Our dogs bring us joy, at least most of the time—maybe not so much when they roll in poop. Not only does rolling in poop make your dog smell unpleasant, but you’re forced to give him a bath before allowing him back in the house, and especially back on the furniture.
Although rolling in poop seems to be part of a dog’s nature, there are specific reasons as to why he does this. In this article, we’ll look at what those causes are as well as come up with solutions on how to stop this behavior so that you’re not left with the unpleasantness of bathing your stinky dog.
The 5 Main Reasons Dogs Roll in Poop
1. They’re Attracted to the Smell
The smells that humans find pleasing are very different than what a dog finds pleasing. With that being said, your dog may be rolling in poop just because he likes the smell and wants to take the smell with him.
It may seem gross, but there’s actually biological, scientific evidence behind this theory. It boils down to a dog having a more sensitive nose than humans do. Your dog has up to 300 million olfactory receptors in his nose. Odors are detected by the olfactory receptors and then the odor binds to them.
For comparison, a human nose has about 6 million olfactory receptors. That means that your dog can smell more things in poop that attract him to it. Dogs also have something called neophilia, which means they are attracted to new and interesting things. One of the ways they determine new and interesting things is through their sense of smell.
2. They’re Communicating With Their Pack
Dogs may roll in poop as a way to communicate with their “pack,” whether that pack is you or other dogs in your home. For example, your dog may find poop that has an interesting smell and roll in it to bring that scent back to his pack.
This theory is backed up by a behavior commonly seen in wolves, of which dogs are related. One of the ways wolves communicate is by using scent, including rolling in poop. Although it’s not exactly clear why wolves do this either, it’s thought that by bringing the scent back to the pack, other wolves can follow the scent back to the source. This helps with hunting if the poop was produced by another animal.
3. They’re Leaving Their Scent
Another reason why dogs roll in poop could be that they are leaving their own scent behind, especially if he’s rolling in the poop of another dog. This is a behavior that is similar to marking, in which your dog may urinate on everything.
This behavior is backed up by the fact that dogs have sweat glands but do not sweat. The sweat glands are called apocrine glands and they are located on various parts of your dog’s skin. It’s thought that these glands produce pheromones, which are scent chemicals that can be picked up by other dogs. Your dog could be letting other dogs know that this is his space, or he could be trying to attract a mate.
4. They’re Hiding Their Own Scent
If your dog is rolling in poop, especially that of another animal, it could be that he’s trying to hide his own scent. This is thought to be an instinctual behavior as well. Although you provide your dog with food, he’s still a hunter at heart, and rolling in poop can help hide his natural scent from prey.
Hiding his scent from prey allows your dog to sneak up on prey undetected. If the prey thinks your dog smells like the scent of a less-threatening animal, it’s less likely to run away and will be easier for your dog to catch. This is another behavior that is commonly seen in wolves.
5. They’re Bored
Although the above reasons can give us a good idea of why our dogs might be rolling in poop, many of them are just possible theories based on the natural behaviors of dogs and their relatives. In reality, it could just be that your dog is bored, and rolling in stinky stuff is a way to entertain that boredom.
For example, maybe your dog spends a lot of time outdoors while you’re away and all of his toys are indoors. Rolling around provides entertainment, whether or not he’s actually rolling in poop. It could also be his way of exploring the poop because he’s curious about it. It’s just like we as humans find ways to entertain our boredom, even though we don’t turn to things as gross as rolling in poop.
How to Stop Your Dog From Rolling in Poop
If you find your dog rolling in poop a lot, or even seldomly, there are ways you can stop him. And the good news is that since it can be hard to pinpoint why your dog is rolling in poop, these methods are effective regardless of what the reason is.
Clean Up The Poop
If your dog is rolling in poop in your yard, one of the easiest things you can do is to pick up the poop. This will involve watching your dog closely to see where he poops, or you can train your dog to poop in one spot so that it’s easier to find. But the bottom line is that your dog can’t roll in poop if there’s no poop to roll in.
Distract Your Dog
Another way to stop your dog from rolling in poop, especially if you’re at the park or somewhere other than your yard, is to distract him. Again, this involves watching your dog closely, but if you see that he’s about to roll in poop then clapping or making some type of noise to move your dog away from that location can prevent him from rolling in it.
Keep Your Dog Leashed
It may also be necessary to keep your dog on a leash in public places. This is usually required anyway, but it can help keep your dog closer to you if he tends to roll in poop. You can also teach him commands if you see that he’s about to roll in poop and keep him on a leash in your yard until he learns those commands.
Keep Your Dog Entertained
Finally, making sure that your dog is entertained can stop him from rolling in poop if he’s doing it out of boredom. Provide plenty of toys if you have to leave your dog alone for a while, and make sure to play with him outside as well. Having other dogs can also provide stimulation as well.
The exact cause of your dog rolling in poop can be hard to pinpoint. It could be due to a natural instinct or just because he’s bored. But what isn’t hard to pinpoint is that having to bathe your dog after rolling in poop is unpleasant. That’s why it’s important to be observant and proactive so that you can stop the behavior from happening anymore.
Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock