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Can Border Collies Be Left Home Alone? (Essential Tips)

As responsible dog owners, we have to consider our furry friends whenever we leave the house.

In the case of border collies, how long is too long? and how well do they handle being alone? This article answers everything on this important topic.


Can Border Collies Be Left Alone?

Border collies can be left alone for short periods only. Most collies do not handle being left alone well and will become bored, frustrated, and anxious after just a few hours.

Of course, there are many times when we have no choice but to leave our dogs at home while we go out somewhere. So yes, technically speaking, your collie can be left home alone. But just not all the time…

Although it’s perfectly fine to leave your collie home alone for a couple of hours here and there, Border collies, in general, do not tolerate being left alone very well.

They are an extremely social breed that craves having our company at pretty much all times.

This personality trait is commonly seen in dogs that have a long history of working and living in packs. It’s natural for collies to build a strong bond with whoever they consider being their leader.

How Long Can Border Collies Be Left Alone?

The answer is that it depends entirely on your collie. Some collies may tolerate up to 3 or 4 hours, and others may panic after 30 minutes.

  • No answer fits all. Your collie will have her own limits.

You can start gauging roughly how long your collie can tolerate, but it’s not an exact science. I will cover that shortly. For now, let’s take a look at what could happen if your collie spends too much time alone.

Many ask: Is it okay to leave a border collie alone for 6-8 hours?

The simple answer is no. Border collies shouldn’t be left completely alone for 6-8 hours on a daily basis. The odd time is likely going to be okay, but doing this often will have a negative impact

Negative Effects When Collies Are Left Alone Too Often

If your current daily routine involves leaving your collie alone for many hours on end, it’s a good time to enlist help or change your schedule, let me explain why.

I mentioned earlier that collies can develop isolation distress and separation anxiety easily, and both are serious conditions.

Isolation distress

This is when a dog becomes anxious and stressed when no other dogs or humans are around. This is less serious than separation anxiety but it will still negatively impact your collie’s behavior and overall life.

Separation anxiety

This is when a dog becomes attached to one person and cannot go a moment without them. This issue is much worse and harder to deal with than isolation distress.

Separation anxiety can really progress into something terrible and it’s very hard to overcome. Prevention is definitely better than cure, in this case.

Either condition is bad and both can happen due to being left alone. There is no set way to know when either condition may develop, but if your collie frequently gets left alone, it could happen at any time.

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Signs You’ve Been Gone Too Long

Other than indoor CCTV there’s no real way to see at what moment your collie has had enough of being alone.

All you can do is take note of the state of your home and your collie’s body language when you come home after having been out different lengths of time. This may take you a week or so but it’s worth doing.

If you’re going to spend 1 hour at the supermarket, use that trip as your 1-hour test. If you’re going out shopping for 2 hours, use that as your 2-hour test. When you come home, take note of what’s happened.

Signs that you’ve been gone too long:

There’s evidence of destructive behavior, chewing items other than toys, or ripping anything up
There’s urine on the floor, even though your collie was let out before you left
Excessive whimpering and even cowering when you come home
Scratches on doors or around windows

Sometimes it may be easier to look for signs of comfort rather than discomfort…

When you enter the house, how does your collie look and act? does she slowly get up, yawn, stretch, wag her tail and come to you? If so, that seems like your collie was absolutely fine.

An example of discomfort would be seeing your collie overly anxious, jittery, whimpering, cowering, uncontrollably excitable, urination (and of course destructive behavior).

But here’s one thing to remember, no matter how well your collie tolerates being left alone, she’ll never actually want to be alone. Nothing beats having company.

This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag: 

What To Do When You Work Long Hours

This is fundamental to the main question. What can you do with your Border collie when you go to work? Maybe your entire household works, leaving no one at home.

Flexible work hours

The first approach is to get flexible work hours, this depends on the type of work you have and maybe you already know it’s not possible.

But that’s where to start. Who knows, you may be able to agree with your boss that can take your lunch break at home, that’s already a great help. And will break up the day for your collie.

Ask friends and family

The next best thing is to ask friends and family members to visit your home to make sure your collie is ok, play with her, take her out in the yard, or even go for a walk.

Having one person commit to this every day is a lot to ask, but if you have multiple people willing to help, it may be more achievable than first thought.

Hire a dog sitter/walker

The last resort is to hire a dog sitter or dog walker to be with your collie throughout the day.

I know, the immediate thought of that is scary and you’re already thinking “no way”. But before ruling it out, think about how your collie would feel about that.

Collies are super social and she’ll likely LOVE it. A simple Google search “dog sitter near me” will show you many legitimate businesses in your local area, all with reviews. It’s a well-known service, for such a common problem!

What About Going On Vacation?

If you’re planning on going away for a couple of weeks and you can’t bring your collie, it’s best that she lives at a friend or family member’s house, OR you have a family member or friend live at yours.

I know that sounds far-fetched, but I know people who have done it before, in fact, I have!

I would always avoid using a kennel. This experience can be severely traumatic for a dog that’s used to living at home.

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6 Ways To Keep Your Collie Happy Home Alone

Aside from the methods explained in the previous section, here are 6 more tips that should all contribute to a happier collie, when you’re not around. Let’s check them out.

1. Unwashed t-shirt as a comforter

Sense of smell is very powerful for all dogs and having your scent close by will quite literally trick her into thinking you are there. But if your collie chews everything to bits, this may not be appropriate until she’s trained.

2. Create a dedicated space

If your collie likes her crate, then encourage her to go inside it before you leave. Crates are great at helping dogs feel secure, but dogs shouldn’t be kept inside them for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time.

Consider leaving the door open and giving her the option to go in and out. Aside from using a crate, keep her in the room she feels most comfortable in, provide her with blankets, and ensure she has water. (hard floors are better to clean up accidents)

3. Background noise

Having some general noise in the background can help drown out any outside noises that may spook her.

Using a recording of your own voice set on repeat is actually an effective method of curing separation anxiety. If you’re able to set this up, that will be amazing for your collie. If not, the TV or radio is another good option.

4. Provide interactive toys

Interactive (puzzle) toys are great for keeping intelligent dogs amused. You can have puzzle toys that act as slow feeders, or you can stuff a Star Mark with treats and tighten the hatch to increase the difficulty. You will be surprised how long this can keep a dog entertained.

5. Exercise before you leave

Collies have so much energy and they MUST be exercised every day. If you need to leave the house for a few hours, try your best to fit in some high-intensity exercise beforehand to consume some of her energy.

Even 20 minutes of fast-paced ball chasing is better than nothing. Being tired will help to keep her calm.

6. Two-way pet camera with audio

If you want to splash out on a two-way pet camera, you probably won’t regret it. The idea of this is to have the camera mounted in a safe position in your home and then from your smartphone (while at work) you can tune in to the camera and even speak to your collie. It’s basically like skyping your dog! You check these kinds of cameras out here on Amazon.


So there you have it, you now know that collies shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time.

Each collie will be different and will be able to tolerate different lengths of time. In the end, nothing will beat having human company.

Thank you for reading! View all Border Collie articles >>

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Helpful resources:
RSPCA Leaving Dogs at Home Info
Dogs Trust Leaving Your Dog at Home


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.