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Border Collie Dominance Problems

Border Collie Dominance Problems

There are a couple of signals that you need to watch out if you suspect that your dog has developed dominance issues. If your dog has couple of the behavior habits listed below, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your Collie has dominance issues. It’s sometimes easy to confuse dominance with just normal dog behavior, so don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.

  • Leash Pulling – A collie that likes to lead the rest of the pack thinks that she or he is the leader of the pack. So if your Border collie starts leading you where it wants to go instead of listening to you, it could be showing early signs of dominant behavior. However sometimes leash pulling could be a symptom of other problems, like a dog that’s too excited or a dog doesn’t get enough walks.
  • Food Bowl Aggression – If your dog starts growling or is distrustful of you touching his bowl when he is eating then it could be a sign of dominance. Again, if you’re collie does this, it doesn’t mean that it’s aggressive. A lot of dogs that don’t have disobedience problems act this way as well.
  • Food begging – This signal is another one of those “maybe” ones.  Constant begging for food, even after a meal could mean that the dog thinks he or she deserves to eat the food first, instead of you. Or it could just mean that the dog just loves human food!
  • Refuses to listen to you – Blatant disobedience and refusal to perform tricks that he or she already knows is a good indicator of early dominance problems. If you know that your Collie knows how to do the trick but she still doesn’t want to do it, chances are that she feels like she doesn’t have to listen to you.
  • Growling when you push them off the bed – If you try to push your Border Collie off the bed and the response you get is a growl then there is a good chance that the Collie feels like you don’t have the authority to boss her around.
  • Any sort of growling or aggression towards you – This one of course depends on the situation. If your dog is growling at you when you play with his toys, go near his bed or try to boss him around then the dog thinks you’re not a fit leader and doesn’t have any trust in you. To learn more about Border Collie aggression click here to read Aggression article.

Dealing with a Dominant Border Collie

If your Border Collie is losing trust in you and is questioning your actions then it means she doesn’t see you as the Alpha Dog, or the pack leader. This means that you have to show your Collie that you have the qualities to lead the pack to regain his trust.

The most effective way to do that is to start simple and basic obedience training. Start practicing already known tricks with your dog while also adding in new tricks for him to learn. In the wild, the alpha dog is the one that teaches the rest of the pack how to behave and tells them what to do, which will exactly what you will be doing.

Simple tips to help you deal with Border Collie Dominance

  • Walk tall and proud around your Border Collie –  This sounds so simple but trust me, dogs are really good at sensing people’s emotions and one of the qualities they look for in a leader is confidence.
  • Always reward your dog for listening to you – You want your dog to know that if he listens then he will be rewarded. The reward doesn’t always have to be a treat. Just a pat on the head along with a “Good boy” will work just as well.
  • Never bribe or trick your dog into listening to you - Rewarding is one thing, but tricking your dog into listening is completely different. You will be giving away your leadership and authority if your Border Collie only does things on his own terms.
  • Ignore your dog when he starts begging for scraps – Don’t give into the temptation of giving him a little taste of your dinner. Remember that you have to always set the terms as the leader. So if you must treat him, make him perform a trick to earn the reward.

What NOT to do with a Dominant Border Collie

Believe it or not I’ve read some of these so called “tips” in dog training books and even found some on popular dog training websites. Please, never do any of the following. It will only harm the relationship between you and your dog and can lead to further aggression problems.

  • Do Not… Bite your dog’s ear. As ridicules as this sounds, some people actually do it! Your dog won’t respect you after you bite his ear, he will think you’re a crazy maniac!
  • Do Not… Wrestle with your dog to show him you are the alpha. It’s cruel, ineffective and unnecessary.
  • Do Not… Starve your Collie. Controlling the food is one thing, but starving the dog is straight up animal cruelty.
  • Do Not… Follow any advice that suggests you punish your dog to show your dominance. The person who gave you that advice doesn’t know anything about Border Collies at all.

To learn more about how to deal with a disobedient and dominant Border Collie, check out the Border Collie Owners Guide. It’s the most complete guide that covers everything you need to raise  happy puppy and the exact steps to take to solve obedience problems. Click here to learn more…

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20 Responses to “Border Collie Dominance Problems”

  1. Donna patten says:

    I have a 13 week old collie that we have had for just over one week now. The previous owners must have only had her 2-3 weeks at the most and I dint think much was done with her. We have brought her to a loving house with 2 children aged 4 and 8 who adore her. We also have a cat who isn’t really bothered about her presence. She seemed to settle in really well and sleeps no problem at night in her crate, however, this past week she seems to be really snappy for no apparent reason to the degree where I don’t trust her !!! She gets 3 walks a day and plenty of stimulation too, I just don’t understand where I am going wrong. I have had dogs before when I lived at home, these being labradors and dobermans and I trusted them 110%, but my trust with my collie is dwindling. I know a lady who is an expert in behavioural problems etc but I can’t get her round to my house for two weeks with holidays etc.

    • michael says:

      I hope you’re problems have gone away. She was much too young at 13 weeks to have any real behavioral problems and waiting a couple of weeks for the behaviorist should have been ok. All, and I mean ALL puppies nip and chew, chew and nip, that’s just how they are. Give her things to chew on…lots of different things, different sizes, colors, shapes, textures. Border Collies are so easily bored. They’re also excitable and it could be that your very loving children are ramping her up without realizing it. No harm, but puppies can be worked into a frenzy very easily. I hope things are better.

  2. Sarah says:

    I have a male 9 month old and his fantastic but has started to be naughty when I take him
    For a walk. We go up the fields and play throughout with his toys but when it’s time to go on the lead he won’t come. I have tried everything! Calm, firm etc but he just want to carrying on playing. This just happened over night! I am the main walker but this week my husband is doing it cause standing in the pitch black field has put me off!
    Any idea pleases? Oh! At home he listion perfect!

  3. Damian says:

    My female border collie starting to do the same thing. What I did was to hide the lead and during the walk call her. Every time she came close to me I would give a click on the clicker and drop a treat.

    Eventually when she was close enough I would put her on the lead and give her several treats and praise.

    This can be practiced in the house or garden.

    I now have a dog that sits on command when she sees the lead.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you Damien, I’m pleased to say I cracked it in a week. I tried that at first but he was too clever to know what I was doing. lol I just ignored him, took his toy and walked away and when he went on the lead I over praised him.
      Must add at home I would start and stop games throughout the day and use hand and voice commands for enough! really think that helped!

  4. Deborah says:

    Have a 10yr male altered Border Collie that was a puppy rescue but unfortunatley just thrown into a back yard with another dog. So now I’ve got him and he’s improved so much. A very good dog in the house, minds pretty well except:
    Had very bad dog domance agression. We’ve tried taking him to a dog park but he freaks out and wants to go after all the other dogs and knaw on their heels. When a happy friendly dog comes up to him he does the same and the other good dog reacts like he’s just met a nut case and will leave.
    He’s great with the other dogs in the house and it was not a long transition for the adjustment but it’s like he just can’t learn that ALL other dogs are OK
    Also: He has people agreession but only to specific individuals. We can have a house party and he’s fine with everyone, even my sister-in-law that hates dogs but then someone (typically female) will come in and BAM he attacks again the heel/ankle biting.
    We’ve tried walking him in public places and he’s good until he gets triggered and we just can’t figure it out. He even went balistic on a dog trainer – that was embarrassing. It was suggested to put him down.
    We’ve had him many years now and he’s come a very long way. We are committed to him for his life but would like to get over this issue.

  5. Candice says:

    I have a 3 year old border collie who has always had issues, but they are getting worse. She was a rescue at 3 months old and I’m not exactly sure what happened to her, but i know she hates children and some men. We do not have children and we do not subject her to being around children, but on the few occasions children were around she focused right in on them and with hair up on her back she would not stop barking and lunging at them. Now we just kennel her when children are around as we feel she must have been abused by children and the reason for her behavior is fear. Lately she has been nipping and growling at our male friends so she is getting worse. She doesn’t normally growl at us, but on a few occasions in her sleep if she is touched she will growl, but quickly stops when she wakes up. I don’t think she is showing aggression towards us not yet anyhow. I’m afraid for her. We love her so much and think she is a great dog. why can’t she be great to everyone else?

    • Elizabeth Rodgers says:

      I do hope your issues with your bc are over now but in case they are not …. Some 16 years ago I obtained a 10 month old border collie bitch from a rescue home who had similar issues. In fact, when friends with children were coming around they were actually asked either to leave the children at home or to ensure that the child was actually capable of sitting still, no running, no shouting, no loud noise, no screaming, no wild movements etc etc and I would greet them at the door and give the child a little bag of treats which, once quietly settled, I would bring the dog in (on a lead) make her sit quietly beside me and eventually lengthen the lead allowing her to sniff the child – who had a treat on her open hand. Very slowly the dog learnt that children could actually be okay. I would never EVER trust her with a child, but under strict rules and supervision the occasional SHORT visit with a child was tolerated. with men she had been a nightmare – she would just lunge at any man passing her, with no warning that was visible to anyone except someone who knew her well. We did exactly the same thing with male visitors, and made sure the vast majority of male visitors were dog friendly, understood dogs and were willing to put up with the odd nip!!!! (a nip to a child never occurred because we were extremely vigilant – sadly a nip to a male visitor happened just three times in her whole life – never a bite, always a warning nip and each time a totally understandable situation lead to the warning). It took three years to teach her that no male was ever going to hurt her again but I tell you she turned into an absolutely rock solid dog where men were concerned. Visiting children – well we tried to discourage that as much as possible LOL (neither of us were very child friendly ourselves unless the children were impeccably behaved – few and far between!). perseverance and consistency are the key here – make sure every male visitor understands precisely how to behave, that the dog understands the boundaries too.

  6. Shawn Odom says:

    I NEED HELP. I got my border collie at a year old, he had little to no training and hardly, to never, does any tricks he knows unless he knows i have a treat for him. My dad lives two houses down and his miniature dotson that’s in heat and he is non stop winning. I can ignore that but he knocked he’s food bowl over so i took my belt and whooped him, but he turned on me and snapped so i wore him out with my belt and made him go in his room and locked him in for a wile. I let him out and i went to ho outside and he wouldn’t get away from the door, and i don’t let him out without a leash so i placed my hand on his chest and pushed him back and he bit my leg then my coat and tore it and backed off so i walk around him and got my belt and whooped him agin and put him back in his room. how do i make him know I’m alpha male in the house and he is to fear and obey me??

    Untill my dad’s dog came in heat he’s been a very loving and protective dog. the only thing I’ve really whooped him over is getting trash out the garbage and tearing it up, and i take my belt to his but. I NEVER hit him n his face or with anything that will break a bone or knock out a tooth. I love this dog and want to keep him, but he MUST obey me. I know when my dad’s dog is out of heat he will calm down but he needs to know not to bite me or anyone unless given the order to protect.

    • Shawn Odom says:

      Oh, I forgot to mention, though he is only a year and a half to two years old he’s 80 pounds

    • Jo says:

      You should NEVER ‘whoop’ a dog, any dog with a belt or any object. Your poor, abused dog will not listen to you now. Good for him for biting your leg! Do your dog a favor and give him to a family that will respect and care for him..not beat him with a belt!

    • Dog owner says:

      You hit your dog with your belt?! Seriously? No wonder he snapped at you. Then you pushed him? and he bit you. Can not really blame him really……

    • Sammys Mom says:


      Violence only reinforces aggression. He was ‘bugging’ you, and you decide to WEAR HIM OUT WITH THE BELT? How does one WEAR OUT their dog? Did you BEAT HIM into SUBMISSION? Seriously? You are DISGUSTING. You should NOT have children NOR animals.

      You need to google the term “non-violent dog training” and see the PLETHORA of resources at your disposal.


      Do you realize that your dog was probably going to the door after the loving “wear out session” by his “loving owner” so that he could get away from YOU – his “loving owner”?

      Your dog does NOT listen to you because he does NOT respect you. A dog will NOT listen if they do not have ANY sense of respect. Not to mention – if you fly off the handle out of him spilling his food bowl, he will be in constant FEAR. And CONSTANT insecurity which turns into FEAR which then TURNS INTO AGRESSION TOWARDS YOU since YOU are the one CAUSING HIS PROBLEMS in the first place.


      Giving a dog a ‘time out’ means NOTHING to the dog. The dog is not a child and can not rationalize why he was put in the room in the first place. He is not a human being which IS capable of understanding these types of consequences.

      You obviously have issues that you are transferring to your poor ANNOYING dog. A dog feeds off of his humans energy. They feed off of other humans around them. He is OBVIOUSLY not a good dog for you to have.

      Do him a favor and give him to a rescue, or let someone who has the skills to train him properly and with love and the appropriate discipline.

      Do you even take your dog to a dog park, do you walk him? Does he socialize with other dogs?

      Try reading some books and educate yourself.

      Frankly, I am SHOCKED that you even admitted that you abused your animal as you did.

      But, im so glad that you didnt hit him hard enough to knock out a tooth, or break a bone. You deserve a metal. Such the humanitarian.

      And you wonder why he went after you again. It was because he was trying to PROTECT HIMSELF FROM YOU – its called FIGHT OR FLIGHT. HE FOUGHT YOU BECAUSE HE COULDNT RUN AWAY FROM YOU.

      Your approach OBVIOUSLY doesnt work. And to beat him because he went to the door? Did he perhaps have to go the bathroom? OR was it ANIMAL INSTINCT BECAUSE HES A MALE AND THERE IS A FEMALE IN HEAT…. THAT IS HIS PRIMAL INSTINCT AND IS NOT HIS FAULT.

      Did you even TRY to distract him and give him something to do? Did you try playing with him? Did you give him some treats to occupy his brain – where he has to work to get them out of the toy? THERES HUNDREDS OF THESE TYPES OF BRAIN WORKING TREATS out there….


      youre a piece of work.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Help! I have a 3 month old male Shitzu/Border Collie mix. He completley listens to my husband. When he says “no”…Buddy listens. When I tell him “no” he growls and barks at me. Like he’s laughing at me. I am the one who spends the most time with him and I am very frustrated. I know he is super smart! He rings a bell to go outside, knows sit, lay down, stay and come. But he will not listen to me. He bites on my boys pants and arm sleeves. I know he can do better. Once in awhile he will have a calm day and listen to everything I say. Just beside myself on what to do. Please help!

  8. tracey says:

    my border collie is 6 years old quiet a few issue ,he is very noise sensitive especialy bin day !!! but he has started waking us up at 4am he wont stop untill we come downstairs with him ,he sleeps down stair but the doors are open for him to come up as in the past he has riped door apart and carpet up ,so we let him up with us he quiet happy untill the same time and then he does anything to get us out of bed even stand on our heads and pushes us out ??when we come dwn with him he curls up and goes to sleep

  9. Amy says:

    I have a 4 year old BC. She has always shown a little aggression towards other dogs, but Ive worked hard to socialize her, but she just doesn’t seem to “get it”.

    She has always been one to love being pet, rubbed, etc. She would stop whatever she was doing to enjoy a good scratch. For the last few months, she does not like to be pet, scratched or loved on in any way. If you do she growls and snarls at your hand and attacks it. I thought maybe she was in pain, but the vet can find nothing wrong and thinks its a behavior issue. What do I do??? I want my loving baby back.

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