Skip to content

Mental Exercises For Border Collies – 9 Stimulating Games!

Mental exercises for Border Collies

Border Collies are strong-willed and intelligent dogs that need an owner who can give them plenty of mental stimulation or they will find their own ways to entertain themselves! Their high energy level and big brains can sometimes lead to destructive behavior if not properly channeled and challenged. Fortunately, there are ways to help your Border Collie enjoy the benefits of mental and physical exercise without destroying your home or yard.

Mental exercises Border Collies? Here are some ways to mentally stimulate your Collies’ big brain: i) hide treats around the house and yard; ii) use “brain games” such as specific toys and balls; iii) enjoy walks in new places with novel smells and sights; iv) give them tasks to do such as fetching things for you; v) play children’s games like “hide and seek” and vi) Agility training along specific courses.

Border Collies are often said to be “the thinking person’s dog”; one of the most intelligent breeds of dog in the world.  So, you might be wondering how can you keep your Border Collie occupied and mentally stimulated? This article gives you some ideas to keep your furry friend – and yourself – mentally occupied and entertained.

Mental Exercises for Border Collies – 9 Stimulating Games!

Below are nine tried and tested ways to mentally stimulate your Border Collie. However, first of all, it is incredibly useful to teach your Border Collie simple commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘roll over’ – by using treats as rewards. This can start as early as the puppy stage – read more here.

After your Border Collie can follow basic obedience commands experienced owners can then work on mental stimulation games. Just remember, these new mental exercises can be draining for them, so start with just 20 minutes a day and build up from there.

So, here are nine mental exercises for Border Collies so they don’t get bored and start chewing on your favorite shoes!

1. Have your Border Collie do “work” around the house.

Your Border Collie can be trained to carry items or fetch things for you when you go out of town. This is an easy way to keep your dog occupied while giving them some useful tasks so they don’t get bored and destroy other things in your home.

2. Hidden Treasure!

Put treats in different places around the house for him to find. Practice this often so he gets faster at finding the treat. You can use kibble as a replacement for treats if you want to keep track of his food intake so it doesn’t add too many calories from treats into his diet. When he or she gets faster at finding the treat you can make it harder by hiding things like a toy or his leash.

3. Cup Game

Be a magician for your Collie… and try the cup trick/game. Show your Collie a treat – then hide it under one of three cups. Move the cup with the treat, slowly at first and switch to moving a cup with no treat. The dog will probably stare at where you moved the cup, trying to figure out where their treat went. Eventually, if done correctly, the dog might then notice that there’s a treat underneath another cup and move to get that instead of where they originally thought it was. 

 4. Adventure Walks 

Visit new places with novel smells and sights. Ask your Border Collie accomplish tasks like digging up rocks/toys/balls, using his or her nose to find things. You can become explorers together, tracking smells while you’re on walks and discovering wildlife and hidden places. These are creative ways that can stimulate your dog mentally while getting time in nature in the process.

5. Smelly Sock Game!

Take five (preferably fresh!) socks. Rub each one with a different scent, making sure these are all natural / organic. For example, you could use different herbs and mild spices like oregano and cinnamon and natural deoderant. Now show your Collie one by one, with the other hidden behind your back. Then lay them all out and ask them to pick one specific sock e.g. ‘find the cinnamon sock’. A tall order, but you will have fun trying!

6. Hide and Seek!

Children’s games such as “cops and robbers” or “hide and seek” are always enjoyable to dogs. Border collies in particular love to play this game with their owners (you don’t need children around to behave like kids, although your Collie may love the energy of kids when supervised). 

7. Teach a Dog New Tricks

Build up from the classic ‘sit’, ‘lie down’, ‘play dead’ and ‘roll over’ to more complex tricks such as barking on command, dancing and jumping over soft objects like cushions. A professional trainer can help you start. Just remember, this is for your dog’s benefit and only appropriate if they are enjoying it and in the mood. They are of course not a ‘performing monkey’.

8. Agility training 

Agility training is a fun way for active owners and high-energy dogs, such as terriers or herding breeds, to get out of the house and be active together. The sport also teaches responsibility through teamwork- both owner and dog must work together in order for the run they make together at agility trials to be successful. You can also join an indoor agility class.

9. Socialise With Dogs

Sometimes the only stimulation your border collie might need is having another canine friend around playing with him or her. The complex social interactions, sniffing and playing that form part of dog socialization are excellent ways to stimulate their brains. If you don’t have any other pets though, you can always go for walks around the neighborhood and hope that some friendly dog wants to play near your route!

How To Keep A Border Collie Entertained Whilst They’re In The House Alone

Keeping a dog happy alone for any periods of time can be a challenge but there are some ideas that you can try to help prevent them from getting bored in your house or apartment. Your dog loves fun and games at any age, including when heor she is home alone. For extended periods you may want to consider a dog walking service, or have your family or friends pop in and say hallo.

Here are some ways and fun activities you can keep your dog stimulated until it’s time for everyone to be reunited again:

1. Leave the radio on

Listening to music isn’t just fun, some varieties can also reduce stress levels in some dogs, making this a fun way to help manage separation anxiety. 

2. Puzzle toys

Fill up food dispensing devices such as Kongs, Buster Cubes or other food puzzles before you go out so they have fun trying to get their meal before it’s gone!

3. Provide family videos and photos

Dogs find comfort in familiarity so if possible play videos of your day and let them see everyone is safe and sound. 

4. Soft Toys

These can provide comfort for your pet especially if it is a toy that always stays with them for example in their bed at night or when they travel in the car on long journeys.

If you come home to accidents or chewed furniture- don’t get mad! Your pup cannot help it. If you catch him in the act tell him no and take him to his safe area or outside for a break from being home alone. And then clean up and go about your day as usual!

Can I leave my Border Collie home alone? Read more here.

How To Mentally Stimulate A Border Collie Puppy Through Playing Games

The Border Collie’s intelligence makes it easy to train them but their potential stubbornness means that training should be started early. It is important to remember just like their human family members, each Border Collie puppy is an individual and will have a different mental capacity.

Some puppies like stimulus with no pattern while others need something with a pattern; some get bored quickly while others are naturally curious about new sights and sounds; some Border Collies get overexcited when new stimuli appear quickly and need slow introductions. It is important to know your puppy and be flexible enough to change up the fun.

The nine mental exercises above can be tailored to start your puppy off, just in a very simple way and not too taxing. Below are some adapted versions to get you started with fun activities that will stimulate your puppy’s mind. These are toys or games that can be played indoors or outdoors.

Good puppy games include:

  • find it: hide and go seek with treats or toys helps them to work on using their sense of smell.
  • fun feeding games such as kibble in a muffin tin. Each time they get the right piece of food they are rewarded. It is fun for both human and puppy! This can also be done using frozen stuffed kongs. Just freeze an assortment of your dog’s food then let them figure out how to get it out. This really works their brains!
  •  fun smelling games have your pup “find” an old shoe, glove, towel, etc… Place it in different locations each time so they have fun learning to use their nose!

Mental Exercises Border Collie: In Conclusion

The Border Collie breed are a breed of dog that have been bred for centuries to herd livestock. They’re intelligent, energetic, and extremely athletic dogs. Border Collies need a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation in order to be happy.

These dogs can do everything from herding ducks to playing fetch with their humans!  It is important that pet owners spend plenty of time with their Border Collies to ensure they get both mental exercise whilst keeping them active enough to burn off some of their boundless energy.

Here are some more ‘brain games for dogs‘.