And more often than not, that's the owners fault...!

For Border Collies, the most common reason is that they're bored.  When collies get bored they make their own entertainment.  That may involve stripping the wallpaper, chewing the settee, or scratching feverishly at doors.

As we've said before, collies are very intelligent - but with this intelligence comes some responsibility for the owner of the BC.  For the Collie, being intelligent means like kids, they are also easily bored.  If they haven't got something to occupy their little working brains, they'll helpfully redecorate your house.

Because they are intelligent, love to learn and are inquisitive, it's best for you to consider your Border Collie rather like he or she is a human toddler.  Toddlers get into all sorts of mischief when your back is turned, but love to be with you while you're there.

If you went to work for 8 hours, and left a toddler home alone, you would expect to come home to a house that looked as though a tornado had ripped through it.  Their nappy would be soiled, and everything in the house would have become potential playmates or playthings.

When bored, your Collie can be just the same.  If you wouldn't leave a toddler for 8 hours, then why a Border Collie?

If we wouldn't expect a toddler not to soil themselves, why would we expect a collie to hold it all in until we decide to come home from work?

Why would we expect this high-energy working breed to sit quietly at home being perfectly behaved until we walk through the door?

There's no reason why we should expect a dog to do this - especially a Border Collie.  I've said before that the BC is a working dog - if he's awake, he wants to be "doing stuff"!  But it's worth remembering that he has been bred to serve his 'shepherd'.  When you go to work, he has no master or flock - no boundaries and no rules.

To ensure your BC has a happy home life, you should make sure they have a nice safe bed they can go to when they want a lie down.  Ensure there is plenty of water available for drinking, and when you go out, you must make sure the dog knows what they are and aren't allowed to do by using positive reinforcement techniques.

Collies are sociable dogs, and love company.  If they are left alone for long periods, they can develop separation anxiety (where they really hate to see you leave).  The consequences of Separation Anxiety are similar to boredom - they will often become destructive.  However, with SA, they are destructive because they are frantic, and worrying where you are.  They feel lonely and trapped.

In general, households with more than one dog don't seem to suffer from SA as much as households with a single dog.  With a friend around, the sociable nature of the breed (and feelings of abandonment when you leave the house) aren't as much of a problem.

But that doesn't mean you should rush out and get a second dog.  If you don't tackle the reasons why your dog is being destructive, a second dog may just learn from the first dog that as soon as you leave the house, it's time to bark, wreck the joint and have a party!

If your dog does suffer from SA or boredom, there are plenty of things you can do to help.

1) Leave the house and return within a few minutes.   Then leave and return within ten minutes.  If they're behaving, reward them.  If they aren't behaving, ignore the bad behaviour.  Keep varying the length of time you leave the house.  Dogs are very good on picking up on regular routines - so keep them as varied as possible.

2) Don't say goodbye.  Dogs know that when you put your coat on, pick up your and keys and say "see you later" that they are being left behind.  Try to vary your routine so that they don't pick up on your signals.  Try ignoring your dog for ten minutes before you leave so they settle down and are relaxed.

3) If you have a nutty collie, try wearing them out before you leave the house.  Do a little training, and leave them a chew toy or bone as a reward.  Hopefully this toy will be much more interesting than you leaving the house.

4) Get a friend or neighbour to come in an check on your collie, perhaps even to take them for a walk.  A little contact during the day will help.

5) Get an expert to observe your dogs behaviour.  If you've got a high-drive working instinct collie, they may just be going stir-crazy and crave the great outdoors.


Please remember that if you work full-time, a Border Collie may not be the right dog for you.  Their love of human contact and need for constant mental and physical stimulation means a bored Border Collie is an unhappy Border Collie.

If you'd like some advice about Separation Anxiety or Collie Boredom, you can contact us below.  You can return to the main page by clicking the BC SOS logo at the top of the page.




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The advice given in this site is no way to be taken as a replacement for professional advice either by a Veterinarian or a Behaviourist. Situations of individual animals vary greatly, and what causes problems in one Collie can be different for another.  If you would like one-to-one advice, then please get in touch by using the 'contact us' link.  This site 2004 Border Collie SOS.