Why Do Border Collies Roll In Poop?

Common
Irregular

Introduction

Laura, your sweet-natured, intelligent Border Collie, loves to roll in poop. Thanks to her stellar sense of smell she's on any poo like syrup on a pancake. On your daily walks, she will even yank you with her leash to roll in any other animal's fecal matter. You try to stop her, but she's so into it that her strength overpowers you, and before you know it, her beautiful white streaks of fur are caked in ---- you get the picture. What’s the deal? For such a highly intelligent and trainable dog, you do not understand why Laura rolls around in that nastiness. Is it inbred within her Border Collie ways? Should you be concerned? You love Laura to pieces but are getting sick of bathing her more than you bathe yourself.

The Root of the Behavior

No one knows the exact answer as to why our Border Collies like to roll in poop. There are, however, many theories. One is that your dog wants to mask her own scent. Why? According to wolf expert, Pat Goodman, wolves used to roll in the poop of their prey to disguise themselves for a kill. This technique would have been useful then but not so much for today's domesticated canines. On the other end, some species roll in predator poop to camouflage themselves from predators. This could have helped the Border Collie during her herding sheep days. Another theory is that rolling in poop was done by wolves to carry the scents of where they had been and what they had been doing that day. It was a way to communicate to their pack the daily activities that took place. This action also shared with the pack the types of animals that were in the surrounding area - prey and predators. 

In a study on Canadian wolves done by researchers Simon Gadbois and Catherine Reeves, they observed wolves rolling in strong scents, such as carcasses and fecal matter, then the rest of the pack followed. The researchers concluded that this scent exchange acts as a bonding experience in canines. Is Laura acting out her wolf instincts even though there are no other dogs around? Dogs also have a different perception of poop than humans do. Laura even thinks that cat poop tastes like candy. In fact, according to Cattle Dog Publishing, dogs did not always live in cozy homes with meals every day. Dogs used to be scavengers, and these scavengers would feed on leftover animal carcasses, bones, and, yes, sometimes even fecal matter. So consider that the answer to why your Border Collie rolls around in crap is basic: She enjoys the smell.

Encouraging the Behavior

These theories offer some solid insights as to why Laura might be rolling around in excrement, but one thing is for certain; you do not want to encourage this behavior. Border Collies are known for their long, furry coats and enriching it with poo is not going to win Laura any blue ribbons at the upcoming dog show. Border Collies are so intelligent, are natural problem-solvers, and athletic, but they also get easily bored. And a bored Border Collie is not a pleasant dog to have because they have been known to become destructive and stubborn. Some will even roll in poo more - when you command them not to.

Although Laura’s ancestors may have used poop rolling as a technique to camouflage themselves as prey or repel predators, your home now offers a safe environment in which this is no longer necessary. Also unlike her wolf relatives, she has no need to share poop smells with a pack because she doesn't have one. Another theory is that Border Collies roll in poop to leave their own scent on it, and this is a highly territorial behavior. An interesting concept, but letting the neighborhood Cocker Spaniel know that Laura is here, does not have much value for domesticated dogs. The verdict is in: You need to prevent Laura’s poop rolling habit. You can do this by observing the triggers and behaviors your Border Collie exhibits right before rolling in that pile of stink. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

You know that Laura tends to sit and then pounce on poop. You also have noticed that she whiffs the air or intensely examines the grass where the poop lies. But how do you stop her now? One easy solution is to make sure that Laura knows the command, “Leave it!" Not only will this command benefit her poop rolling, but it will also stop her from endangering herself with other things such as that chocolate candy bar you just dropped on the floor. When Laura shows any sign of going after scat, tell her the command. This command can be taught by putting a tasty treat in one hand and closing it up in your fist. Put your fist in front of her and say, "Leave it.” If Laura goes after it, ignore her, but when she does actually leave it, give in, and give her the treat. A possible problem with Laura’s fecal matter rendezvous is that some poop contains diseases or parasites. Stuff that you don't want your pup to deal with.. And of course, it’s also a mess. Keeping Laura away from the poo will help you both out.

Conclusion

You discover that poo rolling is common in wolves and other species and learned many theories as to why this behavior occurs. You realize that your intelligent Laura needs a massive amount of stimulation or she can exhibit destructive behaviors like rolling in poop, so you buy some doggy mind puzzles and beef up the walking regimen to two times a day. On these walks, you have recorded the signs that Laura exhibits before pouncing on poo. As soon as you identify these triggers, you tell her to leave it - a command that took some effort but was worth it. So much so that you feel you could take the poo out of pooch.