Why does my dog roll in smelly things?

Last updated on Jan 19 2019

This article is written by our pet guru, Jessica Varley.

Have you just bathed Buddy to see him run outside and roll in the first poop he sees? Why do they always seem to do this just after a bath and blowdry? Better yet, why do they do it at all? The thought of rolling in poop or a rotting carcass is a nightmare for most humans (we hope!). So how can our furry counterparts possible get so much pleasure from this revolting behaviour?

Well there are a few different theories that attempt to explain this unsanitary behaviour.

A less popular theory suggests that after the hunt, dogs would roll in the remains of their kill and return to the pack to signal that there is food nearby. However it was infrequent that the other dogs would backtrack their steps so perhaps this ancient tradition was more to show off their hunting and scavenging skills.

Another theory believes that dogs would roll in the feces of their prey to mask their scent. If they approached a deer smelling of venison scat and dead carrion, there was a lesser chance their prey would run. This allowed them to get closer to their prey before they made their killing move.

Thirdly, the last popular theory takes into consideration to the dog's preferred scent. While you may love the apple scented dog shampoo, Buddy may hate it or it may irritate his senses. Preferring instead to reclaim a more natural Eau de Poopie odour or half decayed critter on the walk to the park.

Preventing the behaviour

Unfortunately some dogs jump at any chance they can get to roll into something smelly but you can reduce the damage with the below tips.

1. Remove the temptation

Clean up stinky deposits in your yard as soon as possible. No mess, no rolling.

2. Restrain your pooch

If you are going for a walk or to the park where you know there's a poop problem, keep your dog on leash and prevent them from rolling in any nasties.

3. Training is your friend

Teach your pooch basic the basic commands of come, sit and stay. When your dog goes to roll in something, distract them by calling them to your side and give them a treat for sitting calmly on command.

When you are training your dog out of an unsavoury habit using positive reinforcement is best. Not only is this an effective method but it will help to build the bond between you and your pet. Some methods to reduce an undesirable behaviour employ the use of a squirt bottle or loud noise to make the experience less pleasurable however be careful. Negative reinforcement can cause your dog to distrust you and affect their personality if you always use this method of training.

If positive reinforcement tactics are not working for you and Buddy, it is best to consult with a behavioural specialist

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