Border collies are active, intelligent dogs who do not always make great pets without the right environment and training. Because they have so much energy and want to keep busy they tend to bark a lot when they are not being challenged. Barking can be persistent if ignored, but with consistent training it can be curbed.
Like all dogs, border collies bark as a form of communication. Unlike many other breeds, however, border collies have a whole lot to say. They will bark when they are bored, stressed, fearful, excited, curious, lonely and playful. Collies also bark as a warning to their humans that something unusual is going on, such as a stranger approaching. Unfortunately, border collies do not distinguish unusual events in the same way as humans, and a stranger approaching could be just as alarming as a car passing by or a squirrel running around the back yard. Figuring out why your collie is barking and what they are trying to communicate is an important step in reducing the amount of barking.
For hundreds of years border collies have been bred to work long and hard all day, every day. Not only do they have stamina, they are also very intelligent. With so much physical energy and the need for mental stimulation, border collies without a job become bored very quickly. They will often express their boredom by trying to create their own work, such as barking at neighbors, birds, cars, blowing leaves, insects, playing children, cats and other dogs. A border collie needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stop barking out of boredom. Running, games of fetch and frisbee, jumping obstacles and catching treats can all help burn off energy. Mental exercises can also help alleviate barking, such as searching for hidden objects, learning new commands, games of hide and seek or follow the leader.
Border collies are the social butterflies of the dog world. They desire and need companionship, especially from their human family. When left alone for long periods of time or not given enough attention and affection, a border collie will look for ways to get attention. It doesn't take long for a collie to figure out that barking will get him attention. The attention may not always be positive, but it is attention, and the barking tends to increase with the more attention it brings. This type of barking can be reduced by giving the dog more interaction, but not when it is barking for attention.
While border collies naturally tend to bark often, their intelligence and eager-to-please personality can be used to teach them when it is and isn't appropriate to bark. Consistent training can cure problem barking. One easy method, although counter-intuitive, is to teach a border collie to bark on command. That training can then be a basis for training a collie to be quiet on command. Eventually, the collie will learn when it is all right to bark and when it is not.