Is your Border Collie anxious when it’s time to go outside? Does it get scared when a stranger comes into your house? Does it shudder when somebody tries to pet it?
Fear and anxiety are natural emotions that affect animals as well as humans. Even brave dogs such as Border Collies are not immune to it. But what could be causing your Collie to be so afraid of people?
In this article, I will cover the most likely causes of fear in Border Collies, and I will also try to give you some tips on how to handle it.
Are Border Collies Generally Easily Frightened?
Fear is a natural thing, and dogs are not immune to it. Even Border Collies, which are great in many roles, including being service dogs, search and rescue dogs, as well as sheep herders and trackers.
They excel in all of those jobs partly because they are so naturally brave and fearless. However, they too can be prone to fearfulness or aggressive behavior, particularly towards people, if they haven’t had the proper socialization in the key periods of their puppyhood.
They may not be easily frightened by other dogs and animals, but it’s different with people.
Is Your Border Collie Afraid Of Just One Person Or People In General?
After talking briefly about the Border Collie breed in general, let’s now focus on your Collie in particular.
To figure out why your dog is so afraid of people, you need to start paying attention to small details and asking yourself some questions.
First of all, is your Border Collie afraid of just one particular person, or is it everybody?
It probably isn’t scared of you as the owner, and your family members who might live in the house with you. But what about your neighbors? Or the mailman?
Figuring out if it’s an individual (or a group of people), or a general fear of strangers is the first step towards helping your Border Collie overcome it.
If it is the case that your Collie is afraid of a single person, then there is a strong possibility that they might have done something in the past that caused it. Dogs don’t respond well to aggressive behavior and will resent anyone who yells at them or hits them.
On the other hand, if your Border Collie is afraid of people in general, that usually signifies that there is a deeper issue at hand.
Are There Other Things Your Collie Is Scared Of?
Let’s say that you have established that your Border Collie is wary of strangers in general. Perhaps it doesn’t like anybody coming into the house or approaching it in the street.
Are there any other things or situations you may have noticed that trigger fear in your dog?
Are they afraid of going to certain places, whether in the house or outside? Lots of dogs hate going to the vet, but that is to be expected.
Is your Collie afraid of certain toys or objects? Does it anticipate certain activities with dread, for example, mealtime, or playtime?
If a physical object is causing fear in your Border Collie, you should probably remove it from its surroundings. However, if the fear is related to an activity, you need to dig deeper and see what exactly is it that your Collie doesn’t like.
Try mixing up the activities, adding some things, and removing others until you figure out what is the problem.
Traumatic experiences in the dog’s past are perhaps one of the biggest possible causes of fear and anxiety.
A dog that has been mistreated or not properly taken care of during its puppyhood is more likely to develop a degree of wariness toward people. It makes perfect sense if you think about it.
Dogs are naturally inclined to be friendly with people (that’s why they’re such great pets) but if their trust is betrayed, they will start thinking twice about it.
This is especially true for rescue dogs and dogs that have spent a portion of their life on the streets or without a home. There are a lot of people out there who are less than kind to stray dogs and will resort to all sorts of inhumane methods to “deal with them.”
This type of experience can scar a dog for life and make it fearful or hostile towards people, even if they have the best intentions at heart.
If you got your dog from a reputable breeder while it was still a puppy, chances are that it won’t have any traumatic events attached to it. However, if you got an adult dog from a shelter, then it’s more likely that it’s been through a lot.
Rescue dogs need more love and attention just to compensate for all the bad stuff they’ve had to endure.
How Do You Help A Scared Border Collie?
Training and socialization are the most powerful tools for developing a fearless Border Collie. However, they can only be used to their fullest if they are applied from a very young age.
If you’ve got a fully adult Border Collie, you really can’t affect much important change by training it. There is a reason for the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
However, what you can do is address the specific issues that scare your Collie. Below are some tips for you to try.
Change The Surroundings
If there are certain items in your border Collie’s surroundings that might be scaring it, you should try getting rid of them.
Additionally, make sure that there aren’t any unnerving noises, aggressive lighting, or anything like that, because those things can cause your dog to become restless.
And finally, another thing that could be considered a part of your dog’s surroundings is the people around it, i.e. your neighbors, friends, delivery people, etc.
For example, if you’ve recently got new neighbors, your dog might perceive them as strangers or maybe even as a threat. Of course, you can’t get rid of your neighbors, but you can slowly start introducing your Collie to them until it starts accepting them.
Make sure not to force anything and do it gradually.
Prevent Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a real problem for some dogs, and it can happen to Border Collies too.
You can prevent separation anxiety by minimizing the time your Collie spends alone in the house.
If you have work or other obligations that keep you away from your home for longer than five or six hours at a time, make sure that another family member is always present to keep your Collie company.
If you live alone, you should definitely consider hiring a pet sitter to spend time with your dog and tend to its needs. Of course, you need to find someone who your dog won’t be afraid of.
There are other ways of keeping a dog entertained while you’re at work, but nothing beats human company.
Provide Mental And Physical Stimulation
If I were to describe the Border Collie breed in just two words, I would definitely say active and smart.
Border Collies, being herding dogs by nature, require a lot of activity and if they don’t get their share they can get frustrated and nervous, which can manifest as fear.
At least one or two hours of intense physical activity should be provided every day for these dogs.
But it’s not just about physical health – mental health is just as important. Being one of the most intelligent dog breeds out there, Border Collies need stimulation to keep their minds sharp.
Make puzzles for your Collie to solve and provide it with interactive toys, otherwise, you risk your dog becoming bored, at the very least. Boredom often leads to destructive behavior.
How Do I Train My Dog Not To Be Scared Of People?
As I already said previously in the article, it is difficult to train an adult Border Collie not to be afraid of people.
However, if you have a young Border Collie puppy, then proper training can be the best method of preventing fear from ever developing in the first place.
Whether you train your Collie on your own or take it to a professional trainer, you need to be patient, persistent, and provide lots of positive reinforcement.
The Importance Of Socialization
One of the most important aspects of training, particularly when it comes to making sure that your Border Collie isn’t afraid of people, is socialization.
I cannot stress this enough – socialization is vital. From an early age, you should start getting your Collie puppy accustomed to other dogs, other animals, and humans.
If they learn during puppyhood that these people are their friends, they will have no problem handling strangers in adulthood.
Having a Border Collie that is afraid of people is a tough situation. You want to be able to take your dog outside and have it socialize with others.
However, there are ways of dealing with a scared Collie and helping it overcome its fears. Hopefully, this article has provided some clarity for you and tips on how to deal with this type of behavior.
Read next: How To Socialize An Aggressive Dog: Guide For All Dog Owners