Genetic Health Concerns

The Border Collie is generally a healthy breed, but this doesn’t excuse them from genetic conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia. Most reputable breeders now have their breeding stock checked and scored for these hereditary ailments by a vet. You can request proof that the puppy you are purchasing comes from parents that have been checked for these issues.

Because many other health issues are also hereditary, you should do some research on the ancestry of your puppy and any health issues of that particular breed.

Many rescue organizations also check for common-ailments before making them available for adoption.

Preparing yourself

As a pet owner, you should expect to pay for basic veterinary care like vaccines, spay/neuter, and annual checkups. Many pet owners don’t consider the unexpected illnesses and injuries that can occur throughout a pet’s life, and they don’t prepare for them. Medical insurance can help a pet owner prepare.

The concept of medical insurance for pets is fairly straightforward—pay a monthly premium to be covered for eligible veterinary expenses. But every provider is different, offering varied coverage with different plans, pricing options and limitations. As you research, pay close attention to coverage, deductible options, and ease of use. To get started, learn more about insurance for your Border Collie at


Training Your Border Collie

In any type of training you wish to undertake, you need patience, direction and know-how.

Bark Busters believes that dogs are predisposed and hard-wired at birth, to want to belong to a social group that has a strong leader at its core. It’s what makes them feel secure, safe, less anxious, knowing that their needs are going to be met.

There are several different types of training available, such as treat training or clicker training as well as other types that use force.

Bark Busters training employs ‘communication’. We speak to dogs in a way they understand and they respond quickly. We train the brain and look for comprehension, cooperation and understanding from the dog so we know what we are requesting it to do.

We believe that hands should only be used to pet the dog and that no dog should ever fear being touched by their owners hands.

Treats might be one way to make the experience a pleasant one and might achieve that goal, but many dogs either come and take the treat and run off or they don’t care because they are not hungry.

Either way, the treats have their limitations and that type of training does not offer the complete answer for all dogs. Some doggie parents are sick and tired of carrying pockets full of treats in order to get their dog to comply with their wishes.

Wouldn’t you prefer to be able to utter one word and have your dog stop in its tracks, return to you and actually love you for who you are, not what you can give them?

Then Bark Busters training is the right method for you and your Border Collie.

Bark Busters training explains how to communicate with your dog in their language since they can’t speak English. Our training is based on trust, respect and forming a strong bond between a dog and human. By using voice tones and body language, you will have a well-trained dog in no time. Most pet parents see amazing results after the first lesson.

Come When Called

When we identify issues with recall, we invariably identify cases where the human has sent the wrong messages to their dog by only calling it by name. They generally demand that their dog return, using harsh commands, which frighten the dog or try to grab their dog’s collar or tackle their dog out of frustration.

If you want your dog to “come” when called, negative reinforcement will not work. Your dog must feel that it can approach you without fear or concern that you will hurt or harm it when it does.

It is probably not your intention to scare the dog, but is an unforeseen consequence of harsh tones. Your dog may think its name is “bad dog”!

When calling your dog, it must first want to be with you, then it must want to stay with you. How you react when your dog approaches will depend on whether they want to stay and spend time.

It is very important to keep the invitation to approach appealing, in a high-pitched enticing voice, and lower your height. Don’t forget to offer lots of praise when they arrive.

Never grab their collar, or try to hold onto them, because this will cause your dog to try and avoid your hands.

Never chase your dog. That will only cause your dog to run away. It is better to run backwards, lower your height, or even lie down.

Common Behavioral Issues


The Border Collie is a barking breed. They are easily visually stimulated which is often why they bark so much. They will bark at anything that moves quickly, such as bikes, skate boards and the like.

Barking in the car, barking at people on bikes, and barking at lawnmowers are high on the list of behavioral issues that Bark Busters training addresses.

Dogs do not have great discerning abilities. They see something whizzing past and it concerns them. They don’t recognise it as a human on a skateboard or a human on a bike. They bark just to send it on its way. The fact that it was already going that way is lost on the dog and it mistakenly believes that their barking is what dispatched it.

With the Border Collie breed, you also have the strong herding instinct and that just adds to the problem.

How to Stop Barking at Skate Boards

You can try limiting your dog’s exposure to these depending on where you live and how often you walk your dog.

Control of any barking issue should always be addressed indoors first and when your dog is not adrenalized.

To address barking, you must catch your dog in the act and let them know, via communication that what they are doing is wrong.

You can also buy a skate board and attach a string to expose your dog to this object with some ‘sensory overload’. Start off feeding your dog near the board, then start moving it, just as you offer your dog its meal.

Adding more movement during feeding time might help ease your dog into getting accustomed to them.

How to Stop Barking at Pushbikes

You can try getting a friend who has a bike, to walk their bike past you and your dog and drop a treat on the ground. Let your dog sniff the bike but don’t encourage your friend to try to touch your dog, just drop treats.

Add to this exposure over time until your dog is thinking treats are coming every time it sees a bike.

If you do have success with this you will need to make sure your dog is responsive to the recall or always on leash when around bikes.

How to Stop Barking in the Car

As mentioned earlier, the Border Collie is easily stimulated visually. It’s that look that they use to intimidate the sheep that is at play here.

Dogs can become over-stimulated in cars as images do flashing by.

We have seen great success with the Bark Busters style of training to stop inappropriate and unwarranted barking.

When we see a tough case where a dog has become over-stimulated to the level of fixation, we have had success with a product called a Calming Cap (available at many stores). Coupled with our training, this product has worked well in addressing those cases where a dog has become over-stimulated in a vehicle.

Selecting the Right Puppy

Puppy Selection

There are many places to acquire a puppy, but the right breeding and temperament are vitally important if you want a hassle-free dog.

First check out the local Breed Specific Rescues, animal welfare shelters, Humane Society, SPCA and RSPCA’s as they have many great dogs looking for homes, who for no fault of their own, have ended up at a rescue or animal shelter.

You won’t know their breeding, but these organizations test their dogs for temperament and soundness.

You will be also be doing a good deed by giving a needy dog or puppy a forever home. Did you know that approximately 1.4 million companion animals are euthanized each year? When you are at the shelter, try to avoid selecting the fearful or over-zealous puppy, but at the same time, consider that the dog might just be traumatised by their surroundings. Animal Welfare and Rescues do amazing work in trying to save dogs and match breeds to the right owners.

Many of our Bark Busters trainers volunteer their services at local shelters and rescues to assist in rehabilitating dogs.

Select the Puppy that Suits your Personality and Lifestyle

Here are some guidelines for selecting a puppy. Choose one that:

  • Displays no aggression
  • Does not bite your fingers
  • Sits calmly in your lap
  • Does not bark at you
  • Does not initially run away from you
  • Looks healthy, has clear eyes and a glossy coat
  • Suits your personality and lifestyle
  • Can be easily housetrained (pet shop puppies are not easily toilet trained, see Toilet Training this article)
  • Matches your family’s energy levels

When selecting a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy, be sure to select the personality of puppy that suits your lifestyle.

If you do choose to go to a breeder, then try to view both parents, to determine the puppies personality.

View the interaction of the pups as that will tell you a lot about their personality. Avoid the bullies or assertive types if you want a dog that is going to be good with children.

Tips for Bringing A New Puppy Home

  • Do not bring a puppy home before it has reached 8 weeks of age. Any earlier and they will miss out of much needed bonding with other pups and their mother.
  • Bring your puppy home early in the day, allowing time for your puppy to settle into its new home.
  • Try and bring some bedding with the scent of the mother dog, scent of litter mates, or a familiar scent.
  • Be sure that you know where your puppy will sleep and introduce your puppy to this area during meal times.
  • If you have to lock your puppy up, make sure you address any barking, while hidden close by, without returning to the puppy. This will only encourage more barking. Puppies do better if they know you are there nearby and have not deserted them.
  • Make sure you have the same diet your puppy was being fed on. Any diet change must be a gradual one.
  • Ensure that you puppy proof your house and place all electrical cables and poisonous chemicals etc. out of harm’s way.
  • Make sure you provide lots of bathroom breaks
  • Take your puppy to the bathroom at least 4 times/day: after sleeping, eating, drinking and any exuberant exercise.

Selecting the right dog for you

One dog or two?

We are often asked by prospective dog parents if they should get one or two puppies. We always answer the same way -- only if you want two dogs!

Dogs are pack animals and they love having company, but the selection of two dogs is something that must carefully thought through.

Two neutered males can cohabit without too many issues if their doggie parents treat them equally and do not display any favoritism. Unequal treatment is usually behind most Sibling Rivalry cases.

A male and a female of equal energy can also cohabit – this is the best match of all -- providing that the female and male are equally matched in size. If they are differing sizes, its best that the male is the larger of the two. Make sure that the female is spayed or problems could occur if a large male tries to mate with a smaller female.

Two females are not the perfect pair as females invariably want to rule the household. With two females, each will try to be the boss, which can lead to fights.

Your Border Collie has

four basic needs


Select the right diet for your dog, one that possesses all of your dog’s nutritional needs. You will need a diet that can provide all of the energy that an active Border Collie requires to keep it’s coat gleaming and in good health-do your own research on what diet is best for your dog.


Your dog needs a place to call its own, a bed of its own or a place where it can feel safe such as a den-like crate that is warm and cozy.


Your dog’s feeling of security comes from Leadership and the fact that you as its leader will make all the decisions -- you need to ensure you provide education and guidance for your dog, based on patience, understanding and communication.


Your dog needs to be entertained to reduce boredom. Toys and activities are essential to keeping your dog stimulated and busy and to ensure that your dog is less destructive. Bored dogs misbehave!

Check out the GameChanger® by Bark Busters, this toy is a real Game Changer!



We have discussed at length the wrong kind of games to play with your Border Collie. What are the right games, you might ask?

’Tug of War’ is okay and playing ball is good, provided your dog is not the type that gets fixated on the ball and refuses to stop playing when requested. Hide and seek is a great game too. These are games where you hide things from your dog: toys or a tennis ball and then encourage them to find them. You can increase the degree of difficulty as your dog gets better at the game.

Start out where your dog sees you hide the toy, then repeat over and over, ‘Find or Seek’

Remember to give a lot of praise when they find it. These type of games are more calming for your Border Collie, than those type of games that encourage your dog to become over-excited.

Child’s Play

Border Collies are great family dogs but they do need to be controlled around children or they might try to herd them. They are highly intelligent and do learn quickly, so spend time educating them as to what is good and what is not. If you are patient and understanding of their capabilities, you will be able to enjoy many great times as a family with your dog. Never leave any dog alone with children regardless of the breed.

Interactive Toys

Bark Busters has the ultimate toy for all dogs that provides dogs with several options. It’s an interactive puzzle toy that delivers a treat. It’s a chew toy, that they can carry around and take to their bed. They can’t rip it apart like many “stuffed” toys. It’s a workout toy, that they flip over with their nose and scratch at with their paws. It will possibly be your dog’s favorite toy. The Gamechanger comes in four vibrant colors and will give your dog hours of fun and mental stimulation.

Lost Dog


Helps Reunite You and Your Dog

There is nothing more upsetting than losing your dog – the trauma is unbearable. To help lost dogs and their humans become reunited, we have created the WaggTagg™ by Bark Busters.

This pet identification tag is free to all Bark Busters clients and this brightly coloured tag cannot be missed by the finder. The finder simply needs to scan the tag, which sends a text message directly to the dog owner and several other nominated people. One of your contacts could be your vet for cases where your dog might have a medical condition. The tag will not reveal any sensitive information to the finder because it protects the dog owner’s privacy.

No renewal fees

Once your dog is registered in the WaggTagg™ data base, it is there forever and you won’t pay any renewal fees. No “chip” reader necessary!

Dogs are reunited quickly with their family

We have several success stories where dogs were reunited with their owners before their owners knew that their dog was missing.

Vets Love the WaggTagg™

We launched the tag at the Western Vet Conference in 2016 in Las Vegas and most of the vets told us that they loved the tag and that it would make their job easier. The general consensus was, that although the micro-chip was great it has some short comings.

First a scanner is required (which are not standardized), the dog has to be transported to a vet clinic or facility and the owner must be contacted. Unfortunately, dogs get lost outside the hours of operation for many vet clinics and the dog is in the midst of strangers. The vet has to stop what they are doing (they could be operating) scan the dog, and hope the microchip can be found inside the dog’s body (they slip and slide). Then the dog has to be accommodated somehow until the owner can be contacted.This could be overnight or for a few days if the owner is on vacation.

If the dog had a WaggTagg™, the dog would have already been reunited, or in the hands of family or friend!

Speak to your local Bark Busters trainer about our free WaggTagg™ that is included in all Bark Busters training.


Many dog owners and walking enthusiasts are constantly searching for the ‘’holy grail’ of the ultimate dog walking equipment. With this in mind, the Directors of Bark Busters -- Sylvia and Danny Wilson -- set about designing what they believe to be the best walking harness available. They have tested hu

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