How to get your collie to listen to you (Easy Training Tips!)

While it might seem innocent enough at first, there are lots of situations where a collie’s disobedience could end up hurting them. Think about a busy road, or when they are chewing on an electrical wire. Your “stay” or “drop it” command is the only thing stopping them from getting pancaked or barbecued.

Collies are usually very obedient dogs, so if your collie isn’t listening to you it may mean their needs aren’t being met, or they have something else on their mind that’s stopping them from focusing on you. Ensuring your collie is getting adequate physical and mental exercise, and reinforcing consistent training with positive reinforcement is the best way to instill obedience in your collie.

Obedience training is easier to teach to younger dogs, but collies are smart and easy to train and you should be able to teach them to listen to you at any age. As one of the smartest dog breeds in the world, they’ll quickly become receptive to your commands once they know what they are supposed to do and their needs are being met.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the reasons your collie might not be listening to you, and go over some tips to improve their obedience.

1: More regular exercise!

Exercise is critical for all dogs, especially collies! Collies are one of the most energetic breeds there are, with seemingly boundless energy.

Collies need two hours of off-leash exercise every day and without adequate exercise, they can develop compulsive behaviors and are unlikely to be receptive to commands or training. Adding more exercise to their daily routine is an easy way to expend the extra energy which will help them focus more on their training and listening to your commands.

More walks or harder walks are the best options for most people. This means adding another daily walk or going to locations that might be more difficult and energy-draining for your dog. Taking a ball with you is also a great idea if they love to chase balls. There are throwing devices you can buy to help you throw the ball further too!

The additional exercise will help keep your dogs’ energy levels in check to keep them happy and listening to you.

2: Schedule some Extra play time

If your collie isn’t listening to you, they may be bored or lonely which can cause them to ignore you and be disobedient. One possible solution is to strengthen your bond with your collie by adding more playtime into your routine. Focus on activities that are high energy or that engage their brain. Scatter feeding, tug-of-war, and hide-and-seek are all collie favorites!

More playtime at home means you get to spend more time with your collie, and your collie gets to spend fun playtime with their favorite human! What’s not to love?

If you don’t have time to play, there are loads of toys that your collie can play with on their own that will help fight their boredom.

All dogs have their own favorite toys, but collies especially love anything that engages their brain, or that they can chase. If you are lucky enough to own a collie, you’ll already know they love balls more than they love air. A treat ball combines chasing and foraging and is a fun option for your collie when you can’t play with them.

Collies are known for being very smart so puzzle toys are another good option for them. The only downside is that they’ll quickly master most puzzles, forcing you into an ever-escalating cycle of buying more and more complicated puzzles for them.

Play time is important for working dogs like collies. It’s how they learn what is allowed and form a strong bond with their owner. Collies love balls and toys, learning new tricks, and lots of running and walking.

3: Be Consistent with your commands

Being consistent with your collie is key to keeping them happy and healthy, and helps them to learn faster. If your collie is ignoring you, they might not understand fully what you are asking them to do.

Keeping training methods and commands consistent is crucial to keeping your collie happy and ensuring they listen to you when you give them commands. Collies have excellent memories and can pick up new training quickly, but if you’re constantly chopping and changing their commands and what’s expected of them, they may become disheartened and stop trying.

Come up with one command for each thing you want your collie to learn, and always use the same word and actions when you’re issuing the command. Start with “sit” and “stay”, and work your way up to more complex commands over time. Always reward them for doing it right, since collies work best with positive reinforcement.

4: Sign up for some Dog training Classes and Courses

Training classes can sound ‘extreme’ but collies have been training and working with humans for centuries and they have an innate desire to work and to please. Training classes or courses are a great bonding exercise for you and your collie, and a good way to give their bodies and minds a workout.

For intelligent herding breeds like collies, agility classes or herding games are great options. Both agility and herding will allow your collie to get the exercise they need while also allowing them to train their instinctual herding abilities, learn a new skill, and bond with you.

If you don’t have local lessons, you can buy some agility training and/or herding equipment to use at home instead.

collie with a life ring
You don’t need expensive equipment to train your collie. Anything can be a game to them.

5: Don’t Shout at them (It Doesn’t Work!)

Border Collies are known not to react well if you shout at them. Even if they are misbehaving, it’s best to ignore them and to use positive reinforcement training to correct the unwanted behavior instead. If your collie is not listening to you, you may be shouting at them, which can cause them to dislike you and start purposefully ignoring you.

Speak firmly to your collie when you need them to listen, but never with anger. Getting angry or aggressive towards them just makes them hate training and dislike you.

6: Be The Top Dog

Like all dogs, collies have a strong sense of hierarchy and they must recognize you as the leader of their pack. If your collie thinks they are the alpha you can forget them ever listening to anything you say. The best way to overcome this is by protecting your collie and eating before them, just like a pack leader would in the wild.

To help a disobedient collie recognize you as their pack leader, you should always eat before them. Additionally, a small training exercise like asking them to sit before you feed them helps reinforce the hierarchy. Although it sounds a bit mean, collies love nothing more than to please their humans and they love getting praise and attention for being good.

Pack leaders fulfill the needs of those in their pack so you must always fulfill your dogs’ needs. This doesn’t only been food, but also their exercise, discipline and social needs too.

7: Reduce the amount of Training per session

While very intelligent, collies can have short attention spans making them both easily distracted and quickly bored. If you’re having trouble keeping their attention during training and it looks like they’re ignoring you, they may just be getting bored.

Keep your collie engaged by limiting training sessions to ten minutes at a time. Always be sure to end on a positive note and treats and positive reinforcement to boost your collie’s self-esteem.

8: Remove distractions to keep them focused

Since Border Collies can get easily distracted and have short attention spans, there’s also a good chance they’ve just more interested in something else. This isn’t always easy to fix, especially if it happens outside but there are

If your collie is not listening to you because of distractions, the best option is to remove whatever it is that they find more interesting than you. It’s usually a toy or a treat sitting nearby. Giving it back to them once you no longer need their full attention will reinforce that they get fun things when they listen to you.

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!