15 Tips For Crate Training A Border Collie

Despite their high energy levels, Border Collies take to crate training quite well.

They quickly see their crates as a sanctuary and head there to rest after a long day.

For the best results, you must correctly introduce the crate to your Border Collie.

They can be wary of new experiences, so go slow and stay positive always.

As your pup catches onto your enthusiasm, they will quickly adjust to that space.

Here are our 15 tips for crate training a Border Collie:

  1. Pick the Best Size Crate
  2. Make the Crate Comfy
  3. Add a Cover
  4. Take Off Tags
  5. Bring on the Fun
  6. Treats Help, Too
  7. Get Their Wiggles Out
  8. And Then Do It Again
  9. Plan to Ignore Whining
  10. And Throw Lots of Parties
  11. Practice Daytime Crate Training
  12. Play Crate Games
  13. Slowly Increase Times
  14. Be Flexible at Night
  15. Keep It Positive.

In this article, we will dive into each of the 15 points. These tips will show why everyone answers the question, “Are Border Collies easy to train,” with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

Why Should You Listen To Me?

I can speak from experience that these 15 tips are accurate and relevant.

Both of my Border Collies, Nyxie and Bandit, were a breeze to crate train and housebreak.

And it only took about a month of consistent work to accomplish.

They still love their quiet dens to this day and head there to rest after playtime is over. So, move through these steps with confidence that they work to help your Border Collies.

Best Crate Size for Border Collies

Although my dogs use a 36-inch model, the 42-inch size can work as well for your Border Collie.

To have the same crate from puppyhood through to the adult years, I selected the wire model with a removable divider. This allowed me to slowly expand the den as my puppies grew.

At this point, you might be wondering, “Just when are Border Collie’s adults?” Well, mine reached their full adult size at just over two years old, though the divider was only moved incrementally during the first year.

Are you great at DIY? Here’s how you can make your own crate divider.

Beyond wire, crates come in many other materials, including:

  • Polyester
  • Wood
  • Plastic.

The main difference is that these models do not have dividers. If you select any of those crates, start small and be ready to size up as your puppy grows.

Make the Crate Comfy

Although they are farm dogs, Border Collies love to be pampered.

Both Nyx and Bandit adore having soft pillows and blankets to rest on.

But it was not always that way.

Through the puppy years, they only had a small crate pad inside to lie on. This kept them from ripping up the beds to get to the fluffy filling and aided in cleaning up any accidents.

So, when your pups are small, start with a pad to make the space warm and inviting.

As they grow, you can move on to adding a plush bed or pillows and blankets to their liking.

If your dog ever starts to shred fabric, then switch to a durable mat instead.

Nyxie in his crate

Add a Cover

Dogs like to feel like their crate is a den, and Border Collies are no exception.

You can transform all the different models into a den-like area by adding a cover over the top.

To keep things simple, I use a dark sheet or lightweight blanket.

For a better fit, you can find purpose-made covers that tightly hug all three sides.

At the front, these covers roll up and tie in place until you need to put them down.

You can even pick up crate covers that have windows along the side if you wish.

Take Off Tags

Before crate training a Border Collie, remember to take off their tags.

They should never wear a collar or harness inside that space, as it can get caught on the sides.

If you are worried about something happening if they get loose, make sure your pup is microchipped for easy identification.

Bring on the Fun

Even the most comfortable crate is a bore to a Border Collie.

To jazz it up a bit, you can give them a couple of fun toys to enjoy.

Not just any toy will work, however, as many require supervision to keep your pup safe. We’ve written about toys that are safe to use in crates in our blog already.

The safest of the lot are made from tough rubber materials, like those made by KONG and West Paw. Many toys by these brands allow you to stuff them with treats and the like, then freeze for hours of fun.

If you have a prolific chewer on your hands, however, then toys may be a no-go. Check for any signs of chewing large pieces of the toy and take it away if it gets to that point.

Treats Help, Too

When crate training a Border Collie, it is definitely not the time to be stingy with the treats.

By providing ample snacks, you can quickly connect crating up with great rewards.

Once they make that connection, they will head into their den upon request and even on their own.

To help your Border Collie out, simply hand out the treats like candy whenever they enter that space.

Whether it is by request or on their own, keep the treats coming in the early days of crate training.

After a while, slowly transition to praise to save the treats for their newest feats.

Get Their Wiggles Out

Before you have any hope of crate training a Border Collie, you absolutely must get their wiggles out. Otherwise, they become a lightning ball of energy that makes it difficult to get anything done.

So, run and play like crazy at the start of every day to get ready for some training fun.

If you’re looking for ways to manage your Border Collie’s energy levels, take a look at this article on our blog.

And Then Do It Again

Just one run a day simply does not cut it for Border Collies of all ages.

They will want to hit the yard, again and again, to get their wiggles out and center their minds.

For that reason, you can benefit from a brief 10 to 15 minutes of play before every training session.

Plan to work with the crate up to four times a day to get your pup used to it.

Plan to Ignore Whining

Border Collies love to be around their people and are also quite willing to let you know how they are feeling.

So plan to ignore the whining as they will provide a symphony of discontent the second that door closes.

Everything from comforting words to a harsh, “No,” is bound to increase their complaints’. So, walk away or stay silent to keep from encouraging their whines.

And Throw Lots of Parties

One important thing to know about Border Collie behavior is that they love to party.

When you burst into a happy dance and sing their praises, you give them a reason to repeat the prior behavior.

Take full advantage of their party animal ways, and get your tap shoes ready before opening that crate door.

As you open the door, shower them with praise, letting them know their quiet resting was appreciated.

Practice Daytime Crate Training

Repetition is key in crate training a Border Collie. You need to engage in daytime crate training at least four times a day to help them understand how to behave while resting inside.

To start, simply introduce them to the space with the door open. Give treats and praise each time they venture inside, whether it is requested or offered.

Once they are comfortable with that, ask your pup to enter the den and close the door behind them.

Give treats and cover the top and sides, then sit quietly beside them for a couple minutes.

Only open those doors between whines to avoid rewarding their complaints. Increase the amount of time they spend inside until you reach 15 minute durations.

At that point, it will be time to leave them inside their den while you walk into another room.

Ratchet down the duration to five-minute stretches and increase once again.

Remember to always treat and praise to reinforce the behavior you wish to see.

Once you reach 15 minutes of quiet resting, the final phase of training begins.

This time put your Border Collie in the crate, then venture outside for a few minutes.

Provide huge rewards for a job well done, sending a clear message about behaving appropriately in their den.

best size crate for border collie
Nyxie didn’t take to a crate initially

Play Crate Games

While Bandit took to the crate right away, Nyxie was definitely less than thrilled about its existence. In fact, she acted like it was a torture device meant to terrify rather than a safe place to rest.

To ease her distress, I introduced games that turned the space into somewhere to have fun.

For the first game, high-value treats (roasted chicken!) took center stage.

By placing a few pieces on the pad, Nyx was inspired to go take a look.

She darted in and snatched the meat to win the game and get even more treats.

Within a couple rounds of that game, she would willingly enter the space but still wanted to leave.

Since she is toy driven, I moved onto integrating the crate into our fetch games.

I would randomly toss the toy into the crate, encouraging her to dart in and grab it.

Then, ample treats rewarded her bravery, further helping alleviate her worries.

We went between the first and second game until Nyx would enter the space willingly upon request.

Our final game brought obedience training into the mix to take focus from the crate and onto a different task.

After requesting her to go inside, I would promptly ask for a sit.

Then, reward big time with her still in that space, helping show her that it was no big deal.

Slowly Increase Times

Upon reaching the 15 to 20 minute mark, training might feel like it has come to a standstill.

Keep the training going by increasing times by 15 minute increments to slowly get your pup used to staying in there.

Work up to having your pup in the crate for up to four hours at a time.

After the three month mark, puppies need to go out every four hours, which helps with housebreaking your Border Collie.

Limit their total time inside to under eight hours across the course of the day and night.

To accomplish that goal, you might need to invest in a dog sitter or doggy daycare if you work long hours.

Alternatively, you could invest in an outdoor kennel for your pup to run around while you are away.

Once your Border Collie is house-trained and past the destructive stage of life, you can transition them out of their dens.

Although both Nyxie and Bandit have transitioned back out, I still use it from time to time as the situation demands.

Be Flexible at Night

Until your puppy gets used to the crate, the night time hours may prove challenging.

Try to work up to an hour as quickly as possible at first to have somewhere to keep the puppy confined while you sleep.

Border Collie puppies need to go out every hour or two at first if taken home at eight weeks, after all.

Although not ideal, I will admit that Nyxie slept on my bed the first couple of weeks I had her.

She was just too upset.

Plus, with her so close by, I was better able to notice her stirring and needing to go out in the middle of the night.

Since Bandit immediately accepted the crate, he slept like a baby in his beloved den from the start.

Overall, it is best to do what you feel is right for your puppy and you to get through the first couple of months.

After that, make changes that get their behavior into line, which is easy since Border Collies learn so fast.

You can read what to do and not do to about crate training a puppy in the evening here.

Keep It Positive

Through every stage of crate training a Border Collie, you need to keep it positive.

These dogs are sensitive to how their owners feel.

So, keep your spirits up, and throw a party when your pup shows progress in accepting their new den.

Take the time to help your Border Collie love that space, and your efforts will be rewarded.

The crate will serve as a safe space for your dog whenever you need to leave the house or get a little shuteye.

You can then rest assured your pup is secure and comfortable until you return.

My Border Collie Barking in Crate – What To Do?

There are a couple of reasons your Border Collie could be barking in their crate, and with them comes a couple of solutions.

Go to the toilet

Your Border Collie may be barking in their crate because they need to do to the toilet.

Solution: take them to go potty.

Something in the garden

Could there be a cat, possum, or rat in the back yard your B.C can hear and smell?

Solution: put a cover over your dog’s crate.

Separation anxiety

Does your Border Collie get upset when you leave your home?

Solution: surround your Border Collie with their favorite things inside their crate: chew toys, chew treats like Kong‘s filled with dog food coated with peanut butter, beef ribs, or Nylabones; a piece of your clothing; their favorite blanket.

Make the crate environment as cozy as possible.

The Practical Side To Crating

Don’t worry if you’re new to crating your dog. We’ve got you covered by writing about the most commonly asked questions about crating.

We hope you find the resources below very useful in crating training your Border Collie.

Love Border Collies? We Do Too!

If you love Border Collies as much as we do here at Outdoor Dog Fun, have a read of these interesting article:

Author - Marie

With 2 Border Collies (Nyx and Bandit) and a Red Heeler (Ruby). With no livestock, Marie spends most of her time outdoors with her dogs, letting them release all their energy as farm dogs. They are fiends for fetch - even in the snow. Marie has started formal flyball training with Nyx, with the other dog likely follow. Marie is also interested in joining dock diving, sheep herding, and agility activities so that her dogs can burn more energy. All three are adept trick dogs with the ability to wave, shake hands, roll over, sit pretty, walk like people and much more. She has much to share with this community of outdoor dog lovers.

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