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Why do dogs roll in poop?

White dog rolling in the grass advice
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Dog rolling in poop is not as uncommon as it may sound. In fact, dogs love to roll around smelly things! In this pet guide, you will learn why dogs roll in poop. Nowadays, dog behaviourists can explain a lot of different canine behaviours, like why dogs scratch the carpet, or destroy shoes and cushions. However, there are some behaviours that can still evade the understanding of even the most experienced scientists. One of this is precisely the ‘rolling in stinky things’.

By Daniel Mar

You may wonder: why do dogs roll in poop? Over the years, many different theories have been created in an attempt to explain why some dogs love to cover themselves in weird smells that can simply leave you gasping in disgust. This article will explain to you, in the best of terms, why do dogs roll in poop!

Why do dogs roll in poop? Top theories!

While there's no definitive answer, the veterinarian community have come up with three main theories about why dogs roll in poop and other equally smelly things:

  1. A way to hide his own smell: The ancestors of your dog had to hunt to survive. So, by rolling in their prey's smell, they were able to hide their own scent and hunt animals without scaring them away. If your dog rolls in smelly things, he is simply obeying an old instinct that has been passed down for generations.
  2. Your dog is communicating with other dogs: By rolling around in a smelly mess, your dog can make their location known to other dogs near his territory. This theory was originally created by the Wolf Park research facility in Indiana, US. It proved that wolves can find other wolves and preys by following their scent to its origin. This helps with hunting and tracking! The same thing happens with dogs.
  3. That is a way to leave his own scent behind: The answer to why do dogs roll in poop can be as simple as this. A dog might just be trying to leave his own scent behind the poop zone. This is very similar to another canine behaviour called marking. You may be familiar with the image of a dog urinating on everything as a way to mark his territory to other dogs. Rolling in poop might mean the same.

What to do if your dog likes to roll in poop?

Even though this may be a natural behaviour in dogs, it doesn’t mean that you have to live with a smelly dog. Nevertheless, you cannot punish this behaviour. Nonetheless, you need to teach him how to stop. In fact, there are steps you can take to discourage it.

For example, if your dog rolls in his own poop, you can immediately clean it in the yard. If you’re out walking your dog, try to keep him on a short leash. This will prevent him from rolling around in another dog's poop. To ultimately stop him from rolling in odorous things, you can use training to pair an unpleasant experience with this sort of behaviour. You may sprinkle water or use a citronella spray collar (dogs hate the smell of citronella), to create a rejection of rolling in poop.

Sometimes, you can just find something that is very annoying to your dog (like a weird sound). In order for it to work, you need to be consistent and annoying as soon as he starts to roll in poop. Once he associates this bad behaviour to the unpleasant experience, it is just a matter of time until he finally stops. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know why do dogs roll in poop as long as you know how to stop it.

How to clean a dog after he rolled in poop?

Once your dog rolls in poop, you know he will smell for a long time unless you properly clean him! In fact, you're going to have to clothespin your nose and lather him up. You may need to get odour-neutralising shampoos to get the job done. Try to buy a shampoo that has orange oil since it is great to deodoriser and degreaser a dog’s coat.

You can also mix baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap in a metal bowl. Afterwards, bathe your dog with it. Be careful though! It cannot fall on his eyes because it burns! Once you are done, you have to rinse the dog very well.

Even after substantial research, the enigma of why do dogs roll in poop remains unsolved! Regardless of this, here you have some ways to properly deal with this type of problem!