Rough Collie Exercise Needs Guide

Rough Collie Exercise

The Rough Collie, made famous by Lassie, originated as a sheep herding dog in Scotland. Being a working breed they are quite energetic and are extremely intelligent.

The Rough Collie is a very loyal breed, love company and can be a little shy.

How much exercise does a Rough Collie need

Although the Rough Collie is not as high energy as the Border Collie, they still need daily exercise outside of between 45 to 80 minutes. Due to their high intelligence, they also require plenty of mental stimulation and enrichment.

If they don’t receive the exercise they need to release their pent-up energy and mental challenge they can develop behavior issues. Rough Collies tend to want to herd everything. See Herding dog behavior problems here.

There are three main types of exercise and activity you must provide your Rough Collie every day.

  • 1. Daily walk
  • 2. Purposeful Activity (see Rough Collie activities below)
  • 3. Mental stimulation

This recommended exercise quantity and ideas are for a healthy adult Rough Collie. The exercise needs of a puppy are different as they are still growing. The wrong quantity and type of exercise can cause injury to a puppy with growing bones and joints. See the bottom of this post for more about how to exercise a Rough Collie puppy.

As a dog gets older they become less active and have lower energy levels. However, it is still important that they remain reasonably active to keep their joints and muscles mobile and to manage their weight. See the bottom of this post for more on the exercise needs of an older dog.

Rough Collie Walking

Pair of Collies

The daily walk is essential for a Rough Collie not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your Collie to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds and smells they come across.

The length of the walk is only limited by your time and energy as a Rough Collie can go all day long. Ideally, the minimum should be 30 to 45 minutes daily. This can be just once a day, or two walks a day would be better if your schedule allows. Dogs also like routine, so try to schedule the walk for around the same time each day. Daily walks are much better than nothing all week and a big walk at the weekend.

If your Rough Collie has good recall and comes on command, walks at the park off the leash are ideal. Alternatively, you can use a retractable leash to allow them more freedom while maintaining control. However, Rough Collies are obedient and highly trainable and usually have good recall.

Rough Collie Exercise Activities

In addition to the daily walk, it is good to give you Rough Collie further exercise and activity. This purposeful activity not only helps to burn pent up energy. They are a way to provide your Rough Collie with a job to do.

Herding Balls

Herding balls are an excellent way for herding dog breeds to burn off energy while catering to their natural herding instinct. It is like sheep herding without the sheep and is similar to the herding dog sport Treiball (see below).

As these breeds were bred to chase and control moving objects. Teaching your dog to play herding games will actually reduce their desire to herd people and other dogs as herding breeds often do.

This is a review of two of the best herding balls for dogs. These balls are virtually indestructible and because they are made of hard plastic or rubber your dog is unable to bite them, so they have to push them instead.

Jolly Ball

The Jolly Ball was the original herding ball for dogs and is inexpensive. It is made from hard plastic and is virtually indestructible. However, some dogs are able to scratch the surface with their teeth or claws which can leave sharp ridges on the toy. It can also be filled with water or sand to add weight to give more resistance to the workout.

View Jolly Balls on Amazon

The Jolly ball also comes in a range of sizes from 4 1/2 inches to 14 inches so you can choose the size that is best suited to your particular dog. A further option is the Jolly Soccer Ball if you want to be able to kick it yourself. This ball floats on water and will not puncture.

Virtually Indestructible Ball

The Virtually Indestructible Ball is super tough and is slightly more expensive. It also comes in a range of sizes to suit your particular dog.

View Virtually Indestructible Balls on Amazon


A dog sport that was created specifically for herding breeds is called Treiball or Push Ball and originated from Germany. This is like sheep herding without the sheep and uses large balls, similar to a Swiss ball used by people to exercise. To learn more about this fascinating sport check out the video below. See Treiball equipment on Amazon.


Playing Fetch with your dog is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. Many Rough Collies love to play with balls. Even if your Rough Collie isn’t ball orientated you can still play fetch using their favorite toy.

Dogs can play this for hundreds of throws. A great alternative is to use an Automatic Ball Launcher so your dog can play Fetch by themselves. As Rough Collies are smart and very trainable they can be taught to use one of these. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs

Play with other dogs

Provide the opportunity for your Rough Collie to play with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind (social enrichment), but teaches them important social skills.

Rough Collies love the company of people and other dogs and in general, are very social and friendly. However, some Rough Collie sometimes tends to want to herd other dogs. Just monitor them for this behavior as other dogs may not like this.

Flirt Pole

A flirt pole is like a big cat tickler with a stick, rope, and a lure or toy attached to the end. Move the lure around in circles or in all directions along the ground and your dog will chase it. Works with the dog’s natural prey instinct so it will provide plenty of mental stimulation too. For a full guide to flirt pole exercise for dogs see here.

View Flirt Poles on Amazon

Backyard Agility

Rough Collies are exceptionable at this type of activity. Set up an agility or obstacle course in your backyard. You can use items you have around the home, build your own agility or you can get reasonably priced agility sets on Amazon. You can include tasks such as the weave, hurdle jumps, tunnels or jumping through hoops or a platform to jump on and stay.

Stair Exercise

A good energy burner and muscle strengthener if you have stairs in your home. Start at the bottom of the stairs and have your dog “stay”. Throw the ball to the top of the stairs and then say, “Go!” Let your dog dash up the stairs. Have them return down the stairs at a slower pace to avoid injury.

Walking upstairs or a hill strengthens the legs as the full body weight of your dog is on each leg as the step. As they descend the stairs they are using the opposing muscles for stability. For more on stair exercise for dogs see here.

Dog toys that move on their own

There are many dog toys available that shake, rattle, roll and move about on their own. The movement of the toy is engaging for a dog and provide enrichment and get them moving.  See “Dog toys that move on their own” to learn more.

The Wicked Ball is a good example of this type of toy. If your dog is ball mad then the Wicked Ball is the ultimate moving dog toy for them. The magic ball runs and bounces all by itself and the LED light adds another level of engagement for your dog. No App or remote controller required.

It has several settings such as the Intelligent Companion mode. In this mode, the Wicked ball has 10 minutes of play and 30 minutes of rest. If your dog pushes or hits the ball it starts the play cycle again. It also has three reaction modes (gentle, normal, active) so you can set it to suit your dog’s mood.  Due to its obstacle avoidance system (collision sensor), it doesn’t get stuck in tight spots.

The Wicked ball is durable and dog safe and is also waterproof so it can be played with when swimming. It also has a treat hole for dogs that are food motivated.

View the Wicked Ball on Amazon.

Mental stimulation for Rough Collies

All dogs need an outlet for their minds. If they are not provided the opportunity to challenge their minds they will come up with their own ways to achieve this. This usually manifests itself in bad behavior such as excessive barking, digging, escaping and other destructive behaviors. Read “Mental stimulation and mind enrichment for dogs” to learn about the 6 types or categories of mind stimulation a mental enrichment and some great ideas to provide this.

Some ways to provide mental stimulation and enrichment include;

Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys are ideal for smart dogs like a Rough Collie to challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills.  Try to find puzzle toys that are a bit more challenging as they tend to work these out quite quickly. Check out “Top puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.

In addition to puzzle toys, Kongs for dogs are another great way to get your Rough Collie to solve a problem and challenge the mind. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs“.

Scenting and nose games

Rough Collies, like all dogs, have a keen nose. Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose games for dogs” for some ideas.

Chew Toys

Provide your Rough Collie with chew toys. Rough Collies are in general a moderate chewer rather than a power chewer. Chewing is a great way to occupy them. In addition, chewing releases endorphins and helps to relax a dog. Many dogs hold stress in the jaw.

For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys click here.


Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. rough Collies are smart and love learning new things. A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.

Food enrichment

Turn mealtimes into an opportunity for your Rough Collie to get a mental challenge and enrichment. Instead of feeding them from a bowl, give them activities that require them to work for their food. To learn more about feeding enrichment for dogs see here.

Enrich their environment

Environmental enrichment is the process of making a dog’s living space more engaging and interesting. To learn more about environmental enrichment for dogs see here.

Rough Collie puppy exercise needs

White Collie Puppy being walked

The exercise suggestions above relate to a healthy adult Rough Collie. The exercise needs of a puppy are quite different. With puppies, their bones, muscle, and joints are still growing and developing.

Overly strenuous walks are not necessary and in fact, could possibly cause harm. An activity that is high impact on the joints should also be avoided.

The best exercise for a young puppy is free play with age-appropriate toys.

Socializing with other puppies or friendly adult dogs is a great way to burn some of that puppy energy along with teaching them the social skills they need.

As your puppy gets older you can take them for short informal walks allowing them to sniff and explore and get used to being on a leash. Puppies under three months probably haven’t had all their vaccinations so shouldn’t be walked in public. Check with your vet when it is alright to venture out to the park or street.

The general rule of thumb for walking a puppy is around 5 minutes for every month of age. So, for example for a 4-month-old puppy, a walk of 15 minutes to 20 minutes is enough. Monitor your puppy on the walk for signs such as lagging behind, lying down or panting. End the walk if they seem too tired.

Mental stimulation is important for puppies and can tire them just as much as physical activity. For more on mental stimulation for puppies see here.

For more on exercise for your puppy read “How to exercise your puppy

Senior Rough Collie exercise needs

As a dog gets older they become less active and have lower energy levels. However, it is still important that they remain reasonably active to keep their joints and muscles mobile and to manage their weight. Read ” Dog exercise for a senior dog” to learn more.

Many dogs develop arthritis as they age. Exercise for them becomes a balancing act. It is important to keep their joints mobile and manage weight, but too much can make them sore. Read “How to exercise an arthritic dog” to learn more.

Summary – Rough Collie Exercise Needs

The Rough Collie is a highly intelligent and active herding breed,

They require daily exercise outside of between 45 to 80 minutes. Due to their high intelligence, they also require plenty of mental stimulation and enrichment.

If they don’t receive the exercise they need to release their pent-up energy and mental challenge they can develop behavior issues. Rough Collies tend to want to herd everything.

Let us know in the comments how you much and ways you exercise your Rough Collie.


  • Joseph Coleman

    A lifelong writer and proud dog dad. Joseph started this blog dedicated to helping other dog owners find accurate information on how to keep their pets at their healthiest through exercise and nutrition. His passion for all things canine shines through in his writing, and he believes that every dog deserves the best possible care. If you're a dog owner looking for reliable advice on how to keep your pup healthy and happy, be sure to check out Joseph's work.