Why Do Dogs Roll in Stinky Things?! And What Can You Do About It?

The stroll begins innocently sufficient. Then you understand your canine, who has scampered forward of you, has hit the bottom and is writhing gleefully atop an odoriferous animal carcass or some excrement of unknown origin. 

Sound, or, maybe extra precisely, odor acquainted?

Most each canine proprietor can recount tales of their canine companions having rolled in one thing smelly, typically on the most inopportune time, like shortly following a shower. Why do canine do that? And why do they all the time select odors which can be maximally offensive to us, like useless animals or poop, and never the stunning lavender patch?

Truth is, we don’t particularly know, however there are a number of theories on the market:

 Stink facilitates stealth? Many have instructed the habits is an evolutionary carryover from canine’ days as wild predators, noting the tendency of wolves to roll in feces and atop animal carcasses. Some biologists have instructed this habits could possibly be designed to help with looking by masking or camouflaging a canine’s personal predator scent in an effort to extra successfully sneak up on prey. 

We could not know why canine roll in smelly substances, however there is no such thing as a mistaking the look of pleasure and delight on a canine’s face for anything when they’re exhausting at it.

Stanley Coren, Ph.D., writer of a number of books about canine habits and “Canine Corner” columnist for Psychology Today, notes this concept makes each evolutionary and adaptive sense. He defined that if an antelope smelled the scent of a wild canine, jackal, or wolf close by, the antelope would probably bolt and run for security. But, as a result of antelopes are used to the odor of their very own droppings and carrion (decaying flesh) is frequent on open plains, “prey animals are less likely to be frightened or suspicious of a hairy thing coated with that smell,” he wrote in certainly one of his columns.

Renowned behaviorist and writer Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., is skeptical about that principle. In a 2015 weblog publish exploring potential explanation why canine roll in substances that we discover to be extremely unsavory, she factors out how “most prey animals are highly visual, and use sight and sound to be on alert for predators.” 

She argues that, first, hoofed animals have better peripheral imaginative and prescient because of the placement of their eyes, they usually have ears that “swivel around like mobile satellite dishes.” If a prey animal’s sense of odor is adept sufficient to acknowledge predator scent, says McConnell, the animal can probably acknowledge that scent even when layered with the same scent of its identical species, or that of carrion from the encompassing space.

Finally, some scientists have famous that, whereas wolves generally ambush their targets whereas looking, it’s extra frequent for them to chase down prey, lessening the necessity for as stealthy an strategy. 

 Advertising entry to assets? Another principle is that rolling round in feces or atop a carcass is a approach to share invaluable info with different canine. Researchers at Wolf Park in Battleground, Ind., have discovered that wolves typically adopted a scent to its supply after smelling it on a pack-mate. In the wild, returning to the pack awash in eau de useless animal may assist lead others to a supply of meals. At the very least, it advertises one’s capacity to entry a invaluable useful resource, which might make for a horny mate.

 Is it concerning the canine’s scent? A lesser-supported speculation is that the rolling habits could be to distribute the canine’s scent onto the smelly merchandise, reasonably than the opposite manner round. This looks as if a largely ineffective technique in comparison with marking with urine or feces, particularly when coping with matter so pungent, so consultants imagine that is unlikely. 

 It’s enjoyable?! There’s no mistaking a canine’s sheer delight as they roll about, typically oblivious to our despair. Some scientists imagine the habits triggers a rush of dopamine, a neurotransmitter concerned in reward and pleasure. While the habits probably served an essential perform in canine’ evolutionary previous, for immediately’s domesticated canine, that perform has vanished, however the habits stays as a result of it feels good.

My personal canine is understood for his day by day exuberant rolls within the park, often commencing after a couple of completely happy retrieves of a favourite ball. He’ll trot a couple of steps away, lie down, and proceed to flip stomach up, legs flailing as his physique lurches aspect to aspect. His tongue hangs from his mouth and he snorts in delight, trying completely joyful. To me the message appears clear: Let the nice occasions roll! 


As with many issues in canine coaching, an oz of prevention is price a pound of treatment. If you’re prone to encounter nasty issues by which your canine will need to roll, maintain him on-leash! If utilizing a protracted line or permitting your canine off leash, take note of your canine! Time together with your canine, particularly if you’ve chosen to let him off leash, must be spent engaged together with your canine, not your cell machine. 

Australian Kelpies have been traditionally bred to work sheep, a hardy and difficult breed, additionally they excel at herding cattle. This Kelpie-mis loves cattle…poop! She covers herself with recent, moist cow poop any likelihood she will get, so, no extra off-leash walks in cow pastures!

1.  Practice identify recognition. Teach your canine to rapidly orient to you if you say his identify. Begin this habits in a well-recognized space with few to no distractions and work your manner up. With your canine on leash, casually maneuver so that you just’re behind him. Say his identify. When he turns to have a look at you, mark the second utilizing a clicker or marker phrase corresponding to “Yes!” and supply a deal with paired with reward and pleasurable petting.

If he doesn’t flip round, repeat his identify as much as two extra occasions, utilizing a cheerful, upbeat tone of voice. If he hasn’t circled after three tries, playfully faucet him on the rear to get his consideration, praising him enthusiastically as he turns round. From there, consider the state of affairs to find out what made the habits so difficult. Likely, he was distracted by one thing and the “pull” of the distraction was too nice. 

Before attempting once more, make a degree to maneuver away from the distraction, stacking the deck in your favor that he’ll have the ability to reply to his identify inside three tries. The aim is to make it simple for him to be appropriate. The extra we will reward the specified response, the extra we’ll see the specified response and the sooner it’ll occur.

When this habits is strong, the canine ought to fortunately flip towards you, if not return to you, in anticipation of a reward. Use this habits randomly whereas on walks to construct and preserve a robust reinforcement historical past. It’s an effective way to maintain a canine out of bother, particularly when he’s off leash. 

When my canine seems to be taking curiosity in one thing – particularly if I can’t see what it’s – I exploit his identify (or formal recall cue) to name him again to me and we strategy collectively. If the merchandise is on the “approved list” he’s free to test it out. If not, I’ve prevented an undesirable state of affairs.

2.  Teach a strong recall. As a coach, I can’t stress this sufficient. The single most essential habits you may train your canine is to reliably come when known as. A canine who comes when known as is extra prone to earn the liberty to securely expertise off-leash adventures in applicable settings and is total safer normally. 

Enjoying some off-leash time alongside the river? Notice your canine sniffing a rotting fish alongside the shore? Call her again to you earlier than she escalates her sniffing to the roll of doom! (See “Rocket Recall,” WDJ September 2015; “Games for Building a Reliable Recall,” September 2014, and “Training Your Dog to Execute an ‘Extremely Fast’ Reliable Recall,” September 2012.)

3.  Reward all pure check-ins. As you stroll together with your canine, particularly when he’s up forward of you by way of a protracted line or when he’s off leash, take note of the moments when he pauses and appears again at you or chooses to return with out being known as. Reinforcing these pure check-ins with reward, petting, and the frequent addition of treats reinforces the concept you’re strolling collectively. 

The extra you’re strolling in partnership together with your canine, the better the prospect he can nonetheless fortunately discover the setting with out turning into so fixated on anybody factor (like one thing gross he desires to roll in) that he ignores your makes an attempt to redirect his consideration or name him away from one thing gross. 

4.  Anticipate downside areas. If you may predict the place or when your canine is prone to roll in one thing foul, don’t give him the chance to take action. Maybe it’s the parkway flowerbed three doorways down, the one the neighborhood cats routinely use as a litter field. 

If you’ve been burned by your canine’s cease, drop, and roll antics, don’t let him pull you towards the hazard zone, even when it appears he solely desires an harmless sniff. Keep your canine’s consideration on you as you strategy and cross the flowerbed of doom utilizing upbeat dialog and reward paired with treats and a favourite toy as vital. Make not stopping to search for cat poop by which to roll extra enjoyable than doing so. 

Getting Rid of the Stench

If you end up needing to wash an particularly smelly canine, we advocate the age-old recipe for de-skunking a canine, as the mix of the 2 foremost components successfully break down pure odors. Mix one quart of three% hydrogen peroxide with ¼ cup baking soda in a bucket or massive bowl. Stir in a teaspoon or two of grease-cutting liquid cleaning soap; utilizing a grease-cutting cleaning soap is essential as a result of many foul-smelling, natural substances are oily. Make positive the hydrogen peroxide is recent and fizzy; it’s an unstable compound that, over time, will break down and lose its effectiveness as an odor neutralizer.

Rub the combination into the canine’s coat, avoiding the eyes and lips (it stings!), and let it sit briefly earlier than rinsing. Don’t wait too lengthy to rinse, because the peroxide can bleach the coat. Do not try and retailer any leftover formulation; the mix of components can explode if left in a bottle. 

There are additionally a number of deodorizing shampoos accessible commercially. We’ve heard good issues about Durvet Naturals Basics Deodorizing Shampoo and Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover, which works on quite a lot of odors, not simply skunk spray. The Nature’s Miracle product can be secure to make use of on clothes and carpet. 

As a canine proprietor, it’s by no means a foul thought to maintain an odor-removing product readily available – simply in case! – so that they don’t need to be left to unfold the stink round when you are out shopping for one thing to get it off of them!



If your canine does handle to hit the deck and adorn herself in one thing gross, don’t get mad at her. After all, she’s partaking in completely regular canine habits, and we, as her handler, gave her the chance, even when accidentally. 

Instead, deal with interrupting the habits as rapidly as doable to reduce the harm, and remember to reward as quickly as she’s on her ft. This can take nice self-control, particularly if you’re now standing subsequent to a smelly, manure-covered canine, but it surely’s essential to reward her compliance. 

It’s all the time a good suggestion to maintain a cleanup package in your automobile. Dogs can be canine, and we by no means know when an harmless stroll within the park will lead to a muddy or stink-covered canine. My canine trip in crates, which makes it tremendous simple to include a large number. 

If that’s not an possibility, a few towels, a big jug of water, and an previous sheet to totally shield the automobile’s inside will go a great distance towards getting everybody house – or to the closest groomer – as cleanly as doable. Another nice suggestion is so as to add an previous t-shirt to the cleanup package and make the offending soiled canine put on it as a barrier between the grossness and your automobile. 

Stephanie Colman is a author and canine coach in Southern California. She works within the pet division at Guide Dogs of America, serving to to recruit and handle volunteer pet raisers.

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