Why Is My Dog Rolling Around in Poop?

Is your dog rolling in poop? While this behavior may be normal for furry companions, most owners would find it disgusting. Surprisingly, a dog rolling in poop can actually be pointing to a number of different causes. Once you are aware of the different reasons, you can then find a solution for managing this issue.

Below is an introductory guide on why your dog may be rolling in his own poop and how to train your him to stop this behavior.

My Dog Rolled in Poop: Why? 

As a human being, it can seem entirely strange that a dog willingly covers himself in poop. What is considered normal behavior for a human being may be entirely different for a dog and vice versa. While dogs are known to have some strange behaviors, like chewing up your underwear or peeing inside the house, there is always a reason for his behavior. When it comes to your dog rolling in his own poop, there are several possible theories that may be the underlying culprit. Below are some of the most common causes:

Theories of Why Dogs Roll in Poop 

To Hide His Own Scent

Perhaps the most common theory is that they are trying to hide their scent. Dogs are descendants of wild animals that could not rely on a safe environment and regular meals; instead, they were left to wander out in the wilderness in pursuit of their next meal. Rolling in poop helps to mask a dog’s scent, which is an instinct that developed over time as a way to hunt prey without being detected. It also worked in their favor as well when they were trying to avoid larger predators from hunting them. Though today’s dogs live entirely different lives than their ancestors, some of these instincts remain deeply ingrained in domesticated dogs, including the ability and desire to hunt. When your dog is rolling around in poop, it may just be his way of trying to hide his own scent.

To Leave His Scent Behind and Mark His Territory

While a dog rolling in poop can be a sign that your pup is trying to hide his scent, it can also be an attempt to leave his scent behind. You’ve probably heard of a dog marking his territory by lifting his leg and urinating on a surface, but there are many different ways by which dogs leave behind their unique scent. When your dog rolls in his poop, he may be doing this to show other animals that the territory is his. By leaving his scent behind, your dog could be letting other dogs and animals know not to enter his area. This process of marking territory can serve as a warning system to other animals and is a part of their evolutionary history as a way to communicate with other animals in the surrounding area.

To Communicate With His “Pack”

Another possible reason for this strange behavior is to communicate with the rest of the pack. Depending on the environment in which your dog lives, you may be a part of his pack, other dogs in your household may, or perhaps even the dogs of close friends. No matter who your dog considers a pack member, he may feel an instinctive need that he needs to communicate with them. Some research suggests that wolves display similar behaviors. By rolling in a smelly substance, they are actually drawing their pack back to where the scent originated. This can be beneficial for hunting in order to trace the path of where their prey has been and to track it for a successful hunt. It’s important to remember what the ancestors of dogs had to do to survive when your dog displays a behavior that may make very little sense on the surface.

To Deal With Being Bored

The final theory on why some dogs may roll around in poop is because they are simply bored. Dogs are active creatures and when they aren’t being properly stimulated, they go looking for their own entertainment. Just like when children are bored and they act out as a result, dogs can also channel their frustration and pent up energy into strange behaviors. If you’re worried your dog may be acting out because he is bored, analyze how much exercise your dog has been getting, whether he is getting enough mental stimulation, and whether there have been any environmental shifts in his life.

Now that you know some of the potential reasons why your dog may be rolling in his own poop, you may be asking yourself, “What do I do now?” Below are some helpful tips on how to get your dog to stop this unwanted behavior. 

What To Do When Your Dog Rolls in Poop 

It’s done, your dog has rolled in poop and despite your best efforts is now a smelly pup in need of a thorough cleaning. This situation can feel overwhelming as a pet owner and you may feel at a loss for what to do next. Below are a few steps to take once you’ve discovered your dog has been rolling around in poop. 

Give Your Dog a Thorough Cleaning

If your dog has covered himself in poop, the first thing you will want to do is to give him a good wash. While your pup may be perfectly happy to be covered in poop, chances are that you’re not too thrilled and want to rectify the issue as soon as possible. Before you start getting ready to wash your dog, grab a pair of rubber gloves (the kind you may use for dishwashing) so that you can stay clean as you scrub his fur. Once you have your gloves on, grab a bottle of dog sensitive shampoo and get to work. To combat the odor of the poop, it can also be helpful to add orange or lemon peels to the water if you are giving him a bath. 

It’s important to rinse all of the poop off of his fur before you start to apply and lather the shampoo so that you do not accidentally trap the poop in his fur. Instead, focus on removing all of remnants first and then give him a thorough rinse. Once the poop has all been removed and his fur is saturated, apply the shampoo and lather it up until his fur is coated in bubbles. Once his fur is soaked in shampoo and has been adequately scrubbed, allow the shampoo to soak on for at least ten minutes before rinsing. The water should run clear and be free of bubbles when all of the shampoo is gone. Once his fur is free of shampoo, he is ready to be dried. It’s always best to allow your dog to shake a few times if he’s willing before you attempt to dry him yourself. Once he’s given himself a good shake, you can towel dry or use a blow dryer to complete his bath. By now, he should be smelling good and have no traces of poop remaining.

Work to Correct the Behavior 

While your dog could be rolling in poop for a number of reasons, it’s important to teach him that this is not an acceptable behavior. Stopping your dog from rolling in poop can be a tough task for a number of different reasons. Many dogs only roll in poop when they are off leash or wandering around the yard, which can make it hard to stop at the moment, even if you are standing by. In addition, your dog may look like he is just rolling around in the grass or dirt and you may only discover later that he was rolling around in poop. So how do you start to correct the behavior? 

Learn the Signs

The first step is paying attention and determining what signs your dog is displaying immediately before he rolls in poop. These signs will tell you what he is about to do and allow you to intervene before he starts this nasty behavior. These signs will often be subtle body movements, so it may take a few tries to pin down what actions your dog takes before doing his dirty deed.

Teach a Command 

Just like teaching your dog to sit or stay, you can teach your dog a command to signal him to stop doing whatever he is doing. For many dog owners, “leave it” is an ideal command to use since it is extremely useful in many situations. When you see your dog is about to roll in poop, call out the command. This will take training and repetition in order to be effective, so be prepared with treats and lots of praise when your dog successfully heeds. With a little patience and effort, your dog will be able to avoid the perils of poop once and for all.

If your dog continues this behavior after you’ve tried everything to get him to stop, it may be wide to further discuss different methods with a trusted veterinarian. They will be able to consider your dog’s unique circumstances and develop a catered treatment plan. 

Sources:

Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop (& Other Smelly Things)? | Hill’s Pet. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/behavior-appearance/why-do-dogs-roll-in-poop

Shojai, A. (2017, August 13). Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop? Retrieved from https://www.thesprucepets.com/why-dogs-roll-in-poop-2804593

Kahn, J. M. (2018, September 07). What You Should Do When Your Dog Rolls in Disgusting Stuff, According to Vets. Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/a20707215/what-to-do-when-dog-rolls-in-dead-animal/

Wag! (2017, October 24). How to Train Your Dog to Not Roll in Poop. Retrieved from https://wagwalking.com/training/not-roll-in-poop

 

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