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Home > General > Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop? 4 Reasons & How to Stop It

Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop? 4 Reasons & How to Stop It

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

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Oh no, it’s happened again! Your dog has rolled in poop. They may be rolling in their own poop, another dog’s poop, or even poop from a completely different animal. But now they smell stinky, leaving you no choice but to leave them outside or bathe them before they are allowed back in the house and on the furniture.

We know that bathing your dog more frequently than normal can be a huge inconvenience, especially when there is poop involved. But your dog isn’t doing it just to torture you, we promise. There are some valid reasons as to why dogs might roll in poop. We’ll take a closer look at these reasons in this article and suggest how to stop it from happening again.

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The 4 Reasons Why Dogs Roll in Poop

To be quite honest, there are no definitive scientific reasons as to why dogs roll in poop and other things that humans might find repulsively smelly. After all, we can’t just walk to a dog and ask, “Hey, why did you do that?” and expect to get an answer. However, using what is known about dogs, scientists have come up with four logical theories that might explain this unusual behavior.

1. To Your Dog, Poop Smells Good

Have you noticed that your dog rolls in poop more just after you’ve given them a bath? Is the poop that they are rolling in their own? They roll in it, get stinky, and have to be bathed again in what seems like a never-ending cycle. The reason they do this is that humans and dogs have two completely different senses of smell. A dog’s sense of smell is much sharper than a human’s, and they can pick up scents that we can’t.

That means that while we have things that we think smell good (such as flowers, perfumes, and sweets), dogs have different smells that they find pleasant. It’s entirely possible that they don’t like their new freshly shampooed smell. Instead, they want to smell like something that they find pleasant, which is poop.

Dog Pooping
Image By: Pezibear, Pixabay

2. They Are Masking Their Scent

Dogs are predators who have to hunt for their food in the wild. They don’t want their scent to be picked up by their prey. If a dog’s prey can smell them coming, the dog can’t sneak up on them.  As a result, the dog may roll in poop as a way of masking its own scent.

Obviously, dogs that are kept as pets don’t have to hunt for their own food. But even domesticated dogs still have their natural instincts and may still use the skills that they would need to survive in the wild. That includes masking their scent by rolling in poop.

3. They Are Communicating With Other Dogs

Dogs exhibit a pack mentality, which means that they try to work together in order to survive. They do this by communicating with other dogs in their pack. But since dogs don’t communicate the same way that you and I do, they have to talk to each other in other ways. Since dogs are carnivores, one of the reasons that they need to communicate with each other is for hunting purposes.

If a dog in the wild comes across something smelly such as a dead animal or poop that isn’t theirs, they will roll in it to pick up the scent. They’ll then carry that scent back to their pack in an effort to tell the other dogs that they’ve found something. The other dogs in the pack will follow that scent so that they can hunt for and eat that particular animal. Even domesticated dogs that don’t live with other dogs may still exhibit this behavior.

2 french bulldogs running on a yard
Image By: GH Studio, Shutterstock

4. They Are Marking Their Territory

Another natural instinct of dog behavior is to protect their own territory. One of the ways that they do this is by peeing on everything, especially after another dog has peed in the same place. But marking territory isn’t just limited to peeing on things. If your dog encounter’s another dog’s poop in their yard or even on a walk in the park, they may roll in it to let another dog know that they are there too and this is their territory.


How to Stop Your Dog From Rolling in Poop

If rolling in poop truly is an instinctual behavior for dogs, there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent the behavior completely. However, there are things that you can try to curb this behavior in certain places. For example, if you take your dog to the park or for a walk in the woods, make sure to keep them on a leash. This will help to keep them restrained and out of reach of any poop that they may encounter.

If your dog likes to roll in their own poop in their own backyard, it’s a little harder to stop them. Obviously, you don’t want to keep them on a leash in a fenced-in yard. The best thing you can do is pick up and dispose of their poop after they go. That way, they can’t run outside and roll in it later.

Teaching your dog to leave it alone can also be very effective. If you see that they are about to roll in poop, try to gently move them away from it and say “Leave it.” It may take several occurrences of this happening, but your dog will eventually get the idea.

dog with ecollar for invisible fence
Image By: EMpro, Shutterstock

How to Get Stinky Smells Off of Your Dog

Even if you do get your dog’s desire to roll in poop under control, it’s inevitable; there will still be some instances where they roll in poop or other smelly stuff. And even after bathing your dog, some of the smell may still remain if you use regular dog shampoo.

You may be tempted to use one of your heavily perfumed human shampoos on your dog in order to help mask the scent. But using human shampoo on dogs is never a good idea because it can cause skin irritation. Instead, you can use a deodorizing shampoo made for dogs in order to remove that stinky smell.

A lot of people use dish soap when they bathe their dogs to help them get clean. But using dish soap by itself can be too harsh on your dog and can actually dry their skin out. Don’t get us wrong, you can still use dish soap on dogs but you should mix it with other ingredients first.

There’s a simple recipe for dog shampoo that you can make using things that you probably already have at home. All you need to do is mix together:

  • ½ cup of mild unscented dish soap
  • ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups of warm water

Dish soap will help to remove dirt and grease from your dog’s coat, while vinegar will help to deodorize it. Water just helps to dilute it so that the dish soap and vinegar aren’t too strong. Spray the mixture onto your dog, shampoo them, and then rinse them off. They should smell fresh and clean when you’re done.

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Final Thoughts

While no one is 100% sure why exactly dogs roll in poop, most theories seem to lean toward it being a part of their natural instincts. You may not be able to stop it completely, but you can lower how much it happens by cleaning up after them at home and keeping them on a leash when taking them out in public. This way, you’ll only have to give your dog a bath every couple of weeks instead of every couple of days and you can devote more time to playing with them instead.

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Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

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