You let your freshly bathed dog outside to take care of his business, only to watch in horror as he gleefully rolls in the first disgusting thing he can find: poop! Why do they do that? The following paragraphs will look at the reasons why dogs roll in poop, the possible dangers of the behaviour, and tips for stopping it.
So, why do dogs roll in poop? There are many theories, but the short answer is that dogs like to stink, or at least they like what we think stinks. Not only will they roll in feces, but they will also roll around on dead animals. Perfumes, such as those found in shampoos, may be overpowering to the dog’s sense of smell which is about a hundred million times more sensitive than ours. They may simply be trying to cover up what they think is an awful odor. Some suggest that it is an instinctual behavior where the predator masks his scent from his intended prey. Additionally, wolves have been known to roll in feces as a means of communicating interesting finds with the other members of the pack.
“Interesting” may not quite be the word you have in mind to describe what he has found. In any case, before he goes inside, before anyone touches him, and before he decides he needs to clean himself, he is going to need a bath in soapy water. Animal feces carry bacteria and worm eggs, and dead critters could be carrying a host of other parasites.
Breaking your dog from rolling in poop is as easy, or as difficult, as breaking him from any other undesired behavior. If you take your dog out on a leash, you can simply not allow him access to other animal faeces. If he rolls in his own, make sure you keep it picked up. Aversion therapy may work best. Make your dog connect something unpleasant with the behavior. When he is just about to roll in something, spray him with water. Loud noises work too. Try blowing an air horn, or fill a can with coins and shake it vigorously. If nothing else, it will distract him from what he was about to do. Whatever you do, be consistent so that your dog gets the correct message. A word of caution is in order here. Before you employ any of these techniques, be sure your dog is actually about to do what you think he is. If he is just looking for a place to go, or something else equally innocent, correcting him could create even bigger problems than a stinky dog.
Rolling in poop is just another one of those things our dogs do that make us hold our noses, and scratch our heads. Although theories abound, no one can say exactly why they do it, but when they do, clean them up and help them change their behavior. With a little time, patience and consistency, your poop-rolling dog will only be a stinky memory.