The only "fun" element to your Border Collie creating his own things to do is trying to guess which room will bear the brunt of his destruction this time. However, sometimes a bored Border Collie will include you and your family in his plans for a good time. If you have ever experienced your Border Collie rapidly circling you and your children while nipping at your heels to keep you in position, you understand that it's not a great idea to leave your dog to his own devices.
The Root of the Behavior
Among the most highly prized characteristics include vocalizations, strategic body positioning, and heel nipping. All of these activities were designed to move the livestock into the correct location then maintain it. Border Collies of today do this instinctively. It is hardwired into them. If you find your Border Collie using any of these methods on you or your family, your dog is simply doing what comes naturally to him. Author Kevin Winslet explains the Border Collie's penchant for nipping in this manner, “When a Border Collie is moving a herd, he or she will commonly nip [at] the heels and hindquarters of animals to get things going. This habit can still be present in a Border Collie even if he or she has never been anywhere near a farm.” Yet herding instincts are not the sole reason for nipping behaviors in Border Collies. Some dogs nip because they are seeking attention. Puppies learn early on to use their mouths to explore their world. When playing with their littermates, they begin to learn bite inhibition. Rough play is discouraged by sharp rebukes and a refusal to re-engage in play. As a result, a puppy quickly learns that if he wants to play, he needs to temper the strength of his bite.
Encouraging the Behavior
Under socialized Border Collies may not understand appropriate uses for their mouths. Because of this, they may tend to nip as a response to all sorts of stimuli including fear. A dog that is exhibiting fearful tendencies may attempt a nip to keep the object he is afraid of at bay. For dogs who did not experience the proper amount of socialization during the critical first 12 weeks of life, it will be important to gently introduce them to the world around them to show them that things aren't the threat that they think them to be. To do this effectively, it is important to progress extremely slowly, allowing your dog to set the pace for what he is ready for. Since desensitization and counterconditioning are sophisticated training techniques, it is best to consult a professional behavior modification specialist who can assist you with formulating a strategy to help your fearful Border Collie learn that the world is not such a scary place after all.
Other Solutions and Considerations
As a dog with a job to do and vast energy resources to expand, your Border Collie needs to be active to be happy. If you are unable to fulfill this requirement yourself, you would be wise to consider sending your Border Collie to a reputable doggy daycare or hiring a dog walker to give your dog the opportunity to stretch his legs and experience a new environment if only for a little while. A tired Border Collie is far less likely to be a nipping Border Collie. Equally important is mental engagement. To keep your Border Collie's brain and body engaged, consider purchasing some puzzle toys. By nature, puzzle toys create a lengthier diversion for highly intelligent dogs to solve. This appeals greatly to the Border Collie. In addition to puzzle toys, add a large variety of toys, chews, bones, and Kongs to your toy box to provide the utmost in selection. To maintain interest level, rotate toys out on a daily basis to give your Border Collie something fun to look forward to.