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Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop?

Read time: 3 mins

15 Aug 2023

Dogs are fascinating creatures with behaviours that sometimes leave us scratching our heads in bewilderment. 

One such baffling behaviour is the act of rolling in poop. While this might be one of the more unpleasant behaviours that our furry friends engage in, there's actually a fascinating evolutionary explanation behind it. 

In this article, we'll delve into the reasons why dogs roll in poop and provide you with effective strategies to prevent this less-than-pleasant habit.

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Rolling in Poop?

Sudden onset of this rather unpleasant behaviour can be frustrating. It helps to understand the root cause of why your dog may be suddenly rolling in poop, so that you can take steps to prevent it:

Ancient instincts

Despite being domesticated for thousands of years, dogs retain many of their ancient instincts. One such instinct relates to their wild ancestors' need to mask their scent. 

Rolling in strong-smelling substances, including poop, was a survival tactic to mask their own smell and potentially deceive predators or prey. While your canine companion may no longer need to outsmart predators, this instinctual behaviour can still be triggered when encountering unfamiliar scents.

Communication and social bonding

Dogs are social animals, and they communicate with each other through a complex combination of body language and scent cues. Rolling in poop might seem repulsive to us, but it's a way for dogs to carry the scent of the environment back to their pack or family. 

This behaviour could have served as a form of non-verbal communication, helping dogs share information about their surroundings and experiences.

Claiming territory

Dogs have a strong territorial nature. Rolling in poop could be a way for them to mark their territory and establish dominance. In the wild, the scent of faeces can indicate the presence of a predator or another animal. By covering themselves in the scent, dogs could be signalling their ownership of a particular area or object.

How to Stop a Dog From Rolling in Poop

Rolling in poop is pretty gross and we get why you want to try and prevent it, here’s a few actions you can take to make your dog think twice:

Supervise and redirect

If your dog has a tendency to roll in poop, especially during walks, it's crucial to keep a watchful eye on them. When you notice them showing interest in faeces, promptly distract them with a command they know well, such as "sit" or "leave it." Reward them with a treat or praise for obeying your command.

Maintain good hygiene

Regular grooming and cleanliness can help deter dogs from engaging in undesirable behaviours. Ensure that your dog's coat is well-maintained and free from any lingering odours that might attract them to poop. Bathing your dog regularly using a mild, dog-friendly shampoo can help keep their natural scent balanced.

Use aversion techniques

Dogs dislike certain scents. Applying a small amount of a scent they dislike, such as citrus or vinegar, to areas where poop might be present can deter them from rolling in it. However, make sure the scent is not too overwhelming or harmful for your dog.

Positive reinforcement

Reward your dog for good behaviour. Whenever they encounter poop and choose not to roll in it, offer them praise, treats, or playtime. Positive reinforcement helps reinforce the idea that avoiding poop leads to positive outcomes.

Training and socialisation

Enrol your dog in obedience training and socialisation classes. Training can improve their responsiveness to commands, making it easier to redirect their behaviour when they're tempted to roll in poop. Socialisation also exposes them to a variety of scents, potentially reducing the novelty of faeces.