It never seems to fail. You give your dog a bath, they smell great and they want to go outside and roll around in
whatever stink they can find. It doesn’t matter what they find, but for them it seems the stinkier the better. It might be poop from another animal, garbage, dead animals, or rotting leaves or grass.
So why do dogs roll in poop or all the other smelly stuff that they find? Rolling in poop is actually quite common. Most believe that it is an instinctual behavior that is a throwback to their wolf ancestors.
If you have a dog that likes to roll in poop and the long list of items dogs roll in, you have probably learned when they are about to roll in the stink. You will notice your dog interested in a certain patch. Your dog will do that weird twist of the neck, rotating their face to the side and gradually go down almost in slow motion. They will start with the side of their face, move on to their neck and then include their entire body in the roll.
Mask Their Smell
Wild dogs will roll in poop, urine and animal carcasses to cover their own smell when hunting. It will help cover up their own scent, and help them to be able to sneak up on their prey. Wolves have often been observed rolling in animal carcasses or droppings to cover their own smell when hunting.
This would make it more easy to approach their next meal without scaring it away. Your dog’s ancestors had to hunt for their food to survive. Now most likely your dog doesn’t need to go out hunting to get their next meal, but they are following an ancestral instinct that has been going on for generations.
Mark Their Territory
We have all seen the dogs going to the bathroom on the same fire hydrant or tree, sometimes one right after the other. Dogs will mark their territory by urinating on it. This scent lets others know to avoid an area unless they want to fight for it.
Rolling in poop or urine may be your dog trying to override another animals scent, or intentionally leaving its own scent as a warning.
According to Psychology Today, dogs may use their body scent as a type of communication.
Another Reasons For The Stink Roll
Some dogs will roll on rotting corpses, droppings or garbage to carry the scent back to their pack. It is as if they are saying, look what I found. Unfortunately, we are the pack that they bring their stink to.
Your dog might be rolling due to boredom. Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise along with mental stimulation to help keep them out of trouble. There are many interactive dog toys that are available to help with boredom.
How To Make The Stinky Rolling Stop
I have two ideas to help you with your dog rolling in poop or other stinky things they find. With both of these, you are going to have to keep a close eye on your dog in order to prevent it from happening.
You can provide your dog with an unpleasant experience whenever they are doing their rolling action. Stick close to your dog when they are outside. As soon as they start rolling, squirt your dog with a water bottle. You will need to be consistent and squirt immediately when they start rolling for it to work. They will start to associate rolling in smelly things with the unpleasant experience of getting squirted.
Teach your dog the “Leave It” command. This will be a more positive reward for your dog. You will need to do some initial training at home before this is going to work.
Put a treat in a closed fist at nose level so your dog can smell, but can’t get the treat. They will nose your hand to get it, but give no interaction. When you dog finally backs away, say “yes” and give your dog an extra special treat like cheese from your other hand. Never reward your dog with the treat that is in the closed hand.
When your dog is reliably backing away from your closed fist, you can introduce the “leave it” command right as your dog moves away. You will probably have to repeat this drill at least 20 times before your dog understands.
Now you can make it more challenging. Put a treat under your foot, and repeat the process. Add the “leave it” command and then start uncovering the treat. It is the same process and will take lots of practice. You can have added practice around the house if you drop some laundry or gloves by say “leave it” and then offer up praise and reward.
When walking your dog, keep your dog on a leash in places you know your dog is likely to find something to roll in. It will make it easier for you to control the situation.
How To Clean The Stinky Rolling Dog
There isn’t usually any option other than to give your dog a bath after they have located a prized rolling spot.
Use odor neutralizing shampoos to help get rid of the smell. Make sure you are using one that is designed for dogs, as human shampoo are too harsh on your dog’s skin.
Another method of cleaning your dog is the same formula that I use to clean my dog after he has a play date with a skunk. It is easy to mix up, and most people will have all the ingredients in their home.
Mix 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Apply to your dog’s wet fur while the mixture bubbles and leave it on your dog for 3 to 4 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Be careful not to get this in your dog’s eyes, as it will burn.
For whatever reason, when we think our dogs smell great, they don’t have the same feelings about how they smell, and usually are going to want to find something to roll in to change their scent. That is one of the reasons why dogs roll in poop.
It is helpful to keep your dog away for areas where they are going to find other animals’ dropping, you train your dog either with a negative association to rolling, or with a positive “leave it” method.
You will also have to accept, that most dogs are going to get into some stink at some point in their lives. That just seems to be part of dog ownership.
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Thanks for these two great tips.
We have a small dog and she loves to play with smelly stuff. We let her outside by herself which makes things a bit harder.
Now I will ask my wife to train the puppy with the water squirting technique. It is necessary to do something now before this bad habit gets in too much.
The second technique I want to try too, this might be even more favorable due to being a actual training with rewards etc.
I too have a roller. Anything that is stinky he will find. At least most times, dogs will show you when they are going to roll is something stinky, because the way they approach the roll is different that a normal roll. Either approach should work for training your dog not to roll, the key is to be consistent so your dog understands what is expected of them. Good luck with your training.
Along with this is the lovely habit of, as is said, eating shit. Actually this is a natural way for dogs to get vitamin B12. This vitamin tends to be a bit inaccessible when eaten but the digestive processes make it accessible on the next time through!
Nice topic, hey.
Helen, thanks for sharing your information. I didn’t actually know about them getting vitamin B12 from it. Always great to learn more.