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How To Potty Train a Border Collie: 11 Expert Tips & Advice

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

border collie puppy

If you’re the lucky pet parent of a Border Collie, you know they’re athletic, highly intelligent, and very affectionate dogs. However, the breed is very strong-willed, independent, and energetic. Border Collies need and thrive on discipline and order.

The good news is that Border Collies are one of the most highly-trainable dog breeds in the world. If you’ve recently adopted one and need expert tips on potty training a Border Collie, read on.

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The 11 Expert Tips on How to Potty Train a Border Collie

1. Be Patient with Your Puppy

There’s no denying that Border Collies are highly trainable dogs. However, any puppy will need at least a few months to be fully potty trained. Border Collies are no exception and need 3 to 4 weeks to get the basics of potty training down. One reason is simple biology; your Border Collie pups bladder needs time to develop fully. Besides that, if you’re diligent with their potty training, in about 3 to 4 months, most Border Collies will be fully potty trained.


2. Never Use Negative Reinforcement Tactics

border collie pitbull puppy
Image Credit: Pxhere

Nearly every dog trainer recommends using positive reinforcement techniques when potty training a Border Collie. One of the main reasons is that BCs are highly sensitive dogs that don’t respond well to negative reinforcement. Instead of teaching them something, negative reinforcement techniques can cause your Border Collie to become stressed out, depressed, anxious, and confused.

Negative reinforcement includes shock collars, yelling, physically punishing your puppy, or using a squirt bottle filled with water. It’s better to use positive reinforcement techniques like:

  • Praising your pup for going potty in the right spot
  • Petting your BC when they go potty outside
  • Giving your pup a treat when they do good
  • Playing briefly after potty time

3. Be Prepared for Potty Training

Potty training a Border Collie doesn’t just happen; you need to be prepared for the ups and downs that will undoubtedly occur. That way, you’ll be able to handle any situation. To prepare, you should purchase the following products and tools before you bring your Border Collie pup home, including the following:

  • A dog crate that’s not too big or small for your BC pup
  • Puppy pee pads
  • A portable pop-up enclosure for outdoor use
  • Various treats to use as rewards for good potty behavior
  • An enzymatic cleaner for inevitable accidents
  • A good pair of rubber gloves

4. Create a Potty Area in Your Yard

Shollie Dog Breed Info
Image Credit: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

If you’re lucky enough to have your own backyard, you should make a “potty area” while you potty-train your Border Collie. By creating a specific area where your BC can relieve itself, they will quickly learn that this specific area is where they need to go potty. Letting your Border Collie go potty wherever they want can cause some dissociation from what you’re trying to teach them.

That is why you should get a portable pop-up enclosure for your pup. (Tip #3) It’s the best method to keep them pooping and peeing in a particular place on your property.


5. Know the Signs Your Border Collie Needs to Go Potty

All dogs have specific actions or signs they make when they need to relieve themselves, and Border Collies are no exception. Knowing these signs is critical when potty training your BC so you can, bit by bit, train them to hold it until they get outside. Those signs include the following:

  • Sniffing around the floor
  • Scooting around in small circles
  • Barking or whining
  • Scratching or pawing at the door

One other sign your Border Collie may need to go potty is cocking its leg. However, this sign doesn’t usually happen until they reach about 6 months of age. Your BC should be close to, or fully, potty-trained by this time.


6. Clean Up Your Dog’s Accidents Thoroughly With an Enzymatic Cleaner

sprayed home spray on couch
Image Credit: y_seki, Shutterstock

Border Collies, like all dogs, have an incredible sense of smell. Using this keen sense, they identify you, other dogs, and the places where they’ve gone potty. In other words, if the smell of their feces and urine remains, your Border Collie will continually go back to the same spot.

That’s why you must use an enzymatic cleaner that eliminates the ammonia, urea, and other chemicals in your pup’s waste. If you don’t, they’ll “accidentally” go there repeatedly. Using an ammonia-based cleaner is not recommended because it smells similar to your pup’s urine.

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7. Use the Back & Forth Potty-Training Method

We mentioned earlier that dogs, including BCs, will move in a circling motion when they need to go potty. To help them understand where they should go, the back-and-forth method works well. It’s a simple method that involves taking your pup to its designated potty area on a leash. Once there, lead them back and forth quickly, about 2 to 4 feet. This mimics the circling action Border Collies make before eliminating and will create a connection with the area to potty time.


8. Use Treats Only for Potty Training

border collie having treat
Image Credit; Annorak Nk, Shutterstock

Border Collies are among the smartest dog breeds and quickly learn new commands. One of the best methods of teaching them something new is by giving them a small treat when they do things correctly. The same method can be used for potty training, and many BC owners say it works like a charm.

However, don’t give your Border Collie treats for anything else during potty training. This can confuse them about what you want and why they’re getting a treat, which isn’t helpful. Once your BC is fully potty trained, you can start using treats as a reward for other good behavior or successful new tricks.


9. Use a Key Phrase at Potty Time

Dogs are auditory learners, which means they learn things by hearing them. If they hear a specific word or phrase enough times, coupled with an action, the BC will learn a new trick or action more quickly. That’s why Border Collie trainers recommend using a key phrase every time you take your BC outside to relieve itself.

A simple phrase like “go potty” works well, although you can use anything you like. One caveat is to use a combination of words that likely won’t be used in any other context. For example, “let’s go” could be used for an entirely different reason under the right circumstances.


10. Buy a Crate That’s Just Big Enough for Your Border Collie

black and white border collie inside a crate outdoors
Image Credit: Lisjatina, ShutterstockImage Credit: Lisjatina, Shutterstock

One interesting fact about dogs is that they won’t go potty where they sleep. That’s why many people use a crate with their Border Collie puppy, knowing they won’t have an accident once crated. The problem is when you get a crate that’s too big. If you do, your BC can relieve itself on one side and sleep on the other, which is not a good situation.

That’s why you should get a crate that gives your pup enough room to move around but not much more. If for whatever reason, the crate you have is too big for your Border Collie, you can fill it with blankets and toys to make it “smaller.” Also, experts recommend never putting a pee pad in your Border Collie’s crate. That is just asking for problems and teaching your BC a very bad lesson.


11. Consistency Is the Key to Potty Training

Border Collie puppies, like all pups, need consistency in their potty training. They need to see, hear, and experience the same thing task and over so that they connect them all with potty time and start following your lead. To help them do that, take your BC to go potty every time you or your pup do any of the following:

  • Eat a meal
  • Before going to bed
  • Right after waking up
  • After exercise and playtime
  • After your BC gets excited

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Signs Your Border Collie is Thoroughly Potty Trained

It can take up to 4 months to fully potty train a Border Collie, and sometimes longer. Below are a few signs to help you know that you’ve done a great job and that your new BC buddy is ready to be left alone in your home.

  1. Your Border Collie goes to the door and barks or whines during potty time.
  2. Your BC hasn’t had an accident inside for at least a month
  3. When you let them out, your Border Collie goes directly to its potty area in your yard
  4. When let out of their crate, your BC “asks” to be taken outside. They do this with low-key barking, whining, and moving toward the door or leash

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Final Thoughts

Potty training a Border Collie is, thankfully, not a difficult task. It takes time, diligence, patience, and the right tools (including positive reinforcement training). The good news is that Border Collies are incredibly smart, and many can be potty trained in under 4 months. That’s especially true if you’re consistent, use the tips we’ve shared, and are a diligent dog parent!

Once they’re potty trained, you’ll find the typical Border Collie will be a dream dog and a wonderful family pet and companion. If you’ve just adopted a beautiful Border Collie, we wish you the very best with their potty training and a life filled with fun, love, and happy times.


Featured Image Credit: Loic Polet, Pixabay

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