Crate training a border collie is not always easy, this remarkably workaholic dog is too energetic to settle in a crate for a long period, however, their high trainability and eager to please abilities make up for it.
These bright and energetic dogs are perfect for busy owners, but they do need a lot of exercise, so if you are working a full-time job and you prefer to stay indoors, the border collie is not the best dog breed for you, and crate training will be very hard.
A border collie will thrive when he has a job to do and space to run, he’ll need more than just a walk around the block, so if you can provide vigorous exercise every day crate training a border collie will be easier.
What you need to crate train a border collie?
Crate training any dog requires certain tools that will make the training easier effective and faster, the process itself is the same for all dogs with some small adjustments depending on the breed’s personality traits.
The 3 main tools you’ll be needing to crate train your border collie puppy are obviously the crate, treats and toys so let us dive into the details and see what you need exactly.
The best crate for a border collie
When it comes to crate training dogs we always recommend getting a wire crate unless you have a very strong and aggressive dog in which case you’ll need something heavy-duty, but in the case of a border collie, the wire crate is enough.
The crate that we’ve tested and recommend to all our readers for most dog breeds is the Midwest double door Ultima Pro (check the current price at Amazon).
The wire crate with the double doors is great especially for the early stages of crate training, it offers an open view and it’s easier for the dog to explore it.
The free included divider is also another great feature that will help you adjust the size of the crate as your dog is growing without having to change crates every couple of months.
The best size crate for a Border collie is 43L x 28.5W x 31.25H inches. The crate has to provide the puppy enough room to turn around stand up and lay down and that’s it. If the crate is too big the puppy will probably make a corner as his potty corner and use the rest to lay down.
That’s why using a divider when the puppy is too young for the crate is the smart move.
The best training treats for a border collie
Training treats are very important and they make crate training a lot easier and faster, they are used as rewards to lure the dog into the crate and to encourage good behavior.
In the early phase of the crate training process using the treats will help you create a good association with the crate and the ones we found to be safe and good for dogs are the Pet Botanics Training Reward (check the current price at Amazon) they are low on calories and would not affect the dog’s daily calorie intake.
Make sure you’re not using too many treats to avoid health issues and to prevent the dog from being too focused on the treats and then when you stop rewarding he no longer performs as well as he did with the treats. You can read this article about training treats and how to use them for more details on the matter.
The best chew toys for a border collie
Toys are an essential tool for crate training a border collie, these energetic guys will need to have a chew toy to keep them busy in the crate along with some interactive toys to play with before they go in the crate to lower their energy down.
While crate training your dog needs to have access to a chew toy at all times it helps keep them busy in the crate and we found that the kong chew toy (check the current price at Amazon) does a really great job because the hollow part can be filled with snacks making a great treat puzzle that will keep your dog distracted for a while.
Besides, the chew toys border collies are very energetic and it would be much easier for you to get them into the crate if they exercise just before and the best way to do it is with an interactive dog toy.
Unlike chewy toys, dogs can’t have access to the interactive toys all the time, these are used to bond lower down their energy and they only play with them when you are around. Border collies are eager to please their owner and using interactive toys will enforce good behavior that’s why they should only be used when you are playing together.
They are also cheap and there are plenty of good toys you can get a whole pack at Amazon for a good price and it’s good to have multiple toys for a change.
Crate training a border collie in 5 steps
Now that we have the training tools, we can actually move on to the actual crate training process.
In general crate training is the same for most dogs but some are easier to deal with and some are smarter than others.
The border collie sure needs a lot of exercise and won’t spend too much time in the crate but it’s a very smart and fast learner that loves to please so if done correctly crate training a border collie could be fast and easy.
Crate training is simple it’s all about making the crate the best possible den for your dog.
Step 1: Introducing your border collie to his crate.
This is my doctrine in dog training, never introduce your dog to something when it’s time to do it.
Your dog needs to have enough time to explore the crate before it’s time to go in it, and in most cases, dogs that are properly introduced to their crates are less likely to show any objections.
The first step is to place the crate in a nice spot and even better in a spot where your border collie likes to hangout and open the crate doors.
It would be best if you secure the crate’s doors to avoid any incidents that would freak out the dog.
Take your dog with the leash on and just move around the crate let him sniff around and explore it.
You can’t just lock your dog in a crate he’s never been before and close the door and expect him to feel comfortable in it.
Avoid forcing your dog into the crate just keep it natural for a few minutes then go back at it again.
When your dog is feeling comfortable around the crate and showing interest in getting in it that’s when you can move to the next step.
Step 2: Exploring the crate using treats
The wire crate we recommended makes this step way easier thanks to its double doors and open view making the crate easier to explore and the dog doesn’t feel trapped.
You can start by using tossing a treat in the crate to lure the dog inside the crate, once inside reward heavily and use verbal praise to associate being in the crate with great feelings.
Keep doing the same thing and try and use verbal praise more and treats less to avoid too overfeeding your dog.
Border collies are very smart dogs and soon your dog will pick up on the vibe and will start to offer to get in the crate to get the treat.
This is your sign that your dog is ready for the next step and you can move on to making the crate great.
Step 3: Making the crate great
The treats are great for luring the dog into the crate but it will take much more to keep him in there.
Dogs associate feelings and memories to places whether it’s good or bad experiences which means that you can use good memories to make the dog like his crate.
The best way to start is using food, dogs love food and they will for sure associate great memories with the crate if they’re fed their meals in the crate.
Start by feeding the dog his meals in the crate while keeping the doors open, you don’t have to rush things.
Another great way to make the crate a great place is the toys, chew toys are just great and they’ll keep the dog busy in his crate especially after the meals.
You want your dog to spend as much time as possible in the crate so the kong would be the best option for a chew toy. Food puzzles are great and there are plenty of recipes to fill a kong online.
Interactive toys are also a must use before the dog goes to the crate to bring his energy down and make him willing to relax in the crate.
However, interactive toys should not be given to the dog in his crate it is only used to play together.
Step 4: Spending time in the crate closed
At first when you start feeding your gerbil his meals in the crate keep the door open and when your dog is getting used to feeding in the crate you can start to gradually close the door and always checking for his reaction.
When the dog finishes his meal let him out right away, and start to slowly increase the time he spends in the crate after his meals.
You can keep the door closed and stay next to the crate playing with him and praising him.
The best tool to help you is to secure the kong in the crate wire to keep the dog busy inside and use it to make him stay longer and longer in the crate.
Once your border collie is spending about 30 minutes in the crate after his meals with the door closed it’s your sign that he’s ready for the next step.
Step 5: Home alone
Now that your border collie is spending some time in the crate after his meals you can start to move around the room, just to check out his reactions.
Before you were sitting next to his crate while he is inside now you do stay in the same room but move around and do something else and every few minutes talk to your dog.
If the dog is freaking out take it slow and just have less interaction with him next to the crate if he’s taking it well then you can move on to leaving the room.
Start to gradually increase the time you spend out of the room and once every few minutes get in there and talk to your dog or toss in a treat until you’ve reached 30 minutes.
if your border collie is spending 30 minutes alone in the crate with you not around he is ready to be left alone.
You can go ahead and leave the house for a quick errand but hen you are leaving, do not say goodbye and make a scene of it, you do not want to associate being in the crate with you leaving just leave, and the same thing when you come back don’t let the dog out once you’re home let him in there for a couple of minutes.
The crate should not be associated with you leaving or coming back into the house, that’s why you need to get him in it even if you are home.
Crate training a border collie at night
Crate training at night is easier than most people think, the dog is less energetic and objects less to being in the crate, all you have to do is to get him ready to bed.
If you have a young border collie puppy then he’ll probably need to wake up at night for a potty break, so you need to place the crate somewhere close to hear him when he wakes up, placing it in your bedroom for the first few weeks would be even better.
Before your border collie goes into the crate for the night he needs to have enough activities during the day, this breed is very energetic and you’ll have a very hard time crate training if they do not have enough activities before.
The best thing is to have a play session just before he goes into the crate to bring his energy down and also go for a potty break just before so he doesn’t wake up too many times during the night.
Border collies have fairly large bladders and will soon stop waking up at night to eliminate, but during the first few weeks, the puppies will surely need to wake up at least once.
What if my border collie is whining in his crate at night?
Whining is normal behavior for dogs when you first start crate training, it usually doesn’t take long before they’re used to sleeping in the crate but you have to deal with it correctly.
When the dog is whining you don’t let him out of the crate or else he’ll know that the way out is through whining and it will get much worst.
The first reflex is to ignore it and yes it might sound cruel but he’s just letting you know he doesn’t want to sleep in the crate and your response is no you do.
If the whining does not stop past five minutes then you need to do something to make it stop maybe talk to him or tap gently on the crate to let him know you are there.
This is why the dog needs to be less energetic and had his potty break so you are sure he’s not whining to go out to pee or something.
If the whining doesn’t stop then you need to break his whining cycle before you let him out by talking or tossing a treat once he’s calm you can let him out and start over.
It usually takes no more than a few nights for the dog to get used to sleeping in the crate at night.
If your puppy wakes up for a potty break at night you can let him out and once his business is done he needs to go back in right away, it’s not a good idea to make a playtime out of the potty break at night.
How long can a border collie stay in his crate?
Border collies are very energetic dogs and would not be able to spend too much time in the crate even if they get enough playtime and a lot of exercise when you come back.
A border collie would not make it through 8 hours in the crate waiting for you to get back from the job and soon you’ll start noticing aggressive behavior.
The most an adult border collie should spend in a crate is about two hours twice a day more than that is not good for your dog and that’s with vigorous exercising.
If you do have to work a full-time job and have the dog alone at home you should consider a playpen which is a safe and more convenient solution.
We suggest you get the Midwest wire playpen (check the price at Amazon) since it can be attached to the wire crate we recommended earlier making one large space for your dog giving him the choice of being in the crate when he needs to relax or to play around in the playpen.
How hard is it to crate train a border collie?
Border collies may not be the easiest dog breed to crate train, but they are very smart and eager to please, so if you do make the great a nice den for them it will make it easier.
the hardest thing about crate training a border collie is that they are very energetic and need to have a lot of activities before they’re willing to go in the crate and relax.
Meaning if you are a busy person and manage to give your border collie and job or an activity to do he’ll be the easiest dog to crate train, on the other hand, if you do not have much to do and you like the indoors too much your border collie will sure have a hard time.
Make sure you follow the easy steps we laid down for you and don’t rush things and have enough playtime with your dog and it will most certainly be easier.