From itchy skin to reveling in a particularly rank scent, a dog rubbing on grass is natural, normal behavior. If you spy your dog rubbing on grass, it's very likely that the scent of the freshly mowed lawn appeals to his sniffer, just as it does to humans. Because dogs may be exposed to other animals' feces or urine or may pick up ticks when they rub on the ground, you may want to rein in this behavior in certain areas when you're on a walk.
Why dogs smell and rub
The most common reason for flopping to the ground and then grinding away on a special patch of grass is probably to pick up a lingering odor. In fact, a dog's ability to smell and in turn analyze a certain scent far outweighs a human's ability. Once an enticing smell is found, your pet may roll in it to rub it all over himself, perhaps to attach the stink to his fur.
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As relatives of wolves, your dog may be rubbing on the grass to hide his own scent from any potential prey he's keen to hunt, or he may do it to take on the odor of a future catch in order to trick a squirrel or mouse into thinking he's one of them. Your dog may also hearken back to his wolf roots by rolling on a funky piece of ground because his instincts are telling him to share the smelly info with his fellow den mates once he's home.
Rubbing to scratch an itch
With no opposable thumbs (or fingers), your dog has a hard time cleaning debris from the inside of her ears or something that's stuck on the back of her neck. When a dog is rubbing on grass, she's able to dislodge whatever's bothering her with ease. A dog who is constantly rolling on the ground could be trying to satisfy an itch, whether it's due to a seasonal allergy, dry skin, an ear infection, or a case of fleas. In short, this kind of rubbing simply feels good — the grass is soft and possibly wet with dew, and the cool blades may tickle and scratch her back.
Grass rubbing and boredom
As much as you walk and play with your pup, some animals may grow frustrated with their activity schedule. The result is that a dog who is bored or understimulated may use his excess energy to obsessively rub, roll, chew, or scratch. Helping to distract your pup with fun toys may ease a case of loneliness, as can dropping off your pet at a doggie day care center or scheduling regular outings with a dog walker.
Curb dog rubbing on grass
Trying to keep your dog upright and moving along as you walk is easier done on a leash, of course. Be sure to tether yours every time you're out and about, as this method may help curb your dog's penchant for rubbing on the grass. You might also avoid areas with stinky items, like the beach (dead fish) or the local dog run (feces, urine, vomit).
Consistent obedience training from an early age can teach a dog to come when called so you're not waylaid by your pet rubbing in grass every few minutes. Keep treats in your dog-walking bag or a special squeaky toy to give to your pup when she's making motions to smell and then rub on the ground. With time, you'll have taught your dog to stay with you on your outings, and the grass-rubbing practice may have abated too.
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