Border collies are widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and versatile dog breeds in the world. Originally bred for herding sheep in the Scottish-English border region, these dogs have a natural instinct for gathering, controlling, and moving livestock. Today, border collies are popular pets, but many are still used for herding and other working activities.
Regardless of their primary role, border collies require proper training and guidance to become well-behaved and obedient companions. Commands are a crucial part of that training, helping owners communicate with their dogs and establish clear expectations.
In this article, we’ll explore the different types of commands that border collies should know, from basic obedience cues like “sit” and “stay,” to specialized herding commands like “walk up” and “away to me.” We’ll also discuss some more advanced commands that can improve a border collie’s working ability and make training more challenging and fun. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to communicate effectively with your border collie and help them reach their full potential.
Basic Border Collie Dog Commands
Border collies are intelligent and eager to please, making them great candidates for basic obedience training. These are the essential commands that all border collies should know, along with their purpose and training tips:
The sit command is one of the most basic and important commands for a dog to learn. It’s useful for teaching impulse control, preventing jumping, and for calm greetings. To teach your border collie to sit, hold a treat above their head, and then move it back towards their tail. Their natural response will be to sit down to follow the treat. Once their bottom hits the ground, say “sit” and give them the treat. Repeat this several times until they start to associate the word “sit” with the action. This is an essential command to learn during Border Collie leash training sessions.
The stay command is useful for keeping your dog in place until you release them. To teach your border collie to stay, start by having them sit or lie down. Then, say “stay” and take a small step back. If they stay put, praise and reward them. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog and the duration of the stay. Always reward your dog for a successful stay.
The come command is essential for getting your dog’s attention and bringing them back to you when necessary. To teach your border collie to come, start by calling their name and saying “come” in a happy, inviting tone. When they come to you, reward them with a treat and praise. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog and practice in different environments. Make sure to reward your dog every time they come to you, even if it takes a while.
The down command is useful for teaching your dog to lie down on command, which can be helpful for calming them down or for keeping them still in a particular spot. To teach your border collie to lie down, have them sit first, then lower the treat to the ground in front of them. As they follow the treat, their front legs will go down and then their back legs will follow. Say “down” and reward them with the treat when they’re in a down position.
The leave it command is useful for preventing your dog from picking up something harmful or undesirable, such as food off the ground or an item that they shouldn’t be chewing on. To teach your border collie to leave it, start by placing a treat in one hand and closing your fist around it. Say “leave it” and wait until your dog stops trying to get the treat. Once they stop, say “yes” and reward them with a different treat from your other hand. Gradually make the exercise more challenging by placing the treat on the ground or using a more tempting item to leave.
The drop it command is useful for getting your dog to release something that they have in their mouth, such as a toy or an object that they shouldn’t be chewing on. To teach your border collie to drop it, hold a toy or object in front of them and say “drop it” as you offer them a treat. When they let go of the toy, praise them and give them the treat. Gradually increase the duration that they hold the toy before dropping it.
By teaching these additional basic commands, you’ll help your border collie become even more well-behaved and responsive to your commands.
Border Collie Commands (Herding)
Border collies are known for their natural herding instincts, and many owners enjoy training their dogs to work livestock. However, herding commands can also be useful for general obedience and control, as they teach your border collie to respond to specific cues and work with you as a team. Here are some common herding commands and how to teach them:
“Come bye” and “Away to me”
“Come bye” and “away to me” are directional commands used to guide your border collie to move clockwise or counterclockwise around a herd of animals. To teach these commands, start by using a long line to keep your border collie at a distance from the herd. Stand behind them and guide them with your voice and body language as you use the commands to direct them in the appropriate direction. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog as they become more confident and responsive.
The walk up command is used to encourage your border collie to move towards the herd and get them moving. To teach this command, start by standing with your dog behind the herd and use a long line to keep them at a distance. Use the command “walk up” in an encouraging tone and encourage your dog to move towards the herd. Once the herd starts moving, praise and reward your dog.
The steady command is used to encourage your border collie to slow down and approach the herd more carefully. To teach this command, use a long line to keep your dog at a distance from the herd and use the command “steady” in a calm, reassuring tone as they approach. Encourage them to approach slowly and cautiously, praising and rewarding them when they respond appropriately.
“That’ll do” is a command used to signal the end of a herding session and to bring your dog back to you. To teach this command, use it consistently at the end of each herding session and praise and reward your dog when they come back to you. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog and use the command to signal the end of each training session.
“Get back” or “Get out”
“Get back” or “get out” are commands used to move your dog away from the herd and to prevent them from getting too close or causing harm. To teach this command, use it consistently when your dog is getting too close to the herd or when they’re exhibiting behavior that could be dangerous. Praise and reward your dog when they respond appropriately.
“Hold” or “Stay”
“Hold” or “stay” is a command used to keep your dog in a specific position while you move around the herd or perform other tasks. To teach this command, start by having your dog sit or lie down and use the command in a firm but gentle tone. Gradually increase the duration that your dog holds the position and reward them for good behavior.
Border Collie Advanced Commands
Once your border collie has mastered the basic and herding commands, you may want to teach them some more advanced commands that can help them become even more well-behaved and obedient. Here are some advanced commands to consider:
“Go to your mat/bed”
“Go to your mat/bed” is a command that teaches your dog to go to a specific spot and settle down. This command can be useful when you have guests over or when you need your dog to stay out of the way. To teach this command, start by choosing a specific spot for your dog’s mat or bed and use treats to encourage them to go there. Use the command consistently and reward your dog when they respond appropriately.
“Leave it” is a command that teaches your dog to leave an object or food alone. This command can be useful when you’re on a walk and your dog tries to pick up something dangerous or when you’re eating and your dog is begging for food. To teach this command, start by holding a treat in your closed hand and saying “leave it.” When your dog looks away from your hand, praise and reward them.
“Take it” is a command that teaches your dog to pick up an object. This command can be useful when you’re playing fetch or when you want your dog to bring you something. To teach this command, start by holding an object that your dog likes and use the command consistently. Reward your dog when they take the object from your hand.
“Speak” or “Quiet”
“Speak” or “quiet” are commands that teach your dog to bark or be silent on cue. These commands can be useful when you need your dog to alert you of something or when you need them to be quiet. To teach this command, start by saying “speak” when your dog barks and rewarding them. Then, say “quiet” and reward your dog when they stop barking.
“Find it” is a command that teaches your dog to search for a specific object. This command can be useful when you’re playing hide-and-seek or when you need your dog to find something you’ve lost. To teach this command, start by hiding a treat in a visible location and using the command consistently. Reward your dog when they find the treat and gradually make the hiding spots more challenging.
“Go around” is a command that teaches your dog to move around an object or obstacle. This command can be useful when you’re on a walk and need your dog to avoid something or when you’re herding and need your dog to move around a stubborn animal. To teach this command, use the command consistently when you want your dog to move around an object or obstacle and reward them when they do so.
By teaching these additional advanced commands, you’ll have even more control over your border collie and be able to communicate more effectively in a variety of situations. However, it’s important to note that advanced commands should only be taught after your dog has mastered the basic and herding commands, and that proper training and guidance are necessary to ensure your dog’s safety and well-being.
Border collies are highly intelligent and trainable dogs that excel at a variety of tasks. By teaching them a range of commands, you can help them become even more well-behaved and obedient companions. Basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” provide the foundation for good behavior, while herding commands like “away” and “come by” allow them to use their natural instincts.
Advanced commands like “go to your mat/bed,” “leave it,” and “take it” can help your border collie become even more versatile and useful. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can teach your border collie a range of commands that will make them an even better companion and partner in all of your adventures.