So chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve either just adopted your border collie or you are looking into buying one. Now you’re wondering, what are the best ways to bond with your border collie
Border collies are not typically super cuddly dogs unless they’re tired after a long day of work, so you may find it challenging to feel like your dog is bonded with you.
Fortunately, while cuddling may not be their favorite thing, there are plenty of activities that border collies love that will help you to bond with your border collie.
Border Collie Temperament
Border collies are a working breed that was originally created to work all day on the farm herding livestock, most often sheep.
This has left them with an almost insatiable desire to work and run all day long. A working border collie will often run more than 20 miles per day.
This can make them difficult for the average family to maintain; however, it can be done with enough careful planning and work.
These dogs are known for closely bonding with one person that becomes their ‘handler,’ although they are by no means unfriendly dogs.
This just means that they will typically look to one person for consistent direction, not every member of the family. Along with this, the bond that you have with your border collie is unlikely to look like the bond you had with your family dog growing up.
You won’t be experiencing the same cuddling on the couch watching a movie type of bond that you may be used to. You’ll be experiencing the deep connection that comes along with working alongside your dog.
12 Ways to Bond with your Border Collie
For dogs with lots of energy, and especially the brilliant border collie, training is going to be your best bet when it comes to spending time with and bonding with your dog. If you want to do more than just teach your dog to spin in a circle, canine sports can be a great way to provide your dog with exercise, training, and for you to build a community with other local border collie owners.
According to the AKC, or American Kennel Club, agility is a sport where your dog races through an obstacle course as fast as they can with you running alongside them and directing them.
When put on through the AKC, it is a companion event, meaning any dog can participate, and they do not have to be of a specific age, breed, or sex.
This also holds true in most agility competitions, although it is possible to find breed-specific competitions. If you’re interested in AKC sanctioned agility classes or competitions, visit their website, where they have an entire directory of agility clubs, classes, and competitions all over the country.
Agility is ideal for border collies because it fulfills two of their most important needs; it allows them to run and get all their energy out while working their brains simultaneously.
You are also constantly at your dog’s side, directing them through the obstacles, which helps to create a strong bond between you and your dog.
If you’re getting a border collie, you have probably seen one of the thousands of fantastic herding videos on Youtube.
The often silent communication between the dog and their handler is incredible to witness. It is what many would consider the ultimate demonstration of a strong bond between dog and owner.
For one border collie owner, herding was the thing that they feel has brought them the closest to their dog.
According to this owner, “Herding is less about complete obedience as a working dialogue with your dog.” It doesn’t get much better than that.
If agility is appealing to you, but you’d rather have more social opportunities for the human side of your duo as well, flyball could be the perfect solution! Flyball is another canine sport that is a form of a relay race.
The team of dogs races over several hurdles, retrieves a tennis ball, then races back over the hurdles to their handler. The first team to have all their dogs successfully retrieve the ball and make it back over the hurdles wins.
If you’re a competitive person and you love the high energy that comes with sporting events, flyball will likely be an excellent fit for you and your border collie.
As a matter of fact, border collies are known for being so good at flyball that much of the time, there are rules governing how many border collies you can have per team.
Search and Rescue
While border collies are not typically associated with search and rescue work, there’s no reason why this athletic, focused breed shouldn’t give it a try.
Search and rescue dogs are used in all sorts of situations, including natural disasters and missing person cases. They are capable of following trails and find scents that humans are simply incapable of catching.
Search and rescue dogs save lives every day, but not everyone wants that kind of responsibility. There are plenty of clubs all over the states where handlers and their dogs get together to practice their search and rescue skills in a low-stress, fun environment.
This is another option that will exercise your dog’s mind and body at the same time as they run through the woods while focusing on keeping the scent.
Freestyle Flying Disc
Moving back to another awesome canine sport, we have flying disc. One of the drawbacks to a canine sport like agility is that you have to pay to use a facility every time you want to run your dog over the equipment or purchase your own equipment, which isn’t cheap.
With flying disc competitions, the only equipment you are going to need is some nice frisbees and a large open space for you and your border collie to practice in.
In a freestyle flying disc competition, you get two and a half minutes of the judges’ time, turn on some music, and wow them with a frisbee catching routine.
This is a super fun activity that almost any healthy, athletic dog can get involved in, and border collies are sure to excel.
Exercising wit your Border Collie
With a dog as energetic as a border collie, you are going to want to make sure that you are scheduling some serious exercise time in.
Or, you’re never going to end up with the cuddles that you want from your dog. All the previously mentioned canine sports are great, but all involve spending some money and competition, which is not something everyone can afford or wants.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to exercise your dog that aren’t going to have you attending your local AKC chartered events.
A lot of people think about walking or running with your dog, which are great options that we’ll discuss later, but something many don’t know is a possibility is biking with your dog.
Nowadays, you can find plenty of excellent attachments for your bike that will allow your dog to run alongside you without you having to hold onto their leash at the same time.
With a simple harness, using a collar could increase the risk of choking and make for a bumpier ride, and with an attachment like the Malabi V2.0, available on Amazon, you will be riding with your dog in no time.
Running with your Border Collie
If you’re an avid runner, taking your dog with you on your weekend runs can be a great bonding opportunity for you both. As long as you know how to walk your dog, you can run with them.
Just make sure you get a good hands-free running leash that will keep your dog safe and secure during your run.
One important thing to remember when it comes to running, or biking, with your dog, is that you should make sure your dog is in good health before you start.
They should also be done growing to ensure that no damage is done to their growth plates.
If you have any doubts about whether or not your dog is a suitable workout partner, talk to their vet about your plan and see if they express any concerns or have any advice on how to adapt your runs for your dog.
Training your Border Collie
For dogs as smart as border collies, you want to ensure that you provide them with enough mental stimulation.
This is also a fantastic way to bond with your dog because while you are training them to perform different tasks, you are spending time with them and learning how to better communicate with them.
Read Next: 20 StimulatingJobs for Your Border Collie
Teaching your Border Collie to Pick Up Laundry
Something that’s super fun that you can teach your border collie to do is help out around the house, and what better way for them to help than picking up the laundry.
This is actually a pretty easy task to teach your dog because it involves behaviors that are natural for most border collies. They have to search for the laundry and retrieve it, then place it in the designated area.
This may not be the best idea if your dog is still a puppy and is in its chewing stage because you won’t want to be encouraging them to put fabrics into their mouth.
However, if they’re beyond that stage, teaching them to help with the laundry is super fun and always a great trick to show off when your friends come over. You can find a full tutorial on how to teach your dog to pick up laundry here.
Personal Alarm Clock
One super fun idea that a border collie owner had was training her border collie to wake her son up every morning. Every morning she tells her collie to go and wake up her son and they run into the room and wake them up.
This is also an awesome way to increase your collie’s bond with the other family members. Border collies can sometimes be known for bonding closely with only one person.
Incorporating other family members into their training can be a great way to prevent this.
Collecting the Mail
This is another great one that’s similar to teaching your dog to pick up laundry or their toys. If you get a daily newspaper delivered, then you can easily teach your dog to run to the end of the driveway and pick it up once it’s been delivered.
One of the reasons that this is such a great idea is that it’s an independent task. Once they have been trained to perform the task, it becomes part of their routine that they can do daily.
This will help keep them mentally stimulated without you having to dedicate as much time to one-on-one training.
Don’t know which dog products to trust? See my list of trusted Border Collie Essentials here
Get Me a Drink
If you want your border collie to have a fun party trick, getting you a drink out of the fridge is a great one.
Growing up, I remember one of my neighbors trained their dog to grab drinks for everyone at the cookout. She would walk around handing out beers and sodas to all the guests, and everyone loved it.
Teaching your dog this will be similar to teaching them to get the mail or any other kind of retrieval game. The hardest part about this one might be convincing them to put the cold can into their mouth, but once they get it down, this is a super fun trick.
Spend Time With Your Border Collie
All of these ideas are great, fun ways to bond with your dog, but the most important thing isn’t what you’re doing. It’s how long you’re doing it for.
The best way to bond with your Border Collie is to spend as much time with them as possible. All of these activities are just going to make it a little bit easier to spend time with your dog and put a little more structure into their routine.
Are border collies good family dogs?
For an active family, border collies can be a great family dog. However, caution should be taken with small children as border collies can be prone to nipping and other herding behaviors.
Do I need a farm to have a border collie?
No, as long as you are willing to provide your border collie with enough mental and physical stimulation in other ways, you do not need to live on a farm to have a border collie.
Are border collies easy to train?
Yes, in general, border collies are considered highly trainable dogs. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t have to put in the effort, they may be easy to train, but that doesn’t mean they’ll train themselves.