I Adopted a Border Collie, Now What? – Part 1: The Essentials

By Austin F

Adopting a new border collie can be stressful if you get home and have no idea what to do. Part 1 of this series talks about the essential things your new border collie needs. From food to collars, beds, and treats, part 1 of this series covers it all.

The essentials

Before you do anything else, you need to make sure that you buy all the essential items your new border collie needs.

It helps to buy them ahead of time, but if you aren’t 100% sure you are adopting a new dog, then you can wait till after.

I remember when I first got my border collie. We weren’t sure if the adoption would work out. So when it did, we stopped at the pet store on the way home and got everything for him then.


First, you’ll need to get a collar and leash. Both collars and leashes come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

If you are planning on doing any sort of obedience training, then I would recommend getting a training collar in addition to a typical collar. Collars are great for decorative purposes, but when it comes to training, they don’t really do much.

There are a few good options for border collies when it comes to a collar that’s better for training with.

Head collar

The first option is the head collar. This is a collar that goes over your dog’s snout and gently redirects them back towards you when they pull too hard.

This helps to refocus them off the distraction and back to you. It’s not like a muzzle that covers their entire snout, but a thin collar that does the job while still allowing them to pant and breathe.

The Gentle Leader is a good head collar that I have used many times before and would recommend if you want to go this route.

PetSafe Gentle Leader Head Collar

No-pull harness

A no-pull harness is another good option when it comes to training collars. A no-pull harness is like a padded harness, except that it is more for training.

This kind of harness has a clip in the front for the leash. A front clip harness is the best because it guides the dog to the side when they pull instead of encouraging them to pull forward.

This is a great no-pull harness that is also padding and comfortable for your dog.

RUFFWEAR - Front Range All-Day Adventure Harness for Dogs Photo

Padded harness

A padded harness is a more comfortable alternative to the no-pull harness. A padded harness is less of a collar and more of a “jacket” for your dog.

They come in many different styles but most have the leash clip in the back. A padded harness is better for a border collie that already has some leash training, but is still a better alternative than a normal collar.

Martingale collar

When it comes to martingale collars, I’m not so much a fan. Martingale collars can either come in normal collar material or as a pronged collar. Both are designed to tighten when the dog pulls. The normal style ones are better for dogs with smaller heads.

The pronged collar is a chain collar with prongs that put pressure on the dog’s neck when they pull. Some people love them and claim they work well, but they make me feel bad for the dogs that have them.


The leash is not as important as the collar when you are first starting out. I would recommend getting your run of the mill dog leash.

No elastic or bungee leashes and no retractable leashes.

Stick to the basics here and pick out a leash that you like the color of and that is long enough, but not too long.

Food and water bowl

When you first get a border collie, all you’ll need is a simple water and food bowl.

You won’t know your dog’s eating habits right away, so specialized bowls are not necessary. Later down the line, if you find out that your dog eats at the speed of light, you can get a slow-feeder bowl.

The same applies to the water bowl. Make sure the water bowl is large enough to hold a day or so worth of water.

You’ll want a bowl that is big enough so that you don’t have to fill it multiple times a day, but small enough so that the water won’t get gross from sitting.

Later down the line, you can get a fancy automatic fountain if that’s how you roll.

One more thing to keep in mind when it comes to food and water bowls is that you might want to get some kind of mat to set them on. Dogs aren’t the most graceful water drinkers, so if you don’t have a mat underneath, your floors will get soaked.


Of course, border collies need food silly, but what kind of food do they need? There are hundreds of types of dog food out there, so choosing one can be rather confusing.

A lot of factors go into choosing the right food. You have to keep in mind the quality, your budget, dietary needs of your pup, the method to feed them, and of course, your border collie’s taste palate.

I won’t go too in depth because I plan to write a large post about it in the future which I will link to in this section, but I’ll go over some of the basics below.

Quality and dietary needs

As far as the quality of the food and the dietary needs of your collie, the general guidelines are this. You should try to find foods that are high in real proteins and healthy fats.

You should also try to get food that is grain free, and made with ingredients that you can actually pronounce the names of.

Most of the time, the better the quality of the food, the more expensive it is. So get the best food that you can afford to get for your border collie.

Food types

There are a few different types of food you can choose to feed your dog.

Dry food is the most common, easiest, and most affordable method of feeding.

Canned food is less common, less convenient, and more pricey.

Raw food is the least convenient and the most expensive. Plus, it can be harmful to your border collie if not done properly.

If you are a first-time dog owner, then I would suggest to start out with dry food. It is perfectly acceptable to feed an all dry food diet, especially if you get a good quality food full of protein, healthy fats, and no grain.


The price of food is something to consider if this is a concern to you. Dry food is the cheapest, while wet food and raw food are the most expensive.

When it comes to dry food, the better the quality, the more expensive it gets. So if budget is a concern, then stick with a food that is good quality, but won’t break the bank.

Food suggestions

As I said before, I am going to write a huge in-depth article about dog food in the future, but here are some quick suggestions to get you started now.

Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food Photo

Victor Dog Food Grain-Free Yukon River Canine Salmon and Sweet Potato

Victor Dog Food Grain-Free Yukon River Canine Salmon and Sweet Potato Photo

Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High Protein Dry Dog Food High Prairie

Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High Protein Dry Dog Food High Prairie Photo

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Original Turkey & Chicken

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Original Turkey & Chicken Photo

Poop bags

If you ever find yourself walking your border collie outside, then you need to buy poop bags. Don’t be one of those people that go all the way to the park so they can stock up on free poop bags from the dispenser there.

Poop bags are cheap if you buy them in bulk. I prefer to get the Amazon basics brand of poop bags.

You can get 900 poop bags for under $15 and it even comes with the little dispenser to clip on your new leash. That’s less than 2 cents a bag and it will last you for many months, even a year or more, depending on how often you use them.


When it comes to dog toys, you will be overwhelmed by the number of options out there. When you first get a border collie, it would be best to start off simple. I would recommend the following few types of toys.

For starters, you should definitely get some kind of ball or frisbee to play fetch with. Border collies love balls and frisbees. I know mine will play fetch for as long as it takes you to get tired and give up.

Chuckit! Ball Photo Chuckit! Paraflight Dog Toy Photo

Get them a soft plush toy for them to play around with and lay their heads on when they get tired, especially if they are a puppy. You’ll find out soon enough if plush toys can make it past your border collie without getting torn up.

Another option is some kind of tug toy. Playing tug is one of my border collie’s favorite pastimes. He will pick up the tug toy before any other toy we have.

Finally, you could get them a treat toy or some other kind of interactive toy that will keep them distracted when you aren’t home.

If you want to get a full rundown about dog toys, I wrote a huge article about the best toys for border collies. You’ll find more helpful information there.

Dog bed

You might not think you need a dog bed, but they do more for your border collie than provide a place for them to sleep.

A dog bed gives your border collie a place to call their own. It gives them a place where they can go to rest and have alone time.

It also teaches them that they don’t always need to jump on the couch and beds to lay down. A dog bed gives them a place to sleep that is both cleaner and more comfortable than the floor.

Dog beds come in all shapes and sizes. There are donut shaped beds, rectangular beds, orthopedic memory foam beds, plush beds, heated beds, outdoor beds, and more. It can be kind of confusing picking the best one for your border collie, that’s why I wrote an article that is all about dog beds.

PetFusion Ultimate Pet Bed Photo

If you want to learn all about how to find the best dog bed for your border collie, I wrote a massive article about it here. It covers everything from the types of beds, to choosing the right kind of bed and more.


If your border collie is a puppy, or you feel like you will be gone for long periods of time during the day, you might consider getting a crate.

Dog crates are useful in many situations. They are a great way to potty train your new puppy. They are also a great way to keep them out of trouble when you are gone for long periods of time, or at night when you are sleeping. With crate training done properly, they can even help to calm down an over-excitable dog.

When a border collie is taught to love being in the crate, it will become a safe place like a den for a wild animal or a bedroom for a child. This is when you can get the most usage out of it.

Crates are also great for transporting your border collie safely in the car.


It goes without saying that border collies love treats. Some are more food motivated than others, but treats are always a must.

Now there are many different kinds of treats you can buy, so I will go over some with you.

Keep in mind that I have always preferred to spend a little more money on food that isn’t full of crap so that my dogs can live a healthier life. Some people couldn’t care what they feed their dogs, or they don’t know any better, but there is a lot of junk out there.

Dog treats can come in many different forms but most can be categorized into a few different categories. There are dog biscuits, dog bites and chews, jerky, dehydrated meats, and my favorite of all, real fruits and vegetables.

Like I said above, it is always better to spend a little more money on food that is actually healthy for your dog. Many of the cheap treats are filled with crap like preservatives, grains, animal byproducts, and chemicals. If you can’t pronounce the name, then chances are it isn’t good for your dog. I could go on an on but I’m quit while I’m ahead.

The treats I prefer to give my border collie are grain free biscuits and bites, real meat jerky and dehydrated treats, and fruits/vegetables. And out of all these treats, I have found that the baby carrots are my favorite.

Not only does my border collie love baby carrots as much as any other treat, but they are also far cheaper. The best part is, I cut each baby carrot up into smaller pieces so the bag lasts that much longer. It’s a win for both you and your dog.

Grooming supplies

Border collies, like every dog, need to be cleaned and groomed. The good thing is, border collies need a lot less attention than other dogs when it comes to grooming.

As far as bathing goes, you only need to bathe your border collie once every few months. Brushing your collie is more important than bathing.

You’ll want to do that more often if you want to keep the shed under control


When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for.

Make sure to get one that doesn’t irritate their skin. The shampoo should be made for animals and even better if it’s made for dogs. It should work for the length of your dog’s hair, and it should be non-allergenic if your dog has allergies.

The shampoo shouldn’t contain artificial ingredients like parabens, sulfates, and dyes. There are many shampoos out there, so make sure to splurge a little and get one that won’t be harmful to your pup.

If you want to learn more about the best shampoo for border collies, you can read the article I wrote about it here.


Brushes are also important when it comes to grooming your border collie. In fact, they are probably more important than shampoos and conditioners. You’ll want to brush your border collie often to keep shedding down and to distribute the natural oils in their body.

Personally, my favorite brush is the Furminator deshedding brush. I’ve tried many out there and none of them compare. It seems like every time I brush my doggie with it, I end up with a huge pile of hair that seems to come from nowhere. Not only does it get the top coat, but it also gets the undercoat as well.

Furminator deShedding Tool for Dogs Photo

Car accessories

If you are going to be taking your dog in the car often, then you’ll want to get a safe riding solution for your border collie. This can be in the form of a harness or a crate.

Many people think that dogs are fine wandering around in the car when driving. But like humans, dogs can get injured or even killed if they don’t have some kind of seat belt or crate.

Seatbelt Harness

A seat belt harness is exactly as it sounds.

It is a harness that goes around your dog’s chest, with a leash hook in the back. The leash has a car seat adapter on one end and it hooks onto the harness on the other end.

That way, if you do get in a crash, your dog is secured in the seatbelt harness, and won’t go flying through the front window.

You can also buy just the leash if you already got a harness.

Vastar Dog Car Seat Belt Safety Leads Photo


An even better alternative, but one that might not be as practical, is to keep your dog in a crate. This might be a pain in the butt for you, which is why this is an alternative option. Not only does a crate keep your dog from injuring themselves in case of an accident, but it will also keep them contained if they want to run away if you do crash.

Where to get all this stuff

Personally, I am a huge fan of Amazon for obvious reasons. It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s free shipping (For prime members), all from the comfort of your home. But you’ll want to get an Amazon Prime account if this is where you’ll be shopping.

You can get a 30-day free trial here.

Amazon always has the cheapest prices for dog products. You can even set up monthly subscriptions for dog food and poop bags if you want to.

Another great place to shop online is Chewy.com but you won’t get free shipping there unless you spend over $49.

If you prefer to shop in person, your local pet shop or big box pet stores will have most of these things. The fancier foods might be the only thing you will have trouble finding in local stores.

Wrapping up part 1

There you have it. Now you should have a pretty good idea of the essential items your new border collies needs. While some are not as important right away, your border collie will need most of the items above eventually.

Part 2

Part 2 will talk about dog-proofing your home. I will release part 2 of the series later this week, so keep an eye out! But for now, get shopping!

Part 1: The Essentials Photo

2 thoughts on “I Adopted a Border Collie, Now What? – Part 1: The Essentials”

  1. Hey! Just got my 2month old border beauty home a couple of nights ago but I can’t seem to notice when he gets up to pee at night, is a cat collar (the one with the bell) a good option for a Border Collie?

    • Do you have a dog door? I guess a cat collar could help if you’re trying to keep track of him. Or a cheap security camera like a Wyze camera? My BC is fine going to the bathroom before bedtime and not again until after I wake up!


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