Common Behavioral Changes in Border Collie’s as They Age

Border Collie at Play

Border collies are beautiful animals with very energetic personalities. They aren’t happy with just a walk around the block or with a few minutes in the yard. This is a breed with energy to burn, and they’re excited about just everything. That’s what makes it particularly difficult when you begin noticing changes in your dog’s behavior as he or she grows older. This is a breed that lives an average of about 12 years, which means you’ll have a long time with yours if you get him as a puppy. However, because the border collie has such an exuberant personality and so much excitement as a young dog, it’s really difficult for many dog owners to see the changes that come with age in this breed.

There is nothing you can do about the aging process in a dog but adapt your own behaviors to his newly acquired behaviors. Your job is to keep an eye out for some of the more common signs of old age (aside from actually knowing your dog is old) so that you know when a trip to the vet might be warranted and when new behaviors are simply age-related.

Sudden Anxiety

Old age brings with it an entirely new set of feelings. Older border collies might become a bit anxious or stressed. You’ll begin to notice this in his or her behavior at times you don’t feel warrant said behavior. It might be a moment that has happened a thousand times in your home, such as a baby yelling or a child petting the dog, that causes your dog to seem anxious. These are natural feelings that can be difficult to deal with as they remind you that your dog is growing old and changing. However, this is an issue that you can work with your dog to fix, even if it means making some adjustments in your home and the way that you or your children interact with the dog.

Behavioral Issues

One of the most common issues associated with age is behavioral issues. Your border collie might suddenly begin using the bathroom indoors, even if he or she has just returned from a trip outside. This is not behavior your dog is engaging in because he or she is angry with you or being defiant, this is something that happens with old age. This is one of the most difficult behaviors to deal with as old age begins to set it, because issues such as incontinence are difficult to correct. It’s when you notice this type of behavior is becoming a pattern with your older dog that you will want to make a trip to the vet to discuss your options and what to do to ensure that your dog maintains a good relationship with your family.

Decreased Activity

Old age seems to slow everyone down; not just your border collie. It’s perfectly natural for your dog to seem more interested in laying around the house than going outside for a nice, long walk. Don’t worry too much; it’s just his age. Just like your grandmother probably isn’t up to hiking up a mountain at 97, a walk around the block might seem like a bit much for a dog who is a bit older. He’s not sick and there is nothing wrong with him. Decreased activity is very common, and it’s very easy to work with. Your job is to adjust your lifestyle with the dog so that he or she is more comfortable with the new activities. You can still play with your dog and exercise your dog without exhausting him. Even you know that your level of energy has changed since you were a child. Spending 5 hours on a ball field for a double-header was nothing to you as a child running around the field, but it’s more exhausting now that you’re a parent just sitting in the stands – you can’t imagine running around on a baseball field for that long at this age. That’s the same opinion your dog has about playing the same games he played with you as a puppy. Keep this in mind and everyone in your home will be a little bit happier in the long run.


As we grow older, we grow a bit more confused. We can’t remember where we put our keys. We can’t remember what year it is. We just get used to writing the year on our checks and calendars in time for the year to change again; dogs are the same way with the exception of the check writing thing. Dogs get a bit more confused as they age. You might begin to notice that your dog suddenly stands at the wrong side of the door when it’s time to go out. He’s been going out that door for 12 years and he knows it opens from the left, but now he always goes to the right and you have to move him out of your way to get him out the door. It’s fine; it’s just age. In fact, this might be a bit reassuring to notice if your dog has had other issues and you can’t decide whether or not he’s sick or just growing old. This can serve as a bit of reassurance that your border collie is just growing old.

Preparing the Family

Just because your beloved border collie is getting old does not mean he’s going to die tomorrow. You might still have years with him in your home. However, there might come a time in which you and your vet realize that his days are numbered and you have to begin preparing your family for his loss. It’s not as difficult with grown children who understand the life cycle of dogs. They’ll mourn, certainly, but they’ll understand. Smaller kids, on the other hand, will likely be confused, hurt and dismayed when their dog is gone. Your job is to prep the children for this when you notice the time is coming. You can talk to your vet about how to do this, a counselor at school or even the children’s pediatrician could have some advice. Preparing a child for loss is difficult, but lying to them about something such as the dog has “gone away” is even worse. Your children will wonder daily when their dog is coming back, and it’s never a good idea to lie.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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