Your dog does so many adorable things. They greet you as soon as you come home, act silly during playtime, and snuggle with you while watching TV. But one behavior that leaves a lot of dog parents frustrated and confused is when their pet rolls around in smelly stuff — including poop. Why would your otherwise clean dog do such a thing? Especially since they have a strong sense of smell?
Why do dogs roll in poop?
Behaviorists aren't sure why dogs roll around in poop and other stinky things like dead animals. But they do have some interesting theories. This behavior might stem from your dog's wild ancestors. Here's a short list of some of the reasons why dogs would want to get poo on themselves:
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An attempt at covering their own scent
Dogs are predators and prey animals, so they need to take steps to protect themselves from threats. To help keep themselves safe, canines in the wild might cover their own smell by rolling in a predator's feces. On the other hand, if dogs roll around in the feces or carcasses of prey animals, they might be trying to hide their own scent. This is an effort to hunt more stealthily, as their prey might not smell them coming as easily.
A method for marking territory
If a dog encounters a strong scent, they might want to cover it up by rolling around and leaving their own scent behind. It's similar to urinating to mark their territory. They can let other animals know about their presence, as well as leave a message for other dogs — to let them know they're claiming an area as their own.
A way to help the pack
Scent rolling might be a method that dogs use to share information with each other in a group. For example, wolves may roll in carcasses to get the smell on their body and let other members of the pack know how to find the food. They might also do this when they encounter an unfamiliar odor and want to let the rest of the pack know about it. Basically, after learning the scent, the pack will be able to follow it back to the source. This can be a meal that's waiting for them, good hunting grounds, or something new that needs to be investigated.
Is it normal for dogs to roll around in poop?
Yes, even though scent rolling is strange to dog owners, it's considered normal. Domesticated canines aren't the only ones that exhibit this behavior — their wild counterparts do as well. So, you can rest assured that your pooch isn't odd at all if he enjoys rolling around in poop.
How can you stop your dog from rolling in poop?
Unfortunately, there may not be a way to totally stop your canine companion from rolling in poo. But you can use some strategies to prevent this behavior as much as possible. Here are some tips to prevent this dog behavior:
- While walking your dog, be aware of their body language, and look out for poop that might entice your dog to start rolling around. Then, take steps to stop your pet from getting to the stinky stuff.
- Using a short leash might make it easier to stop your dog from getting into another animal's poop. Walking your dog without a leash means you won't have as much control.
- Dog training can be useful when it comes to stopping your companion from rolling in poop. Teach your pet a cue like "leave it," as it might be all you need to redirect their attention. Always use positive reinforcement training techniques with your dog.
What is the best way to clean a dog that rolls in poop?
Give your dog a bath as soon as possible. If you're in your backyard, you might use a hose to remove the poop before going inside to wash your pet in a tub. Use shampoo made for dogs -- one that can remove odors safely is a great choice for a smelly dog.
Why do dogs roll in things they like?
Your dog won't only roll in gross and smelly things. You may also find your pet rolling on things that they really like, such as toys or grass. They might do this for the simple joy of it or to leave their scent behind and claim ownership of an object.
The bottom line
Rolling in poop is one of the weirdest dog behaviors. However, it's common and normal for your canine companion to be attracted to strong odors. Including ones that you find offensive. There are things you can do to prevent your pet from getting dirty. But if you can't, a quick bath with dog shampoo can remove the stench and get their coat nice and clean.