Border collie owners often ask me when their pup will finally calm down a little. And it’s no surprise, border collies are highly energetic dogs, especially the pups. This article will explain when your border collie will calm down, what to expect, what not to expect, and some handy tips to help.
Border collies typically calm down from around 4 years old and onwards. For some, it can take even longer and won’t happen until 6 years old. Relying on the natural calming that comes with age alone, is not a great plan.
Let’s explain this a little more below, and why waiting for your collie to calm down, is not the best way to go about it.
Why Border Collies Have So Much Energy
Border collies are one of the best herding breeds we know of. For centuries border collies have been at the top of their game spending most of their days out in the fields herding, controlling, and protecting cattle.
This requires A LOT of energy! This rigorous working lifestyle is ingrained into collies, even though now most are kept simply as family pets.
Border collies are born with a huge capacity for being active. They are natural athletes, agile, and remain fit for their entire life. This is why collies to this day still have tonnes of energy, even those that have never even seen a sheep!
When Will My Border Collie Calm Down?
After speaking to many border collie owners, it seems that you’ll be waiting until at least 4 years old, and in some cases even 6 years old, before you notice any natural calming taking place.
However, every owner also pointed out something crucial that’s often not mentioned…
There’s not a magical age when your border collie suddenly goes from hyperactivity to a meditating buddha. It’s more of a gradual change, which for some isn’t even that noticeable. With some collies the change is obvious, but with others, it isn’t…
With this in mind, relying on age alone usually ends up being a big mistake. This is why I’m going to run through the best ways in which you can manage your collie at their most hyper state. And as they age, your job might just become a little easier!
6 Ways To Calm Down a Border Collie
The key to a calm border collie is all about expending their energy correctly and sufficiently. Your collie’s routine and the activities held throughout the day will make or break your chance at peace and quiet. So let’s get into it.
1. Exercise twice a day (and at the right times!)
Exercise is an obvious one, but many owners still make a couple of mistakes. The first mistake is only exercising once per day, and the second is leaving exercise until the end of the day.
The best daily exercise schedule looks like an hour first thing in the morning (even if it means waking up earlier before work, sorry!) and then again in the evening. Exercise should be moderate to intense.
Two different sessions of exercise per day is a whole lot better than just one. This will not only make your collie happier, more satisfied but will encourage them to remain calm at home as they know they have another walk in the evening.
Additionally, it’s crucial to provide exercise FIRST thing in the morning. Your collie will wake up each morning bursting with energy, so having to wait several hours before their first walk, is asking for hyperactivity, pent-up energy, and frustration.
2. Use a puppy pen for cool down periods
Puppy pens are excellent when used as a “cool down zone”. Puppy pens are essentially just crates, but with a lot more space and less confinement.
The puppy pen must first be introduced to your border collie slowly and with a lot of positive associations attached to it. If a good relationship isn’t established with the pen, then this will not work (and your collie will view it as punishment). Before you intend to keep your collie in the pen, be sure to play with her inside it, give her treats, a blanket, and make it somewhere she likes to be.
Now, in times when your collie is a little too excited or erratic, you can put her in the pen, give her a nice chew or treat, and allow her to calm down for a short while.
Why does this work? By limiting her movement she’ll be inclined to lay down, calm down and take a moment to “chill”. When dogs have the full roam of the house, they can pace and run around which indirectly keeps them in a hyperactive state. At the same time, a puppy pen isn’t so restrictive that it becomes frustrating.
This works amazingly well when the puppy pen is introduced correctly and positively! Once again, this mustn’t be viewed by your collie as a punishment.
3. Increase socialization (other dogs & strangers)
Socializing with new dogs and puppies is one of the most potent forms of mental stimulation. 1 hour of sniffing butts, wagging tails, playing, and chasing other dogs is extremely tiring and satisfying for any dog. Socialization will wear your collie out like nothing else, plus it has numerous added benefits from decreased aloofness to being friendlier in general.
Although some amount of socialization will happen on your daily walks, it’s worth dedicating extra time out of the day (at least a few times per week) for socializing with new dogs and strangers.
How to do it: The best way is to check out local groups on Facebook. Loads of dog owners in your area are likely scheduling to meet up for the purpose of socializing their pups. This is by far the best way as it’s direct and impactful. If this isn’t available, invite friends over with their dogs, or just spend longer at the dog park with other dog owners.
I could write multiple articles on the importance of socialization, but just know that it’s a sure-fire way to have a much calmer border collie in general. The more the better, but at least a few hours per week of constant interaction will work wonders.
4. Interactive Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys are another great way to keep your collie busy and entertained. A puzzle toy would work great combined with the puppy pen to help keep your collie calm and settled.
There are a few different styles of puzzle toys. Some are set and forget, and others are a bit more complicated that require you to be there. Both styles are great to have and are appropriate for different times.
For set and forget puzzle toys, nothing beats the KONG or Star Mark (In essence, they are simply slow feeders). You can place treats inside the toy and your collie while your collie focuses on rolling the toy in the correct direction for the treat to fall out. From personal experience, the Star Mark can keep a smart dog occupied for around 40 minutes.
Other toys from Nina Ottosson are more complex. Border collies being as intelligent as they are will thoroughly enjoy tasks like this, even if they figure it out early. This game, however, will need you to be there as it has removable pieces. I recommend having both set and forget puzzle toys, as well as more involved ones for when you are there and want to take part.
5. Interact with your collie more
We can’t give our dogs our full attention all day, but every now and then if we make time to focus entirely on them, it can help a lot with their behavior, reduce anxiety, and make them calmer.
After all, dogs want nothing more than their owner’s attention. By giving your collie 20 minutes here and there, taking the time to play with her, train her, speak to her, you are going to be expending a huge chunk of her mental energy. Not to mention it will help you bond with her too.
After every short session, your collie will likely be happy to lay down and rest (even if it’s for a short time only).
Sometimes, all we need to do is give our dogs some of our undivided attention to see better behavior from them.
6. Provide continuous training
Collies love to be trained, so keep on training! Sure, the average collie will master basic commands like sit, stay, come, down, within the first week of training. But that doesn’t mean stop…
There are ways to make the exercises more challenging, unique, fun, and interesting, all of which is providing great mental stimulation for your collie. Try making her stay for longer durations, walk back and leave the room before giving her the “ok” command. Things like that: you can be creative with it.
Training is fantastic because not only does it engage your collie’s mind and leave them feeling satisfied, but overall it trains your collie to be more sensible and better behaved in general.
Most people stop when the basics are learned, but a simple 20-minute training session carried out every day will be thoroughly appreciated by your collie. Especially when combined with some tasty rewards!
How Does All Of This Work?
The 6 tips above are all important and together they will have a positive impact on your collie’s energy levels and overall behavior.
All of the tips above either focus on physical or mental exercise. And stimulating your collie is the answer to a calmer collie. If you provide your collie with enough activity and outlets to expend their energy (either physically or mentally) then they WILL be calmer throughout the day.
It helps to remember that collies are working dogs. They NEED to be doing something, that’s why they have so much energy. And if they don’t have something to do, it comes through in restless behavior, obsessive staring, or in worse cases, destructive behavior.
You might find some of the tips above more challenging to incorporate into your daily routine than others (like more exercise and socializing) but it’s absolutely worth trying. Everyone’s situation will be different, and some collies will need more of a drastic change than others.
What To Expect From Your Border Collie
Border collies will have energy for their entire lives, there’s no getting around it.
Hyperactivity may naturally resolve from 4-6 years old onwards, but that’s NOT the ideal way to go about it. I’ve spoken to some owners who say they still can’t keep up with their collie at age 9.
It’s best to provide your collie with enough stimulation and activity every day in order to manage their energy when it’s at its highest, this way, it’s smooth sailing from here on out.
From what I gather speaking to friends and other owners, collies do not magically become “calm” one day from the next. Because of this, we have to learn to manage our collie’s energy, rather than waiting for a day that probably isn’t going to come!
But hey, at least your collie will keep you on your toes!
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