Why Does My Dog Love To Roll In Dead Animals?

Like poop eating, why dogs like to roll in dead animals and other stinky things is not something with a straight answer. Since our dogs can’t talk to us and explain why they do something that, to us, is disgusting, all we can do is study them and come up with the “most likely” reason.

Unfortunately, when it comes to rolling in stinky stuff, there does not seem to be even a “most likely” reason. Studies have come up relatively empty-handed on this one. However, they have dispelled one theory.

Many have thought that dogs ROLL IN STINKY STUFF AS A THROWBACK TO BEING SCVANGERS AS WILD DOGS.

Since wild dogs were not just hunters but scavengers, some believe that dogs roll in dead animals so that when they get back to the pack, they can follow the sent to the “food.” However, studies have never seen pack members immediately follow the scent trail after one has returned with the scent, so chances are this theory is not correct.

Theories that might have some merit then?

Well, its possible dogs are CLAIMING THE ITEM.

We know animals scent mark as a way of letting others know “this is mine and you can’t have it.” Some researchers, vets, dog behaviorists and dog trainers believe dogs come across something they like – say a dead rabbit that they want to eat later – and they roll in it to deter other animals (dogs) from taking it. But, this theory seems a bit weak when some dogs also like to roll in poop or decaying plant matter like leaves and even seaweed on the beach that they are probably not going to eat.

Another one is THEY JUST LIKE THE SMELL.

We’ve all see the dog rolling around in the grass or on a nice rug that scratches their back. They really seem to enjoy the action, and only seem to do it when they are truly “happy.” So, it’s possible that your dog is rolling in stinky stuff simply because to him, it smells wonderful. And since their nose is 10,000 times more sensitive than ours, a very stinky pile of whatever could send them into a nirvana state that makes them have the urge to just roll all over it – making it a behavioral response. There is no way to really test this theory.

And, finally, there is the theory that is most plausible. Again, it links back to their wild dog ancestry.

DOGS ROLL IN STINKY STUFF TO MASK THEIR OWN SCENT FOR HUNTING.

Just like hunters use camouflage and even scents to hide themselves while hunting, it’s very possible that dogs roll in stinky stuff to disguise their “dog smell” so they can better sneak up on prey. This is based on studies and research where wolves, jackals, and other canine species have been observed rolling in carrion and feces of herbivores (not other canines) during the hunt.

We may never know for sure the reason dogs do this, but there is one thing that all these theories have in common – instinctual behavior. This means it can be hard to get your dog to stop. A very strong “leave it” cue is probably going to be your best bet, reinforced with a reward your dog finds higher than whatever reward (including the satisfaction of carrying out the behavior itself!) he gets from the act of rolling on disgusting, stinky stuff. If you are struggling with it, find a dog trainer to help you and in the meantime, you can keep your dog leashed so he is less likely to practice the behavior while on walks.

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3 Comments

  1. I also think that all these highly perfumed dog shampoos makes the dog rolle to get rid of stink and get on some dog perfume .
    Haha

  2. From my observations over 50 years of dog ownership, I reckon the second theory is spot on. They just like it. Whenever mine do it and I yell at them to get out of it, they look so disappointed and confused as to why I don’t want them to roll in the stink. To them it’s doggie heaven, just like eating sloppy chicken poop.

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