How Much Exercise Does a Border Collie Need?

Intelligent and playful, border collies are incredible companions for those who prefer active lifestyles. If you’re at all familiar with this breed, then you know how energetic these dogs are – and you know how restless they can become when they haven’t been active enough.

If you’re a new border collie owner or if you’re thinking about adding one of these amazing dogs to your family, you’ll want to make exercise a priority. The question is, how much activity is enough? 

Understanding the Border Collie breed

Border collies are the result of breeding between herd dogs that originated in the Roman Empire and spitz-type dogs that travelled to Britain with Viking raiders. Compact, agile, and smarter than any other dog breed, with the right border collie training these wonderful dogs, have the opportunity to perform tasks such as herding, agility, and flyball. 

They’re among the most active dog breeds anywhere, and their herding background contributes to their willingness to accompany their families on adventures of all kinds.

Healthy adult border collies have the ability to cover long distances and will happily go all day long. This high level of stamina paired with their natural intellect is what makes border collies such valuable allies for working farmers. 

Dogs  Border Collie breed

Physical exercise for border collies

While border collie puppies need to start out slow and easy with five- to fifteen-minute bursts of activity several times per day, adolescent and adult borders need lots of opportunities to burn off their energy.

Long walks, jogs, trips to the dog park, visits to agility arenas, and extended play sessions in the safety of a fenced back garden are essential. If your dog likes to swim as most border collies do, then head for the water! A ten-minute swim burns off about the same amount of energy as an hour-long walk.

At a minimum, your border collie will need 30 to 60 minutes of physical exercise each day – and it’s likely that they’d appreciate even more than that. Long runs – either on a leash by your side, or better yet, off-leash in an enclosed area – are ideal.

After age 7 or 8, your border collie may slow down a bit. But exercise should continue to play a role in your everyday life together as it’s essential for maintaining muscle tone and promoting better health overall.

Mental exercise for border collies

Because they’re so intelligent – and as they were developed to perform a mentally challenging job – border collies require more mental stimulation than most other breeds. They love to engage with other pets – particularly when those pets will play fun games of chase.

Border collies love to play fetch, flyball, and agility games. They’re highly trainable and will eagerly learn all sorts of tricks. As visual learners, border collies excel at learning hand signals, and they have an uncanny way of making eye contact and almost predicting what you’ll ask them to do next!

Teaching your border collie new commands and tricks is an excellent way to engage that busy brain and build a stronger bond in the process.

Toys – particularly interactive ones – are essential for border collies. Puzzle toys are fantastic for keeping your border busy indoors, and an automatic ball launcher is the perfect outdoor companion, so long as you have an escape-proof garden.

Durable chew toys and big, bouncy balls are fun, and when you’re able to supervise, you might want to treat your border collie to exciting battery-operated toys that move by themselves.

A flirt pole is one of the best toys for border collies too; it’s essentially a stick with a rope that has a toy attached to the end. As you move the toy in different directions, your dog will have fun chasing it – and both of you will get a bit more exercise!

Dog sports combine physical and mental exercise for border collies
Border collies and other herding breeds thrive when given the opportunity to play sports such as lure coursing or agility.

There’s no need to become a serious competitor; in fact, you can set up a small agility course in your own back garden and allow your dog to enjoy the fun of running through tunnels, leaping over hurdles, and climbing ramps.

Push ball or Treibball is another fun sport for your border collie; it combines physical activity and problem-solving. This sport uses large balls that look much like yoga balls to replace the sheep that are traditionally used in herding trials.

With a few large herding balls that you can push in different directions, it’s possible to treat your border collie to a fun combination of mental and physical stimulation!

Herding balls are among the best toys for border collies, as they satisfy the natural urge to herd and reduce the desire to nip at people and other pets in an attempt to round them up.

What happens when a border collie doesn’t get enough exercise?

Sadly, we’ve seen far too many border collies and border collie mixed breed dogs develop unwanted behavioural issues including chewing, nipping, ripping people’s clothing, and barking excessively.

A border collie that hasn’t been given the opportunity to run each day will often develop a pacing habit, sometimes even wearing a track into your carpet.

These problems are compounded by boredom. Sadly, these dogs often wind up in animal shelters even though their behavioural issues are no fault of their own.

Border collies are incredible dogs for so many reasons but they’re not well-suited to all homes. Border collies do not respond well to being left alone for hours, nor can they be crated for long periods of time.

If you lead an active lifestyle and know for certain that you can commit to providing your dog with a solid hour of exercise each day (perhaps broken up into two shorter sessions) and you’ve got the desire to provide plenty of mental stimulation, then it’s possible that a border collie might be the right dog for you. You’ll both stay fit and healthy!