Really. Why do dogs roll in poop? Why? As a dog owner, it’s really one of the worst things they can do – they make friends in the park and run off to play, only to come back to you covered in mud. Or what you first thought was mud. WHY? Don’t dogs have an extra sensitive sense of smell? So surely they can’t think rolling around in their or another’s poop is a good idea. Couldn’t they avoid it at all costs? Well, you’d think so…
There’s no precise reason why they do it but behaviorists and professionals do have a few theories. Some of which might surprise you.
It’s in their DNA
We can’t forget that dogs descend from wolves, however unlikely it sometimes seems. Some behavior such as scratching the floor and sleeping at your feet is a wolfish instinct which even domesticated dogs still display. Unfortunately, so is rolling in poop.
Whilst your pup might be lucky enough to eat the finest food out there in their favorite bowl, wild dogs and wolves have to hunt for their dinner. Rolling in rabbit or another animal’s poop acts as a kind of camouflage. They can sneak up on their prey without them smelling their scent. Whilst that makes sense for wolves hunting, it doesn’t really explain why your beautifully groomed labrador feels the need to do it too. Unless they’re playing a particularly serious game of chase in the park.
It’s a secret language
Dogs really do have a heightened sense of smell. Even up to a thousand times more sensitive than ours. Whilst that doesn’t explain why they would want to smell so bad, it does give them a unique way of communicating.
Dogs can smell more layers in a smell than we can, so when one of their pack comes back smelling of deer poop it doesn’t mean that they’re just trying to smell good for the others. The rest of the pack can smell where the prey has been based on their poop, which allows them to hunt better.
So, when your pup comes back smelling of the neighbor’s dog’s poop, they might be trying to tell you a secret message.
They’re marking their territory
We’re all familiar with dogs peeing on lampposts to hide the scent of another dog and to let all future dogs know that they were there first. Well, a reason why dogs roll in poop could be similar to peeing.
If they roll in the poop of another dog, it’s their smell that’s left behind on the floor. Not that of the pooping dog. It could be a way of them marking their territory.
Maybe they’re bored
It’s not uncommon for our pups to do destructive and annoying things when they’re bored and want some of our attention – even if that’s negative attention as we wretch. Rolling in poop could be a way of doing that. Make sure they’re getting plenty of cuddles (poop-free ones obviously), exercise, and mental stimulation.
I really don’t want a dog that smells of poop – how can I stop it?
It’s important to train your pup to ‘leave it’. It’s a command which can be used in many really useful situations, including when they start to eye up some foreign poop. By teaching them this and reinforcing good behavior you can reduce those stinky moments.
It’s also a good idea to recognize your pup’s distinct behavior and try to prevent them from rolling in anything. Dogs often get particularly excited when they smell something good, which could be poop, a dead fish, or just your garbage can. Keep an eye out for how your dog behaves in these moments so you can stop them before it’s too late.
And if all else fails? Get a really good doggie shampoo.
Does your dog roll in poop? Do you have any good techniques to stop them from doing it? Let us know below!
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!