The Border Collie “Butt Poke”

Border Collies are bred to be herding dogs and this is not just a minor trait. The herding instinct in this breed is what they are all about! As our Border Collie was growing up he quickly started to “herd” my wife and I. With our reading on the breed we were ready for it however we really did not have a full appreciation for the severity of this behavior until we got to experience it first hand. The first manifestation of this was Ned following closely behind us as a puppy nipping at our heels. This quickly turned into what we came to call “The Border Collie Butt Poke.” It took time and consistent correction to fix this behavior but it was not easy!

The Butt Poke is just what it sounds like…the darn dog started poking us in the rear end! It typically would happen immediately after we came in the door and walked quickly to somewhere in the house (like when Nature is calling – you enter the house, walk past the dog and head directly to the bathroom). Ned would follow closely behind us and then rear up, not really jump, and jab his nose firmly into our butt! The first time this happened it got one heck of a yelp of surprise from the wife. While doing this he did not try to bite or nip us however I have heard that this can happen with some Border Collies so be aware of that.

Dogs at the Fence

We never hit or yell at our dog (it will do you no good with a Border Collie anyway) so, again after some training book reading, we came up with a pretty decent system to stop this. We’d entice the behavior by intentionally getting him a little excited through playing and then walking briskly by him. As soon as he started to follow closely, and before he had a chance to poke us, we’d stop dead in our tracks, spin around, firmly tell him “No.” and then have him lay down. After he was down we would walk past him quickly once or twice and then reward him for not chasing or poking with a treat or two. This behavior did not stop overnight. It took time and we need to consistently be aware and ready for it.

After he got the message that he should not poke the wife or I in the butt he started doing it to house guests (now that is embarrassing!). We used pretty much the same tactic to solve that behavior as well. We had to keep in mind that this is not some random annoying behavior but a deep seated instinct in the Border Collie. You simply can not train that instinct out of the dog and therefore you must redirect the energy into something else (like a trick, or a lay down, or have them go get a ball, or whatever). As time passed he would do the Butt Poke less and less. This is something to be ready for if you are considering a Border Collie puppy!

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  1. ian deaville says

    just found your website. excellent resource for the new BC owner. We have just adopted a 13 month old female, very noise sensitive, prone to running off under stress situations then slowly coming back. Its been good to read your stories.

  2. says


    Thanks for stopping by. Funny you mention noise sensitive…as a puppy ours was totally unconcerned with loud noise (thunder, etc) however as he’s gotten a bit older it’s starting to bug him a little bit.

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