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Why Is My Border Collie Whining: (6 reasons & what to do)

If your border collie is whining then you’ll want to know what’s causing it and how to stop it.

I’ve had to deal with this over the years and have found the typical causes, as well as the best solutions. Everything you need to know is covered below.

border collie whining

Normal vs Excessive Whining

In simple terms, whining is purely communication. Your border collie is trying to relay a message.

And thankfully, not all whining indicates an issue. I will say though, that whining certainly needs to be paid attention to, because it is a known way dogs tell us something is wrong.

First it’s important to figure out if your collies whining is normal or excessive.

👍 Examples of when whining is considered normal:

  • Your collie is happy to see you after many hours away and is whining with excitement
  • Your collie is whining with anticipation for daily events (feeding, exercise)
  • Your collie is whining to be let outside (potty breaks)
  • Your collie whines to make you aware of something in particular

👎 Examples of when whining indicates an issue:

  • Your collie is whining consistently for no obvious reason
  • Your collie is whining alongside other behavioral issues (destructive behavior)
  • Your collie is whining when you leave the room
  • Your collie is whining consistently at night
  • Your collie also displays signs of anxiety, stress, or discomfort

Identifying whether the whining is a problem or not, really does depend on WHEN it happens, and HOW MUCH it’s happening.

Identifying this will likely give you an instant answer as to whether or not it’s a serious issue or something not to worry about.

Underlying Causes Behind Excessive Whining (& Solutions)

Let’s run through the main reasons why your border collie is whining below.

1. Being left alone too long & often

My border collies hate being left alone, and for sure most other collies feel the same way!

If you’re currently leaving your collie home alone for 4+ hours per day, then this could be the underlying problem.

Being left alone causes extra stress, anxiety (which could lead to separation anxiety), boredom, frustration, loneliness, and even depression.

Unexplained whining throughout the day could be your collie’s way of handling all of this pent up stress and anxiety.

🎯 Is this the problem with your collie?

If your collie gets super nervous when you leave the room or go to leave the house, then this could be it. This shows that their nerves and whining is somehow linked to your presence & absence.

You can also assume there could be a problem if your collie spends all day alone. 4+ hours is already a little too long for most.

👉 So what can be done about this?

If your collie is currently spending most of the day alone then it’s definitely time to try and change this! even though that will probably be difficult.

If a lunch break at home can’t be obtained then the next best thing is to hire a pet sitter, or ask friends and family to check in. Yep, this can be a pain, but leaving a dog alone all day is seriously not good.

What this will help with:

  • Whining related to your precense/absence
  • Whining caused by general stress and anxiety
  • Whining caused by boredom

2. Under stimulation (physical & mental)

I probably sound like a broken record by now with this, but border collies NEED tons of stimulation! Both physical and mental.

Most owners get the physical exercise part down, but many find it hard providing enough mental stimulation. And this is where problems happen.

Without enough physical exercise and activities to test your collie’s mind they will become bored, frustrated, and stressed. It’s a simple as that.

Whining can certainly be the result of a lack of stimulation (plus a whole lot more).

🎯 Is this the problem with your collie?

If you’re providing at least 60-90 minutes of exercise per day then you’ve most likely covered their activity needs. But if you aren’t providing basic command training, puzzle toys, brain games, or socialization then there’s a strong chance this area is lacking.

👉 So what can be done about this?

Provide your collie with at least 30-45 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise FIRST thing in the morning. Then again later in the evening. This balances out their physical exercise and releases pent up energy first thing in the morning.

As for mental stimulation, ensure your collie receives a solid 30 minutes of command training some form of brain training game, or puzzle toy. And the icing on the cake would be socializing with other dogs at the dog park.

What this will help:

  • Whining caused by boredom/frustration
  • Whining caused by general discontentedness
  • Whining caused by low-level anxiety
  • Random whining with no apparent cause

3. Accidental reinforcement of whining

Yep. This one is on us!

This is incredibly easy to do. And I was doing this for a long time with my collies. Biggg mistake.

You see, when your collie whines when you are around, you tend to pay them more attention as a direct response.

We offer them a little affection, maybe even a treat, and suddenly start playing with them. And this usually stops the whining.

While this seems to be a good response, it isn’t. What we’ve just done is told our collies that yes, well done, whining got you extra attention and praise. So do more of that. Big fail, right?

🎯 Is this the problem with your collie?

Be honest with how you’ve been reacting to the whines. Do you immediately comfort your collie and show them attention? And does their whining stop instantly after? If so, you might have reinforced it!

👉 So what can be done about this?

It’s crucial to only reward your collie directly after they display behavior you want. Rewarding means anything from showing attention, to verbal praise and treats.

Make it clear to your collie that whining does not get your approval. In fact, laying quietly and playing with their own toys gets your approval, attention and praise.

Rather quite quickly you collie will make the link between what earns your attention and what doesn’t

What this will help with:

  • Whining caused by attention seeking
  • Whining that has developed into a habit
  • Whining for no apparent reasons

4. Stressful living environments

One thing I learned real quick as a border collie owner, is just how sensitive this breed really is.

Stressful living situations can really impact your collie. But you might be asking what does that count for?

If your collie is surrounded by a lot of noise, either coming from people in the home or outside noise it can keep them on edge and raise their stress levels through the roof.

In addition to noise it can be the general environment. Hectic households that are constantly seeing new people in and out, is also a definite trigger.

Collies need a calm, slow, and stable living environment to keep their stress levels low.

🎯 Is this the problem for your collie?

Consider your collie’s immediate environment. Is it a calm one? Or is it quite a stressful, busy, and hectic one.

👉 So what can be done about this?

Depending on what exactly is the cause here it could be difficult to address. But a few pointers would be to make your collie’s day to day as calm and quiet as possible. This may mean relocating your collie to quieter rooms of the home (without isolating them of course). And it could even mean playing background music or closing the windows to stop outside noise.

While this all might seem overkill. Collies are so darn sensitive, this could actually make the difference!

What this will help with:

  • Whining caused by stress and anxiety
  • Whining caused by fearfulness

5. Lack of daily routines

I didn’t realize how important “routine” is for collies for quite a while. But wow, having a routine can be the difference between a calm and collective collie or one that’s constantly on edge.

Collies thrive when they know exactly what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen.

When they expect to be fed, let outside, have training, go for a walk, they want it to happen and they don’t like it when things get in the way of routine. Or worse, not having a routine to begin with.

Like I said, I didn’t realize this for quite a few years, but once I started ensuring my collies had a routine, it’s like it changed their whole temperament, for the better.

It reduces nerves, and it allows them to calm down when they know nothing is happening soon.

🎯 Is this the problem for your collie?

If you don’t have any kind of structure to your collie’s day, then yes, it could be. While this isn’t the be all and end all, I have personally seen dramatic effects in behavior when I stick to a routine and when I deviate or have no routine.

👉 So what can be done about this?

Try to establish a set routine and time for everything that happens. Of course, things arise and we can’t always follow a routine, but at least try.

Try to stay as close as possible to your collie’s meal times, walk times, play times, training times, down times, and more.

What this will help with:

  • Whining caused by anxiety
  • Whining caused by stress
  • Whining caused by boredom/frustration
  • Whining for no obvious reasons

6. Underlying health issues or chronic pain

In more unfortunate situations, your collie could be whining due to health issues or chronic pain.

It’s known that issues like canine dementia is a common cause of “unexplained” whining. Though this mostly only happens in senior dogs.

If you really have no explanation for the whining, and you witness your collie experiencing a lot of other behavioral changes or physical symptoms then it’s important to seek advice from you vet.

This leads me on to the next point about when to seek help from the vet.

Border Collies Whining at Night

If you have a border collie puppy that’s whining at night then this is for the most part a normal reaction to their new environment and being removed from their mother and siblings… It’s a scary moment for any pup!

Pups usually adjust, and the whining will stop. BUT it’s best not to leave that down to chance.

The best way to avoid nighttime whining is to move their crate next to your bed so they can smell and hear you during the night. This will instantly reassure them while they adjust to their new environment. Slowly transition to crating them in another room when they’re finally settled.

It’s also worth creating a good nighttime routine:

  • No food or drink after 6pm (at least 3 hours before sleeping). This will reduce whining for potty breaks
  • Take them outside to potty at least two or three times before sleeping
  • Give them 20 minutes of calm belly rubs and stroking before putting them in the crate. This will calm them down and satisfy their need for your attention before finally sleeping

Sounds simple, but many of us don’t really do any kind of routine! I know I sure didn’t. But it does help!

When To See a Vet

Ruling out health problems is definitely something that should always be done with behavior like this.

Whining, could indicate chronic pain, or an underlying issue that your collie is trying to tell you about.

So, contact you veterinarian if:

  • Whining is accompanied with other unusual behavior
  • You see additional symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, food refusal or weight changes
  • There is no obvious cause behind the whining
  • The whining has already happened for a while and you can’t stop it
  • You suspect something could be truly wrong with your collie

Ruling out health issues should always be a priority, so in the situations above I recommend at least calling your vet for their opinion.

How Long to See Results?

Stopping your border collie from whining might happen after a few days or several weeks.

How long it takes to see results depends on the initial cause, how you respond, and how long the whining has been happening in the first place.

Regardless of how long it takes, owners must remain attentive, aware, and always ready to seek further help if they can’t figure it out alone.

Don’t worry, we can’t all figure these things out!

I certainly didnt. In fact, I had help not only from my vet, but from my breeder, and even a behaviorist to figure this issue out. In the end, I learned what was necessary, and my collies benefited in the long run. Yours will too.

Thanks for reading!

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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.