This article has been approved by a qualified Veterinarian! ✅ Read more!
Does your Border Collie continuously shake with nerves? look scared and worried all of the time? This is understandably concerning for all owners. This article will explain the reasons why your Border Collie may be overly anxious and what you can do about it.
Why Do Border Collies Get Nervous, Scared, or Anxious?
Finding out why your Border Collie is nervous, scared, or shaking will give you the best chance of helping her.
1. Getting nervous in her environment ⭐
Border Collies (and dogs in general) are extremely sensitive to their environment and external stimulus can be unsettling.
Loud noises outside, building works, busy roads, foot traffic, and even other animals or your neighbor’s pet can all be frightening for your Collie.
New neighbors are a classic example of this, even when you can’t hear them, your Collie can still sense this nearby change with different smells and sounds from before.
2. Anxious for being left home alone ⭐
If you routinely leave the house for many hours each day, your Border Collie is likely suffering a lot more than you think.
Border collies do not cope well when left alone, and over time can cause a dog to become very anxious and stressed even when you are at home with them.
Collies are highly intelligent and will be waiting for certain triggers that signify that you are leaving. This can be as simple as seeing you put your shoes on, or hearing you touch your keys, even if you aren’t going out. These cues can put her on edge.
3. Nervous around a particular person ⭐
It’s surprisingly very common for a dog to be nervous around a certain person in the household.
This can be due to the energy given off by that particular person, perhaps they don’t communicate or act in a friendly or approachable way with your Collie.
One person of the household may be particularly loud or talk in a raised voice compared to others. Subtle differences like this could be interpreted as a threat by your Collie.
In other instances, female Collies, especially after having given birth to a litter of pups, may act anxiously around the men of the household and may only be calm around the women.
4. Bad experiences in the past ⭐
Fear and anxiety can certainly be caused by previous bad experiences. This includes everything from abuse, severe punishments, neglect with previous owners, abandonment, or having spent time in shelters.
Even a single event can take a big toll on the mental health and stability of any dog for years after it happened.
Although bad past experiences are out of your control, there are certain ways you can help your Border Collie feel better now. This will all be covered the following sections.
5. The anticipation of daily events ⭐
Certain events that happen on a daily basis could also be triggering unnecessary nerves or anxiety.
This all gets built as anticipation, waiting for the events to happen. This includes things like mealtimes, being let out to go potty, awaiting the kids to arrive home from school at the same time every day, or your partner arriving home from work.
It’s actually quite normal for dogs to anticipate when the same event should happen on a daily basis, and for some dogs, this comes through as visible anxiety.
6. Scared of people or other dogs (in general) ⭐
If your Border Collie gets scared of people or other dogs, it usually suggests a lack of socialization early on in her life.
The importance of socializing puppies is huge, and it typically dictates how the puppy will react to new dogs and strangers when they are older.
Interacting, sniffing, playing, and even arguing with other dogs is all part of developing social skills that will allow your Collie to remain calm when meeting another new dog or person in the future.
If you suspect this to be the issue, you can take your Collie to the local park more often, or visit dedicated social meetups for dogs who need more interaction. Just be sure to start her off slow and give her plenty of time before increasing the frequency of your visits.
7. Underlying health concerns ⭐
In more unfortunate cases, increased anxiety and nerves may be triggered through an underlying health issue.
This is extremely hard for us to diagnose and will only be found out by having a full health check-up with your veterinarian.
If you notice other symptoms like sickness, vomiting, diarrhea, or generally “down in the dumps” then it’s important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
You may also speak to a veterinary behavior expert. Their advice paired with a full health check-up will go a long way.
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Reducing Your Collie’s Nerves: The Most Important Principle
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice to help your Border Collie become less fearful, anxious, and nervous overtime.
● When your Border Collie is there shaking and acting anxious, we naturally want to comfort her with a soft-spoken tone and reassurance. Surprisingly, this is the worst way to respond. This kind of response reinforces to your Collie that yes, something is wrong, and your reassurance validates her initial nerves and anxiety.
Once you carry out the same routine of comforting her when she’s nervous, it will become easier and even normal for her to exhibit this behavior time and time again.
So the very first step to take, regardless of the cause of the anxiety, is to stop reinforcing it.
This doesn’t mean ignore her. It just means, to stop directly responding to her nerves, with comfort and reassurance.
● So what should you do? A better approach is to distract her from her nerves. The best way to do this is to play her favorite game of fetch, or tug of war… whatever game she usually likes to play, play it, and gradually distract her away from her nerves.
Reducing Your Collies Nerves By Addressing Specific Issues
Although there are some causes that you can’t directly address, like experiencing abuse in her past, there are some you have control over.
1. Getting nervous from her environment
2. Getting nervous from being left alone too often
3. Getting nervous around a particular person
These are all causations that you can have an impact on. Let’s take a look:
1. Addressing her environment ⭐
If you’ve recently gained new neighbors, it would be a great idea to build a relationship with them and invite them round. This way, your Border Collie will get to understand these new smells that have been confusing her for so long. Make it casual and allow your Collie to sus out her new neighbors in her own time. After a few visits, your Collie will become familiar with the neighbors instead of fear them.
If there are extra noises throughout the day like traffic or people walking by, either keep those windows shut or move your Collie to another, more quiet part of the house.
Dogs can smell up to 100,000 times better than we can… If there’s new wildlife in your neighborhood, your Collie will know about it. To give your Collie something other to smell than all of the scary animals outside of the house, try using home diffusers. Lavender is proven to reduce fear and anxiety in both humans and canines.
2. Reduce the amount of time she spends alone ⭐
This is a big issue nowadays, we end up working longer hours and our lives keep getting busier.
If your Collie already spends more than 3 or 4 hours home alone, it’s time to get a dog sitter or get help from friends and family.
By reducing the amount of time she spends alone, this will improve her whole life, and a decreased level of anxiety can certainly be a positive result.
I have an entire article about how Border Collies shouldn’t be left alone. It has extra tips on resolving the issue so be sure to check it out.
3. Getting nervous around one person ⭐
If your Collie is nervous around a particular person in the household, it’s time for a change.
Similar advice follows as in the previous section. This particular person should try to engage more with your Collie, but in a positive, indirect way, like throwing her ball or trying to initiate a game. It’s also good to give her treats, be the one to give her meals and make positive associations in general.
Try not to interact or get too close to her, because this will likely backfire and trigger her to become scared, fearful, or even aggressive.
If a particular person is overly loud or intimidating, this kind of presence is no good for her. Politely, ask that person to be quieter and calmer around your Collie.
Reevaluate Your Border Collie’s Exercise Routine
Border Collies are an athletic breed and require a lot of exercise. These herding dogs should be receiving 1-2 hours of intensive exercise per day.
If her current exercise routine isn’t sufficient, this could certainly be adding to her general nerves and anxiety. It’s well known that dogs who are well-exercised, are far calmer and more content. Releasing pent up energy is a big part of any dog’s day.
This point becomes even more relevant when you need to leave her home alone. Always ensure you give your Collie adequate exercise before she’s left home alone. This will give her the best chance to remain calm and rest while you’re gone.
Mental Stimulation Reduces Anxiety
Physical exercise is well-noted, but mental exercise typically gets neglected when it comes to dogs.
Mental exercise (stimulation) is just as important as physical exercise. Keeping the brain challenged and entertained helps to reduce stress, feel content, and satisfied.
Border Collies, being the most intelligent dog breed we know if, absolutely NEED plenty of mental stimulation to be at their best.
These dogs are so clever and require their brains to be challenged through training, basic command practice as well as interactive puzzle toys.
Be sure to provide a range of these types of toys so you Border Collie can keep her mind focused, instead of anxious.
If you have anything to add to this article, be sure to send us a message and we will update our article!
⭐ Other Border Collie Articles on The Puppy Mag:
● How Often Should You Bathe a Border Collie? Bathing Tips
● The Complete Breed Compatibility Guide For Border Collies
● How To Help Border Collie Lose Weight: 5 Effective Ways
View all Border Collie articles >>
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