Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop?!

Have you ever let your pet out for their morning constitutional only to turn around and have them running back inside smelling terrible? And why are they wet? You smell them and sure enough, that’s poop. Believe it or not this isn’t an uncommon behavior for dogs. It’s still gross of course, but we can help you understand why they’re doing what they are doing, and maybe you can use this knowledge to prevent it from happening in the future! Maybe.

Why Do Dogs Roll in Poop (and Other Awful Smells)

As we all know, canines have an incredible sense of smell – it’s how they experience the entire world and they are so fine tuned they can pick up smells humans like us have no chance of catching. They catch a whiff of something they are interested in and, like a cat to catnip, they decided to roll their head, shoulders, and back into it to try and get the smell on themselves. It’s strange behavior to be sure. So why do they do it? What makes them want to roll in it? We’re still not entirely positive but there are a few theories!

They Smell What We Don’t

Well, this one is certainly true – dogs have incredibly powerful noses and can smell with far more depth than even the best human snout. But those noses may be able to detect something beneath those smelly layers that is pleasant, at least to them. Dogs will sometimes do this when they eat another pet’s waste for instance, they may detect high level of proteins in the litter box and decide to make a meal out of it.

So maybe that’s it, maybe dogs smell something good mixed in with the poop? Maybe.

Claiming Territory

We know that dogs (and other animals!) mark their territory by urinating around it. By placing their smell across a given area, it lets any other animals crossing the area have an understanding of who is here and who runs this place! A dog might roll around in the urine (or poop) to cover another animal’s scent, or to leave their scent on top of it. 


Camouflaging their Scent

Following off on that last idea, there’s the potential possibility that dogs roll around in poop (or other unpleasantness) to mask their own scent. Why would they want to do this? Simple – they might be engaging in predator behavior, hoping to sneak up or hunt prey. If your dog is rolling around in their own poop in the backyard it’s possible they see birds or stray cats along the wall and they want to sneak up on them better.

Again, maybe. Possibly.

Of course, Sometimes They’re Just Bored

And of course, there’s always the possibility that the dog is just bored. It’s well known behavior that a bored, understimulated pooch will display destructive behaviors like chewing up furniture, digging holes, scratching things, devouring shoes. All of this is destructive behavior that does one thing – gets you to pay more and closer attention to your dog. It’s possible that your pet is rolling in poop as a way of getting your attention. Misplaced, but it comes from the heart, isn’t that nice. If only it smelled better!

Do any of these point to the possible reason for your pooch’s messy rolling? Give them a bath, and pay attention to their behaviors before and after one of these rolls through the ‘mud.’ You might be able to key into what’s driving the behavior and how you can curb it. Or at the very least when to expect it.

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