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Behind the sweet, adorable face of our Border Collies lies one of the most intelligent brains in the canine world. They are loyal and love to work with their humans. They almost seem like perfection, and then comes the destructive chewing!
It’s not unusual for Border Collies to make a job out of chewing. Chewing furniture. Chewing shoes. Chewing whatever they find!
To help keep your house (and shoes) safe, we’ve put together this post to help you deal with their chewing behavior!
What causes destructive chewing?
The most common reason Border Collies chew is boredom. But there can be other reasons as well. Destructive chewing can also be a sign of anxiety and if they are destructive chewing when you aren’t home it’s likely separation anxiety, and we have an entire post on this issue here. Or sometimes it may even be a cry for attention (something humans can unknowingly train!).
For instance, if you are working from home and your BC learns that when they grab something to chew on, you give them attention, the behavior has been fed.
For a Border Collie who wants some interaction, there is often no such thing as negative attention!
If your Border Collie is a puppy, chewing is how they explore the world! It can also be a way to relieve the pain of losing teeth and growing new ones!
As an adult, chewing is a natural behavior to keep the mouth and teeth strong and clean.
But chewing is also thought to release endorphins, which is the feel-good hormone. So chewing is good!
As long as that chewing isn’t on your expensive shoes or furniture.
In theory, it is. But we may not be aware of what your Border Collie might try to chew until they chew it.
So when you aren’t able to supervise your dog, they need to be in a dog-proof room or crate, where their only options are chew toys you have approved.
The reason why prevention is so important is that any time your Border Collie chews (whether it’s your stuff or theirs) it is innately rewarding.
Chewing relieves stress and burns energy!
I often hear people complain that they have chew toys everywhere and the dog still chooses the designer shoes. But dogs don’t understand the difference between their stuff and our stuff.
So it’s vital to remove the temptation to chew on what you don’t want them to.
And in fact, our stuff smells like us. So chewing on something that smells like their people is extra comforting for them.
The other part of the equation is finding what our Border Collies like chewing. Do they like harder bones like elk horns? Or do they prefer something rubber like a Kong? Like people, each dog has a preference.
If your Border Collie tends to chew items that smell like you the most (shoes, remote controls, phones) you can try adding some of your scent to their toys.
Just slip them in bed with you while you sleep. I know, it is strange, but it’s an easy way to scent an object.
One additional thing to consider: boredom and excess energy really fuels the chewing power.
So to help make your chew training easier, it’s also a good idea to add more mental and physical stimulation.
Sniffing, jogging, and playing games are all good ways to help supply additional enrichment for your Border Collie.
A bored BC will act out in many ways, not just destructive chewing. If your pup is also digging, then be sure to read our post on BC digging here.
Best chew toys for Border Collies
When picking a chew toy for your Border Collie you need to be aware of your dog’s chew preference and then pick accordingly.
It’s also important to be aware of the hazards of stuffing toys and squeaker toys, which you can read about in these posts:
As Border Collies are highly intelligent, they benefit greatly from a puzzle toy that incorporates chewing. This is why we developed our Hide’n’Treat toys, which are like Legos for dogs. Here’s a video explaining how they work, and you can purchase them here: https://amzn.to/3cGiAtt
Hard Surface Chewers
If your BC tends to chew harder objects, like table legs, or sticks outside, they likely crave a harder texture. Here are some great alternatives:
This bone alternative looks like a sterilized bone but is made to be more durable. And adding to the fun? You can stuff this bone with cheese, peanut butter, or canned dog food and freeze it, making it an even more attractive chew choice for your Border Collie.
There is a lot of buzz about natural antlers in the dog world right now, and for good reason. Dogs seem to love them. And they last forever! Prairie Dog chooses the best quality antlers to prevent splintering. All of the antlers they supply are shed or harvested in Montrose, Colorado.
If your Border Collie tends to like chewing surfaces with more give, like shoes, you want to look for chew toys that have more give to them. Here are some of our favorites:
This toy gives your Border Collie the soft rope to chew on, but it also allows for them to try chewing on some bones. Spread a little peanut butter on the bones and see if you can get them to discover how great bone chewing can be.
Then you want to prevent mouthing by teaching them what to do as an alternative. For a more thorough explanation on how to do this, check out the video below by Emily Larlham featuring her Border Collie!
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Devene was nominated for a "Social Training Excellence" through the International Positive Dog Trainers Association in 2008.
She conducts private in-home lessons and teaches Puppy and Intermediate classes regularly.
Devene has fostered many retired Greyhounds, in addition to having many of her own. She has been active with Greyhound and Galgo rescue for over 20 years and has also fostered for Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue.