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Why Are Border Collies Smart? (And How to Make Them Smarter)

When we rescued our border collie, Cookie, we soon realized that this was no ordinary dog. Anything we taught her was instantly absorbed, and we have never had to spend a lot of time training. At the time, we actually didn’t realize that border collies are the most intelligent dog. So, I did some research on the subject, and this is what I found out.

Border collies are smarter than any other dog because they have been bred as working dogs. During their development as a breed, they were required to pay close attention to what livestock were doing at all times. This requires them to be clever problem-solvers, enabling them to react to situations that might arise.

The rest of the article will provide more details on the most intelligent breed. I’ll also discuss how they are trained and what you can do to maximize their abilities and intelligence.


Why Border Collies Are so Smart

Throughout the 1800s until today, border collies have been bred as herding dogs. Their primary job has been to guide and move livestock, namely sheep, through the use of their voice and bounding gait.

They have learned to watch out for strays that might escape from the herd and also move them to higher ground if a storm moves in. As an intelligent animal with a lot of mental stimulation, border collies thrive on such tasks. This is because they have what is called a “high working intelligence,” which means that they have an unusually high problem-solving ability.

There is virtually no limit on what a Border Collie is capable of, but there are some tricks that the owner can do in order to make it easier for their furry friend. They love nothing more than working hard and being active.

How Border Collies Are Trained

Border collies are trained as working dogs through herding. The border collie’s life is dictated by its job.

With this as a primary objective, the dog has to be trained and worked on its skills and behavior from a young age. At an early age, they are taught that it is a good idea to find the easiest route through a crowd, tree, or other obstacles in order for the sheep not to get tired when being herded. Border collies are trained to watch out for the sheep, and they have to move with them.

The sheepherders carry out tests to make sure that their dogs follow them straight through any obstacles, and this can take many hours if they are not up to it, which is why it is good training for both human and dog trainers. This lets the dogs know that they can trust each other in case the situation gets stressful.

In addition to training border collies by herding, the dog is also trained by using its own instincts. Border collies are born with a natural instinct to herd. They are very good at it, and they really do not need to be taught too much in order to get the job done. They are smart, and they know how to think for themselves, so they do not need to be coached too much.

How to Stimulate a Border Collie’s Mind

Border collies are intelligent animals that thrive on intellectual stimulation, but they need help from their owner in order to make their sharp mind work up to their full potential. Just like humans, dogs need mental stimulation in order to stay active and healthy. This includes both physical activity and mental exercise: You want them to develop strong brain muscles just like any other part of their body.

They are very receptive to their owner’s commands as long as they are properly motivated. So, to keep their interest high, a border collie requires mental exercise to stay interested and challenge his or her mind.

So, it’s vital to get your dog up and out and about so they can work those brain muscles. Being a working dog means that your dog will be putting his or her mind to work, so you need to make sure that they receive appropriate mental stimulation.

  • Take them to the park.
  • Take them on long walks.
  • Give him or her training sessions.

Be sure to encourage them with praise or treats when they succeed at something. All of these things will help your dog stay on his toes and develop a strong mind.

Pro Tip: Never give a dog the same reward in a row. If you are not careful, they will manipulate you and only do the task you give them if they know they will get a particular treat. The great thing is that dogs love praise just as much as getting a bite to eat. So, don’t feel like you are slighting your dog somehow if you only give them some praise when they perform the task you asked of them.

6 Tips to Stimulate Your Border Collies Intelligence

Tri Color Border Collie

If you want to get your dog’s mental stimulation to the maximum, then it would be best if you got started as early as possible. While it’s best to begin training them as a puppy, the breed is so intelligent that they can learn at any age.

To do this, here are the top ten tips I recommend for your border collie to develop a strong mind:

Work Them

Make sure your border collie gets plenty of exercise. They are known to have to work hard, just like any other working animal. In fact, they are pretty much able to work 24 hours a day, while some other breeds might only be able to stay up for half of that time. Border collies are tireless.

For domestic border collies, this means that you should let them get at least an hour of exercise every day to stay healthy. Please do not make the mistake of leaving them tied up all day. This can lead to various health problems.

You should take them to the park or somewhere where they can run around and play for a while. This way, his mind will be stimulated, and he will still learn how to do new things. This is also a good way for you to get some exercise!

Give Them Training Sessions

If you have an incredibly stubborn dog, you may need to give them training sessions. This way, they learn how to listen and respond to you as an individual. While they’re smart, you still have to give them some direction.

Without this training, it will not be possible for your dog to become a good companion or guard dog. They will not be able to follow the rules that you set if you don’t train them. Border Collies are known for their stubbornness. Sometimes I think my dog Cookie is smarter than me!

Give Them a Lot of Attention

Border Collies are affectionate creatures that love to have attention from their owners. They may even develop separation anxiety if their owners do not spend enough time with them.

Make sure you spend adequate “snuggle” time with them a few times a week. Border collies can actually suffer from mental anguish if they don’t get regular hugs. They crave attention from people.

But beyond just making them happy, by spending quality time with your border collie, you will be bonding them to you. This will make them eager to please you and want to do precisely what you want them to at all times. This makes training so much easier.

A Woman Holding a Young Blue-Eyed Border Collie
Border Collies thrive on human attention.

Take Them to Obedience School or Classes

If you do not have the time or energy to train your dog, you should consider taking them to classes to learn from a professional. These training sessions will help your dog learn to listen to the commands and respond as they are supposed to do by following the owner’s word.

It also makes it easier for you to teach your dog what you want them to do at home because they will be more familiar with the commands that will be helpful in your daily life. It is a great idea to add playtime into these sessions.

Take Them to a Pet Store or a Local Event That Has Dogs Present

If possible, find a dog-friendly park or event that has doggie daycare, and then bring your dogs there with you. Border collies love socialization with other dogs. Just be ready for them to try to be the life of the party. My border collie always tries to herd all the other dogs. It’s actually hilarious to watch.

Teach Them Hand Signal Commands

Just like the Morse code or the alphabet, dogs have their own language that we need to learn. We have to teach them that some hand movements mean “come here.” This is one of the coolest ways for your dog to learn because it will be watching you and not looking at your hands.

Here is an excellent resource for teaching dogs hand signals.

Pro Tip: Put on some dog-friendly music, like classical or jazz, and play something for your dogs to listen to while you are working on obedience commands with them.

Whichever training method you choose, make it fun. Border collies love games as much as humans do (if not more). If you do some of these things, then you can make sure your dogs will stay happy and healthy for many years to come.

A dog’s mind is very important because it is connected to its body. If they have a strong mind, they will be able to stay active throughout the day while allowing them to learn new things simultaneously. I hope these tips will help you create the healthiest possible environment for your little friend.

Is a Border Collie a Good Guard Dog?


Border collies can also be trained to act as a guard dog if needed. However, they do not attack dogs but instead will stay close to their flock and let out a bark if anything gets close enough for the sheep to be in danger. The barking is not aggressive, but it does alert the owner whenever something needs to be taken care of.

Final Bark

Border collies are considered the smartest of all herding dogs. They have extraordinary working intelligence, which gives them an edge over other breeds. They love learning new things, which makes them great to train.

The greatest part about owning a border collie is that it becomes a mission for them when you give them a task. And they won’t quit until it is accomplished with style and grace.

I hope you enjoyed the article. For more, don’t miss Can Border Collies Have Blue Eyes? | The Surprising Truth.