BORDER COLLIE HOUSE TRAINING
Collies are very intelligent and if you follow a few simple guidelines, you should have no problems with house training. This involves taking them out as soon as they wake, finish eating or finish playing, lots of praise for going to the toilet outside, NOT telling them off for accidents in the home and more (see below).
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Border Collie House Training
However, because collies are so intelligent and learn very quickly, if it’s not crystal clear to them what they need to do, then they can learn the wrong thing very quickly. And, once learned, it’s more difficult to teach them an alternative. It’s a collie’s natural instinct to keep the nest area clean – we need to convey to them that the “nest area” is our home.
The points below will help you to teach your new border collie puppy to stay clean in the home but if you’re having problems house training your puppy, we can help.
Make sure you get the timings right. Puppies undergoing border collie house training under 12 weeks of age are unable to control themselves well enough to wait once they get the urge to go to the toilet. When the urge comes, it just happens. It’s our job as owners to ensure that they are in the right place at the right time. Often they don’t even know they need to go before it happens.
Puppies need to go to the toilet as soon as they wake up, about 20 minutes after they have finished eating, immediately after a play session and every 30 – 40 minutes whenever they are awake. If your puppy is playing and you notice them suddenly stop and start to sniff the ground, that is a sign that they need to go so get them outside immediately.
Reward your puppy EVERY time she goes to the toilet outside. The puppy needs to know she is right. You could give her a treat, product a toy, a game of tug, or just be very enthusiastic, telling your dog how amazing they are, with lots of stroking. Keep toys and treats hidden until your dog has “been” otherwise they will be distracted and will follow you round wanting the treat rather than concentrating on what they are supposed to be doing.
It’s very important that you reward going to the toilet in the right place and ignore going to the toilet in the wrong place. We tend to think that telling off a puppy for accidents in the house will make them learn faster. However, this isn’t the case. Instead, think of it from the puppy’s point of view:
They get the urge to “go” they, therefore, have to “go”. Suddenly, out of the blue, you turn into a scary monster who shouts at them or worse. Their thinking can go one of two ways:
- If you were there while they were “going” then they start to think that when they go in front of you, they will be told off. So they will stop going in front of you. Fast forward to the next rainy, cold night, when you are standing outside with your puppy, getting more and more frustrated because they won’t go to the toilet. Your puppy is determined not to “go” in front of you so she wanders around, sniffing, playing, anything to avoid being told off. When you go back inside she goes behind the settee or upstairs and does it there instead!
- If you weren’t there when they had their accident but find it later, and start to shout and get angry, they will simply think that you are telling them off for going near the “accident” or for looking at it. This is why dogs often have the guilty, not looking at the “accident” look that owners frequently believe is the dog looking guilty. It is, in fact, fear because they know they are going to be told off, but don’t really understand why. The only thing they understand is that you are somehow annoyed about the “accident”, but they can’t move backwards and forwards in time and remember that they did it. They just know that it’s there and that you are angry with them.
The only thing that getting angry with your dog does in this circumstance is to make them afraid of your unpredictability and damage your relationship.
Think of it from a dog’s point of view: going out in the garden is a change from the house, it’s exciting, they can run around and play, there are lots of smells, birds, other animals, and they love it. If, as soon as they go to the toilet, you take them back in, what are very clever animals like border collies going to learn? After not very long, they will learn that the sooner they go to the toilet, the sooner the fun ends. So they don’t go – they leave it as long as they can. It’s not an ideal situation, especially if you are in a rush, or it’s raining or freezing cold!
Make sure that, after they have been, you stay out a bit longer so that they don’t associate going to the toilet with being taken back inside.
Keeping the area scrupulously clean. Dogs spend a while sniffing round on the ground because it is the smells or faeces or urine that they or other dogs have left from before that physically prompt their body to eliminate. They are not just “looking for the right place”, they are waiting for the urge to kick in once they smell the right smells. It’s vital, therefore, that any accidents in the home are cleaned thoroughly, using something that will mask the smell, if possible. Otherwise we are setting our dogs up for failure.
When you visit breeders to choose a puppy, make sure you choose a pup from a breeder that has made the effort to clean up the pups and keeps the area scrupulously clean. This will have got the puppies into the habit of being clean and house training will be much easier.
Use a crate with small pen area for the puppy at night. Your pup will have a strong urge not to go to the toilet in his crate and will try and go as far as possible away from the crate. If it is not possible for him to get a long way away from the crate, he is much more likely to wait until morning, meaning that nightly accidents stop a lot sooner than if he is given the run of the room.
However, if he does need to “go”, then with a small run, it means he can “go” without having to “go” in his bed.
Leaving a puppy locked in his crate overnight means that he will have to go in his bed if he needs to. This is something he will not want to do and it will cause him distress. If it happens too often, then the puppy will get too used to “going” in his “nest” area. When we continue to try to train the puppy to be clean in the rest of the house, he will find this more difficult because the urge to keep his home clean will have diminished or vanished entirely.
See our crate training page for more information about using crates.