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Are Border Collies Easy To Train? 5 Essential Stages To Know!

Are Border Collies easy to train

We all know that Border Collies are super energetic and intelligent owing to being a breed with a strong herding instinct high activity level and a love for mental and physical activities. We also know they know their own mind! But does this make them easy or difficult to train? Let’s find out!

Are Border Collies easy to train? Border Collies’ high intelligence and willingness to please make them one of the most trainable dog breeds, and therefore can be said to be easy to train compared to many other breeds without these qualities. For example, Collies can often be housetrained before four months of age and taught recall and to sit and stay within six months. However, like any dog training, this takes a great deal of patience and consistency.

Training your furry companion is essential in order to keep them safe and in good health in an unpredictable world and to make your relationship and life with them flow without unnecessary stresses that accompany an untrained dog. And avoiding picking up that dreaded bad habit! Here we explore how easy/difficult Border Collie training is, how long it may take for certain specific commands, off-leash training and whether Collies make good dogs for beginners. 

Are Border Collies Easy To Train?

Border Collies are no couch potato! They are an intelligent and energetic breed but they are independent thinkers requiring daily mental stimulation. This means they are often keen to please and quick to pick up on commands. However, their independence, herding instinct and free-thinking means they can get distracted and it can take time for them to pick up on things, so don’t get frustrated if they’re not catching onto the commands as fast as you would like.

Once your Border Collie learns one thing, it means they can learn something else. The more commands they learn, the more simple lessons you can teach them. Always keep this in mind so you don’t overwhelm your dog with too many tasks at once.

Housetraining/potty training is realistic within four months and they can be taught recall and to sit and stay within six months (see below for more on this!). But dog training is not an exact science and much depends on your individual dog’s personality. With training, patience and consistency are king!

How Long Does It Take To Train A Border Collie?

It is said that it takes about two years for a Border Collie to become fully trained. Needless to say this can take longer or be accelerated depending on your dog’s personality and your level of commitment. Some tasks can be mastered in a far shorter amount of time, but other behaviors such as complex cognitive training will take more time to learn. You can never expect your dog to know everything without practicing, so always keep that in mind when training them and remain consistent throughout their training.

Training a Border Collie can be very rewarding and enjoyable once they learn the behaviors you want them to perform. Here’s some information on some of the key training milestones – and how long you can expect this to take for your family dog to learn each type of training:

1. House Training

About four months of age.

Crate training will help with this, but if you don’t want to use a crate you can expect things to take longer than usual. In some cases, the dog may even forget they have to go outside because they instinctively hold it until their bed or den is available. This could be your couch, their crate, or their bed.

2. Calling Your Dog

At least six months old.

Border Collies are pretty smart but they won’t just come to you when you call them right away. They need time to learn the proper behavior and how that behavior will benefit them in certain situations.

3. Sitting on Command

Six weeks time frame (approximately); maybe less if the dog is highly food-motivated.

In some cases, it could take longer if the dog is stubborn or needs additional distractions to keep them from concentrating on your instruction.

4. Stay 

About six weeks time frame.

This would be for a Border Collie who’s been trained in a consistent training program where they understand the command and how it will benefit them in everyday life.

5. Leash Training

About five weeks time frame.

Border Collies are very independent and intelligent so they learn faster than other breeds, but their nature is to chase things so if you don’t show them the proper behaviors, they might never stop running after a small animal or cars. Leash training takes time and patience if done properly. See ‘no-pull harness below for a safer and kinder alternative to the collar and leash!

It has been said that it takes around five weeks for a dog to understand a new verbal command. If you’re consistent, your dog will learn the command much faster than this. They need to know that their actions have consequences and that they are being praised because of their good behavior.

No-Pull Harness

In my experience, I have learned that the best training collar for Border Collies is a no-pull harness. This unique harness has been designed to help you guide your dog while they are on a leash. Unlike traditional collars, the no-pull harness does not put pressure around your dog’s neck which can cause choking or pain. This is therefore much safer than the old fashioned dog collar and can help avoid health issues associated with this.

Instead of using an uncomfortable collar that may irritate your Border Collie, this type of harness gently guides them into the position you want to train them in. Whether you are teaching them how to walk properly on a leash or how to come when called, this harness can help train your dog off-leash!

When Should You Start Border Collie Training?

Remember the old saying? “You can’t teach an old dogs new tricks!” Whilst this is mainly nonsense, there is a ring of truth regarding age effects. Don’t start training too late. Generally people make the mistake of waiting too long to start training their puppy, and by the time they realize they need to train their dog it’s become a ten times more difficult task. However, don’t attempt too much too soon as your frisky young puppy will get overstimulated and both of you may get frustrated.

When should you start Border Collie training? Training can start from an early age, from about 12 weeks old. This allows your puppy to adapt develop and adapt to their home whilst starting learning early enough; this is an incredibly natural and innate process for them and ensures their herding instinct can be nurtured and developed in a controlled manner. Don’t wait until they are mature before starting house training, cognitive training or obedience training. However, start small and be very patient with your puppy, training takes time and persistence and should also be fun for both of you!

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer as each Collie is different. However, usually puppies start training at about 12 weeks old. This gives them time to get accustomed to their new family and environment. It is tough enough for a puppy or adult dog to get used to a big change in their lifestyle without also having the stress of learning new skills and coping with an unfamiliar environment. Training should be started while the pup still has a lot of energy! 

More complex training however should wait until your pup is a bit older. It takes around 6-10 months for a Border Collie to become fully mature. This does not mean you should not train them when they are younger, but they might have more energy and low attention span (like any toddler!) which can make complicated training more difficult so concentrate on the basics with your puppy such as house training, recall and simple obedience behavior.

As stated, however, don’t put training off too long! Once your Border Collie is fully mature. They should become more obedient and will listen to you better than before. When they are younger it’s easier to catch their attention, but as the dog gets older their personality might change for the worse if they’re not trained properly.

Are Border Collies Easy To Train Off-Leash?

Off-leash is a term used to describe when an animal has the ability to roam around freely not tied to a leash. For example, you can take your dog off-leash at the park so that they are free to play with other pets and people until you’re ready for them to return home.

Are Border Collies Easy To Train Off-Leash? Training Border Collies how to be off-leash is a process that takes time and patience and is best started only when the simple commands and obedience have been mastered. Having a good recall so that your Collie comes back to you instantly on command is essential, and the first step in off-leash training. Start within a small, safe and contained site, like your backyard or a designated training area where there are no other dogs or people initially.

Initially, you can use a long lead 30-60 feet (10-20 metres) in length so allow your dog to roam safely on your walking route and practice recall with them, for example when there is a passing jogger or cyclist. Once you are confident they will return to you every time you call them, you can unleash them and practice off-leash training. However, the first times should be in a confined and fenced-off environment without hazards such as roads, rivers, lakes or other animals or people.

Keep in mind though, all animals learn at different rates so your Border Collie might be able to pick up these skills much faster than other breeds. Find out more here and in the following useful video about off-leash dog training.

But will your Border Collie run away? Find out more here.

Are Border Collies Good For Beginners?

The Border Collie is a loyal and intelligent breed of dog that loves to be active in all weathers, kept warm by that wonderful outer coat/double coat. These dogs are often sought after by people who are very active enjoying hiking, camping, or spending time outside with their pets. Border Collies love to chase squirrels, birds, and other small animals so being off-leash takes some training. 

Are Border Collies good for beginners? Border Collies are not the best dog breed for beginners due to their extremely high energy demands. Border Collie’s high intelligence and energy levels makes them excellent at performing all sorts of interesting tasks – but also very demanding on your time and energy. Due to their strong-willed natures, Border Collies are usually more suited to experienced owners who are used to training dogs using both basic commands and advanced commands in various types of training.

Border Collies benefit from socialization so active owners may want to consider enrolling in a local dog training class, agility training, using training videos to research the effects of training on dogs and the type of training. 

Find out more about whether collies make good dogs for first-time owners here.


With the right amount of patience and consistency during your training sessions, your Border Collie can become well-behaved and obedient. They are very smart animals that want to please you, so you have to do is show them what behaviors you would like them to perform. Keep this in mind as you begin training your dog and you should have no trouble getting them to listen to your commands.

Some people think Collie training is easier than others, but in my experience, I find that this process takes time and patience. You can’t expect an animal to learn new behavior in just one day, so always keep that in mind when trying to train your dog.

Always be firm and consistent when training a Border Collie because they can become frustrated if you do not establish early on who the leader is and can lead to behavioral issues. with this firm but kind approach applies consistently over time your companion will respond well to training and should obey your commands without hesitation.

Don’t ever give up on training your Border Collie. Train them often and be patient with them because they are very intelligent animals who are capable of learning many things. If you are consistent and use positive reinforcement, they will learn the behaviors and be great family pets.

The more training you do with them, the more tasks they are able to perform. They are very energetic animals that need an outlet for their high energy levels or else they get bored easily. Provide your Border Collie with toys, space to run around, and plenty of praise for their good behavior on a daily basis keeping them in good mental and physical health.

Find out more about physical exercise needs, games to play and mental exercises at the embedded links.