Why Does My Dog Roll in Smelly Stuff?



dog rolling in stinky stuff

We’ve all experienced this before: You’re dressed and ready to go out for the night. You call your dog in from the yard and, oh joy, discover she has rolled in something so vile you can’t leave without bathing her.

Why does this happen now? Because she’s proudly displaying the doggie perfume she thought you would love!

Not so much, eh?

Here’s the 411 on why dogs insist on rolling in stinky stuff.

Doggie Psychology 101

There are probably as many theories about why Rover rolls as there are dog breeds. Dr. Stanley Coren says there are three basic theories but he buys only one of them:

  1. It’s a way to fight fleas and ticks – Dr. Coren says that anyone who believes parasites will abandon a stinking ship is nuts. Insects love the smell of decomposition so it may be as wacky a theory as hanging a pheromone bag to trap Japanese beetles. All you do is end up attracting more beetles.
  2. Sending a message via Western Dogma – This second theory is also a bit skewed. It states that dogs roll in smelly stuff to take the message of possible food back to its pack. But wild dogs tend not to go immediately back to where their buddy rolled to immediately chow down. Strike two.
  3. It’s all in the disguise — This third theory is the one that seems to make the most sense. It’s to disguise the dog smell. Back when most dogs were in the wild, they would disguise their scent in order to hunt more effectively.

Other Reasons

This reason may be tied to scent marking that’s done with urine. You know that when you walk your dog, he or she may mark territory by depositing a small amount of urine either on the ground or up higher. This could also be over-marking where your dog is letting others know that they are top dog in the neighborhood pack.

How to Stop It

We wish there were a simple answer to stopping your BFF from rolling in dead fish guts or smelly carcasses but the simple answer is, you won’t.

Rolling in something smelly is as desirable to dogs as wearing perfume or cologne is to humans. The best thing you can do to keep your dog smelling nice is never let them off leash and when they do start to roll in something, try to prevent it.

Do a little detective work. Does she roll in something right after her bath? That may mean the shampoo has too much scent. Remember, your dog’s scent detectors are far more advanced than yours are. That floral scented shampoo you love can seem like Grandma’s overuse of Walgreen’s latest Eau de Toilette to your pooch. Get an unscented shampoo.

And never scold your dog for doing what comes naturally to him. No need to give him a complex about his choice of scent. Praise him with a treat and then a good hose off.


Reference link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/200907/why-do-dogs-roll-in-garbage-manure-or-other-smelly-stuff


Image Credit:  istockphoto.com

Gerald Owens, has a vision – to create an online community that embraces all aspects to having and caring for pets. Our mission is to provide pet “guardians” with accurate, relevant information on how to have happier and healthier animal companions.