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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 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.