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Why Isn’t My Border Collie Cuddly: All You Need to Know

If your border collie isn’t as cuddly as you expected them to be it can be a little disheartening.

It makes you wonder if they really love you as much as you love them. After all, there’s nothing better than being able to cuddly up to our furry friends every now and then.

I get this question quite a lot about Border Collies so I thought it’s time to dedicate an article to this and cover everything owners want to know.

Let’s get into it!

why isnt my border collie cuddly

The Nature of the Breed

First and foremost, we need to understand the temperament and nature of the Border Collie breed. These dogs are known for their intelligence and high energy levels. They were originally bred for herding, which requires a lot of physical activity and mental stimulation.

According to the American Kennel Club, Border Collies are “workaholics” and they’re at their happiest when they have a job to do. This inherent characteristic may contribute to them being less inclined towards cuddling and more focused on activities or tasks.

The Importance of Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Exercise and mental stimulation are crucial for this breed. Lack of these might lead to a variety of issues, including:

  • Nervousness
  • Destructive behavior
  • Boredom

According to the RSPCA, regular physical and mental stimulation can help your Border Collie to be more relaxed and possibly more receptive to cuddles.

Related: Signs Your Border Collie Love You

Individual Personality Traits

Just like us humans, every dog has its unique personality.

Some Border Collies may be more affectionate and cuddly than others. It is essential to respect their individuality and not force them into behaviors that they might not be comfortable with.

Dr. Jennifer Coates, a member of the PetMD veterinary team, says in this PetMD article, “Respect your dog’s wishes. If they don’t want to cuddle, find other ways to bond with them.”

Building Trust and Bonding

It’s crucial to build trust with your Border Collie. Dogs are more likely to show affection if they feel safe and secure with their owners. This can be achieved through consistent training, positive reinforcement, and quality time together.

Consider these bonding activities:

  • Training sessions: This not only provides mental stimulation but also strengthens your bond.
  • Playtime: Engage in games that your Collie enjoys, such as fetch or agility training.
  • Grooming: Regular grooming sessions can be a great bonding time and help your dog to feel comfortable with physical contact.

Socialization and Early Training

Proper socialization and early training can influence your Border Collie’s behavior. According to VCA Hospitals, early socialization helps puppies to develop into well-rounded dogs.

Socialization involves introducing your dog to various people, places, and experiences in a positive way. A well-socialized Border Collie is more likely to be comfortable with cuddling.

Early training should also include teaching your dog to be comfortable with handling. This can be achieved by gently touching them all over their body, rewarding them for calm behavior, and gradually increasing the duration of handling.

Health Concerns

If your Border Collie was previously cuddly but has suddenly started avoiding physical contact, it might be due to health issues. Pain or discomfort can make a dog reluctant to be touched.

The American Veterinary Medical Association advises that if your dog is showing signs of discomfort or changes in behavior, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian. They can conduct a thorough check-up to rule out any potential health problems.

What If My Border Collie Still Isn’t Cuddly?

If you’ve tried all the suggestions above and your Border Collie still isn’t a fan of cuddling, don’t worry. Some dogs simply aren’t as affectionate in the traditional sense. This doesn’t mean they don’t love you or enjoy your company.

Consider these alternatives for bonding and showing affection:

  • Interactive play: Playing games your Border Collie enjoys can strengthen your bond.
  • Training: Learning new tricks or tasks can provide mental stimulation and enhance your connection.
  • Quality time: Just being in the same space, even if you’re not cuddling, can be comforting for your dog.

Remember, as highlighted in this PetMD article, the goal is to build a relationship that respects your dog’s individual preferences and needs.

The Best Ways to Make Your Collie More Cuddly

While you can never force your collie to become more cuddly, these tips should help increase their base level of affection and willingness to engange in a good old hug.

1. Positive Reinforcement

Reward your dog whenever they show signs of enjoying cuddles. This could be with treats, praise, or a favorite toy. The goal is to create an association between cuddling and positive experiences.

2. Make Cuddle Time Relaxing

Ensure that the environment is calm and quiet during cuddle time. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that might startle your dog. Using a soft voice and gentle touch can help your dog relax.

3. Gradual Exposure

Start with short cuddle sessions and gradually increase the duration. If your dog seems uncomfortable, give them space and try again later. Respect their boundaries and make sure cuddle time is a positive experience.

4. Regular Handling

Get your dog used to being touched. Start by gently petting different parts of their body, and reward them for staying calm. This can help them get comfortable with physical contact.

5. Include Cuddles in Their Routine

Try to include cuddle time in your dog’s routine. This could be during a quiet time in the evening or after a walk when they’re more relaxed. Regular cuddle sessions can help your dog get used to and eventually look forward to this bonding time.

6. Be Patient and Consistent

Change takes time, especially when it comes to behavior. Be patient and consistent with your efforts. Over time, your dog may start to enjoy cuddling more.

Remember, every dog is unique, and these strategies might not work for all. If your dog continues to resist cuddling, it’s important to respect their preferences and find other ways to bond. As highlighted in a PetMD article, forcing a dog to cuddle when they’re uncomfortable can lead to stress and anxiety.

Always consult with a professional, like a certified dog behaviorist or your local vet, if you need personalized advice based on your specific situation.

Final Thoughts

While it may be a bit disappointing that your Border Collie isn’t the cuddly companion you expected, remember that every dog has its own unique personality and preferences. Their idea of showing affection might not align with ours, but that doesn’t mean they love us any less.

Your Border Collie’s loyalty, intelligence, and playful energy make them a fantastic companion, cuddles or not. And who knows? With time, patience, and trust, your Border Collie might surprise you one day by becoming the cuddle buddy you’ve always wanted.

Remember, it’s important to consult with professionals like your local vet or a certified dog behaviorist if you have serious concerns about your dog’s behavior. They can provide personalized advice and guidance based on your specific situation.

Respect, patience, and understanding are key in building a strong bond with your Border Collie. After all, their love for you goes far beyond their desire to cuddle.


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.