When looking at potential dog breeds, one of your primary concerns will be around their barking behaviors and tendencies. Border collies are no exception. Intrigued, I decided to research how often border collies bark so that I would know exactly to expect with this breed of dog. I’d like to present my findings here to you today.
So, do border collies bark a lot? Border collies are known for barking a lot and they generally like to be heard. They will often bark when they are hungry, excited, bored, playful, lonely, or in need of their owner’s attention. Thankfully, border collies are intelligent dogs and they can be trained to bark less.
Border collies, like most sheepdogs, are highly astute and communicative canines.
These dogs can make excellent pets but not without the right home environment and training. This breed loves nothing more than keeping busy, and an owner must make provision for this.
The main reason border collies bark so much is because they were bred as herding dogs initially, and herding involves a lot of barking.
These dogs also make excellent watchdogs because they bark when they notice anything out of the ordinary as a way of alerting their family to potential danger.
However, this may not always be preferable depending on where you live and if you live in a busy street with many neighbours.
Let us now explore the barking tendencies in border collies further where we look at some practical ways to help reduce barking in this breed.
Are Border Collies Barkers?
Yes, border collies are barkers. This breed is known to bark for any and almost every reason. It is their primary method and form of communication.
Understandably, it can quickly become irritating to owners and even considered unnecessary at certain times and in specific contexts.
If you have a border collie who barks excessively, finding out why they are barking and what they are trying to communicate is a crucial step in lessening the amount of barking.
The underlying reason why border collies bark so much and so often has to do with their herding instincts. Barking has been used by generations of border collies to herd livestock – so its important to remember as an owner that this is entirely natural and instinctive to them.
That being said, there are other specific situations that will trigger barking, these include:
- Being friendly, expressing their emotions,
- Someone knocking at the door
- Feeling playful
- Feeling hungry and the bowl is empty
- Wanting to go for a walk
- Feeling lonely and requiring attention.
- They want you to fuss them, and rub their back
- And so on…
A border collie simply requires plenty of physical and mental stimulation. If they don’t get a minimum of 1-2 hours of exercise per day, they will inevitably become restless.
Activity is their way of releasing excess energy – so too much sitting around is only going to lead to boredom and restlessness. They also need to engage their minds in mentally stimulating activities, or again, they will let you know!
Border collies are known to continue to bark until they get your attention. The truth is, with this breed – they always want your attention.
Over time, this can be emotionally draining, even for the most loving of owners.
The importance of consistent and effective dog training cannot be emphasized enough. It is so essential, for dog owners as well as their dog.
One thing to note and watch out for is that barking can indicate a health problem or issue. While some dogs may become quiet and lethargic, others can and do bark during an illness.
While it may be something small calling mild discomfort, equally it could be something more serious and they are injured or in pain.
If you notice a sudden increase in their barking, you may want to inspect for health issues. Sometimes taking your dog to a vet is required and can help identify and overcome the cause of barking.
Can Border Collies Be Calm?
It is hard to imagine a border collie ever being truly calm and ‘placid’. They are notoriously hyperactive, their energetic nature is regarded as a breed trait, especially in the first half of their lifespan.
Their energy has always been required, and their activity is what has enabled them to fulfill their duties over the course of history.
Thankfully, while calming a border collie is challenging, it is achievable with lots of patience, consistency and following time with them in your care.
If a border collie is too energetic, (yes it is possible! )it may be due to an underlying illness, make sure to have any health complications ruled out by a vet, before taking any action to calm him.
Let’s look at steps you can take as a border collie dog owner to calm your pet:
1- Put Your Border Collie On A Low-Protein And Low Fat Diet
Reducing your dog’s protein and fat intake is an excellent first step.
These dogs are very energetic, and the high fat and protein levels in their diet bring extra calories that can lead to excessive energy.
Make sure that you transition to a new diet gradually to avoid an upset stomach. Also be sure to discuss your dogs requirements with your vet and be sure to feed them only the best and highest quality food.
Taking protein and fat out of their diet does not mean feeding them junk/scraps. They still require plenty of vitamins and minerals in order to remain healthy.
2- Make Sure Your Border Collie Has Sufficient Exercise
Make sure that your border collie gets to burn off their energy throughout the day.
As working dogs, border collies love to chase things. You should be sure to incorporate this instinct into their play.
Its a good idea to get your dog out running in a safe an open space. Toss a ball or a frisbee to get them to stretch their legs. Ball launchers from Amazon are particularly effective and can save your arm a lot of hard work and repetitive strain.
Consider setting up a room in your home filled with toys, where they can explore, play, and have the run of the house while you are busy.
Make sure to lock any doors that you think your border collie might get into and create mischief. Otherwise consider baby gates or other equivalent apparatus.
3- Administer Herbal Calming Remedies
You can add herbal calming supplements to your dog’s food – these are ideal in cases of severe hyperactivity or a dog that experiences separation anxiety.
Do not use unknown products or any form of tranquilizers prescribed for hyperactivity; this may work well with other breeds but it is not something you should be looking to do to quieten your pet.
Additionally, many border collies carry the MRD1 gene, which when interact with certain tranquilizers can have catastrophic consequences.
Herbal calming solutions are made of natural ingredients that encourage the release of natural hormones. These natural remedies can help your border collie to calm down without the dangers linked to prescription tranquilizers.
If you want to go the herbal supplement route, it is best to conduct some thorough research and also to speak with your vet ahead of any purchase and regimen.
If your dog experiences separation anxiety, some dog owners swear by adding unwashed items of their clothing to a room. The scent of the dog’s owner on the clothing item often helps calm anxious dogs, so it is well worth a try.
How Do I Get My Border Collie To Stop Barking?
Once you have established what triggers your collie’s barking, you need to eliminate these triggers, if it’s at all possible.
If your dog kicks up a fuss because they want to go outside, then see whether this is possible. If it is not, or not the best of times, pull down your blinds/shut your curtains to obstruct their view of your yard. This works particularly well if you live in a loud or busy area, or are expecting a parcel to arrive!
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll also want to keep your dog active – with frequent and regular activity throughout the day. This should be in the form of scheduled walk and play. This will serve to distract them and prevent boredom.
Another important thing to do is ensure that your border collie is getting enough socialization.
The border collie is a very caring and loyal breed. They will protect their family and loved ones, which can be a good and bad thing. If they are not socialized enough, you may notice that they bark around people more often – as they will see anyone new as a threat.
If you notice your dog barking more at people, then this could be a sign they require more socialization. You can do this by introducing them to new people and places. Take treats along with you to ensure the dog perceives meeting new people as a positive experience.
Be consistent and you’ll notice your border collie soon learning not to bark in the company of other people and your friends.
Believe it or not, most border collies have more than just one barking trigger; this should help you to figure out what each one means.
Effective training will help you to identify these triggers and then to respond accordingly.
Its important that you use the same short command words, like “quiet”, and consistently when training your border collie.
Deliver the command word in a firm but calm voice. Do not shout at your dog, as they do not understand what shouting is and they will interpret it differently. You’ll find that it does not have the effect you are looking for.
When you teach your dog to sit or lie down, do not do so while you are bark training them.
While you can’t stop your collie from barking completely, you can minimize the amount they bark by deflecting. Essentially, you will be teaching your dog to bark on command; by saying “bark” or “speak.” Certain command words will let them know when it is okay to bark.
Allow your collie to bark a couple of times until they stops, then you can give them a treat.
Once your collie understands the signal for barking on command, you can teach them the signal for “quiet.” Offer your collie praise and treats when they obey your commands.
Border collies are notoriously excessive barkers. As sheepdogs, barking is part of their herding nature.
However barking is not always truly necessary nor does it unwelcome bouts need to be put up with.
You cannot stop this breed from communicating the way that they do, but you can certainly minimize it and control it to a certain extent.
When redirecting your collie’s barking, be firm and consistent, but don’t shout at him, shouting is counterproductive. If you do so, you’ll likely lose your dogs trust and this will inadvertently set you back.
Instead, practice consistency, patience and be sure to train them from a young age. In time, you’ll find your efforts paying off and a better behaved, disciplined dog.
Do different barks mean different things? Generally, a lower pitched bark is a sign of aggression, attention-seeking and playfulness. A higher pitched bark is usually a sign of alarm, fear, or pain. Other behaviors like tail-wagging can also be indicators of the cause and reason for barking.
Why does my border collie growl at me? A border collie may growl for several different reasons. The most common include playfulness, trying to establish dominance, as a defensive warning and as a sign of aggression. While not all growling is always and should be considered as a sign of aggression, sometimes it may be. Therefore, you should monitor when, where and how prominent growling is. It can be an indicator that something is wrong.
Do Border Collies get jealous? Yes, border collies can get jealous – like many other dog breeds. Jealously generally occurs when a dog does not believe they are getting adequate attention, or if they notice another dog/animal or individual is getting more attention than them. Undertaking consistent training is perhaps the most effective way to improve jealous tendencies and behavior in border collies.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.