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The 7 Most Unusual Habits of Border Collies

Written by: Ejay C.
Ejay Cris C. Camposano, hailing from the Philippines, is a proud fur dad to two lovable dogs: a Beagle and a Shih Tzu. A college graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Ejay has a diverse background that combines technical expertise with a passion for pets. His love for dogs and cats has profoundly influenced his life, leading him to a fulfilling career as a content writer at iHeartDogs. In his writing, Ejay captures the heartwarming bond between pets and their owners, sharing valuable insights and stories with a broad audience of animal lovers.Read more
| Published on April 12, 2024

Border Collies are renowned for their intelligence, agility, and an unyielding ability to herd, characteristics that place them among the top choices for various canine roles, including livestock management, search and rescue, and competitive sports. Originating from the Anglo-Scottish border, these dogs were developed to herd sheep and exhibit an extraordinary ability to understand and respond to commands. However, their high intelligence and energetic nature often lead to behaviors that can be quite unusual and sometimes challenging to manage for those who do not understand the breed well. These habits are often a manifestation of their working heritage and their need for mental stimulation and physical activity. This article explores seven of the most unusual habits of Border Collies, shedding light on their unique behaviors and providing insights into managing these traits effectively.

1. Staring Intensely

One of the most iconic and unusual habits of Border Collies is their intense stare, often referred to as “the eye.” This focused gaze is used primarily to control sheep when herding, but in a domestic setting, it can be directed towards toys, other pets, or even humans. This intense concentration reflects their deep focus and determination traits, crucial in their traditional working environment. In a home, this staring can sometimes be unsettling or misinterpreted as aggression. However, it is simply a sign of their attention and readiness to work or play, and it’s essential to channel this concentration productively through activities like sports or obedience training.

2. Obsessive Chasing

Due to their herding instincts, Border Collies have a natural drive to chase moving objects, which can extend to cars, bikes, or even running children. This habit stems from their need to control and herd, but in a non-farm setting, it needs to be managed carefully to prevent accidents and ensure safety. Training them to obey commands instantly and providing them with ample physical and mental exercise can help manage their chasing instincts. Engaging them in controlled fetching games or agility sports can also redirect this behavior in a positive direction.

3. Spinning or Tail Chasing

Border Collies may develop a habit of spinning in circles or chasing their own tails. This behavior can often result from either high energy levels or lack of mental stimulation. As a breed that requires regular physical and intellectual engagement, the absence of such can lead to repetitive or compulsive behaviors as a way to release pent-up energy. It’s crucial for owners to ensure that Border Collies have a routine that includes plenty of exercises, training, and problem-solving activities to prevent the development of these neurotic behaviors.

4. “Collie Collapse” or Over-Exertion

An unusual and concerning habit seen in some Border Collies is a condition known informally as “Collie Collapse.” This disorder, where the dog may suddenly become disoriented, weak, or even collapse after intense periods of activity, highlights the breed’s propensity to push themselves beyond their limits. While the exact cause isn’t always clear, it’s essential for owners to monitor their Collie’s physical activity and ensure they do not overexert themselves. Adequate rest periods and careful monitoring during high-intensity activities are critical to managing this condition.

5. Herding Children or Other Pets

A charming yet sometimes troublesome habit of Border Collies is their attempt to herd children or other pets in the household. This behavior is a direct manifestation of their herding instinct. While it can be harmless, it sometimes leads to nipping at heels or disruptive circling. Teaching Border Collies not to herd people or other pets through consistent training and socialization is important. Simultaneously, redirecting this behavior to appropriate activities like herding balls or participating in herding trials can provide a healthy outlet.

6. Shadowing Their Owner

Border Collies often exhibit a behavior known as “shadowing,” where they closely follow their owner from room to room, always keeping them in sight. This habit stems from their strong loyalty and their training to work closely with a shepherd. While it’s a sign of their devotion, it can sometimes be excessive. Ensuring that Border Collies have confidence and security, even when alone, and training them to be independent can help mitigate excessive shadowing.

7. Extreme Intelligence Leading to Mischievous Behaviors

The high intelligence of Border Collies is well-documented and often leads to mischievous behaviors if not properly managed. They are known to outsmart simple latches, open doors, or find escape routes from enclosures. These behaviors are often a sign of boredom or insufficient mental stimulation. Providing complex puzzles, regular training challenges, and new environments to explore can help keep their minds engaged and prevent mischievous behaviors.

In conclusion, while Border Collies are one of the most capable and intelligent dog breeds, their unusual habits require understanding and careful management. Owners need to provide them with a balanced routine that satisfies their physical and mental needs. Proper training, regular exercise, and adequate mental stimulation can turn these unusual habits into expressions of a well-adjusted, happy, and healthy dog.

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