A List of Easy Tricks to Teach Border Collies

by Rob Hainer, Demand Media
    Border collies have an intense stare as they focus on sheep or Frisbees.

    Border collies have an intense stare as they focus on sheep or Frisbees.

    Border collies are active, intelligent dogs. As the owner of a border collie, you can keep your energetic buddy out of mischief by teaching him tricks that will keep his mind and body occupied. Physically demanding tricks are best to help him work off his energy while engaging his mind.

    Common Tricks

    Border collies can quickly learn common dog tricks such as how to shake, roll over or play dead. They respond well to treats as incentives, but your border collie's main goal is to please you. Give him tons of love and praise when he performs well, and he'll be encouraged to learn the tricks.
    Start when he's a puppy. Lift his paw, and say "shake" a few times. Hold your hand near his paw, and repeat the word. If he doesn't put his paw in your hand, lift his paw, and say it again. He'll catch on fast, but be patient and have fun as you train him.
    Teach him to roll over, starting when he's lying on his stomach. Move a treat around in a circle in front of his face, encouraging him to roll his head to follow it; help his body follow his head if necessary. Give him the "roll over" command, and repeat over time until he obeys your command without the treat. To teach him to play dead, stop him during the roll-over when he's on his back, and say "play dead." Border collies are good with hand motions as well as voice commands, so be creative; make a gun shape with your index finger and thumb as you say "play dead," for example, so he'll assume that position when you pretend to shoot.

    Frisbee

    Bred to herd sheep, border collies have an intense need to work. Chasing and retrieving a flying disc can meet that need. Teach your buddy to love a Frisbee only after he has reached his full size; early jumping can lead to bone or muscle deformities and injury.
    Roll the Frisbee on the ground so your pup will chase it. When he stops the disc and is holding it in his mouth, say "fetch," and remove the Frisbee from his mouth. Although it might take a few days for him to catch on, if your technique is consistent, your buddy will quickly learn that "fetch" means you need the disc back so you can throw it again. Move up to low tosses when he's perfected catching the rolling disc, then try higher, longer tosses. Border collies can make the best pass receivers -- throw the Frisbee where you want him to be, not necessarily the direction he first runs, and he'll correct his path to catch it. Some border collies enjoy performing flips or leaping off your bent knee to catch a Frisbee as well, which requires that you throw the disc vertically near the dog.
    Although catching a Frisbee is an easy trick to teach a border collie, take special care when you play this way with him. Jumping too high and too often can lead to major joint and bone injuries, and improperly executed flips can cause your pup to land dangerously on his face, neck or side. Keep his welfare foremost in your mind, because his entire focus will be on catching the Frisbee, and the cost can be high. Control your throws carefully, and keep most of them low to require fewer or lower jumps. He'll still enjoy his "job" of catching the Frisbee.

    Obstacles

    Many border collies perform well in agility competitions, but you don't need a full agility setup to enjoy some outdoor time with your dog. Grab a hula hoop and hold it straight up, touching the ground. Entice your border collie through the hoop by holding a treat on one side or leading him through on a leash. Say "hoop." Lift the hoop a little higher each day, until he's jumping through it. Once he's mastered the leap, have some fun with him by tossing the hoop, rolling it, or walking and alternating sides, having him jump through back and forth. You can also use a child's collapsible tunnel, keeping it short at first, but extending it as your pal gets comfortable with it.

    Wait for It

    Border collies can seem far more focused than many humans you know. Tap into that characteristic by teaching your pup the simple "wait for it" trick. Place a treat on the top of his nose, holding it there at first, and tell him to wait for it. Say "get it," and give him the treat. Continue until he can stand still with the treat on his nose, waiting for your permission to get it. Some border collies drop the treat on the floor to get it at first, but eventually most will learn on their own to flip it up and catch it in their mouths.

    About the Author

    Rob Hainer began writing and editing for newspapers in 1992. He began his career as a photojournalist in the Army, and studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He worked as a copy editor and reporter at "The Marietta Daily Journal," the "Spartanburg Herald-Journal" and the "New Haven Register."

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images