Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop?


Why do dogs roll in poop? Let’s face it, scent rolling is one of those dog behaviors dog owners find most repulsive, especially when dogs roll in poop right after a bath! While we lather ourselves with body soap and a spritz of eau de toilette after a bath, dogs instead head for the “eau de toilet” literally using any form of animal poop they can come across!

Whether your dog rolls in fox poo, rabbit pellets or cow pies, this behavior sure leaves us baffled especially when we notice that satisfied, “look what I just did!” look on the dog’s face. Until dogs can talk, we can only make some assumptions as to why dogs engage in certain behaviors, so here are a few guesses as to why dogs roll in poop and other stinky things.

rolling in poopA Case of Identity Theft

When your dog rolls in poop, it looks like quite a simplistic behavior, but there’s a lot going on. First, of all, when the dog rolls in poop, he’s depositing his own scent on the poop, and at the same time, he’s also acquiring the scent of the animal who has deposited the poop. Why would a dog want to smell like a fox, deer, rabbit or a cow? There is likely a good reason.

One theory has it that this behavior may be reminiscent of the times when dogs were hunting for as living. When prey animals detected the smell of predators, they would normally leave, but if the predators smelled just like them, there were chances they were fooled and were easier to catch. Talk about a wolf in sheep clothing!

Dog Bulletin Board

Another theory has it, that dogs roll in poop to advertise something that may be relevant to the other members of his social group. It’s the canine version of social bragging, sort of like saying “Hey, look what I found!” It’s the sensory version of a bulletin board, where dogs send sensory messages to one another through scent. If bragging seems to be too much of an anthropomorphic explanation, there may have been another good reason for dogs to roll in poop or other stinky things.

Since dogs in the past used to wander for food sources, animal feces may have proven to be interesting information that was worthy of sharing with the other members. Since dogs cannot talk to one another and reveal their findings, scent carried on their coats may have been worth 100 words.

dog rolling in sticky stuffGaining Identity Back

When we give our dogs a bath, we are adding scents that we find appealing, but dogs can’t wait to get that scent off of them. No offense, but we’re talking about two different species here. As humans, we like the scent of fruit and flower blossoms because our evolutionary past revolved around gathering nuts and fruits.

Dogs on the other hand, were hunters and scavengers at heart. Yes, you can dress up your dog in pink, paint her nails and bathe her with baby powder cologne, but she will always be a dog who is attracted to stinky scents no matter what you do. So we shouldn’t be surprised if the moment we give our dogs a bath, they can’t wait to get that scent off of them, and gain back their identity and smell like a dog again! Or even better, smell like a dog covered in fox poo!

DIY Self-Grooming

Dogs have different perceptions when it comes to grooming. We want our dogs to smell good, while all our dogs care about is that their coats get rid of dead hairs and are free of mats. While we use brushes and combs to remove any dead hairs, dogs in the wild used to resort to rolling over stuff to shed those hairs away from their undercoats. Of course, the fact that whatever they find to to roll over is stinky and gross, makes the action from as dog’s perspective even more appealing! Welcome to the Poop n’ Groom Dog Salon!

As seen, dogs have their own good set of reasons to roll in poop or other stinky, rotten stuff. Whether your dog rolls in dung, dead fish or trash, consider that it’s an instinct. You can’t really do much about it, especially once your dog has begun to drop. So to prevent this behavior in the first place your best option is limiting exposure to stimuli that trigger the scent rolling action and investing in a leash.