Why do dogs like to roll in poop, other really smelly, stinky stuff?
Our dog Missy certainly isn't exempt from rolling in smelly stuff.
Over the years, the Junker family has had a number of dogs. All of the pets have been family dogs. Some have also been hunting dogs. but spent time in the house.
While all of the canines have spent time indoors, they all loved the outdoors. This includes our current dog, Missy.
And all of the dogs, large and small and with varying natural instincts, they all have had one thing in common. They loved to roll in stinky stuff, especially after a bath when they are still wet from the tub.
The rolls in or on smelly stuff doesn’t include unfortunate encounters with skunks. We’ve had plenty of those, but even the dogs don’t care for the black and white kitty perfume. That’s another story.
Our dogs have been fortunate to have a couple good vets. One is Dr. Carol Thompson in Lake Wales, FL. She sends a regular email newsletter and a column in the digital publication prompted this outdoor journalist’s effort related to rolling dogs.
“Why do dogs love the smell of disgusting things?” reads the headline.
It was something I often had thought about and even developed a theory of my own. So, naturally I had to read the column, and that prompted even a bit more research on the internet.
Is your dog getting into bad, smelly stuff to aggravate you? That’s highly unlikely, most dogs will do most anything to please their human. companion.
There isn’t a lot of scientific evidence, but several theories exist of rolling in stinky smell exist
Most theories, including mine, date back to the early nature of dogs, their natural instincts. In addition, what smells good or bad via a dog’s highly sensitive nose, may differ significantly in what smells good or bad to it’s human.
Most people find the smell of the shampoo they use on their dog pleasant, but Fido (or in our case Missy), and many dogs may find the aroma unpleasant. As a result, as soon as the dog has the opportunity it rolls in something that smells more acceptable to it, e.g. dog poop, something dead, or who knows what.
One reason a dog likes to roll in smelly stuff may be quite natural. It likely is instinctive behavior, going back to the days when a dog’s ancestors sought to mask their own smells so they could sneak up on prey while hunting for their next meal.
Another theory is that when dogs traveled in packs, a dog rolled in the smell to take it to other dogs to let them know what the had encountered when they were slightly away from the group.
It also is interesting that humans like bad smells. Many top perfumes used to cover sweaty bodies, contain stuff like whale snot, anal glands from Asian cats, and feces (ugh), although it is masked by rose, lilac and other human perceived good smells.
While getting into smelly stuff is natural for dogs, you don’t have permit them to enjoy it.
You shouldn’t punish your dog for doing it, but you can do things to prohibit the unwanted behavior.
If your dog rolls in its own feces, clean up the poop in your yard before he gets a chance to get into it.
When you are walking your dog, keep it on a short leash to keep it from rolling in another dog’s left behind deposit or anything else smelly.
Another effort to stop the rolling includes providing an unpleasant experience. Take a water squirt bottle with you and provide a squirt when Fido starts to roll. Or, you can provide some other annoyance such as a loud or sudden noise. Hopefully, one of these will help reduce the smells your dog likes, but you don’t.