Why do dogs roll in smelly stuff?

D. Rovers

So you are walking your dog on a beautiful day in Sun Lakes enjoying the great outdoors. Suddenly, your dog has found something truly repulsive and is rolling around on top of it, paws in the air, thoroughly coating himself in whatever he has unearthed. Whether it is something dead, poop or just one of those unknown smelly things your dog finds, you have probably asked your dog, why on earth do you do this?

So why do dogs like to roll in smelly things like animal carcasses and waste? While there is no concrete evidence that points to a single reason, there are a number of theories as to why dogs anoint themselves with bad odors. It is suggested that dogs might do it to mask their own scent in a throwback to their hunting ancestry, or as a way to bring the scent home to the rest of the pack to allow others to track back to it. But the most likely reason is that they like the stench. Remember, dogs are fascinated by things that we consider disgusting, like urine on the mailbox post. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: The last thing we want is to share the joy of our dog’s disgusting discovery.

It’s not easy to prevent poop and smelly thing rolling, particularly if you allow your dog to walk on a very long retractable leash. Wild animal waste can be well camouflaged, especially rabbit droppings, which tend to be pellet sized and spread out. The first step to prevent your dog from rolling is to recognize what happens right before it begins, and then short-circuiting the behavior. Most dogs hone in on the odor before they dive on, so if you notice your dog focusing on a patch of ground with greater than usual intensity, it’s possible that a roll is imminent. Some dogs will even do a pre-roll pose, meaning they rotate their face to the side and gradually descend down to the pile, almost in slow motion. Once you see the signs of a potential poop roll, you need to act quickly with a strong “leave it” cue.

“Leave it” means “move away from the item of interest,” and is helpful in a number of everyday situations. If your dog wants to “help” on laundry day by grabbing socks and taking off, you can tell him to “leave it” rather than chasing him down to retrieve the contraband. And when it comes to poop rolling, a well-timed “leave it” will prevent a very messy clean-up.

Rover’s Kids are looking forward to seeing you in the Dance Room on September 8 from 9:00 a.m. to noon.