How Much Exercise Does A Border Collie Need?

If you intend to own a Border Collie, you’re probably wondering exactly how much exercise a Border Collie needs. Is a short walk each day enough? Two? What about puppies? How many hours does this exercise translate to?

And so on…

The “how much exercise does a Border Collie need” question, is one of the most frequently asked by new owners, and soon-to-be owners of Collies. In this post, we’ll be going over a general idea of what you can expect when it comes to your Collie and its daily exercise routines.

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How Much Exercise Does A Border Collie Need?

Generally speaking, a healthy adult Border Collie, will need at least one to two hours of intense physical exercise per day as the bare minimum. This includes running, walking, hiking, playing frisbee and anything that involves actively moving. In addition to this, a Border Collie will need an hour or so of mental stimulation per day, in the form of puzzles, games, and learning tricks. 

As you may already know, Border Collies were originally bred to be working dogs, to herd sheep in the borders of Scotland, and to travel great distances on varying terrain without skipping a beat.

For that reason, they have a huge reservoir of stamina built into them, and having them do anything less than what they’re capable of, would mean having not taking advantage of their full potential.

That’s why, by design and almost by necessity, your Border Collie will need a bare minimum of at least an hour of physical exercise per day.

In addition to this, since the Border Collie is considered to be the smartest dog in the world, they’ll also be needing a daily dose of mental stimulation. Around one hour per day, should be good enough.

How Much Exercise Does A Border Collie Puppy Need?

Just like is the case with adult Border Collies, puppies also have great amounts of energy. The difference here is that even if you might be tempted to have your Collie pup do as much activity as possible, it’s not always the best option because of their age.

In terms of physical activity, the typical puppy that is still developing should do around five minutes for every month of their age, once or twice a day (not including mental stimulation like playing with toys, trick training or light play with other dogs).

This is to protect the puppy from joint damage or other harm in the early stages of life while the bones are still growing. Overwalking or overworking a Border Collie puppy is thus, not the best plan until they’re adults.

With that five 5 minute plan in mind, an exercise routine for your Border Collie puppy could look something like:

  • 2-month-old Border Collie puppies should do no more than 10 minutes, twice per day.
  • 5-month-old Border Collie puppies could exercise for up to 25 minutes twice daily.
  • 6-month-old Border Collie puppies can do up to 30 minutes (possibly more), twice per day.

And so on, until around the first year of age, after which the puppy is considered an adult.

Of course, there is some individual variety involved here too. Some puppies won’t be able to handle much physical activity, while others might recover fast and will be ready for more fun. It’s definitely a balancing act and depends on the individual dog.

Also, working dogs like the Border Collie, benefit greatly from puzzle games and games that require them to use their amazing intellect. So being able to have them practice from a very early age, for as long as they want (since it’s not physically taxing) is a huge plus.

Why Is Physical And Mental Exercise So Important For Border Collies?

As we mentioned briefly before, Border Collies are the most intelligent breed of dog that there is. Not only are they incredibly intelligent, but they’ve also been bred specifically to be very active and to withstand a lot of labor for prolonged periods of time.

This means that your dog will need to be working on one, the other, or both of these at pretty much any given moment in time, for a sustained happy and healthy life. 

Border Collies aren’t just “any” kind of dog. They’ve been built specifically as working dogs, and if your Border Collie doesn’t get enough physical exercise and is under-exercised, there can be some pretty serious repercussions, including:

  • Destructive behavior
  • Uneasiness
  • Moody temperament
  • Stress
  • Lashing out at other animals
  • Herding or chasing other animals or pets 

After all, all of this inherent energy that’s built into Collies, need to be channeled out somehow. By the same token, if your Border Collie doesn’t get enough mental stimulation, you may find that it sometimes:

  • Doesn’t respond to your commands
  • Doesn’t integrate new commands
  • Isn’t very sociable
  • Might misbehave
  • Lose interest or lack energy when in new situations.

That’s why both physical and mental training are two sides of the same coin, and both should be considered when it comes to having a happy and healthy pup.

Definitely not your average couch potato.

What Types Of Exercises Are Best For Border Collies?

There are many different types of exercises, that are great options for Border Collies. Let’s look at a few of the more popular ones.

Physical Exercises

Walking – Hiking

Walking and hiking are the classic, timeless, physical exercises of choice for most Border Collies and owners.

A lot of owners that live in the cities, don’t usually have much time for more engaging and physically challenging activities, so walking is a great bet, that Border Collies will most definitely not say “no” to.

If you’re going to go walking or hiking with your Border Collie, make sure that your dog is trained to go off-leash and can come back at your command, we’ve made a separate article on the importance of off-leash training here.


Running is another excellent, very intense workout option you can do with your Border Collie, and a great way to spend time together.

In the case of running, you want to make sure your pup is at least a year or so old, and that it has already had some off-leash training.

Remember to “walk before you run”, in other words, start off with a light trot and gradually increase intensity and time from thereon out so that your pup can get accustomed to it. 

Playing Catch – Playing Frisbee

Playing catch, playing ball or catching a frisbee is one of the Border Collie’s favorite pastimes and an absolute must-have in any owner’s arsenal of physical activity options.

In this case, your Border Collie must have a flawless or near-perfect recall, since it’ll most likely be off-leash (unless you’re working with a very long leash).

This activity is more suitable for adult Border Collies, but you can practice with Collie puppies in their first couple of months, in a living room, or in a small backyard under a more controlled environment.

Just like with any other physical activity, you want to slowly build endurance and increase the intensity with time so that your dog gets used to the process.


Swimming is another great, very high intensity activity that you can have your Border Collie do, although it’s definitely for the more adventurous and restless individuals.

It’s a great way to increase stamina and endurance as well as maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and use up a lot of that excess energy. A full body workout, without a doubt.

When taking your pup for a swim, a lifejacket is always recommended and it’s also recommended that you make sure the water is secure to swim in. Pools and beaches are great options, whereas lakes and rivers are usually not a good idea. 

Mental Exercises

When it comes to mental exercises for your Border Collies, some of the most common ones are: 

Obedience Training

Obedience training, also called “trick training”, is an amazing way to make use of your Collie’s incredible brain power. 

With obedience training, you can teach your pup jaw-dropping tricks and techniques like how to jump, sit, stand, paw shake, bow, crawl, leg weave, backup and a bunch of others (seriously there’s a lot).

Trick training is the go-to option for Border Collie owners, when it comes to getting some mental gymnastic reps in. The good news is that Border Collies are the best of the best when it comes to the speed at which they learn new tricks, so fun is almost guaranteed.


Puzzles are another great option to really put pressure on your dog’s mental capacities.

These puzzles usually come in the form of toys that are specifically made to combine a novelty and problem-solving aspect, with a reward aspect, to make the activity highly engaging.

It’s an awesome, fun and healthy way for puppies and adults to stay mentally sharp. Some of these puzzles include snuffle mats, waffle puzzle toys and the classic Kong toy

Nose Work

Nose work makes use of a dog’s exceptional capacity to detect and locate the source of specific scents, virtually anywhere you hide them.

Nose work is known to be extremely taxing on the dog, as it takes a lot of energy to learn and do since it makes them rely much more on their smell sense.

With that said, it’s a great option if you want your pup to learn a new skill, without needing the requirements that most other physical activities do. 


Socializing is an absolutely crucial type of exercise that your dog needs to have exposure to. It can be a physical exercise, but is usually done in closed environments like dog parks or daycare.

Socializing with other dogs, early on, will allow your dog to create bonds and not be left behind or excluded from groups and become a loner.

It’ll allow your dog to know the ins and outs of being a member of a pack, what the norms are like, what the boundaries and so on.

Missing early socialization can be very detrimental to the dog, so it’s important to have them socialize early and often.


When it comes to the question “how much exercise does my Border Collie need”, the standard answer is, for adult dogs, around one to two hours per day of physical exercise, in addition to at least one hour of mental exercise in the form of puzzles, trick training or even nosework training.

In the case of puppies, you’d want to keep it to around 5 minutes of physical exercise per month of age, in addition to basically as much mental stimulation as you think is appropriate for the pup.

With that said, your Border Collie will be as active or as inactive as you want it to be. Since every dog and owner is different, there is ultimately no perfect answer to exactly what amount of exercise is best. You’ll have to come up with what best fits both of you, “on the run” (no pun intended).

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