Games for Border Collies: Keeping Your Pup Active and Engaged

Border Collies are known for their high energy level and intelligence, which make them great pets for active families or individuals who enjoy spending time outdoors and want a loyal and trustworthy companion.

Border Collies require quite a lot of taking care of, and when it comes to keeping these dogs both mentally, and physically stimulated playing games is one of the top go-to options.

Many games can provide needed stimulation for Border Collies, such as hide and seek, puzzle toys, and scent work. These games can help keep your dog’s mind engaged and prevent boredom, while at the same time, also allowing you to strengthen your bond with your dog. In this article we’ll be looking at some of the top games for Border Collies that there are.

Remember that, when choosing games to play with your Border Collie, it’s important to consider their individual personality and energy level.

Some dogs may prefer more active games like fetch or frisbee, while others may enjoy more mentally challenging games like puzzle toys.

Games for Border Collies

Understanding Border Collies

Border Collies are a breed of working dogs, originally bred for their herding instincts to work in farms with farm animals like cattle, sheep and goats.

They are known for their exceptional intelligence and high energy levels, which at the same time makes them and great pets for active families.

Because of all of this, they inherently have huge stamina and will actively look for jobs it can do, which is why and they need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy and have their needs in check.

One of the most distinctive traits, as mentioned before, is their herding instinct.

This is a natural behavior that has been bred into them, and that manifests through their trademark stare, and their ability to control the movement of livestock.

This instinct can bleed out, and manifest in other ways such as chasing cars, bicycles, herding kids, and other animals if not properly directed into something worthwhile. 

Border Collies are also highly skilled at following commands, which make them great options for activities like: Fetch, scent work, agility competition, frisbee, swimming and even as service dogs, to some extent.

For these reasons, providing them with plenty of opportunities to exercise their minds and bodies is essential for their well-being, without which they can become bored and destructive.

The Importance of Games for Border Collies

As we’ve gone over in the previous section, Border Collies need tons of physical and mental exercise to stay happy and healthy, and games are an essential part of their routine.

Playing games with your Border Collie not only helps to keep them physically fit but also provides an opportunity for mental stimulation, which is just as important as physical exercise for these dogs.

Games can also provide a great way to bond with your Border Collie.

These dogs are extremely loyal towards their owners, and make connections very easily because of their high intelligence, and so games are an excellent way to build a strong relationship with them.

Games can also provide sensory, social, and feeding enrichment.

  • Sensory enrichment can be achieved through games that involve different textures, smells, and sounds.
  • Social enrichment can be achieved through games that involve interaction with other dogs or people.
  • Feeding enrichment can be achieved through games that involve puzzle feeders or food-dispensing toys.

Overall, games are an essential part of a Border Collie’s daily routine. They provide a fun and engaging way to keep them mentally and physically stimulated, prevent boredom and destructive behavior, and strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.

Let’s now look at some of the most common and best games for Border Collies.

Outdoor Games for Border Collies

Border Collies excel at outdoor, physical activities. After all, they’ve been bred to work in farms, running through huge open fields to guide sheep and cattle to a specific destination.

For that reason, engaging your Border Collie in outdoor games is probably the best option to keep them happy and healthy.

Here are some of the best outdoor games for your Border Collie:

Fetch and Frisbee

Border Collies love to play fetch and frisbee.

These games are great for exercising your dog’s natural instincts of chasing and retrieving.

You can use a ball or a frisbee to play fetch with your Border Collie but do make sure to choose a durable toy that’s not too heavy.

In the case of fetch, you can have a preassigned “fetch toy”. This could be a toy that your dog associates specifically to playing fetch, which will make the process a lot more fun for both of you.

Herding Games

Herding games are perfect for Border Collies as they are bred to herd livestock.

One popular herding game for Border Collies is “Fetch the Flock,” which mimics their instinct to gather and control a group of animals.

In this game, you can scatter a group of toys or balls around a designated area and encourage your Border Collie to bring them back to you.

“Obstacle Herding” is another engaging game where you can set up a mini obstacle course with cones or hurdles for your Border Collie to navigate while maintaining control and agility.

Agility Training

Agility training is a great way to keep your Border Collie fit and active.

It involves guiding your Border Collie through a series of obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and A-frames, all while responding to your cues and commands.

This game involves jumping, running, and weaving through obstacles, which helps to improve your dog’s fitness and coordination as is a game that Border Collies are extremely good at.

Agility training should be introduced gradually and with patience. Start with basic obstacles and gradually increase the difficulty level as your Border Collie becomes more comfortable and skilled.

Water Games

Border Collies are often naturals in the water, and engaging them in water sports offers a unique opportunity for both physical exercise and mental stimulation that’s also a great way to cool them down on hot days.

When it comes to water games, you can choose between:

  • Swimming: Swimming is the go to option for most Border Collies, given their affinity for water. Whether in a pool, lake, or the ocean, swimming provides an excellent full-body workout that engages their muscles and cardiovascular system. It’s also low-impact, which makes it suitable for dogs of all ages and fitness levels.
  • Dock diving: Dock diving involves leaping off a dock into a body of water in pursuit of a toy. It’s a fun activity that provides an adrenaline rush for both the dog and the owner and is relatively safe to do.
  • Kayaking: Kayaking is a water sport that combines adventure and companionship. They don’t get to do much of the work, but a lot of them do enjoy sitting on the front of a kayak while you navigate. This shared experience enhances the bond between you and your dog and exposes them to new environments.
  • Water retrieving games: “Water fetching” is also an ideal way to engage your Border Collie’s intelligence and swimming skills. Throwing toys or sticks into the water for them to fetch not only builds their swimming confidence but also taps into their natural instincts to retrieve and gather objects.

In any case, since water is involved, you want to make sure to supervise your dog when they are in the water and use a life jacket if necessary.

Hiking and Walking

Border Collies love to explore and go on adventures, so hiking trails not only offer physical exercise but also mental stimulation as your dog encounters new scents, sights, and sounds.

You can add different activities onto hiking, like stick fetching or swimming, to make it more daunting and entertaining.

Hiking also fosters a strong bond between you and your Border Collie, creating shared memories and enhancing your connection.

As for walking, it’s probably the number 1 most common and recommended source of outdoor activities for Border Collies. 

While not necessarily a “game”, so to speak, you can definitely take this opportunity in which they’re stretching their legs and burning off energy, to add on basic commands training like sit, stay, and come.


Flyball is a fast-paced relay race that involves teams of dogs racing over hurdles, triggering a spring-loaded box to release a tennis ball, which the dog then retrieves and brings back to their handler.

This game engages your Border Collie’s natural agility, speed, and love for fetching, creating a thrilling and competitive environment.

Because it’s a team-based sport, not only does it challenge your dog’s problem-solving abilities as they learn to master the technique of triggering the ball release, but it also fosters camaraderie among team members at the same time.

This game is perfect for Border Collies as it combines their natural instincts of chasing and retrieving with agility training.

Of course, there are many more outdoor activities that you can do with your Border Collie, but these are some of the top games for Border Collies that we’ve been able to find, specifically for outdoors.

Next, let’s look into some of the better indoor games for Border Collies.

Indoor Games for Border Collies

Even though Border Collies will bring their A game, in pretty much any activity or sport that can be done outside, bad weather, a sprained ankle and a myriad of other circumstances can make it a better idea to go for inside games.

Luckily, there are many of these that can provide the necessary exercise and mental stimulation for your Border Collie.

Some of these are:

Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys are a great way to keep your Border Collie entertained and mentally stimulated.

Even though they won’t be making your Border Collie lose a ton of calories, per se, they can still mentally tax your dog a lot, especially if done over the course of multiple hours.

Generally speaking, these toys will typically require your dog to figure out how to get a treat out of a puzzle or maze.

Some popular puzzle toys for Border Collies include:

Hide and Seek

This game offers a fantastic way to keep your dog entertained and mentally active, especially on days when outdoor activities might be limited due to weather or other circumstances.

Start by hiding treats or their favorite toys in various spots around your home. Begin with simple hiding places and gradually increase the difficulty as your dog becomes more experienced.

Encourage your Collie to use their nose to locate the hidden items, and offer praise and rewards when they successfully discover them.

You can also hide yourself and encourage your dog to find you, which adds an interactive and bonding element to the game. Plus, it’s super fun to do!

Trick Training

Trick training is a great way to mentally stimulate your Border Collie while also improving their obedience and agility.

Basic obedience training is a must for dogs, so why not add fun trick training in the mix while you’re at it?  

Some fun tricks to teach your dog include:

  • Roll over.
  • Shake.
  • High five.
  • Spin.
  • Play dead.
Games for Border Collies 2

Nose Work Games

Nose games encompass a wide range of activities that tap into your Border Collie’s exceptional sense of smell and innate curiosity.

Some of these games include:

  • Scent Training: Scent training is an exercise through which you teach your dog to recognize specific scents and allow them to follow their noses to locate hidden objects or treats.
  • Hide and Seek with Scents: Hide and seek games with scents involve hiding a scented item, such as a treat or a toy, and encouraging your Border Collie to locate it. The thrill of the search and the reward of finding the scent-driven treasure are highly stimulating and emotionally satisfying for your dog.
  • Snuffle Mats and Food Puzzles: Snuffle mats are designed with fabric strips that conceal treats or kibble, encouraging your dog to use their nose to search and uncover the hidden rewards. These can provide a mentally engaging activity that mimics the challenges of foraging in the wild.

As with any training or activity, always adapt the level of difficulty to match your dog’s skill level and gradually introduce new challenges as they progress. 

Clean Up Game

The clean-up game is a fun way to teach your Border Collie to help with household chores.

Start by teaching your dog to retrieve specific objects, such as toys or socks, and place them in a designated area.

Over time, you can increase the difficulty by adding more objects or teaching your dog to differentiate between different types of objects, such as toys and shoes.

Overall, indoor games are a great way to keep your Border Collie entertained and mentally stimulated, even when outdoor activities are not possible, and there are tons to choose from.

Involving Family in Border Collies’ Games

While playing games with your Collie can be a great bonding experience, it can also be a family activity that involves everyone.

Here are some ideas for games that can involve family members:

  • Fetch: This classic game is a favorite of Border Collies. It’s a great way to get your dog running and burning off energy. You can involve family members by taking turns throwing the ball or frisbee for your Collie to retrieve.

  • Tug-of-War: This game is a great way to build strength and bond with your Collie. It’s important to establish rules and boundaries for this game to ensure that it remains safe and fun for everyone involved.

  • Agility Training: Agility training is a fun and challenging activity that can involve the whole family. You can set up an agility course in your garden or backyard and take turns guiding your Collie through the course.

  • Hide and Seek: This game can be played with treats or toys. One family member can hide the treat or toy while another family member holds the Collie. Then, release the Collie and let them find the hidden item. This game can be played both indoors and outdoors.

  • Brain Games: Border Collies are intelligent dogs that enjoy solving puzzles and using their brains. You can involve family members by setting up puzzle games or hiding treats in a puzzle toy for your Collie to find.

Playing games with your Collie can be a fun and rewarding experience for the whole family.

It’s important to remember to establish rules and boundaries for each game to ensure that it remains safe and enjoyable for everyone involved.


In conclusion, Border Collies are highly intelligent and active dogs that require mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy at all times.

Some of the best ways to provide your Border Collies with steady mental and physical stimulation, are games of all sorts.

From outdoor games to indoor games, scent games and water sports. There’s a game out there for everyone.

With that said, some of the more popular games for Border Collies include:

  • Playing fetch.
  • Running, hiking and walking. 
  • Hide and seek.
  • Water sports.
  • Puzzle games and scent training.
  • Flyball.
  • Agility training and trick training.

It’s important to remember that every Border Collie is unique and may have different preferences when it comes to games and activities…

so pay attention to your dog’s body language and behavior to determine what games they enjoy and what may be too overwhelming for them.

Overall, incorporating games and activities into your Border Collie’s daily routine can improve their physical health, mental well-being, and strengthen your bond with them.

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