Over 4,000 Border Collies trained through Zigzag

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So, you’ve decided on a Border Collie. That’s fantastic, hope you’re ready for their bottomless energy and endless hours of play. Border Collies also have huge brains and are quick on their feet. They herd sheep for God’s sake. Now that you’ve seen the sprints for everything that moves, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. 

Before you feel you’re going over the edge (…or should we say border…?) this guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know for how to train a Border Collie – top to bottom.

Prerequisites for training my Border Collie puppy?

What age can I start to train my Border Collie puppy?

As soon as you get them

Your Border Collie puppy can begin training as soon as you bring them home. Their crazy eyes will tell you they’re desperate to get started with training. Or with anything at all. 

You’ll want to get started right away, so if you want something in your pocket ready to jump to the rescue, you’ll be happy to hear that a team of puppy training experts in the Zigzag app would be delighted to help you with all of those buzzing puppy questions…

Oh, our training programmes are breed-specific too. We’ve really thought of everything. 

What do I need to train my new Border Collie puppy?

To be honest, there isn’t a long list of training supplies necessary for a Border Collie puppy. A lot of these suggestions are nice to have rather than essential. Still, we all love getting prepared so grab a few things and we can but it’s a good start training right away.

There’s one thing you’ll definitely need though. Tennis balls. Hundreds. 

  • Treat Pouch – You’ll need to have lots of goodies on hand, but you may also teach with some of their usual dry food. at Zigzag all of our training is done with positive reinforcement, so we use rewards and treats to train
  • A soft collar that won’t snag on that gorgeous coat will be ideal for your Border Collie puppy.
  • A harness: One that does not pull or tighten when your puppy walks. Collies are quite sensitive and reactive to everything that moves, so make sure you’re being gentle with them. Please, nothing too hefty!
  • A 2-metre training lead will give your Border Collie puppy ample room to sniff and will be handy later on when teaching the settle exercise. Not sure which lead to get? Here are our top picks for training leads.
  • A soft mat or a piece of non-slip vet bed.
  • Treats: Border Collies are reasonably food motivated, and the smellier and stinkier the treat, the better. Have a look at the best puppy treats here.  
  • Two identical toys: You’ll soon realize your Border Collie puppy will have a hardcore obsession with games. Take a look into the Zigzag app for endless options of games you two can get along with. One thing’s for sure though – you’ll need two identical toys for swaps and trades. Not sure what this means? We go over it all in the app.
  • A soft grooming brush will do just fine to begin with, to groom your Border Collie puppy. Oh, and do it gently and with PLENTY of patience and treats.
  • A crate and playpen are useful but optional things to have for a busy Border Collie.

Good to know about training Border Collie puppies

Over 4,000 Border Collies trained through Zigzag

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What are Border Collies bred for?

The original sheepdogs! Border Collies originally just had a natural talent for gathering up sheep. Not so much for chasing them around, although they sure do enjoy it.  But they act more as a barrier so that sheep are less keen on going in a certain direction. 

Boys don’t even get to cry wolf Border Collies around…danger gets nowhere near.

For this job, Border Collies need to be intelligent and quick on their feet. And yes, no matter how many generations your Border Collie is, they still have this brilliant work ethic ingrained in their minds. 

You’re more than allowed to toot your horn by the way. Border Collies really are the Einsteins’ of the dog world. We know we should say all puppies are clever, and they are, but Border Collies are a clear cut above the rest! Be the envy of your fellow park visitors with your show stopper by training them in agility skills and other complex tricks. 

…Or you could train you to herd you away from your hidden sweets’ drawer at home. You know you eat too many Jaffa Cakes.

Border Collie Behaviours 

Border Collies have some classic behaviours associated with them: ‘stalking’ (the so called ‘eye’) and ‘flanking’ (zigzagging behind sheep to drive them forward). These are perfectly normal as they’re intrinsically rewarding – which means it’s so embedded into their DNA that it just feels that good to do them. 

PRO TIP: That being said, you should know that these behaviours are compulsive. Collies simply have to do them because it’s literally what they were bred to do, but they’re often miscategorised as disorders. But they’re really not, they’re just a little bit out of balance with one another. Nobody’s perfect, everyone gets a little crazy sometimes. 

Keep in mind these can also cause problems for pet owners – such as car chasing or herding strangers!  

What does this have to do with how I train my Border Collie?

It’s a fair question actually, a dog is a dog right? But knowing the context and breed characteristics might help you train your Border Collie better:

When training your Border Collie puppy keep in mind:

  • They have high (perhaps even more than high) energy levels and require a (very) active home – definitely not the kind of dog who’d enjoy becoming a couch potato.
  • They are outstandingly smart and will respond well to training. Border Collies kind of need training to keep them stimulated. Every single day. No pressure.
  • They can really struggle with frustration when they can’t fulfill that burning need to herd, when they’re bored.
  • This is a good one for you to prepare for: Don’t expect them to lose that herding instinct. Sorry, but it won’t happen. It’s much better to give them an appropriate outlet for their stalking and flanking (check out our Sheepball game below) so they won’t feel like chasing anything that moves. 
  • A good amount of exercise is something we couldn’t stress enough – mental as well as physical. It’s the best way to keep them busy and prevent them from getting into any funny business! Just saying.
  • They generally prefer to live in the countryside where there’s room to run, and space to imagine a life of herding sheep on a hillside.
  • They also have a strong sense of smell, so they’ll always be thrilled to play a game of tracking or searching. 
  • Given their love for sports and adrenaline-filled bodies, they will be quite happy going out in all weathers and getting filthy in the mud. So yes, this also means you’ll be getting wet, caught in tornadoes, or potentially hit by lightning. But your Border Collie must. Go. Out.

Border Collies are affectionate and have worked for the praise of shepherds for years, give them lots of encouragement 

PRO TIP: If your Border Collie puppy switches off or starts acting silly (often a sign of stress) they may resort to doing what they know best – nipping. Shift to some play, let them have some downtime and revisit training later – we want training to be associated with fun, and not something they begin to dread.  

Overview of the training programme and topics we’ll cover

So, if you’ve got this far, we take it that you’re ready to read through the ultimate guide to training a Border Collie puppy, right? Congratulations, we aim to please. Over the next 8 weeks we’ll go through teaching your Border Collie:

  • Sitting
  • Lying down
  • Learning their name
  • Coming when you call them
  • Walking nicely on a lead
  • Playing fetch
  • Sleeping in their crate
  • Coping with being left alone
  • Going to the toilet in the right place 

Here’s a good resource for you to have – the Push Drop Stick game. I like to use this game to see whether puppies are ready to move on in their training, or if they need to spend more practice runs.

What is Push, Drop, Stick?

Push, Drop, Stick, is a way of systematically raising the difficulty of an exercise or behaviour.

If exercises are always kept too easy, then dogs will keep doing them correctly because they are being rewarded (cheeky). However, progress will be slower as they’ll get ‘stuck’ at this level. 

If lessons are too hard, then it’s likely that they’ll give up since treats won’t be coming as easy. Looks like they’d be quite good businessmen as humans.

‘Push Drop Stick’ can help avoid both scenarios by maintaining enough momentum: It will keep your puppy winning enough times to keep them interested and not quit, but not so much that they aren’t thinking about how to be rewarded by trying harder.

How does it work?

By doing 5 repetitions of an exercise, we are going to keep track of how many the dog gets right. Based on how they perform, we’re going to choose whether to do which of the following:

Push – Go to the next level of difficulty (raise criteria)

Drop – Back to the previous level of difficulty (drop criteria)

Stick – Stay at the current level of difficulty (stay with current criteria)

  How many out of 5 did the dog get right? What should I do? Why?
Push 5 out of 5 Increase the difficulty Well done! They’re proficient at the current level, and can move on to harder things.
Drop 0, 1, or 2 out of 5 Make it easier He might be close to quitting – this level is too hard for him right now. 
Stick 3 or 4 out of 5 Do another set of 5 at this difficulty He doesn’t need you to drop, but he isn’t quite ready to be pushed yet.

Why should I train like this?

By training in repetitions of 5, we are less likely to get stuck at a certain point.

It also means that we’ll be able to keep track of where we’re at so that we can build stronger and stronger behaviours. Off to better things!

What is difficulty or criteria?

Difficulty or Criteria relates to the ‘three D’s’ Duration, Distraction and Distance. These refer to how long can the dog perform the behaviour for, what is the distraction like, and how far from us can perform the behaviour.

What will be the end result once I’ve trained my puppy?

Cheeky, wanting to know the end before you even start. 

Well, if you’re really eager to know, this programme will help you in your first steps to having a brilliant dog. 

Training for Border Collies

As with any breed specific dog training, there are techniques you need to remember, socialisation, husbandry tasks and plenty of exercise. Make sure to socialise your border collie early on, incorporate a lot of interactive play and, also try to involve your collie in as many daily activities as possible.

Week 1 – Training your Border Collie puppy

During the first week of having your workaholic puppy at home, you’ll have to try and get them to ‘take it easy’ which can be no mean feat! Getting your puppy training schedule mastered isn’t an easy prospect, but with our trust puppy training schedule on hand, you won’t need to worry about a single thing, apart from the whereabouts of your hyper pup!

We promise this first week of parenting a Border Collie puppy will be a lot of fun.  You’ll be snapping photos to show off to your relatives and friends…as well as spending a lot of time cleaning up pee and getting puppy kisses.

This week, your primary focus should be on settling them into their new home and working on some skills that they will find easy to learn and will be valuable to you.

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Let your puppy explore the garden
– Teach your puppy about surfaces
– Name
– Sit
– Recall
– Retrieve
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Alone Training
– Brushing
– Hand Touch

The first few weeks are all about getting the fundamentals down; we will try to make them as ‘fun’ as we can in our own Zigzag way. You’ll want to be teaching your Border Collie Toilet training, sleep training, and Alone training so we have all of those on the agenda. Everything you’ll need for a happy dog and a happy home.

 

Remember how we told you Border Collie’s are mostly brains and batteries? Well, that means it can take some time to get them to switch off and relax. But trust us – it’s worth persevering with, as tired puppies are often very bitey and your Border Collie puppy will likely be no different. Have a read through of Puppy night-time routine and how to get a puppy to sleep through the night so your Border Collie gets plenty of chances to chase, or should we say count, sheep.

 

Border Collies are quite independent dogs; don’t let their obsession for sheep fool you. You shouldn’t have too many problems with teaching them to feel alright on their own if you follow the recommended training. Here are our top tips to help you manage puppy separation anxiety in case you notice your pet struggling.

 

Border Collies like it squeaky clean too, and enjoy taking their stinky business outside. Use their aim to please to your advantage! Most will actually find the puppy toilet training process the best fun. As long as you use plenty of praise and treats for a job well done, toilet training will be a breeze.

 

Easy does it! While socialisation and habituation are key things to start with your Border Collie puppy right away, especially if home is in a busy town or city, it’s also important not to overwhelm them. Let them get used to your house and garden and also experience different things under their feet this week. 

  • Letting your Border Collie puppy explore the garden
  • Teach your puppy about surfaces 

Have a read of our socialising your puppy article to get more information on how to do the whole puppy socialisation shenanigans. 

This week, being the first, we’d first like to wish you luck. But here’s what you’ll get into:

Preventing resource guarding

In my experience, Border Collies don’t really struggle with guarding too much. It’s quite the opposite really; they’re much happier wanting to play all day until they drop…if they ever do. At the same time, it’s always clever to teach all puppies to give up things willingly. It’s going to get you places, you’ll see.

 

  • Handling your puppy  –  Border Collies are pretty happy about being touched and petted. You’re probably happy about this too – it’s tough keeping your hands off a puppy. However, they can sometimes be a bit mouthy. Make sure to give them heaps of praise and treats when doing this so they know hands are nice things to have on themselves, and not chew toys.

Week 2 – Training your Border Collie puppy

Now that it’s week two, how are you getting along with training your Border Collie puppy? 

This week, we’ll focus on socialisation and habituation, with a particular emphasis on getting your Border Collie used to new sounds and novelty in general. Oh, we’ll also get a start on recall and lead walking training this week. A big step, with plenty of opportunities. 

Brushing that sheepdog coat is something else you’ll do. Yes, that coat is probably in need of some TLC by now, Collie coats get all kinds of bits stuck in there and can get a little tangled. If you’re lucky, you can find some leftover snacks.

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Fireworks
– Watch the world go by outside your house
– Play dress up
– Sit in the car
– Invite friends over
– Alone Training
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Name – in garden
– Recall – cue word
– Fetch
– Drop
-Sit – add a cue word
– Leadwalking
– Grooming

  • Fireworks: Border Collies can be quite sensitive to noise. In fact, they’re sensitive to a lot of things and will need your support to know how to deal with them. We recommend spending some time making sure they’re comfortable around noises. We have a lot of information on sound habituation in our Zigzag puppy training app.
  • Watch The World Go By: With Border Collie puppies, we want to teach them to ignore moving things, not chase them. The ultimate challenge for this breed if you ask us. This is going to be a recurring theme as they grow up, so let’s start slow. Make sure you reward them frequently for just ignoring the movement of cars and people – it will pay off, trust me.
  • Play dress up: You, not them. You have to get them used to ‘new’ things since they’ll be facing lots of them in the world. Try different things like wearing a hat, or a helmet, perhaps a Gorilla outfit. No need to frighten them though, they won’t think it’s funny. We just want them to be a well-rounded pup.
  • Invite friends over: Just have one or two at a time, so your puppy isn’t overwhelmed. He’ll make loads of friends eventually, no need to rush. Let your puppy approach them in their own time when they feel like it. Some Border Collies can be a little shy at first, but they soon warm up, it can just take a little time. 
  • Sitting in the car: Once they start getting acquainted with people, you can start thinking about meeting other inanimate objects that seem to come to life like the car.

  • Alone training – Start increasing the time week by week, so your Border Collie becomes more comfortable with being left. That doesn’t mean they won’t miss you, don’t worry. 
  • Crate training – Keep going with this if you’re using one. Hope it’s going well! 
  • Teach them their name in the garden – The garden is a playground of distractions for your Collie puppy, with plenty of things to stalk and birds to chase.
  • Recall training: Add a cue word – Practise lots of this, don’t want an embarrassing and scary encounter with your neighbourhood livestock when you can’t call your Collie back! Eek. 
  • Fetch and drop – An excellent way to burn energy off your Collie is playing retrieve, don’t let them get too compulsive over it and mix it up with other games.
  • Sit – Add a cue word. They can’t read your mind anyway. And we bet your Border Collie picks this up super quickly.
  • Introduce lead walking training – Border Collies can be quite strong despite their lean bodies. And let’s face it; they are bred to be off lead on a hillside, so a lead won’t make sense to them. But they’ll get there, especially if you teach them the Zigzag way with lots of treats, praise and love.

  • Brushing your puppy: Border Collie coats are fairly low maintenance as dog coats go (if they like to get muddy, they’ll get the odd dreadlock here and there), but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy a bit of pampering. They do sometimes get bits stuck in their coat such as thorns or sticks. Aside from it being necessary, brushing is also a great activity to do for bonding with your puppy – they can feel your care through your soft strokes.

Week 3 – Training your Border Collie puppy

Week 3 – We hope it’s going well. We wouldn’t be surprised if your Border Collie puppy was solving that Sudoku you’ve been scratching your head over.

This week, get ready for the following:

  • Create a socialisation checklist that is unique to you and your setup.
  • Learn how to teach your Border Collie puppy not to jump up on people and ‘sit to greet’
  • Learn how to choose and fit a harness to your Border Collie puppy in preparation for those beautiful walks you’ve been dreaming of. As have they!

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training Exercises to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Scent Trails
– Go for a drive
– Invite Friends Over
– Write a puppy socialisation checklist
– Recall – outside in the garden
– Four Paws on the floor – Not Jumping up
– Down
– Generalisation
– Alone Training
– Harness fitting

  • Scent trails – Although Border Collies are herders, they still have fantastic noses that can be utilised for Scentwork. It’s also a great way to work their brain and give their crazy eyes a rest.
  • Invite friends over – Again, go slowly and let your Border Collie puppy be the one to say hi first.
  • Go for a drive with your puppy – You’ll make their day if they get to see some sheep out of the car window.
  • Write a puppy socialisation checklist for your Border Collie puppy: As a Border Collie owner, we’d advise you to pay special attention to teaching them how to keep calm around livestock when they’re young. Especially if you live in the countryside – don’t want your neighbours yelling at you for making their sheep go insane – it’s also illegal for dogs to worry sheep, and you will get in a lot of trouble.

  • Recall: We can’t stress it enough – teaching your Border Collie puppy to come back when you call them will make life much simpler for you both, especially with park sessions approaching! This week, you get to practise outside this week, exciting!
  • Stopping from jumping up – Just because the ‘muddy trouser look’ isn’t for everyone. They might think you’re rude. Our article has some great help!
  • Generalisation – Take your Border Collie puppy to different places and practise their training. Everybody loves a well-rounded puppy who’s used to learning things in different environments – it’s a definite yes that you will too. Our puppy training article here has a piece on generalisation that we think you’ll run for this week. 
  • Teach your Border Collie puppy to lie down – This comes pretty naturally to Border Collies. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they can pick it up. Or down, we could say. 
  • Alone training – Ugh. We know. If only we lived in a world where we could be with them at all times, isn’t it?

  • Harness fitting for a puppy – It’s worth choosing a comfortable harness for your Border Collie. A harness is much kinder for them to wear, especially if they tend to pull on the lead a lot. It’s also safer to attach a long recall lead to a harness than to a collar, which would really hurt their neck if they went and ran to the end of the long line. We’re realists here at Zigzag, and we know that these things WILL probably happen, so it’s better to be prepared.
  • Our favourite harnesses for Border Collies are the fleece-lined Perfect Fit harness by Dog Games or for a bit cheaper you could try the True Love padded harness.

Week 4 – Training your Border Collie puppy

Wow…look at you. You’re a month into training! We hope it’s going well, and that no sheep have been unwillingly herd. We also hope you’re enjoying the time you and your Border Collie get to spend together…the early stages are just so sweet.

This week, we’ll start upping the difficulty of exercises with the Push/Drop/Stick method. We’ll get you to start researching and finding a puppy class, as well as having some more fun with recall games.

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Meet another dog
– Find a puppy class
– Settle on a mat
– Lead walking
– Recall games
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Grooming sensitive areas

  • Meeting another dog – This week is the time to take the plunge. You’ll try meeting another dog so that your puppy begins to take in the experience of being around others from their own species. If you’re meeting another dog for the first time, start with a calm older dog. We love the part where they look like they’ve discovered gold when they encounter another dog. 
  • Find a good puppy class for your puppy. Your Border Collie is half peacock. They’ll love going to Puppy Class and showing off the incredible skills that you’ve helped them gain already. Finding a good puppy class can be tricky, so we recommend the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, COAPE Association of Applied Pet Behaviourists and Trainers or one of the members of the UK Dog Charter – they’ve got some great people. You could even ask if you can watch a class without your puppy first before committing so that you can get a feel of them and make sure it looks like a fun place for your puppy to be.

  • Settle on a mat: Eventually, we want to be able to take our dogs everywhere with us and have them be able to relax – not chase every pigeon or child carrying a ball they see. For Border Collies (and peace of mind) this is something you definitely want to focus on! If you want to learn how to calm down a puppy successfully, check out our handy article.
  • Lead walking – Ah, you’re both looking fancy with that new harness. Time to go on some nice training walks with your puppy. 
  • Recall games – This is where it gets good. Playing tennis will be nothing other than your Border Collie’s obsession, and will not want to stop. Ever. Until the end of time. That’s alright though; tennis is a great exercise for a Border Collie, and you won’t stop smiling at seeing how much fun they’re having. They can actually put on quite a show when going after a tennis ball – try making it bounce high in the air to see a nice ‘Free Willy’ leap.
  • Push Drop Stick on known exercises.  Try 5 sits on a verbal cue, with no food to lure and no hand signal. Did your puppy get 5 right? Excellent! Now, try 5 sits and see if you can go one step away and back.

  • Get started with grooming sensitive areas – The funny areas on puppies are legs, armpits (…or ‘leg pits?’) and around the head. Ears are sometimes a bit troublesome too, so it’s good to give them some attention.

Week 5 – Training your Border Collie puppy

Wow, you deserve a treat by now, don’t you? We’re over halfway through this guide. How are you getting on training your Border Collie puppy? You’re getting close, but you’re not nearly half done training this little workaholic, they will be learning things for the rest of their lives, but good to get some intensive training in while they’re young, to teach them the ropes, so to speak.

This week we’ll be practising leadwalking and recall training outside – you’ll be glad you got your Border Collie puppy used to wearing their harness for this. For the time being, your puppy’s training is primarily about learning how to walk in a relaxed way and teaching them to calmly react to the things that happen around them.

Start working on those socialisation items that are vital to your lifestyle this week, and cross them off your list. Oh and we also have a session in a pub planned for you, a cafe is fine if that’s more your thing too!

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Go to the pub – you deserve it!
– Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist
– Alone Training
– Recall – outside using a lead
– Lead walking – outside
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Pretend nail clips
– Grooming

  • Go to the pub/dog-friendly café – you deserve it! Take your Border Collie’s settle mat and a stuffed food toy or a chew.
  • Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist

  • Alone training: increasing time alone as you have been doing.
  • Recall – Practise this outside, using a lead, and then progress on to taking the lead off ‘gulp’ or you can use a long line attached to their harness if you’re a bit reticent! Also worth thinking about how you might deal with distractions such as other dogs and people in the environment, all vying for your puppy’s attention. It’s worth having super stinky high value treats like liver or sprats, a special toy that you can control access to so it makes it extra wonderful for your puppy, a squeaky ball to get their attention, and using the long lead so you can manage your puppy. 

  • Lead walking – outside, loose lead walking will be more difficult. There are a lot of distractions that your Border Collie might want to get to. Remember not to let them pull, but also reward them for being next to you. 
  • Push/drop/stick on known exercises – how is your puppy getting on with their down? Can they do it on verbal cue only? Give it a try with the push drop stick method.

  • Start pretending to clip your dog’s nails – nail trims will be coming soon, so it’s a good idea to start practising now. Pick up a paw and give your Border Collie a treat, then the next. You can start to introduce the clippers to, but don’t actually clip yet, just touch their paw with the clippers and reward. If they pull away or seem scared then go back a step, we can take this as slow as we need to.

Week 6 – Training your Border Collie puppy

You’ve come so far, but we’ve not finished with you yet! Your Border Collie still has heaps they can be learning.

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist – Following on walks
– Sheepballs
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Check puppy’s mouth

  • Tick 3 more items off your socialisation checklist – what will it be this week? Horses? Boats? The Farmers Market?

  • Following on walks – keep your Border Collie puppy engaged and hanging out with you on walks by bringing along special toys such as the Tug-E-Nuff Pocket tugger and playing with them. 
  • Push/drop/stick – Your border Collie will get bored if you don’t teach them new things and increase the difficulty so don’t forget this one.

  • Start checking your puppy’s mouth and teeth – Border Collies can be a little sensitive about having their teeth checked, but it’s important for their health that we do it. Go slowly just hold their mouth gently and give a treat, then see if you can progress to a lip lift and treat.

Week 7 – Training your Border Collie puppy

Week 7 already, let’s keep going!

This week your Border Collie puppy is going to love learning 

  • Puppy Agility
  • Being let off the lead and walking with another dog
  • Ear drops aren’t so bad

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Puppy Parkour
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Wait
– Walk with a friend’s dog
– Recall – off the lead
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Pretend ear drops

  • Have a go at puppy agility – We’re sure you and your Border Collie can’t wait to have a go at this. You’ll see a lot of Border Collies doing agility because they’re fast, attentive and clever. It’s a great way to exercise a working dog, both mentally and physically. Check out our puppy agility article to learn the basics.
  • Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist – perhaps one of those things might be heading to an agility show and letting your puppy watch all of the sights and sounds?

  • Teach your Border Collie puppy to stay: The practice of patience. What a lesson to teach…even for humans. On the bright side, waiting will actually come quite naturally for your Border Collie, so getting through this lesson should be relatively painless for you. 
  • Go for a walk with a friend’s dog- relaxing walks beckon. Take lots of treats, and make sure your friend’s dog has some too so it’s a lovely walk for everyone. 
  • Recall – off the lead. Put your big girl/boy pants on! Keep your puppy engaged with your voice, toys and treats. Let them explore a little and then call them back with lots and cheering!
  • Push/drop/stick on exercises your Collie knows already. Perhaps you could try it on recall distances?

  • Pretend ear drops: Some Border Collie puppies have particularly hairy ears where all kinds of things can build up if we’re not careful. This makes some prone to ear problems because they spend so much time playing in water and rolling in mud, so make sure to clean and dry your puppy’s ears regularly. You can also teach them that ear drops will sometimes be in the picture, pretend to put the drops in (leave the lid on) and give them a treat, then it won’t be a big deal if it ever comes to it.

Week 8 – Training your Border Collie puppy

This is the final week in our guide to training Border Collie puppies, and we hope you’re thrilled at the progress you’ve made and it’s given you a flavour of the training you could and should be doing with the little know it alls! 

The fun doesn’t end here, if you haven’t already then do download the Zigzag app as we have a tonne of Border Collie content to share with you as well as a personalised training programme for you to follow. 

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Joggers and Cyclists
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Practice exercises in different locations
– Teach a hand target
– Introduce nose work
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Nail trims

  • Joggers and Cyclists: People who exercise can (and probably will) trigger your Border Collie to go into that eye–stalk–chase sequence. We know joggers could do a good job at running away, but it’s still not an ideal situation to get into. You’ll want to pay extra attention to this!
  • Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist. Although the socialisation window is closing, new experiences are still going to make a big difference in your Border Collies ability to cope with being around them.

  • Practice exercises in different locations – It takes practice to master training skills, so try to practice in 5 different locations this week. How about trying the garden centre, DIY shop, or Pet Store?
  • Teach a hand target  -Puppies cannot get enough of these exercises, once they’ve mastered it, they’ll be racing back and touching your hand in no time, so it’s excellent to use as a recall. Hand Targeting or touching is also the basis for many of the trick behaviours you’ll teach your Border Collie such as leg weaves and closing doors – exciting!
  • Introducing nose work to your puppy. We’ve had them on Scent Trails, now why not teach your Border Collie puppy to find their toys. You could also name them like Chaser – the Border Collie who knew the names of over 1000 toys!

  • Trim your Border Collie puppy’s claws – yes we’re going to do it for real this week. Have a good set of clippers ready, as well as those stinky treats like squeezy liver paste your Border Collie likes. Clip one claw and give them a little lick of the paste (or another small yummy treat if that’s more their jam) if they’re happy carry-on and do the next claw. Maybe just try and get one paw done in a single sitting, no need to rush them.

What’s next for your Border Collie puppy?

Involving yourself in a Dog Sports Club and teaching your Border Collie all the good stuff like agility, treibball (that’s code for herding balls) flyballhoopers or anything similar with positive reinforcement will be the way to go to keep your Border Collie’s brain ticking.

While your Border Collie is young, it’s also worth working through other life skills and obedience training – like the ones we offer on the Zigzag app. Not only will it keep their brain juicy, but it will also make you look extra cool at the park…having them do all these crazy tricks will surely make people think you’re some sort of magician. Looking for even more puppy training tips? Check out our overview of when to start teaching your puppy anything, next.