Scent and Sensibility: Why Dogs Choose to Roll in Poop

by Bethel Farms on Jul 25, 2023

Scent and Sensibility: Why Dogs Choose to Roll in Poop

Have you ever been enjoying a beautiful sunny day in the park, throwing a frisbee back and forth with your fluffy best friend? They're bounding back and forth, their tongue lolling out, a perfect picture of canine joy. Then suddenly, during the fun, your pet pauses, sniffs at a particular spot in the grass, and excitedly starts to roll in it before you can even yell out a warning. As you approach, the unfortunate truth hits you - it's a pile of poop. You stand there, exasperated, while your dog wiggles in delight, covering itself in the revolting smell. You can't help but ask yourself, why in the world do dogs seem to enjoy this gross behavior? This peculiar habit of dogs has long perplexed pet owners. Today, we'll explore the reasons behind this behavior, offering a fresh perspective on our pets' sometimes confusing actions.


Getting into a Dog's Head (And Nose)

To understand why our dogs do what they do, we must momentarily put ourselves in their paws. Dogs experience the world very differently from us, particularly regarding their senses. One of their greatest gifts is their highly developed sense of smell. Dogs have a superpower we humans can only dream of - a highly sharp sense of smell. Their olfactory abilities are estimated to be 10,000 to 100,000 times more potent than ours! They use this super-powered nose to understand the world around them, interpreting a wide array of smells in a far more detailed way than we can ever hope to do with our noses.

Think about how we use our eyes to notice things around us - the color of a flower, the shape of a cloud, the danger of a fast-approaching car. Dogs do the same thing but with their noses. When they encounter an exciting smell - even something that we would find gross, like poop - they are not just detecting a foul odor. They're picking up a whole host of complex information entirely invisible to our human senses.


Why Poop, Though?

Our dogs, as different as they may seem from wild animals, are part of the Canidae family, which includes animals like wolves, foxes, and other wild dogs. Many of the behaviors our domestic pets exhibit can be traced back to their wild ancestors, and one such behavior is the compulsion to roll in strong-smelling substances like poop.


In the wild, wolves often roll in the smells of other animals, especially the strong ones, like poop or dead animals. As appalling as this might sound, there are good reasons for this.

The first reason is camouflage. Wolves can effectively hide their scent by covering themselves with a pungent smell. This can prove vital in several situations, like when they're trying to sneak up on their prey or to avoid being noticed by larger, more dangerous predators. The second reason has to do with communication. Wolves, being pack animals, communicate with each other in various ways, one of which is through scent. By bringing back these strange and robust smells to their pack, they share essential information about what they've encountered during their explorations.


So when your pet dog rolls in poop, as unpleasant as it is for you, they are not just being gross for the sake of it. They're following an old, ingrained instinct that, in the wild, is all about survival and communication.


How Can We Stop This?

Of course, just because rolling in poop is natural does not mean we must put up with our dogs stinking up our homes! Here are some strategies to keep your dog clean and poop-roll-free:

  1. Clean Surroundings: The most straightforward way to prevent your dog from rolling in poop is by ensuring that they don't come across any. This involves regularly cleaning your backyard, front lawn, and any other areas where your dog spends a lot of time. If you go for walks in public parks, stick to clean, well-maintained areas.
  2. Quick Response: A good recall is one of the most essential commands for any dog. Teach your dog to come back to you immediately when you call them. This can be particularly useful during walks or playtime when your dog might find something 'interesting' to roll in. Always have treats with you, especially on walks. If you see your dog about to roll in something, you can call them back and reward them for listening to you.
  3. Reward Good Behavior: Negative reinforcement often does more harm than good. Never yell at or punish your dog for rolling in poop. This may create fear and confusion, leading to other behavioral problems. Instead, opt for positive reinforcement. Give your dog plenty of praise, petting, and treats when they listen to you, and don't roll in the poop.
  4. Plenty of Exercise and Fun: Dogs that are bored or have excess energy might be more likely to engage in undesirable behaviors like rolling in poop. Make sure your dog gets plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Regular walks, playtime, puzzles, and training sessions can help keep your dog happy and well-behaved.
  5. Consider Using Gotta Go Grass: If you're looking for a novel solution to the poop-rolling issue, consider Gotta Go Grass. This product, featuring grass pee pads with natural soil, naturally absorbs odors and liquids. The pee pads are made from farm-fresh grass and come with adaptable interlocking trays, ensuring a perfect fit for your pet, regardless of their growth. You can use it anywhere - in your yard, patio, or indoors. It provides a specific spot for your pet's needs, limiting their exposure to random poop and reducing the likelihood of poop-rolling incidents. Gotta Go Grass makes pet potty time stress-free, letting you focus more on enjoying quality time with your pet.

 dog outdoor pee pads

Poop Patrol: The Final Scoop

To sum up, dogs roll in poop due to instinctual behaviors inherited from their wild ancestors. To them, these strong smells provide valuable information and camouflage, even if it makes our noses crinkle. But this doesn't mean we have to live with the stink! We can curb this messy habit by keeping our environments clean, training our pets to respond quickly to us, rewarding good behavior, and providing plenty of exercise and fun. Products like 'Gotta Go Grass' can also be a handy addition to your pet care arsenal, creating a dedicated and controlled space for your dog to relieve themselves. It's important to remember that patience, understanding, and a sense of humor are all part of the pet ownership package. Our dogs might not understand our disgust with this smelly habit, but with time and positive reinforcement, they can learn to leave the poop rolling behind and keep their fur clean and fresh - a win for both our dogs and our noses!


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