Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop or dead animals?


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why do dogs roll in poop

We all know that scenario: you’ve let your dog go off-leash and somewhere in the distance you see four legs wiggling in the air.

Oh no, not again!

Your dog has found a yummy source of stinky smell and is having the time of his life rolling in it!

My dog Baloo seems to love fox poo especially well. He just can’t resist the urge to roll in that. Any kind of dead animals works as well…

But why on earth do dogs love to roll in poop or dead animals? It seems so utterly disgusting to us.

Well, in this article we’ll demystify this curious dog behavior.

Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop and Dead Animals?

Is there anything worse than letting your dog go in an off-leash park or forest only to have him come back to you smelling like… well… poop?

Don’t worry, you’re not the only dog owner this happens to.

But why do dogs like rolling around in poop and dead animals so much? It seems so gross! Well, there are a few reasons why…

They Love the Smell

Yup, it’s true. As gross as it sounds, some dogs just really like the smell of poop and will roll in it because they like it so much. The same is true for dead animals.

As for why dogs like the smell of poop and dead animals so much, the answer to that is complicated and uncertain. We’re not sure why they like those scents, but it likely has a lot of to do with a dog’s sense of smell.

Dogs have a super incredible sense of smell—it’s stronger than our eyesight! They pick up on all the little details of everything they sniff. And even though they might smell terrible to us, to your dog there’s a whole world of sniffs in that poop or dead animal that he wants to keep on him—literally!

Some dogs just love smelly things. It's like perfume to them
Some dogs just love smelly things. It’s like perfume to them

Scent Camouflage

Many researchers believe that dogs roll in stinky things because it’s a leftover instinct from their wild ancestors.

In the wild, scent is one of a predator’s best tools. It helps them track prey, which means a tasty meal. Animals like wolves will roll around in something stinky, like another animal’s poop, to disguise their smell. This helps them stay hidden from the sensitive noses of the animals they’re hunting.

On the other hand, it’s also a good tool for the prey. Animals that are being hunted, like a relatively small carnivore, can use scents from poop to camouflage themselves from their larger carnivorous hunters that may be following them.

Boredom

Sometimes a dog’s bad behavior has nothing to do with liking something or with the instincts of their ancestors. Sometimes it all has to do with a dog’s boredom!

If your dog isn’t getting enough mental and physical stimulation during the day, rest assured he’ll find his own fun. And it doesn’t matter now bad you think that fun is—your dog has to find something to amuse himself!

That’s why it’s really important to make sure your dog is getting enough physical and mental stimulation during the day. Take your dog for walks or hikes, or sign him up for dog sports. And don’t forget to work his brain too. If you need some ideas, here are 10 brain games for dogs to play at home.

Attention

You’ve probably seen kids feel like they’re not getting enough attention from their parents, so they start acting out and getting into trouble.

Well, dogs are a lot like kids that way. If they feel like you’re neglecting them, they’ll start doing things to get your attention. And yes, that includes things you don’t like.

A lot of the time, dogs will do exactly the things you don’t like because they know for sure it will get your focus on them.

The best way to stop this kind of behavior is by being proactive. Make sure you’re spending enough time with your dog, and give him lots of exercise to tire him out. After all, a tired dog is a good dog!

If your dog doesn't get a whole lot of attention, he might also just roll in poop to have you look at him
If your dog doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, he might also just roll in poop to have you look at him

How Do I Stop My Dog from Rolling in Poop?

Now that we know the reasons why Fido can’t get enough of those stinky smells, let’s go over some of the ways you can stop him from rolling in them!

Don’t Let Him Go Near Poop

Since a dog’s love for the smell of poop and dead animals is most likely an instinctive thing, at least in part, it’s hard to train them to stop completely. That being the case, being proactive and managing your dog’s instincts is the best way to deal with it.

What that means in this instance is not letting your dog go near poop. By keeping him away from those smelly things, you’re keeping him from having the urge to roll in them in the first place.

Of course, this is easier said than done a lot of the time! It means constantly watching your dog, which just isn’t always possible. That’s why you should use this type of behavior control in tandem with the next one.

why do dogs roll in poop or dead animals
If your dog loves to roll in smelly things, make sure he doesn’t go near poop. This turd is the only exception…

Train the “Leave It” Cue

“Leave It” is a really good and important command for a lot of reasons. If your dog starts getting into something you don’t want him to, this command will be a lifesaver! 

Before you can use it effectively, though, you need to work on it in various controlled environments so that it really clicks for your dog.

To train the “leave it” cue, take a treat and hold it in your fist. Hold it out to your dog so he can smell it without taking it. He will probably try nosing and pushing your hand to get you to open it, but keep it closed. As soon as he moves away from your hand, tell him “yes!” and give your dog a high value treat. That means whatever treats are his absolute favorite.

You should make sure never to reward your dog with the treat in your closed hand, since that goes against the concept of “leave it.”

Keep working on, telling your dog “leave it” as soon as he starts backing away from your hand. With time and practice, your dog will start understanding the cue. Now when he starts rolling in poop, you can say “leave it!” and—hopefully—he will!

Make Some Loud Noise When He’s Going Near Poop

Diverting attention is a good way to get a dog to stop doing something.

For example, I have a keychain with little metal plates on it that makes a loud noise when dropped. When Baloo starts doing something he shouldn’t, I throw it onto the ground to distract him with a loud noise. Baloo will immediately stop what he’s doing and give me his full attention.

What you use doesn’t have to be something you throw on the ground, of course! It can be a loud clap, or anything that makes a big noise. It just needs to be loud enough to pull your dog’s attention away from whatever you don’t want him to be doing.

You can use this trick while you work on the “leave it” cue. Or you can use it even if the “leave it” cue isn’t enough to get your dog to cut out his bad behavior!

If your dog is attempting to take a roll, make a loud noise to get his attention
If your dog is attempting to take a roll, make a loud noise to get his attention

How Do You Get the Smell of Poop Out of a Dog’s Fur?

Okay, maybe you weren’t quite fast enough the last time, and your dog managed to roll in some poop.

It’s gross, but it happens! We can’t be everywhere all the time, and sometimes dogs just get into trouble.

But now you’re stuck with this gross, stinky dog! So how do you get the smell of poop out of his fur?

Well, as much as your dog may not like it, it’s time for a bath.

But first, the best thing to do is give your dog’s fur a thorough brush. This will help loosen up all the bits of debris and make it easier to wash later.

Then, get your dog to hop in the tub, kiddie pool, or whatever you’re using for his bath. Groomers recommend using a high-quality degreasing shampoo, which will help get rid of heavy odors. Rub it thoroughly into your dog’s coat, and then let the shampoo sit in your dog’s fur if he’s especially smelly. You can leave it to sit for up to 10 minutes to make sure you’re really getting rid of that nasty smell!

When you’re ready to rinse, make sure to rinse your dog off really well. You don’t want any residue left in his coat. Keep rinsing until your dog’s fur “squeaks” when you pet him. That’s how you’ll know that you’ve done a good job!

The most important thing when it comes to washing your dog is making sure you’re removing the source of the stink. You don’t want to just cover it up with a nice smelling shampoo. You want to get rid of the smell of poop entirely!

Here are a few more tips for stinky dogs:

Conclusion

Whether it’s an old instinctive habit, your dog’s trying to get your attention, or he just plain loves the smell, a dog rolling in poop or dead animals is no fun—at least, for you.

If your dog is prone to rolling in stinky things, it’s best to make sure you’re keeping an eye on him. This way, you can stop him if he starts getting into things. Teaching him the “leave it” command is also really useful. And if your dog does get into poop or dead animals, use the above bathing tips to get rid of those yucky smells!

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