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Clingy border collie: needy behavior explained

Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by The Puppy Mag

Is your border collie being clingy and needy? Is this normal behavior or is there a legitimate reason?

As this behavior is quite common among border collies I get asked this question quite a bit!

And i’ve certainly had my fair share of moments with my pups being weirdly needy.

This article explains everything border collie owners should know about clingy behavior. Let’s get into it.

Are Border Collies Clingy?

clingy border collie

Border collies are known for getting very attached to their owners and may become anxious if left alone for long periods of time. This can come across as clinginess.

Clingy/needy border collies will usually follow their owner around excessively or becomes distressed when they leave the house.

While it’s possible to raise an independent and “non clingy” collie, many of them are by nature prone to this kind of behavior.

5 Real Causes Behind Clingy Border Collies

Let’s run through the main reasons that cause neediness in border collies.

1. Understimulation

Border collies crave a lot of mental stimulation, much more than many owners realize…

A lack of mental stimulation can cause the collie to become bored and frustrated, and your collie will seek out there “leader” in order to get what they want.

This translates into a bored collie following you around waiting for you to do something interesting with them.

2. Reinforcement of needy behavior

It’s surprisingly easy to have made the mistake of reinforcing clingy behavior in your collie. Exactly the opposite of what you want!

Your collie will understand it like this… If they come to you craving attention and you give it to them (in any way), then you’ve just reinforced to them that all they need to do is pester you in order to get what they want.

It can be as subtle as your collie following you into the kitchen while you make some food, and you slip her some tasty treat. Despite this being innocent in our eyes, your collie has learned to follow you around.

3. Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common issue among collies. It is characterized by the inability to be away from a specific person, often the owner, for any length of time.

This can result in the collie constantly following and clinging to its owner, even during routine activities like waking up and using the bathroom.

It’s important to address separation anxiety in collies. as it can lead to behavior problems if left unchecked. Providing the dog with proper socialization, exercise, mental stimulation, and training can help prevent separation anxiety and promote a healthy, well-adjusted dog.

Signs of separation anxiety include:

  • Change of behavior when you are about to leave the house
  • Excessive howling, panting, or whining when left alone
  • Refusing to drink or eat when alone
  • Self destructive behavior when left alone (paw checking, biting, scratching)
  • Generic destructive behavior when left alone

4. Lack of exercise

Border collies need at least 90 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise per day. Sufficient physical exercise not only keeps them fit and healthy, but it calm and relaxes their mind.

One of the most common issues among clingy dogs is a serious lack of physical exercise. Again, this resorts to boredom and frustration, ultimately leading to clinginess.

5. Your collie is naturally clingy

Yep, sometimes you may be doing everything right by avoiding bad reinforcement and providing a great daily routine, yet your collie is still clingy.

Border collies can be a clingy breed to being with, for some of them, it’s literally a part of their temperament.

Collies are so aware and attentive to their owners… All they want to do is follow orders and appease, which could resort to them following you around just because they’re waiting to follow a command.

Additionally, your collie might just LOVE you that much they want to be with you. A good bond between you and your collie could be enough to cause this “needy” behavior you’re dealing with.

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Consider The Following

The following questions may help owners think about when and why their collie displays this behavior. Take a look below.

  • Has your collie received their daily exercise or at least some of it?
  • Has your collie been let outside and fed?
  • Have you trained your collie today?
  • Has your collie received some form of mental stimulation already?
  • Is your collie displaying needy behavior only at specific times of the day?
  • Have you recently rewarded your collie after having followed you around?
  • Is your collie bored, frustrated, or left unattended for hours already?
  • Have you recently left the house for 4 hours or more?
  • Has your collie recently displayed destructive behavior? If so, when and what after?
  • Does your collie become erratic when you try leaving the house

These questions should shed some light on why and when the needy behavior happens.

Identifying the trigger of the needy behavior could be enough to determine the significance of the problem.

How Clingy Is Your Border Collie?

To what extent is your collie needy? Assessing the frequency and severity of the behavior can help you know how “bad” the issue may or may not be.

If your collie can’t leave your side for even a second, then this indicates a separation anxiety issue, and should be dealt with as soon as possible.

If your collie’s clingy behavior is infrequent and sporadic, then there may not actually be an issue to worry about. This could just be your collie’s temperament.

If however, it’s excessive to the point you can’t leave the room without them, then of course this must be addressed.

It’s all about noticing the pattern of the clingy behavior, when it happens, and whether or not your collie’s basic needs are being met sufficiently.

Stopping Your Collie From Being So Needy

Let’s run through the healthy habits and best ways to avoid/resolve clingy behavior:

  • Provide 90 mintues of physical exercise (at least some first thing in the morning)
  • Provide 30-45 minutes of dedicated training
  • Provide mental stimulation games and activities
  • Provide sufficient socialization with other dogs at the dog park
  • Avoid rewarding your collie when she follows you
  • Reward your collie for laying down quietly alone
  • Only ever reward your collie for the behavior you want more of
  • Consider separation anxiety training if you think the issue is already severe

In most cases, ensuring the above tips are met will resolve and avoid future clingy behavior.

Last thoughts

Clingy behavior can be a problem in border collies. In most cases, it’s caused by an insufficient daily routine, exercise, stimulation, or due to the owner reinforcing this kind of behavior.

Still, it’s important to remember that collies do get attached to their owners. This is natural, and will cause them to be “clingy” to some extent.

Whether or not you should do something about the behavior depends on the severity and frequency of it.

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