Dogs have their fair share of weird behaviour. Rolling in stinky poop and other smelly things are some of the unusual dog behaviours that remain a big mystery to dog owners and experts. Why do dogs roll in poop?
What’s so good about rubbing that foul-smelling scent on their bodies? Here are three theories that experts have managed to come up with:
Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop Theory #1: To camouflage their smell.
Some scientists believe that the answer to the question, ‘Why do dogs like to roll in poop?’ is to mask their own scent. They compared this behaviour to the wild relatives of pooches, the modern wolves.
As prey animals, wolves do it for hunting. They roll in smelly animal droppings and animal carcasses to hide their scent. Doing so helps them sneak up on their prey easily.
However, a senior animal curator at Wolf Park in Indiana, USA, states that wolves roll in predator scent as well. This makes it an ineffective hunting disguise.
Other experts speculate that the purpose of a dog rolling in poop is not to take down prey. Instead, it is done to conceal themselves from other predators. This behaviour is found in grey foxes, another canine cousin of dogs. They cover themselves in faeces of larger predators such as mountain lions.
This theory concludes that rolling in poo is a genetic hangover that dogs have. It is an instinct that they have inherited from their wild counterparts.
That means despite being domesticated for thousands of years, our furry companions still have the urge to camouflage their scent even when it is not necessary.
Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop Theory #2: To communicate with the rest of the pack.
Another plausible answer as to why dogs may roll in poop is related to communicating with the pack. Researchers of a study conducted at Wolf Park research facility in Indiana observed that wolves smelled their packmate that rolled onto something, probably an animal carcass.
With their powerful sense of smell, the pack proceeded to track where the scent originated. This is thought to be a useful way for them to pursue and catch their prey. It can also be a means of trading information about their surroundings.
For instance, rolling in poop may be used to communicate that there is another presence of an animal in the area.
The reason why dogs like to roll in poop or dead animals can be about creating a group odour too. In one study, it was observed that a whole wolf pack rubbed themselves in dead animals. Coyotes and foxes are prone to exhibit this behaviour as well.
Meanwhile, female African wild dogs roll in the urine of males to join their group. Sharing one scent gives these canines a sense of closeness with each other. Therefore, it helps in establishing a strong bond between the members of the pack.
Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop Theory #3: To mark his territory.
This theory suggests that ‘dogs rolling in poop’ behaviour is not due to a genetic hangover. It speculates that this primitive behaviour still proves to be useful for our canine friends at the present time.
Dogs are known to be territorial animals. It is widely known that they mark their territory by urinating on it. It serves as a warning for other pooches to keep their distance from the area or they will be in for a fight.
Experts entertained the idea that the reason why dogs roll in poo is to remove other dogs’ smell from their territory. It is also a sign for other canines to stay away as the place is already claimed.
However, other scientists argue that this method is ineffective for marking territories. That’s because dogs urinating on their territories work better. Thus, amongst the three theories, this is the least plausible.
Why do dogs roll in fox poo?
Fox poo smells awful, but why do some dogs love to roll in them? The exact answer remains unknown. However, as stated above, it might be due to the primaeval instincts of pooches wanting to mask their own scent.
Asserting ownership of their territory can also be the cause of this behaviour. Another reason may be the need to communicate or strengthen the bond with you, his packmate.
How to get rid of poop smell on your dog
The best way to get your smelly dog free from rancid poop odour is by washing him thoroughly. Start by brushing your dog that rolled in poo. This will remove loose fur, mats, and tangles.
Proceed to bathe him. Consider using a degreasing dog shampoo as it is quite effective in eliminating heavy smells out of the coat. Give your dog a good scrub. Then, wait for at least ten minutes before you rinse off the shampoo.
Repeat this until the scent of faeces is removed. Keep in mind that you don’t want to mask the foul odour but to remove it. Once your furry friend smells fresh and clean, make sure to rinse off the shampoo thoroughly. It can damage his coat and even cause skin problems if the shampoo is not washed away entirely.
How to prevent your dog from rolling in poo
Knowing the possible reasons behind why dogs like to roll in poop is not enough to stop him from exhibiting this behaviour. Fortunately, there are precautionary measures that can curb it. Here are some useful tips that you can follow:
1. Keep your dog on a short leash whilst walking outdoors. This will prevent him from reaching dirty areas where he might do his rolling behavior.
2. Teach your dog the ‘leave it’ command. If your dog finds unknown things during walks, telling him to ‘leave it’ will keep him from rolling over or eating them.
3. Clean your dog’s poop right away. Always make sure that you have a disposable bag and a poop scooper with you when you bring him out for a potty break.
4. Deter your dog from rolling in poop by distracting him. Keep a noisy item on hands, such as a jar of coins or keys. Jiggle them every time he starts to roll.
5. Dogs also love to roll in other smelly things such as garbage. Make sure that your rubbish at home is properly disposed of. If you have a backyard or garden, clean it regularly to keep your pet dog from finding smelly stuff to roll in.