Estimated Read Time: 4 ½ minutes
Summary: In this blog, we learn all about why dogs roll in poop! We’ll discover why they roll in poop and whether rolling in poop is normal for a dog. Also, we’ll learn how to discourage dogs from rolling poop. Read on to find out more…
“Why does my dog roll in poop?” Pet parents, we hear you! Many of us have had the dreaded scenario… Out in the park with your pup off the lead. Suddenly, they’re on their back, writhing and wriggling and having the time of their life. Out of nowhere, you’re running to catch up with them but it’s too late - they are covered, stinky and seemingly proud of themselves!
But, why do they do it? Where does the urge to roll in poop come from? And, more importantly, how can we get them to stop…?
So, why do dogs like to roll in poop? It’s a very common behaviour that many dog’s display. Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer, but there are some theories behind why dogs like to roll in poop so much! What these theories all agree on though, is that it’s an instinctual behaviour that has been carried into their domestic lives from when they were wild.
Some scientists argue that rolling in poop is a way of dominating the scent of other dogs with their own - a bit like when they urinate to mark their territory. The latter, however, is obviously a far more convenient method of masking another animal’s scent, so this is a widely disputed idea.
This is the most popular theory, as their wild relatives (wolves, for example) engage in similar behaviour too. Wolves are thought to do this to cover their own scent when they’re attempting to catch their prey. The poop essentially masks their scent, allowing them to approach their next meal more discreetly. Or, alternatively, they’re masking their scent from predators who see them as prey like their distant relatives grey foxes do.
So, poop rolling could just be a genetic instinct that domesticated dogs simply haven’t evolved out of yet.
Again, when comparing our domesticated doggies with their wild relatives, wolves are known to roll in their food, as well as other animal’s poop. This is thought to be a method of communicating to their pack that there’s food present and available. So, it’s theorised that rolling in animal poop may be to let pack members know that there are other animals in the area.
Dogs have an incredibly advanced smell in comparison to us, their human owners. Because of this, their scent is bound to play a part in the way dogs understand and communicate in, their world. So, our doggos may simply be trying to communicate to other dogs on their turf when they’re rolling in smelly poop.
Unfortunately, as this behaviour is inherently instinctual as mutually agreed by all dog experts, training them out of it is virtually impossible. And, because it’s in-built and a genetically carried habit, punishing them for it is simply a cruel thing to do and won’t work. The best thing you can do is diminish the opportunity arising.
If there’s a walk that you love to go on together, keep your pooch on the lead so you can keep control over them when they approach something that looks particularly smelly. If you want to keep them off the lead, make sure you’re practising and positively reinforcing their recall, so they’ll prioritise coming to you when called instead of choosing to roll.
In addition, pick up poop and any dead animals, mud build-up, or other smelly things like rubbish in the garden as soon as you spot them.
Got a pooch who loves rifling around and rolling in your rubbish? Secure your bins effectively, so your pooch can’t get in and pull out dirty things to eat and/or roll in.
If your dog does manage to get themselves covered in something stinky, make sure you bathe them ASAP with an odour-neutralising, gentle shampoo. And, always wash your hands immediately after bathing your dog of something stinky, to make sure whatever it was isn’t still on your skin.
Unfortunately, being a pet parent means you have to take the good, the bad and the smelly - it’s all part and parcel of being a responsible, loving owner!
Remember, your dog loves you unconditionally: whether you’re stinky or not! And, it’s only fair that the same applies the other way around, right? However gross the smelly thing they rolled in is…