Border Collie Obsessions. The Top Obsessions Explained!

Border Collies are highly trainable, super intelligent dogs, that can excel in various activities such as herding, agility, and obedience competitions.

With that said, some Border Collies might develop obsessive behaviors, which can be challenging for their owners to manage.

One of the most common obsessions among Border Collies is with balls.

Many owners report that their dogs are fixated on chasing and retrieving balls to the point of exhaustion.

Another obsession is with cats, which can be problematic in households with feline companions.

Other Collies may also become fixated on shadows and lights, which can be distressing for both the dog and the owner.

At the end of the day, no matter what obsession Collies are involved in, it’s important to recognize the signs of possible negative obsessive behaviors in Border Collies and manage the issue effectively. 

Understanding the triggers that cause the obsession and providing alternative activities can help redirect the dog’s focus.

In this article on Border Collie obsessions, we’ll explore some of the more common types of Border Collie obsessions and provide tips for owners to manage them.

Border Collie Obsessions

Understanding Border Collie Obsessions

Border Collies are known for their high energy, and intense focus, which can sometimes lead to obsessive behaviors.

Understanding these obsessions is important for Border Collie owners to ensure their dogs are happy, healthy, and don’t fall into depression.

Ball Obsession

One of the most common obsessions in Border Collies is with balls.

Of course, this is the most common obsession out of any dog breed in the world.

This can manifest as a constant desire to play fetch or an inability to focus on anything else when a ball is present, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

On the one hand, obsessions with balls can be completely harmless, and on the other, it can lead to compulsive behavior and anxiety in some dogs.

To manage ball obsession, you’ll simply want to:

  • Set boundaries and limit playtime. Use a timer to keep play sessions short and gradually increase the time as your dog learns to control their impulses.
  • Removing the trigger. Simply put, take away the ball as an option, and leave it on the sidelines for when you want to reward your dog when you’re obedience training.
  • Changing the ball for a different toy, like a puzzle toys can help redirect their focus and mitigates any obsessive behavior.

Cat Obsession

Border Collies have a strong herding instinct, which can sometimes translate into a cat obsession.

Even though, generally speaking Border Collies are good with cats, every animal is different, and this can be dangerous for both the cat and the dog, as the dog may attempt to herd or chase the cat.

To manage cat obsession, it’s important to supervise interactions between the two animals and provide positive reinforcement for calm behavior around the cat.

Managing a dog’s cat obsession requires a combination of understanding their natural instincts, consistent training, and providing a stimulating environment, so it’s definitely something that takes some time to get good at.

Fetch Obsession

While playing fetch is a great way to exercise a Border Collie, some dogs can become obsessed with the game to the point of compulsive behavior.

This can lead to anxiety and other negative behaviors, although it will generally speaking never get to that.

With that said, to manage the fetching obsession, it’s important to set boundaries and limit playtime.

Use a timer to keep play sessions short and gradually increase the time as your dog learns to control their impulses. 

Shadow Obsession

Often, shadows moving on walls or floors can stimulate a dog’s prey drive, resulting in fixation.

To deal with this type of obsessions, you’ll want to reduce exposure to strong light sources or create a well-lit environment to minimize the occurrence of shadows.

Redirect your dog’s attention with interactive toys, engaging games, or puzzle feeders to keep their mind occupied and engage your dog in regular physical exercise to burn off excess energy and reduce obsessive tendencies.

Also, you can consider obedience training to reinforce commands like “leave it” to redirect their focus away from shadows.

This obsession is a bit more tricky to deal with, since the trigger is a lot harder to get rid of, so consulting a professional dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist may be a good idea to address the issue better.

Causes of Obsessions

Border collies and other dogs, just like humans, can get obsessed with things. While the exact causes of these obsessions are not fully understood, several factors may contribute to their development.

Some of these include:

  • High anxiety levels: Dogs with anxiety may develop repetitive behaviors as a way to cope with stress and uncertainty.
  • Stress: Stress can also exacerbate existing obsessive behaviors, making them more intense and difficult to control.
  • Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD): CCD is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that affects dogs and it’s characterized by repetitive, ritualistic behaviors that are difficult for the dog to control. These behaviors can include tail chasing, excessive licking, and fixation on objects.
  • Illness and medical conditions: Dogs with illnesses such as hypothyroidism may experience increased anxiety and compulsive behaviors.

Overall, the causes of obsessive behaviors in border collies are complex and multifaceted. While anxiety, CCD, and illness may contribute to the development of these behaviors, it’s always important to work with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Recognizing Obsessive Behaviors

Recognizing some obsessive behaviors early on, is important to prevent them from becoming long-term habits that can be harmful to your dog’s well-being.

Signs of Obsessive Behavior

Some common signs of obsessive behavior in Border Collies include:

  • Constantly barking at a specific object or shadow.
  • Repeatedly performing a specific action, such as fetching a ball, chasing or excessive herding.
  • Becoming fixated on a particular object or activity to the exclusion of other activities.
  • Showing signs of anxiety or stress when prevented from engaging in the obsessive behavior.

Keep in mind that behaviors such as herding, staring, chasing and barking are completely natural in dogs.

It’s only if these behaviors persist way longer than they should, or directly affect the life of the dog, that you should begin to worry.

Managing Obsessions

Managing obsessive behavior in Border Collies requires a combination of training, tons of exercise, and environmental management.

In this section, we’ll be looking at some common ways you can help manage some of the Border Collie obsessions.

These include:

Establishing a Routine

Creating a routine for your dog can help manage their obsessions.

Set aside specific times for play and exercise, including fetch time. This will teach your dog that fetch time is a guaranteed part of their day, but one with a time limit.

It will also help them understand that there is a time for play and a time for rest.

Providing Adequate Exercise

As mentioned before, Border Collies are high-energy dogs and require plenty of exercise, so providing your dog with enough exercise can help reduce their stress levels and prevent obsessive behavior.

A tired dog is a happy dog, so make sure your Border Collie gets plenty of exercise every day.

Using Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an effective way to manage your dog’s obsessions.

Reward your dog for good behavior, such as following commands or playing appropriately. Remember to never punish your dog for bad behavior.

Use treats, praise, and playtime as rewards to reinforce positive behavior.

Using a Leash

Using a leash can help manage your dog’s behavior during walks and playtime. 

It’s not going to be an 100% foolproof solution for your dog’s obsessions all of the time, but it’s still better than nothing.

Using a leash, can prevent them from chasing shadows or cats and ensure they stay focused on the task at hand.

A leash can also help you control your dog’s movements and prevent them from getting into dangerous situations.

Providing Enough Space

Giving your dog enough space to play and exercise can help manage their obsessions.

A fenced yard or a dog park can provide a safe space for your dog to run and play. It can also prevent them from obsessing over shadows or cats in the house.

border collie obsessions 3

Training Techniques to Curb Obsessions

When it comes to training techniques for obsessions, one effective technique is to teach the “leave it” command.

This command can be used when the Border Collie is fixated on an object or behavior that is not desired.

  • To teach the command, start by placing a treat in one hand and closing it.
  • Show the closed hand to the dog and say “leave it.”
  • When the dog stops trying to get the treat, reward them with a different treat from the other hand.
  • Repeat this process until the dog responds consistently to the command.

Training games can also be used to curb obsessions. For example, hide-and-seek can be used to distract the dog from their fixation and encourage them to focus on finding the owner instead.

This can be especially effective when the fixation is on shadows or cats, but might be less effective than the “leave it” command.

This is simply because, sometimes the trigger is way too strong for your pup to resist. Your dog won’t turn around and play hide-and-seek with you, if it sees something that’s more interesting.

With that said, it’s still a good technique to know.

It’s important to remember that training takes time and consistency. With patience and dedication, obsessive behaviors can be curbed to create a happier and well-behaved companion.

Professional Help and Advice

If your dog’s obsession with balls, fetch, cats, or shadows is causing disruption to your daily life, seeking professional help and advice, might be the best idea.

A professional can help you understand the root cause of your dog’s obsession and provide you with effective techniques to manage it.

It’s also important to maintain a healthy relationship with your dog while managing their obsessions. 

By working with a mental health professional, you can gain the knowledge and skills that you might not have known you needed, that can come in handy when managing your dog’s obsessions and maintaining a healthy relationship with them.


In conclusion, Border Collies have a natural tendency towards obsessive behaviors due to their herding instincts.

However, excessive obsession can lead to a reduction in their quality of life (if they’re too serious). Therefore, managing and training a Border Collie’s something to take into consideration for their well-being.

Exercise is an essential aspect of managing a Border Collie’s obsession. Regular exercise will help burn off excess energy, which can reduce obsessive behaviors.

Playing fetch or other games that require physical activity can be a great way to provide exercise and mental stimulation for Border Collies.

Training is also crucial in managing Border Collie obsessions. Teaching them obedience commands such as “leave it” or “drop it” can help reduce obsessive behaviors towards objects or animals.

Positive reinforcement training can be used to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior.

If a Border Collie’s obsession is causing significant distress or interfering with their daily life, seeking professional help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist is recommended.

They can provide advice on how to manage the obsession and may suggest medication in severe cases.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *