Do Border Collies Bark?
[And How To Stop Them]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Whether you’re considering adopting a Border Collie or already have one, you may have questions about their barking habits. Border Collies are great pets, they’re smart and fun-loving, but they can also make a lot of noise. 

Choosing a breed of dog to own comes with many considerations; loud barking is one of these – extra noise can be unsettling to young children and can also annoy neighbors. As a dog trainer, I often get asked why Border Collies bark and if you can manage their noise. While there are ways to train them, it’s essential to understand that this is how they communicate, and they mean no harm. 

If you’re considering buying a Border Collie, here’s all you’ll need to know about their barking habits!

Do Border Collies Bark Lots?

Border Collies as a breed are known for barking more than others, though of course, this can differ from dog to dog as they all have different personalities. They tend to bark to show if they’re bored, scared, or hungry. Sometimes barking can also be a sign of them asserting their dominance too.

If you’re having problems with your Border Collie’s excessive barking, don’t worry, there are tactics and training exercises to keep the noise under control! Also, sourcing a dog trainer can help give you some tips and tricks to help with the problem.
Border Collies were originally bred for herding jobs; in these herding roles barking was an essential part of the job. This history makes Collie’s excellent watchdogs, too, as they alert their owners of any potential threats with their loud barks; this is a great thing when there is a danger; however, neighbors may find this irritating. Since it’s rare for Border Collies to herd when they’re kept as pets, barking can become a habit instead of a useful tool. 

Is Your Border Collie Happy And Healthy?

For Border Collies, barking is an important way of communicating their needs, wants, and feelings. Barking is natural to all dogs, but excessive barking can be a sign of their wants and needs not being met. These needs are water, food, playtime, exercise, love, and attention. If all these needs are met regularly, you may have to investigate other areas causing the barking.

Check your Collie’s immediate environment, are there any motion triggers that could be setting off their bark response? This could be a neighbor’s cat distracting them or a squirrel in the yard. Simple day-to-day things like these can cause excitement in dogs and often get a loud response. 

While it can be frustrating to have a Collie that barks at anything that moves, owners often use their high-intelligence levels to train them to only bark when it’s appropriate too. Consistent training is an excellent way to curb nuisance barking. A popular method to control barking is using a ‘bark on command’ training program; this teaches them when it is and isn’t acceptable to bark.

How Do You Keep Your Border Collie Calm?

Compared to other breeds, Border Collies are particularly hyperactive dogs; while they make great family pets, they often need some training and good living conditions to make home life smoother. They tend to have a lot of energy and enjoy playtime; if they are bored and not mentally stimulated, they’ll show it through excessive barking. 

Calming a Collie may seem impossible, but it’s achievable with consistency and patience when training. Always note that if your Border Collie is behaving too energetically, it could be an underlying health issue. Make sure to have any medical issues ruled out by a veterinarian. 

If a vet rules out any underlying health problems, here are some quick tips for keeping Border Collies calm:

  • Opt for low fat and low-protein dog foods when you can, as some higher fat options can lead to excess energy. 
  • Try teaching your Collie lessons like obedience and respect to reduce any misbehavior at home.
  • Make sure to walk or exercise your dog daily; if your dog doesn’t get a set amount of time to use up their energy every day, it’ll make them restless. This can be through walks, but it can also be runs, playtime, or even visits to dog parks. 
  • Try providing dog toys to keep your Collie mentally stimulated as well as physically stimulated. This can help them stay busy and will lessen the boredom. Keeping your dog occupied and entertained is as important as exercise. 

What Causes Excessive Barking?

If you’re still asking, “why do Border Collies bark so much?” you may be encountering a case of excessive barking. Finding out the barking cause is vital here since barking is their primary way of communicating with you. 

Often, Collies don’t bark for the sake of it but to alert you of any danger or to communicate needs. However, there can be other reasons such as loneliness or boredom. If you often leave your dog alone for long periods, it can result in barking due to stress or sadness, so make sure they have visitors and enough attention to satiate their needs. 

Can Training Help Excessive Barking?

Training can be an excellent way to curb Border Collie’s barking habits, but any owners should note that Collies are an intelligent breed which can often make training more difficult. Their high-intelligence sometimes leads to stubbornness which can initially cause them to resist training. That being said, each dog will have their personality, and there isn’t a one fits all rule when it comes to training. 

Obedience training is a commonly used method to teach many dogs what behavior is acceptable; it can be used on barking but also on digging, jumping, and scratching too. It is an effective method to correct any problem behaviors, it helps your pup understand what’s expected of them, and with consistency and patience, it is very successful. 

When training your Collie, an important message for them to understand is who’s in charge. Rewards such as praise and treats should be offered when acceptable behavior is shown. Make sure you keep any training sessions short as Border Collies tend to have short attention spans; making the sessions interesting and fun is a good way to capture their attention. Boring lessons will have their minds wandering elsewhere!

After a training session is complete, play some games or go for some exercise with your Collie, this will release stress and add some fun into the day. This is also a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog, giving them the love and attention they need.

Turning Away Method

One method to help train your Collie is the Turning Away method. This involves getting your dog treats out and then taking the dog to an area they tend to bark a lot in. When you’re in the chosen area, start playing with your pup to get their energy up.

Once your Collie starts barking, stop and turn away. Your Collie will try to get your attention through barking, but continue to ignore this. When your Border Collie stops barking, introduce the ‘Quiet command’ and give them a treat for positive reinforcement. Patience and repetition are key here. 

Make sure you change location once your dog masters when not to bark in the first area. Go to another space they frequently bark in; this could be somewhere with outside triggers or distractions that cause your Collie to bark loudly. This training method requires a lot of patience, but it’s a successful way to stop incessant barking. 

Speak Method

Another commonly used technique is the Speak Method. This training technique starts with you calling your Border Collie over; once they arrive, clip their leash on. This helps to establish dominance and control over them during training – this method is best used on puppies. 

When their leash is on, give whatever command you usually use to get them to start barking. When they begin to bark, show them the Quiet command. If they stop barking when the quiet command is used, give them the treat to reinforce the behavior. If your Collie continues to bark, be patient and keep waiting until they stop. This process should be repeated as many times as necessary until they repeat the good behavior. 

Once your Collie stops barking immediately when the quiet command is shown, the next step is to start dissociating the command and the reward. The best way to do this is by extending the period between the order and the prize. This will solidify the command and will also teach your dog to stop barking for longer – a win-win!

This is another technique that requires patience, but with Border Collies, all training will be something you have to work at due to their high-intelligence and stubborn nature.

What To Avoid Doing

When training, you must avoid using violent punishments to deter your Collie from barking; this can cause their barking to become aggressive and more frequent. Also, if you pay attention to your dog when they’re barking, this can be negative reinforcement too. They can start to associate your attention with their barking, and it can cause more frequent barking in a bit to gain your attention. 

Make sure you don’t stop your dog when they bark appropriately. For example, when someone is knocking at your door, it’s entirely normal for your Collie to bark in response. If you discourage your Collie from barking all the time, it can result in them losing their watchdog instincts. 

If you’re training a puppy, make sure not to make the training sessions too long. Border Collies can become bored quickly, and the best way to train them is through short bursts of lessons and multiple breaks. 

Another thing to avoid is letting the training take the place of exercise breaks, Collies are very hyperactive, and without physical breaks, their attention span will diminish. If they’re starved of exercise and mental stimulation, the training sessions won’t sink in, and they’ll ultimately be a waste of time. Unfortunately, training isn’t a quick fix, and patience is key.

When adopting a Border, Collie avoids buying from herding lines. If your Collie comes directly from herding parents, it’s probably that it’ll have stronger herding instincts and will be harder to train at home. These dogs are loving wherever they come from, but if you go to a dealer, it’s more likely that your Collie will be easier to train.

Other Ways To Stop Excessive Barking

Alongside training, you may be looking for other ways to keep any excessive barking at bay. The goal shouldn’t be to completely stop your Border Collie from barking but reduce it to a healthy amount. 

A key element to stopping the excessive barking is to figure out what’s triggering the barking. Is your Collie hungry? Are they scared? Do they need attention? Is barking their way of protecting you? If you think barking could be because of one of these questions, then it can be prevented easily. 

When looking for additional ways to stop barking (other than training), remember to go through the essential lifestyle elements they need. Make sure to take them for plenty of exercises to keep them happy and fit, include a toy or a ball to mentally stimulate them too. Any interactive dog toys will keep them busy and will break barking habits!

If you find that your Border Collie is barking at strangers, make a habit of regularly inviting friends and family to your house. This will help your Collie get used to the company of others and will help them socialize without anxiety. 

When you have tried various methods to help stop excessive barking, consider finding a professional dog trainer or enrolling your Border Collie in obedience training for some professional help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Border Collies Good Dogs For First Time Owners?

Compared to other breeds, Border Collies aren’t the best dog choice for any first-time owners. Collies are fun and loving dogs, but their requirements can be very specific and demanding, often leaving new owners overwhelmed. 

Border Collies are well suited to owners who have the time and resources to dedicate to an intelligent dog. Collies are also very active, so keeping up with them is crucial! They’re manageable if you’ve owned dogs before, but if you haven’t, make sure you research well before adopting.

Do Border Collies Get Jealous?

Border Collies can get jealous, like other dog breeds! Jealousy tends to occur when a dog feels like they’re not getting adequate attention or if they see another animal or human is getting more attention than them. With consistent training, intense jealous behavior can be improved in Border Collies. 

Do Border Collies Make Good Pets?

Border Collies are not the most ideal house pets; this is because they need lots of physical exercises and mental stimulation. Collies don’t thrive in locked-up spaces, mainly because of their history as herders, so consider how often you can walk one and how much play space you can provide when adopting.

Collies also need lots of human interaction, love, and attention, but also regular access to open spaces where they can run free and burn energy. Living near or owning a large place is ideal for Collies; make sure they get enough time to run around daily. 

Why Do Border Collies Growl?

There are several reasons for a Collie to growl; these can range from playfulness, defense warnings, signs or aggressions, and establishing dominance. Like excessive barking, it’s essential to work out what triggers your Collie to growl to treat the problem. Monitor when and where your Collie growls and how prominent the growling is – this can help you work out if the growling indicates a problem.

Can You Leave Border Collies On Their Own?

Like humans, Border Collies can be prone to separation anxiety and don’t like being alone and bored. Keeping your Collie occupied is important and keeps their mental wellbeing healthy, so if you’re often out, a Collie might not be the right dog for you. 

If Collies are left alone for hours without physical exercise or attention, you may find that issues such as chewing, digging, or barking may arise. These aren’t out of spite or any malicious intent; Collies just need more attention than other breeds. 

The Takeaway

Border Collies are active and intelligent dogs with so much love to give, don’t let their barking put you off; they’re loyal and will always protect their owners. Though barking is essential to their breed, it shouldn’t be excessive or too difficult to deal with. 

Despite their natural urge to bark, Collies can be trained to know when they should and shouldn’t bark due to their high intellect. Patience is key with obedience training, but it’ll help keep your Collie’s barking under control!