Why is my collie sad? (How to make your collie happy!)

Your collie may be sad for a whole variety of reasons, but the most important thing is knowing how to cheer them up!

You can cheer your collie up by playing with them, taking them on an exciting new adventure or giving them a tasty treat. If all your attempts to cheery your furry pal up are just not working, take them for a check-up to rule out any medical reasons they may be feeling sad.

In this article, we’ll look at how to tell when your collie is sad, reasons they might be sad, and most importantly – how you can cheer your collie up!

How to tell if your collie is sad

You will likely be able to tell pretty quickly if your collie is not their usual cheerful self. They are such happy and energetic dogs its easy to spot when they are feeling under the weather. Below are a few ways your collie may express their sadness.

1: general behavioral changes

Collies are creatures of habit who thrive on a routine and as a result their behavior is usually highly predictable.

If you notice your collie is behaving differently from how they usually act, or reacting oddly to things that don’t usually bother them – this may be an indication they are unhappy or experiencing a low mood.

2: Your Collie is sleeping more (or less) than usual

If your collie is not their usual spirited self and seem more subdued than normal, this could be an indication they are experiencing sadness.

If they would rather stay in their bed and aren’t actively seeking your attention, or if they seem more lifeless and lethargic than usual, it is likely something is bothering your collie and causing them to feel sad.

Collies are enthusiastic critters and their positivity fills up a room! If your collie has suddenly lost their interest in the world around them, it’s definitely time to check on their health and environment and make sure they are being properly cared for.

3: By their facial expression

This is a biggie. Owners often just know when there is something up with their collie just by looking at their face.

Their inner eyebrows will be raised, causing their eyes to appear larger which resembles an infant.

This gives the classic sad puppy dog face. They may also have their ears down closer to their head indicating they have a low mood.

Lunas sad face when she was soaked to the skin and wanted to go home.

4: excessive licking

A collie who is constantly licking your feet, hands, face, arm or pretty much any part of you may be feeling sad.

Collies are highly emotional and incessant licking may be their way of comforting themselves if they’re upset.

You may notice your collie licks you more after time apart. This is because they experience grief and sadness the way humans do and licking you is their way of showing they love you and they were sad that you left.

They are sensitive creatures who speak a simple language of love and licking you is their way of communicating this.

When dogs lick you, they feel calm and it releases feel-good chemicals for your collie. Licking you actually makes your pup feel happy but if their licking becomes excessive, it could be a sign they are experiencing prolonged sadness.

5: loss of appetite

If you notice your collie is not scoffing their food like it’s the last meal of their life then this is a sign something is up.

Collies love their grub and a collie who is not eating their meals or is losing interest in their food may be experiencing sadness.

6: inability to settle

If your collie appears more restless than usual and can not find a place to settle down to sleep, they may not be feeling 100% themselves.

An inability to settle is normally a reliable indicator that your collie is not their jolly, happy self and changes to their sleeping habits and patterns should be taken as a serious indication your collie needs cheering up.

7: Your collie is more withdrawn

If your collie has no interest in playing with their toys or even going out their daily walk, this is a sure sign your collie is suffering from sadness.

Your collie may even withdraw themselves from the people they love by going into hiding. This can include sleeping under the bed or in a small corner of the room.

If you notice your collie is withdrawing themselves from their human pack members, it’s likely they are not feeling 100% themselves and possibly experiencing substantial sadness.

Luna will withdraw into a corner when she is feeling sad.

Why might your collie be sad?

Collies may suffer from sadness because of many reasons. Lets explore some of these in more detail below.

1: They may be physically ill or uncomfortable

A collie’s sadness may not simply be caused by a mental or emotional issue. Sometimes, the root of a collie’s sadness is physical pain or discomfort.

If you notice abrupt changes in your collies behavior, you need to visit a vet to rule out any clinical causes.

2: Your collie may be grieving

Collies bond more closely to their human owners than any other breed. They view the family unit as their ‘pack’ and any change to this can really affect collies negatively. If a collie outlives their owner the dog may not cope with such emotional turmoil.

Collies do not understand death and just know that their favorite human is no longer around. Collies are so sensitive, emotional and bonded with their owners that they may never truly recover from this grief.

A collie may grieve over the loss of another dog within the household, especially if the dogs had a close relationship. The loss of a long term companion can cause a reaction so strong within collies that it is unmistakably mourning for a beloved friend.

Greif in collies is almost as unbearable to witness as it is for them to experience. They will often ‘search’ for those they have ‘lost’ and their hearts will be broken as well as their minds as sadness consumes them.

3: Your collie’s environment may not be ideal

Collies are creatures of habit and they do not cope well with change. A sudden change in their environment may cause emotional upset for your furry friend.

Big changes such as moving house can cause your collie to become stressed and upset as they are removed from their familiar environment where they felt safe and secure.

Home renovations including building work may also cause a collie to experience low mood.

Collies appreciate routine and like to know what to expect each day. A change to their environment which may alter this can create feelings of unease and your collie may be on high alert, unable to relax.

If this goes on for an extended period your collie may experience sadness as they want to regain their routine to allow them to feel safe and secure.

4: Your collie may be experiencing fear

Have you ever been happy when you’re terrified? No? Didn’t think so…and collies are the exact same.

Collies are skittish and not known for their courage. They would prefer to be protected rather than be the protector and can suffer from many fears.

They are more likely to suffer from noise phobias than other breeds and may live in a constant state of fear over when the next loud bang is coming. This constant state of anxiety can lead to deeper problems including periods of sadness.

Collies are also more prone to suffering from separation anxiety which can predispose them to ongoing feelings of sadness. This may be especially prominent when they are left at home alone. They may live in constant fear of being abandoned when their family ‘pack’ leave which can result in strong feels of sadness.

5: Your collie might be lonely

Collies are extremely sociable and do not like to be left alone. If you work long hours your collie could be experiencing more than 12 hours alone every day. That is a lot to handle for humans, let alone collies!

Collies love to be around people or other dogs to keep them company, and if your collie spends the majority of their time alone in your home this could be a factor in their low mood.

Try getting them a friend or dropping them off at doggy day care if you can.

6: You’re feeling sad and your collie is mirroring your emotions

Collies are so strongly bonded to their human owners that they often feel the same emotions their humans do. If you are feeling under the weather your collie will notice and will mirror your emotions.

You may notice them bringing you their most prized possession such as a beloved toy in an attempt to cheer you up.

Collies are highly emotional and connected with their owners in a way that most other breeds are not. If one of their human pack members are feeling low, there is a strong possibility that your collie will relate and feel sadness too.

Luna brings her favorite toy ‘skunky’ to you to try to cheer you up.

7: Your collie might be bored

Collies are working dogs and thrive on having a ‘job’ to do. If they are left alone for long periods of time they may become extremely bored and frustrated.

Collies need a LOT of attention and something to keep their minds busy. If they are left alone with no stimulation this will really upset your collie and lead to feelings of sadness within them.

8: Your collie has low self esteem

Collies are people pleasers and if they think they have done something wrong they may become upset and emotional.

They love to please and if they feel they are unable to satisfy their human pack they can experience low self worth leading to them feeling downhearted and discouraged.

9: Your collie may be jealous

Collies are super loyal, so if the social dynamic of their household has recently changed this could lead them to feeling jealous of newcomers as they receive less attention than they previously got.

This may be the result of a new baby, a new partner or even a new pet.

If you are expecting a new baby and are worried about how your collie might react read our ‘Collies And New Baby Guide’. This will provide tips on how to ensure your collie doesn’t feel dejected and downhearted at the new arrival.

Collies can feel envy just like humans and to add into this, they are highly sensitive dogs who do not like change and it can make for a super sad collie.

You can read more about jealously in collies in our article ‘Jealousy In Collies And How To Manage It’.

How to cheer up your sad collie

If you think your collie is a little lackluster and showing signs of sadness, there are a few things you can do to help cheer them up. Lets explore a few of these below.

If Luna is feeling sad, a trip to the park to play some fetch soon perks her up!

1: take them for a check up at the vet

The first thing you should do if you notice your collie’s behavior has changed is take them for a check up at the vet.

Vets will be able to rule out any medical reasons which may be causing your collie’s sadness. If the vet doesn’t think anything is wrong then you can try some of the options below.

2: exercise with your collie

Collies love nothing more than to run full speed after a ball, stick or anything really.

Collies are at their happiest when outside exercising and if your dog is feeling a bit down in the dumps, exercising with your collie may be just the ticket to their happiness.

For more information read our ‘Guide To Exercising With Your Collie’ for some handy tips and fun ideas.

3: play a fun game with your collie

Collies love attention! Playing games with your collie will make them feel special and included in the family pack.

Tug-of-war especially helps to strengthen the bond between collie and owner since it mirrors the type of games wolves and wild dogs play when they are young.

Playing with your collie helps to mentally stimulate their minds and relieve boredom. Check out our ‘Mental Stimulation Ideas For Collies‘ for some in depth mental stimulation ideas to cheer your collie up.

4: Don’t coddle them!

Collies are known to be quite needy, but overly comforting them just indulges their needy behavior.

Collies may lose their self confidence and experience feelings of low self worth if you are constantly coddling them. As difficult as it is, sometimes the best thing to do is simply leave your collie alone until they actively interact with you.

5: stick to a routine

Sticking to routine is very important for your collie. A routine allows your collie to know what to expect each day and what time to expect things.

Your collie needs to feel safe and secure in their home environment before they have confidence to tackle the wider world.

Knowing what to expect allows your collie to increase their confidence and feel happier to face the world each day. A structured day will make for a satisfied collie!

6: Socialize your collie with other dogs

If your collie appears sad, you need to ask yourself are they getting enough time to socialize with their doggy pals? We all know humans mental health suffers if we are isolated, well the same things happens to your collie.

You might want to consider getting your collie a companion, especially if they’re left at home alone for long periods. This can reduce anxiety by providing emotional support to help your collie stay calm and composed and content.

If you don’t want to introduce a second dog into the household you could take them to doggy day-care where there will be ample other dogs for your collie to socialize with.

Another good option is the local dog park where your collie can have the opportunity to play with other dogs.

A well socialized collie will be happy, healthy and have good mental wellbeing. It’s critical to let them play, run and just have fun just doing doggy things with other canines. This will ensure your collie has a well balanced life full of good times and endless enjoyment!

7: teach your collie some tricks, or work on existing tricks

Collies love to use their brain. As one of the smartest breeds on the entire planet, not only do they love to learn, they love to please!

Spending time teaching your collie some new tricks or going over the tricks they already know will allow them to wear themselves out mentally. Collies really need something to do to keep their minds healthy.

Learning a new trick will boost your collie’s confidence and self esteem! It will also strengthen the bond between collie and owner as you both succeed together in learning something new.

Remember though, teaching tricks should be fun so don’t get too hung up if your collie doesn’t get it first time. They’re trying their best to please you so be sure to give them lots of love and praise and this will be sure to result in a very jolly collie.

8: get your collie a new toy!

Collies love playing, but even collies can get bored of the same toys all the time. Try surprising them with a new toy and watch their eyes light up with joy!

Collies are especially fond of ball games because to them the ball is ripe for herding, allowing them to exercise their extremely strong herding and chase instincts.

Read more about how to have fun with ball games in our ‘Ball Training And Games For Collies‘ article.

Luna is really happy with her new football!

9: Give them a treat!

A simple solution to your collie’s sadness is to provide them with a tasty treat. I’m not talking about gravy bones either! A high value treat will really set their taste buds tingling and is sure to put a smile on their face.

Giving your dog a treat is also a bonding moment and will remind your dog that you love them.

Luna is partial to a mini vanilla ice cream is she is not feeling 100%, or failing that she also enjoys a car ride to McDonalds for some nuggets.

10: Work on your collie’s training with them

Collies see all types of training as fun, and working on some basic commands will be an engaging activity for your furry friend.

They love nothing more than pleasing their owners and getting to use their brain. Make sure you keep the training sessions short and sweet to avoid your collie becoming frustrated.

Be sure to use positive reinforcement techniques as collies are sensitive dogs who do not respond to a heavy hand. The main thing to remember is to make the training session fun for your collie who will then work harder and learn faster all whilst feeling fantastic.

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!