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Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop?

Pet Care Tips 3 min read
Large, white, scruffy dog rolling in the grass with all four paws up in the air. Why do dogs roll in poop?

Rolling in poop and stinky things, in general, is one of the most perplexing behaviors in dogs. Mostly because it looks so gross to us humans, and they seem to have so much fun doing it. It is not related to any health conditions, so no concerns there, except the concern of having to bathe your dog after. Unfortunately, there is no right or definitive answer for why dogs roll in poop and smelly things so much. However, there are some theories that could explain the behavior.

There is no right or definitive answer for why dogs roll in poop.

Popular Theories For Why Dogs Roll In Poop

Your dog is marking and leaving their scent on the spot.

This usually happens just like how males mark their territory. Another dog was there first and left its smell, and your dog now wants to leave some of their scent too. This is likely a territorial behavior and your dog wants other dogs to know that they are in the area.

Your dog is trying to communicate the pack that they found this “amazing” thing.

The pack may be only you, or your family and other pets in the household. This theory is studied by the Wolf Park Research Facility in Indiana, and it is related to wolf behaviors, where they roll in the poop of their prey, so the pack knows how to track the prey and hunt it.

Your dog is trying to hide their scent.

The third theory is very similar to the previous one. But instead of rolling in poop to communicate with the pack, dogs would roll in the poop to hide their scent, so it would be easier to approach their prey without being noticed. This technique was possibly used in the past when dogs were not domesticated and had to hunt for food.

Tricolor puppy wearing a blue harness attached to a leash and rolling in the grass.

How To Help Prevent The Habit

The true reason is unclear, and we might never know for sure why they do that. The fact that we don’t know why they do it, doesn’t mean that we cannot control when they do it. The trick here is trying to predict when they will do it based on opportunities. One thing to know, dogs that like to roll on poop will do it from the beginning. They will show you, possibly from the start, that they enjoy rolling in the dirt. When walking your dog, pay attention to the surroundings, trying to spot dead animals, poop, mud, and other smelly things. Basic commands, like stop, leave it, or come, may also be handy during these situations, especially if they are not .

If you couldn’t stop your dog from rolling in the smelly thing, whatever it was (poop, dead animal, or garbage), the only thing left to do is to push through, hold your breath, and give your furkiddo a good bath. There are good shampoos on the market that work as a deodorizer that is safe for pets. Don’t ever use anything that is not specifically formulated for pets.

If your pooch is not only a poop-roller but also a poop eater, click here to learn more about what could be behind the eating behavior.

If your dog, just like mine, is a professional poop-roller, pay close attention every time they are off-leash, and always keep cleaning products (wet wipes and towels) on hand. I usually have them in my car just in case my pooch finds something disgusting to roll on while we are walking.

Unfortunately, there is no way to 100% prevent your dog from rolling in something stinky, so all in all, we must accept the behavior and be ready to clean them up so we can snuggle them again. We will love them no matter what, right?

If you have any questions about your pet’s health or behavior, we are here to help! Click the button below to start chatting with our pet experts.

Dr. Rebeca Oliveira DVM

Dr. Rebeca Oliveira DVM

Dr. Rebeca is a holistic veterinarian from Brazil with a passion for natural and integrative medicine. She’s been studying integrative medicine and alternative (and healthier) diets since 2015, and now started to study the power of herbs with the NHV Family. In her spare time, you can find her spending time with her golden retriever, Kuga.

Published: October 13, 2021

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