• Home
  • Training
  • How to Train Your Border Collie Dog to Come When Called

How to Train Your Border Collie Dog to Come When Called

How to Train Your Border Collie Dog to Come When Called
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon5-10 Days
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Border Collies are the rocket scientists of the dog world! They are considered to be among the smartest and most trainable of dogs, which should make training them to “come” easy, right? Maybe... unless they outsmart you!  

The reason they are so trainable is that Border Collies have been developed to learn complex commands and behaviors required for herding livestock. They tend to be excited about their work and they are very high-energy, another trait required for their work. However, the chasing and herding motivation, along with their high energy, can result in them being reticent about coming when called. The 'come' command is one of the most important for your dog's safety, especially your active Border Collie, to keep him out of danger that could result from running away, out on a road, or chasing livestock when he is not supposed to. 

The good news is, your Border Collie is very oriented to be part of a team with you, so training him to come can be a matter of developing that team mentality and making coming to you a great experience that your dog wants to do. Border Collies want to work and they want to please their team members. Training them to be obedient to commands like 'come' is a matter of tapping into that natural inclination. So don't let your Border Collie outsmart you, be the team leader!

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

Because of their natural intelligence and energy, training a Border Collie to come when called is more successful if established from a young age. If an older dog has developed bad habits, they can be a challenge to reshape. Successful Border Collie trainers find they need to address the dog's working instinct and high energy level and tap into them for success. 

Making coming when called part of a fun game by playing hide and seek, stimulating your Border Collie's mind and making coming to you a treat, will ensure success. Never punish your Border Collie after he comes to you for a transgression, or follow it immediately with a negative consequence such as leaving the park. Instead, play with your dog before leaving, or give him a treat and attention when he comes. Border Collies also thrive on consistency; they are so smart that if you are inconsistent they will pick up on this and use it to their advantage. A lively, interested Border Collie exploring its world can be a challenge to get to come when called. Getting your dog's attention by cheerfully calling his name or by initiating a game like hide and seek or fetch works better than yelling or reprimanding him and then calling him. Punishing your Border Collie, will teach him that coming when called means he gets in trouble!

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

Start training your Border Collie to 'come' at home and in an enclosed area, in the house or a fenced yard, so that there is no danger of your dog running away and into trouble. Use favorite toys, balls and treats to reinforce desired behavior. A long lead line can also be useful for training your Border Collie to come when called. Remember, the operative word here is “fun”.  Teach your Border Collie that it is fun to come when called, more fun than whatever is out there in the world calling his name!

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Variable Rewards Method

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
1

Call

Call your Border Collie's name and say “come” in an excited voice, while holding a high value smelly treat in your hand, like chicken or a hot dog.

2

Reward 'come'

When your dog comes, give him the high value treat, praise, and affection--say, “yes”.

3

Practice often

Continue, practicing calling your dog in various situations. Start in the house or yard, practice in the park or on walks.

4

Vary treats

Vary treats used as a reward for coming when called. Use high-value treats like meat or cheese, dry kibble, toys, praise, and affection. Your dog may not always come for dry kibble, but he will come for the chance that this time's treat might be a hot dog!

5

Avoid negatives

Avoid negative consequences for coming. Do not leave play areas immediately, reprimand your dog, or clip nails or any other thing your dog doesn't like immediately after calling your dog to come.

The Hide and Seek Method

Effective

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Effective

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
1

Hide and reward seek

Start playing hide and seek with your dog in the house. Hide behind a piece of furniture and call your dog to find you. When he investigates and discovers you, present a favorite toy and play.

2

Move outside

Move the game outside where there are trees and other obstacles. If you do not have a safe enclosed area, you can start playing this game with your Border Collie on a long lead line, 25 to 50 feet long.

3

Simple hiding

Ask your dog to sit and stay, then go hide. At first, let your dog see where you hide, call him to 'come'.

4

Reward

When your dog comes to find you, reward with play or a treat.

5

Make complex

Increase the complexity of the game, making harder hiding spots. Don't let your dog see where you hide; you can use an assistant to face him in the other direction. Then call your Border Collie to come find you. Remove the lead line and go off-leash. By making a game of coming when called, you make it a fun and positive experience.

The Guide and Play Method

Least Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Least Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
1

Teach 'come' in closed area

Teach your Border Collie to 'come' when called, in the house and in your yard, by calling him and providing a reward.

2

Move outside on leash

Go outside with your dog on a long lead line. Call your dog to 'come'.

3

Guide with line

If your Border Collie is distracted or does not come immediately, call his name to get his attention. Then guide him with a gentle tug on the lead line.

4

Reinforce

Reward with treats, attention, and play for coming when called.

5

Play

When recall is good, let your Border Collie off-leash. Call your dog's name and run in the opposite direction. Your Border Collie will run after you, it’s a game! Play often, and reward coming when called to continue to establish that coming when called is fun.

By Laurie Haggart

Published: 12/26/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Bailey

Dog breed icon

Border Collie

Dog age icon

8 Months

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

My dog will not come when I call her to take her for a walk. She will either lay in the middle of the backyard and run away when you try to get her or she runs and hides. Once you catch her she loves walking

July 13, 2022

Bailey's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kipp, First, I would keep a drag leash on pup when you are home, so you can calmly pick up the end of the leash and take pup outside with less chasing, leashing up, and potentially negative interaction - in case it's the leashing, transition outside that pup hates. Take the leash off if not home to supervise to make sure it doesn't get caught on anything when you aren't there. Second, I would practice the Reel In method from the article I have linked below, utilizing a long training leash to practice coming so pup learns to come habitually whether they feel like it or not, but also giving high value treats when pup arrives - to help pup want to come. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Also, what type of tools are you using during the walk (gentle leader, harness, choke chain, no pull harness, prong collar, ect...?). The issue might be that pup doesn't like wearing your walking tool, either because of how the tool works (gentle leader turns the head and some visual breeds hate that for example, how it fits (some no pull harnesses can chafe under the arm, many prong collars and sized too big and hang and bang pup's neck when they walk instead of being worn high with smaller lighter prongs without extra slack in the collar to keep it from moving around), ect... Either desensitizing pup to your tool, adjusting the fit, or changing devices might help if that's related to why pup doesn't like the process of getting ready to go outside. If pup wears a harness, inspect pup's arm pits and everywhere the straps lie and ensure there aren't red or scabbed areas where the harness is chafing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 13, 2022

Dog nametag icon

Pippin

Dog breed icon

Border Collie

Dog age icon

8 Months

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

User generated photo

Pippin's recall used to be amazing from 9 weeks old, but after getting sick during the holidays and not being able to walk, he now ignores it. We hope it's just the teenage stage, but help is needed. We are also having difficulty with the quiet command. We try and redirect him, we've tried "quiet!" And hushing him, and ignoring him. We recently got asked not to come back to our local gaming shop until his barking stops, because he was barking nearly nonstop for the entire day out. He is welcomed back if quiet, but Pippin just doesn't want to listen... We even double leaded him and stepped on the lead to make him kneel and that doesn't work. He's the noisest dog ive ever had.

April 24, 2022

Pippin's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Megan, First, know that you are in the middle of the puppy teenage years so often things get a bit harder before getting better at this stage, but staying consistent with training is super important; there will come a day when you see the efforts pay off in the near future in most cases if consistent. Second, check out the article I have linked below and the sections on using a long training leash and premack principle for come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ James Penrith from taketheleaddogtraining on youtube also has a lot of videos on high level recall training if you need additional resources. First, for the barking you need a way to communicate with him so I suggest teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below - don't expect this alone to work but it will be part of the puzzle for what I will suggest next. It sounds like pup may already know this but if you haven't specifically spent time teaching it I would still practice this first. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - which will be a form of punishment - neither too harsh nor ineffective. An e-collar or Pet Convincer are two of the most effective types of interrupter for most dogs. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). An e-collar, aka remote training collar, uses stimulation to interrupt the dog. Only use a high quality e-collar for this, such as E-collar technologies mini educator, Dogtra, SportDog, or Gamin. A good collar should have at least 40 levels, the more levels the more accurately you can train - finding the lowest level your dog will respond to, called a "Working level" so the training is less adverse. In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), command "Quiet". If they obey, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Most bark training only gives part of that equation. Fitting an e-collar - it should be put on while he is calm, just standing around - Ideally have him wear the collar around for a while before starting any training so he won't associate the training with the collar but just with his barking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding the level to use for him (sometimes you will have to go 1 or 2 levels higher during training while the dog is aroused but once he improves you can usually decrease back to his normal level again) - this training level is called a dog's "Working level": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing him a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever he DOESN'T bark around something that he normally would have, calmly praise and reward him to continue the desensitization process. I suspect a part of the parking is due to barking itself being self-rewarding due to the chemical release in the brain and how habit forming it can be, but also because pup is overly sensitive and reactive to noises and sights they aren't comfortable with, so this last part where you reward calm responses to triggers can help with the underlying emotions that are causing some of the barking, to ensure pup's overall attitude is calmer and the barking doesn't just return again soon. Don't skip this final rewards based part of the training, even after pup seems quiet and fine. An automatic bark collar can also be used during times when he likes to bark while you aren't there after the initial training is done - so he understands that the correction is for his barking at that point in the training. While you are not home, confine him in a crate or room that doesn't look out the windows right now - barking at things out the window lets him practice the bad behavior over and over again and barking is a self-rewarding behavior because of the arousing chemicals released in a dog's brain - so once a dog starts he is naturally encouraged to continue it and stays in that state of mind if you aren't there to interrupt. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 2, 2022


Training assistant
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.