When you let your dog outside do they always manage to find the stinkiest and smelliest things to roll around in? From dead, decaying animals, to mud and even dog poop, some dogs just love to find themselves in the middle of a mess. If you’ve ever wondered why your dog is engaging in this disgusting (to you) behavior, we’ve got the scoop (no pun intended).
4 Reasons why your dog might roll in poop or other stinky things
1. Hide their scent from predators
According to the American Kennel Club, One of the most widely known theories is that dogs roll in stinky things to cover their own scent, hiding from prey before making a kill or other predators, to avoid becoming lunch.
Before dogs were domesticated, they were often threatened by larger predators. They would roll in strong scents to hide so that predators couldn’t sniff them out. While you might know that your dog doesn’t need to hide their scent from predators you might still see them participating in this behavior. However, if they’re trying to hide from that squirrel they’ve been chasing, all bets are off!
2. Show off a “find”
Another reason your dog may roll in something stinky is that they like the smell and want to share it with you and the rest of their “pack”. It is also a common theory that dogs used these smells to communicate.
Carrying the scent of prey was one way wild dogs might communicate to the rest of their pack that food is available. So if your dog is rolling in dead mice, bunnies, or another fresh kill this might explain why.
3. Create a sense of community
By rolling on something stinky together, dogs might be trying to build community. The theory here is that dogs are rolling in the same strongly scented odor so that they all smell alike. We're sure you'd prefer your dog to match your scent with something like shampoo, but some of the stinkiest smells are very appealing to them.
4. Leaving scent behind
Finally, your dog may not be trying to pick up an odor but leave their own. By rolling in a strongly scented place, your dog may actually be leaving their scent behind, a behavior similar to marking their territory.
How to prevent your dog from rolling in the bad smells
Rock your recall
If your dog likes to wander off and roll in smelly things, it’s important to have a good recall so that you can call your dog away from areas with bad smells. Another cue that can be helpful in this situation is “leave it”. This means your dog should leave whatever it is they’re interacting with (a piece of food you’ve dropped, a pile of poop, etc.) alone.
Remove temptation for repeat behaviors
If you know your dog loves to roll in smelly things, it’s important to remove the temptation. So if you have multiple pets, it’s important to clean up any poop immediately so your pup doesn’t have the opportunity to roll in it. If there is something foul-smelling in your yard or on your walking path that your dog has rolled in, try to clean it up before they have the opportunity to repeat this less than desirable behavior.
Survey the land to keep your pup away from stinky things
You know the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so if you really want to keep your pup from rolling around in stinky things, you’ll want to spot them (and remove them) before your pup can roll through them. If the stinky thing isn’t there, your pup can’t roll in it. Can’t remove the smelly thing? Keep your pup on leash and away from whatever it is.
Hopefully, these tips help keep your pup from bringing a new “perfume” into the house. If your pup is frequently rolling in things they will likely need a lot of baths. This can lead to dry itchy skin. So, to keep your pup’s skin hydrated and smelling fresh, it’s important to keep them out of stinky things so they can stick to their regularly scheduled bathing routine.
While rolling in stinky things is rarely a concern from a medical standpoint, licking things that can make your pup sick is. So if your pup has rolled in poop or some other smelly substance (especially a dead animal) you’ll want to make sure they aren’t licking themselves after as this could cause illness.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out Ollie.com.