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Border Collie Barking: What Causes It And How To Stop It

Border Collie Barking: What Causes It And How To Stop It

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The Border Collie is one of the smartest dog breeds around. They take the saying “man’s best friend” to a whole new level.

Wonderful companions and extremely important members of the family, Border Collies give unconditional love and expect nothing in return but your love and attention.

Now, if you’ve never owned a pup of this breed, you might be wondering, do border collies bark? And, do border collies bark a lot?

Well, when it comes to Border Collie Barking, there are a few things you should know. While your Collie is likely going to bark throughout its life, barks that last longer than two or three barks in a row often have an underlying reason that should be addressed.

Your dog may bark once or twice out of excitement, or alert you to something it deems worthy, but barking that doesn’t stop is usually a sign that your pup feels emotionally unwell.

In this article, we will take a look at all the reasons why they bark, so you can work towards a solution that will save not only your ears, but your sanity as well!

More about the breed

border collie herding a group of sheeps in the field

The Border Collie is a working breed that belongs to the American Kennel Club Pastoral Group.

These sensitive, athletic, and highly intelligent herding dogs are also employed in search and rescue operations, scent detection work, and a variety of other canine jobs.

They are very popular family dogs that thrive with experienced owners who have an active outdoor lifestyle. Border Collies need plenty of physical and mental exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Interactive play, reward-based training methods, positive reinforcement, outdoor activities, and participation in canine sports are great ways to teach and exercise your Border Collie.

Teaching these sheepdogs new tricks and other mind-engaging games, as well as scent games, are great ways to stimulate their minds, along with strengthening coordination, confidence, and body awareness.

These pups are highly sensitive and have very keen observation skills. This makes them excellent at reading subtle clues, but it also means they can become irritable and reactive to the slightest of triggers.

Border Collies enjoy touch and affection, but typically on their own terms. These pups like their space and need a peaceful and quiet place to rest.

When strangers approach or stare at them, some dogs of this breed may feel threatened and react with cowering, appeasement, or an aggressive display.

Bored, frustrated, untrained, and under-socialized Border Collies are likely to find themselves a job or another outlet to release their high energy. This often leads to obsessive, destructive, and inappropriate behaviors.

An out-of-control Collie is likely to escape, become aggressive towards dogs and people, snap or bite when touched, bark excessively, chew objects, and dig up the garden.

Their herding instinct can lead to nipping people or small children in an effort to herd them together.

Border Collie barking sounds

border collie barking while on leash with the owner

For some dog owners, Border Collie barking is a constant thing. They state that their dogs bark, growl, whine, and even howl throughout the day.

So, why is that?

Well, when canines growl, whine, bark, or howl, it is completely natural and normal behavior. It is their way of communicating with each other and with their human owners.

Starting from puppyhood, dogs use vocalization to communicate. This can include crying sounds when they are afraid, frustrated, or hurt – or soft whining sounds when they are cold or hungry.

Older Border Collies make many different sounds for different situations. Here are the most common types of barking, and when they use it:

Whining or whimpering – Canines often use whimpering or whining as a means of communicating when they show submissiveness when greeting other dogs or when they seek attention.

Many also whine when they are in pain, when feeling lonely, frustrated, or when they simply want something. The last one usually boils down to a dog treat or someone to take them for a walk.

Howling – Many pups use howling as a long-range means of communication. If a canine hears another one howling in the distance, it will often howl back as a form of communication. However, some dogs like Border Collies howl when they hear sirens, certain music, or any irritating sound.

Growling – As most dog owners will tell you, our furry friends growl not only to show aggression, dominance, a warning, or in defense, but also when playing. Lots of movement and a wagging tail are often accompanied by play growling.

You can easily spot the difference between aggressive growling and play growling by a dog’s posture. A canine that remains stationary and stares or snarls is using an aggressive growl and means business.

Barking – Barking and excessive barking are other ways for dogs to communicate. Some breeds such as herding or working dogs and guard dogs are even trained to bark.

However, even though barking is normal behavior that is often used to show excitement or get attention, excessive dog barking often has an underlying cause.

Border Collie puppy barking

border collie puppy barking on another dog during playtime

First of all, is your Border Collie puppy barking excessively? These dogs will bark more often than other breeds, and they enjoy telling you about the world that is going on around them.

Now, excessive barking is another thing, and it generally means more than two or three barks in a row. It can also mean barking for numerous reasons that we will list below, but completely out of proportion to the actual reason.

Let’s go over some of the possible reasons for Border Collie barking.

Attention

When your dog barks for attention, make sure not to respond with talking, shouting, or coming running. In fact, you should pay no attention to it at all until it stops.

When your dog has a break for two to three seconds, you can treat, pet, or praise it. Whatever you prefer.

But, if your Collie continues to bark, then turn your back. You can even leave the room or your back yard for a short period of time.

This is because you want to show your dog that its barking is not succeeding in getting your attention. But, as soon as it stops barking, that is when you are there for it.

In most cases, dogs asking for attention is linked with boredom; our next reason on the list…

Boredom

If your pup is barking for attention, the most common reason behind it is boredom. These dogs are extremely active and need both physical and mental stimulation to be happy and healthy.

Try to play lots of mind-stimulating games with your Border Collie, as well as provide it with at least two training sessions per day.

If your BC is whining (making a high-pitched sound) or otherwise barking at you for attention, there is a chance that you need to add more enrichment to its life.

Puzzle toys for food and during training routines are a great way to work your pup’s brain. Letting your dog sniff stuff while walking is another way for it to use its mental energy!

Additionally, you can focus on teaching your Border Collie how to relax. This is especially the way to go if you have already provided it with an adequate amount of mental and physical exercise.

There is a Relaxation Protocol created by Dr. Karen Overall that has helped numerous owners get their young puppies and older dogs to learn to settle. Your peace of mind might be just an internet search away!

Territorial / fear-based

If your pup hears any noises outside or sees someone strolling past your house and starts barking, it probably wants to say: “Look, someone is near our territory! Quick, get the shotgun!

If you ignore your Border Collie in this instance, it can cause it to just keep barking because your pup wants you to know that there may be “danger” approaching.

If the barking is territorial or fear-based, you should respond. Go over to your pup and look where it is looking. Say something like: “what is it? Oh, it is okay. Don’t worry about it“. Pet your always-vigilant protector and leave the situation.

However, if your dog is continually barking at anything that passes by your window, it might be wise to cover up the window.

Playtime

If your Collie is over-excited, it will likely start barking. When it gets to this point in your playtime, it is a good idea to bring it down a notch.

Calm your pup down by using the technique that works best. Every dog is different, and you need to figure out what method of calming works best for your pup.

Border Collie barking a lot with no apparent reason

border collie barks at the blue light sky

Let’s clear this one up from the start… There is almost certainly a reason for your dog’s barking, and it is probably listed in one of the above. But, sometimes, it can simply be difficult to figure out which one it is.

Boredom barking is the case most of the time, as well as a noise that you can’t hear but dogs can.

If you’ve tried everything and you still can’t seem to curb their uncontrolled barking, whining, or howling, then you should consult your vet or a dog behavioral specialist.

Border Collie puppy barking at night

border collie barking in monochrome photo

Reasons for Border Collie barking in puppyhood at night include frustration, boredom, separation anxiety, or having to use the bathroom. Figuring out which one of these reasons makes your puppy bark at night will help you determine your training plan.

The most common reasons are:

1. Separation anxiety.

2. Frustration due to lack of training.

3. Need to use the bathroom.

Boredom is certainly possible, but with a puppy’s attention span being pretty short, they tend to easily find things to occupy their curious minds.

If your puppy is fine with being left alone during the day and barks only when in its crate at night, then the chances are that you are not dealing with separation anxiety.

Instead, your cute companion is likely worried or frustrated, but not to the point of true separation anxiety. This can especially be the case if you haven’t spent time training your puppy to get used to its crate.

If your BC puppy is barking any time you leave it in the crate – day or night – you are likely dealing with either true separation anxiety or a doggie that hasn’t been properly trained to be comfortable alone in its crate.

Puppies that develop separation anxiety may also exhibit destructive behavior, get into accidents, and generally be more upset.

If you think that you are dealing with true separation anxiety, you should seek a certified trainer who specializes in this problem. Many of them are available to help you remotely.

border collie outside

Photo from: @sawyerthecolliedog

But, if you admit to yourself that you haven’t spent the time needed to get your puppy used to its crate, it is time to man up and work on crate training first. You never want your pooch to panic in its crate. The crate should always be a safe and happy place for your doggie to go.

You can start introducing the crate by tossing a few treats inside and letting your puppy explore it by itself. Never force your BC puppy into the crate or close the door behind them.

At this stage, you simply want your new friend to be running in and out of the crate freely whenever you toss treats inside.

Once your pooch is quite comfortable with this process, the next step is briefly shutting the door. If the pup becomes upset, you have progressed too quickly. It should not be startled by this step.

Otherwise, continue to toss treats in the crate, and gradually increase the time your puppy is comfortable in the crate with the door shut.

The best way to practice short periods of being in the crate is when your Border Collie puppy is already tired and ready for a nap. Feeding your pup in the crate or giving it a toy to chew on can also help.

You should start leaving your puppy in its crate for short periods of time only when you are around. If you are working from home, watching TV and relaxing, or reading a book, put the crate near you and toss treats inside as you work.

As your BC puppy gets comfortable, you can start doing more active things, such as housework or leaving for a short moment to get the mail.

Once your dog is comfortable with this, it is time to start leaving it in its crate. Just keep in mind that a puppy can only hold its bladder for an average number of hours equal to its age in months plus one (up to seven or eight hours maximum).

Why do Border Collies bark so much: other sleeping arrangements

border collie sleeping in a grey bed

Until your new furry companion is comfortable with its crate, you may need different sleeping arrangements. Some pups are okay with being in a small pen, and some can be trusted in a small room that is puppy-proof.

If your puppy simply cannot handle being alone, and you live in an apartment without a puppy-proofed room, you can settle for sleeping together with it on the floor.

We know this sounds a bit drastic, but it is only for a couple of days or weeks until your puppy gets used to being alone.

After that, it will be able to adjust to being in a pen next to you or tethered on a leash close to you. The important thing to remember is to not overwhelm your doggy or else you will risk making the problem worse in the future.

If the reason for your Border Collie barking at night is because it has to use the bathroom, that is perfectly reasonable for a young puppy of this breed.

Bear in mind that the average five-month-old Collie should only be expected to go five to six hours without a bathroom break. Puppies younger than that need even more breaks throughout the day.

Getting up to let your pup out to do its thing is a normal part of raising a young dog. As it gets older, it should be able to start going throughout the night without the need to wake you up for a bathroom break.

At the end of the day, it is much better to be awakened by a puppy that asks for a bathroom break than a puppy that has pooped in its crate, covered itself in it, and is now crying because it is sad and needs a midnight bath.

Border Collie barking at strangers

brown and white collie border barking

Dogs bark at strangers either because they get excited or because they are worried. It is important to know which one it is by reading its body language. A Border Collie that is nervous about strangers needs to be handled differently than one that is overly excited.

If reading a dog’s body language is new to you, don’t worry. Here are some key things you should know:

In general, a happy pup will be:

• Loose

• Wiggly

• Wagging its tail low and slow

On the other hand, a worried dog, in general, will be:

• Tense

• Stiff

• Pulling its ears back

• Tucking its tail or wagging it straight up and stiffy

• Attempting to leave the situation

If you notice that your Collie is barking because it is worried about strangers, you are not alone. The Border Collie breed is sensitive and shy in some cases, and puppy socialization is crucial for them to become more relaxed dogs in adulthood.

It is best to start working with a professional dog trainer as soon as possible because puppies are much more impressionable. Try not to wait to get started until there is a bigger problem in the future.

Some of the best places to find trainers and behavioral consultants include:

• International Association of Animal Behavior Consultations

• Certification Council for Professional Dog trainers

• Karen Pryor Academy graduates

If your pooch is barking at strangers because it is excited and wants to see them, you can work on teaching it how to behave around distractions.

You should start in your home by teaching your pup how to sit, watch you, and walk with you without being distracted.

When you master this step, you can take your skills out on the walk! But, make sure you have plenty of distance between you two and any strangers, so you can practice without your dog going over the threshold.

We would recommend doing this at the end of parking lots. There are plenty of opportunities to see people entering and leaving the store at a distance!

How to get a Border Collie to stop barking

border collie jumping over the hurdle in the field

As we’ve seen, there are many reasons for Border Collie barking. Here are some techniques to help you tackle this problem.

• If your Collie is barking madly at passersby, find a spray bottle and fill it with water. When your pup barks, say “quiet”. If it does not stop, squirt it with the water. This will be surprising to it and will distract it. When your dog is distracted from barking, call it to you and reward and praise it when it comes.

• If your Border Collie puppy tends to bark whenever it is left alone, try leaving the radio on for company.

• Make sure your Border Collie gets plenty of daily exercise. A tired dog does not have the energy to bark.

Always make sure to correct unwanted barking the moment it happens. Correcting your dog for barking while you are out will make no sense to your Border Collie. It has forgotten all about it and you were not home, so you have to catch your BC in the act.

When correcting barking behavior, use a calm but firm voice to help your dog listen. Yelling or speaking in a high-pitched voice will only make your Border Collie think that you are joining in, which will make it bark more.

Tips for Border Collie training

border collie catching frisbee in its mouth

Play with your dog

Interactive play such as ball chasing, frisbee fetching, tug, and roughhousing are great ways to develop trust, and they will also make interactions with you more valuable than getting into trouble.

This way, you become the center of your pup’s universe and the source of all things they desire. High excitement games can also be used to teach many basic life skills and develop excellent self control.

Socialization

Socialize your puppy from an early age. This includes ensuring that your puppy is allowed to experience all kinds of places, surfaces, and people of all sizes, ages, attires, and genders, along with ways of moving in a safe and rewarding way.

Touching and being handled, hearing sounds and other sensations, going to vets and buildings, being around other dogs and pets, and other sensations that will be a normal part of their lives should all be experienced by the time your dog is twelve weeks old.

If you haven’t got the time to do this yourself, make sure you take your Border Collie to dog training and puppy socialization classes.

Get your dog involved

Involve your pup in as many of your daily activities as you can. Try to engage in dog sports that both of you will enjoy.

Sheep-herding trials, flyball, scent, agility work, and trick training are some of the possibilities. This will ensure that the needs of your working-breed dog are met, and it will also help you understand each other and teach mutual respect and teamwork.

Mental stimulation is an important part of BC training

Apart from physical exercise, you should provide your pup with plenty of mental stimulation including long walks, hikes, and swimming opportunities.

If your Collie doesn’t have good recall yet, or if you can’t let it off the leash for another reason, learn how to use a long leash on walks so that you can enjoy some freedom to engage in normal canine activities.

Work on your recall

Make sure you teach your pup a reliable, fast, and enthusiastic recall so that no matter what other interesting things are going on, it turns on a penny and runs like the wind back towards you.

This can get your doggie out of trouble and even save its life, but it will also allow it to enjoy the freedom of running off-leash.

Make sure they have their own space

Provide a quiet, peaceful place for your Collie to retreat to and relax in. This can be a comfy crate in a quiet corner of the kitchen or living room.

Take the time to teach your Border Collie to love its crate. This should take about one or two weeks. Just remember to never force your dog in the crate or shut the door when it wants to get out.

Also, don’t send it in the crate as punishment or as a time out as you will risk turning the place of peaceful relaxation into a prison.

Ensure that your dog is not bored

Provide your Border Collie with something appropriate to do if you have to leave the house for a while. Food dispenser toys and puzzle games for dogs are great ways to keep your dog occupied.

Also, remember to leave some raw bones or chew toys to keep your dog busy and calm so that your shoes and furniture stay whole.

Always remain calm when training your BC

During obedience training, if your pup reacts towards something startling or scary and barks or growls at people, livestock, dogs, or the TV, move away from the trigger and stay calm.

If your pup is constantly barking through the window, block the view. Manage your dog in order to radically reduce this behavior, and find professional behavior help and guidance if needed. If your pup is likely to bite, teach it to enjoy wearing a basket-type muzzle.

Keep your pup as healthy as possible

Keep your Collie healthy, slim, and fit. You want to be able to feel the ribs and see the waist in an adult dog of this breed.

Border Collies are a relatively healthy breed with a long lifespan, but you should be informed about and prepared for the most common Border Collie health issues such as epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and “Collie eye anomaly”.

For this, you might need to set up a private fund or take out appropriate pet insurance coverage. Keep its coat and teeth in good condition, and don’t allow your pup to chew stones or pebbles as this will damage its teeth.

Final thoughts

beautiful border collie lying down on the green grass

We hope that this article has given you the advice you need to resolve the Border Collie barking problem. Like people, each Collie has its own personality, and some will be very vocal, while others won’t “bark” a peep.

You never know which type you are going to get, but if you have a noisy Collie, the chances are it will always bark now and again. Do your best to remain calm.

Not only will it keep your emotions under control, but you will also be better able to process what is causing the barking at the moment.

Most dog lovers agree that Border Collies are one of the most intelligent, loveable, and energetic breeds around. And, having one as a family pet brings joy and happiness to any household!

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