Border Collies are one of the smartest and most beautiful dog breeds there are. My brother has a very intelligent Border Collie named Nico and he certainly can make some interesting noises. Whether it’s whining, crying, or attempting to talk, one thing is sure, he knows how to get your attention, and communicate what he wants.
I wondered if this was normal for Border Collies so I talked to some owners and here’s what I found out.
Well-trained Border Collies will most likely not be excessively whiny. Border Collie puppies may be more vocal and whine and cry more than adult Collies. Adult Border Collies normally only whine or make other noises when they are trying to communicate with you or get your attention.
If your Border Collie is whining and crying a lot it’s because he is trying to communicate something to you or it’s a learned and reinforced behavior.
Now you know Border Collies don’t normally whine a lot unless it’s a puppy or it’s been unintentionally trained to do so. If your Border Collie is whining all the time you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
Or if you are thinking of getting a Border Collie and want to know how to train it not to whine keep reading for some deeper insight, and to find out some interesting reasons Border Collie owners gave for why their dogs whine.
Why is My Border Collie Crying and What to Do About It
If you love your Border Collie, then there’s nothing more heartbreaking than listening to its forlorn cries get louder and louder. It can be really hard and frustrating not knowing what your dog is trying to communicate to you and how to correctly handle your dog’s whining to get it to stop and help them be happy and healthy. Here are some things to think about.
If your Border Collie Puppy is Crying
You can expect Border Collie puppies will whine more than adult Border Collies, but puppies, in general, may whine for different reasons than adult dogs. If you just brought a Border Collie puppy home and he’s whining a lot, it’s most likely because he misses his mother and littermates.
Note: Border Collie puppies should not be brought home before they are at least 8 weeks old it’s even better if they are 10 to 12 weeks. The younger the puppy the more you can expect to deal with crying.
If you are trying to Crate train a puppy and he whines a lot when he is in his crate it is most likely because he is lonely and scared. A crate all by himself is a scary dark place and if it’s new to him you can expect he’s going to have a hard time at first. When you first bring your puppy home learning how to properly Crate Train is important, don’t give in to your Border Collie’s cries if he’s just wanting attention.
How to Help Your Border Collie Puppy Not Cry
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Tip: Before you get your Border Collie puppy take a blanket or Sweatshirt that smells like you and give it to your puppy’s breeder to put in your puppy’s bed, so they can get used to your smell and create positive associations.
The second way this will benefit your Border Collie is it will allow the scent of his mother and littermates to get on the item so when you bring him home it will smell like them and help make the transition easier for him.
Another great tool to help your little puppy miss his family less is to get a stuffy like this one from Amazon (affiliate link) that mimics the heartbeat of his mama. Having a comfort item like this can be extremely useful and can make a huge difference those first few weeks you have your new puppy.
Most owners report that their Border Collie puppies didn’t cry too much when they first brought them home. But it is always a good idea to be prepared and expect your Border Collie puppy to cry at least a little when you first bring them home.
It’s a new environment and it’s going to take time for him to get used to it. Make sure that he has a small area (Crate or Playpen) to stay in, this will help him feel more safe and secure. At night you can keep his crate near you so you are able to comfort him, it might make a few sleepless nights for you, but will go a long way in reassuring your puppy that he’s not alone.
When using the crate at night don’t take your puppy out just because he is whining, that will only reinforce the behavior. You can take him out for bathroom breaks, but when his bathroom break is over put him back in. If you get him out for a cuddle or let him sleep in bed with you, crate training is going to be a lot more difficult.
Whining in Adult Border Collie:
There are many reasons why your Border Collie might be crying. It is your job to be a detective and figure out why. You can take some clues from your Border Collie’s body language and you’ll be well on your way to correcting the problem. Below I will list the reasons your Border Collie may be whining, crying or barking.
Reasons Why Your Border Collie Might Be Crying
Your Border Collie is Stressed
Learning to read your dog’s body language will be a very important step in understanding their crying. Knowing what they are trying to communicate to you will help you know how to proceed.
When you are looking for signs of stress look to see if your dog is doing any of these things as well. They will likely not be showing all of these signs at the same time.
How to Tell:
- Licking Lips
- Raised Hackles
- Biting or Chewing on his tail
- Whale eyes (When they show the whites of their eyes)
- Freezing or very stiff and tense body. Be very careful if this is the case, it’s most likely that your dog has gotten to the point he is so stressed his next move will be to bite.
Ask yourself: Is your Border Collie overwhelmed, or in a new situation? Is he not understanding you? Did this come on suddenly when someone or something came close? Can you figure out a way to remove the stimuli that are causing him to stress in order to help him calm down?
What to do: Try and change the environment.
Be calm and reassuring.
Avoid too much stimulus.
Make sure that you are clear with training and giving commands.
Don’t use harsh punishment.
Try to figure out the trigger and avoid it, or work on training to tolerate it better.
Your Border Collie is Excited
Border Collies are very sensitive dogs which makes them wonderful companions because they are always extremely perceptive to your needs and ready and willing to please, but it can also mean that they pick up on every mood and emotion around them.
They also tend to have a lot of energy and that energy can be perceived as excitement.
Displaying zoomies (a sudden release of energy when your dog seems to go wild and is running around at high speed).
Ask Yourself: What is your energy level?
Have you just come home from work and they want to greet you?
Maybe your Border Collie is meeting someone new or wanting to play. If you are feeling high stress or excitement your dog will feed off your emotion and most likely be showing that behavior as well.
What to do: You can redirect his energy by taking him for a run, playing a game of fetch with a toy.
Get him to burn some energy then reward him when he’s calm.
Make sure that you have calm energy about yourself.
Dim lights, or use some of this therapeutic aromatherapy spray from Amazon (Affiliate link) to help calm her down.
Your Border Collie Wants Attention
If you haven’t been warned before now, then let me tell you raising and caring for a Border Collie is no easy task.
Because Border Collies are so smart and energetic they require a lot of attention this is why I always recommend that first-time owners don’t choose to get a Border Collie unless they really know what they are getting into. Check out this article I wrote to see if you’re up for it.
Chances are if you are here reading my tips then you’ve already taken that leap! So yes, your Border Collie does require a lot of time and attention from you, but you can do it!
How to tell: Similar to excitement, but more direct eye contact with you with intentions of trying to get something.
Ask yourself: Has your dog had enough exercise and mental stimulation today.
Most Border Collies need at least 90 minutes of exercise a day as well as plenty of mental stimulation.
What is he trying to get your attention for?
Is it worth giving the attention or not?
Is your Border Collie whining to get food? (Check out this article I wrote to see why your Border Collie eats weird stuff!)
What to do: Your first task is to make sure they’ve had enough exercise and mental stimulation.
My brother has taught his Border Collie to run behind his truck as he drives down an abandoned dirt road near his property. This has been great for both my brother and his dog.
Remember you only want to reinforce behaviors you would like to see repeated. If she’s whining because she needs to go outside to go to the bathroom, then yes you should respond.
If he’s whining to get you to share your dinner then don’t reinforce that behavior.
Even telling your dog “it’s ok”, or to “calm down” in a loving voice is giving them the attention they are wanting. To truly get this behavior under control you need to completely ignore them.
Your Border Collie Has Separation Anxiety
How to Tell: Constantly jumps and whines for you to touch them pet them or cuddle them. Cries or howls when you leave them alone, destroys things when you are gone, is overly excited when you return.
Ask Yourself: How much exercise has my dog had today. How long have I been gone? Have I trained my dog to be ok without being near me every hour of the day?
What to do: You need to teach your dog that it’s not a big deal when you leave. When you leave, make it subtle and no fussing or kisses goodbye. Make your return no big deal and ignore your pup until they are calm.
When they are puppies it’s best to start with small increments of absence like 5 minutes at a time until they learn to stop crying then moved to longer times.
Try not to leave your dog alone too long if you can manage it. If you need to be away for more than 3-4 hours and your dog does not do well then it’s a good idea to find someone that can come and let them out and give them some attention and exercise during your absence.
Your Border Collie is Fearful
Being a herding breed it’s a Border Collie’s job to be very aware of their surroundings and have heightened sensitivity to their environment. In order to protect their flock, they need to know what may be lurking at every turn.
If not taught how to deal with this natural instinct in a healthy way then Border Collies have the potential to become very fearful dogs.
Puppies are very impressionable and teaching them and socializing them starts in the very beginning stages of their life. Because of this, it’s important to only support reputable breeders who take good care of their puppies.
Unfortunately, there are many people that run puppy mills (link to information on how to stop puppy mills) that are breeding Border Collies purely for the money and do not take very good care of them when they are young.
When a puppy starts their life in this type of environment it can be very damaging and set them up for a lifetime of fear or aggression. Thankfully there are things that you can do to help if you do end up with a puppy that has been treated this way, it will just be more difficult to get them feeling and behaving confidently.
How to tell: Tucked tail, shaking, lowered ears and or head, trying to hide behind you or something else.
Ask yourself: How was your Border Collie treated as a puppy? Is your Collie a rescue? Was your dog properly socialized when they were young?
Does your dog get frightened when they hear a loud unrecognizable noise?
What to do: If your dog seems overly fearful of many things and you suspect that your Border Collie is whining or crying a lot because of this, you will need to work very hard at building a solid foundation of trust between you and your dog.
Once this foundation of trust is established it will be easier for you to teach your dog that the rest of the world is not as fearful as they suspect it may be.
DO NOT use any coercive methods of training or yell or be too firm with your Border Collie.
You may also need help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who has experience working with fearful dogs. They will help you come up with and implement a training plan.
If you think their fear is a one-time circumstance that has been brought on by something unexpected in his environment, like sudden fireworks or the sound of a car misfiring, then you can isolate that particular thing and work towards training them to tolerate it.
I always encourage my students to play sound recordings of fireworks starting quietly in the background and working up to very loud and life-like in order to prepare their dogs for coming celebrations like New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July.
You could also try something like this anxiety wrap from Amazon (affiliate link) that has been useful for dogs afraid of loud noises like thunder.
Your Border Collie is Bored
How to tell: Short high pitched whines, usually accompanied by a sigh, may seem lazy or disinterested in their favorite toys or games.
Might be digging in the yard, getting into things they shouldn’t like the trash or chewing up your favorite things like shoes or furniture.
Ask Yourself: Again you need to think about how much exercise and mental stimulation your Border Collie is getting. Border collies need a job to do and need to be constantly learning new things.
When was the last time you taught your Border Collie a new command, game, or trick?
What to do: Provide your Border Collie with some mental stimulation. Teach them some new tricks, work on training, or give them a fun new toy like this fun crinkle toy from Amazon (affiliate link).
Try not to leave all their toys available all the time. If you keep all but 2 or 3 put away and rotate them that will keep your Border Collie from getting bored too easily.
You can also try this awesome program called Brain Training that can give you a huge boost in your training methods and plans.
If you are on Facebook I would suggest that you join a group like this Canine Enrichment group where you will find a plethora of great ideas from other dog owners. While you’re at it feel free to join our Dog Group and follow me on my Facebook page at Paws and Learn for fun ideas and new announcements.
Your Border Collies is in Pain
Border Collies are generally a very healthy breed and don’t usually have major health issues. If you have a rescue or your Border Collie is aging then pain or discomfort may be a reason your Border Collie is whining.
How to tell: Look for any kind of physical signs such as limping, constantly licking a sore area, or yelps and whines when picked up or moved.
Ask Yourself: How old is my Border Collie? Has his energy been waning? Are there other red flags such as growling or biting when handled a certain way or untouched food?
What to do: If you suspect your dog is in pain take him to your vet right away. If you can’t figure out the cause of the whining and it doesn’t appear to be any of the above reasons then you will want your dog to have a complete checkup as soon as possible!
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What do Owners Say?
When I surveyed owners about how much and why their Border Collies whine I got some interesting answers. Over 300 people responded there were a large variety of answers some were pretty humorous so I thought I would include them here for you.
Other noises Border Collie owners say their dog makes:
- High pitched noises
- Cluck their teeth
- Blows their nose
- Make horse noises
- Have full-on conversations
- Talkback like a kid
- Grunt like a pig
- Make sounds like a Chewbacca
- Sounds almost human and gets more excited if you talk back
- Grumbles like an old man
Reasons Owners gave for their Border Collie whining:
- When he sees something outside that shouldn’t be there like a deer
- When he wants to talk to me
- At night (who knows why)
- First thing in the morning when he wants me to get up
- When she needs something
- Every little sound, but only when I’m home
- Only when excited
- Only when running agility
- When he wants to meet other dogs
- When we stop to chat with a neighbor while on our walk
- When we are getting ready for a walk
- When he’s excited watching the football game
- When she needs to go out to potty
Here is part of the results from my poll to Border Collie owners that you might like to look at.
The question asked was: How often does your Border Collie whine? How vocal are they?
Whatever the reason for your Border Collie’s whining the best thing you can do is make sure that your dog knows you are in charge! That doesn’t mean yell at your dog or be mean, but be firm and consistent in the ways that you respond, let them know that you expect them to be well behaved and they will. If you continue to have problems with your Border Collie crying please seek help from a professional dog behaviorist or a Vet.
While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.