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Why do Dogs Roll in Poop?

Q&A: Why do Dogs Roll in Poop?

Primal instincts.

(Surprise! The most common and accurate answer to most dog questions.)

It’s likely that your dog’s ancestors rolled in poop to mask their scent to track down and sneak up behind their prey without being detected.

…but keep reading for a more complete “why do dogs roll in poop?” answer, including:

CC Image “Everything about you resonates happiness.” courtesy of This Year’s Love/Flickr – Thx Shifra and Israel!

Your fur baby is, no doubt, you very pride and joy!

You make sure to feed her only the best, nutritional dog food, buy her the best dog toys and accessories, take her to regular vet visits and take care of any emergencies that happen to come up.

However, there are some things they can do that really just leave you scratching your head.

At first, it might look like he’s frolicking in the yard, blissfully rolling around as if he doesn’t have a care in the world.

(if only it were that cute when your dog did it!)

AFTER you reach to pet him, you find out what has actually been going on…

He’s been rolling in poop!

But why in the world would he do that?

Doesn’t it small as bad to him as it does to us?

We question it relentlessly in our minds, but few of us have the gall to actually ask the question.

That’s ok!

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You know we will ask it!

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Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop and Eat It?

It’s actually more common than you might believe.

Most agree that is has a lot to do with primal instincts that have carried over down through the years.

It’s likely that their wild ancestors did it to mask their scent so that they could more easily track down and sneak up behind their prey, all without being detected before they could finish the job.

So, your dog doesn’t hunt?

That’s ok, most of our pets don’t.

In those cases, it could just be that he likes the way it smells.


I know, it’s disgusting and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but neither does eating poop.

But he’ll do that too.


We promise, your dog is NOT trying to completely gross you out, even if it seems like that’s what he’s doing.

Surprisingly enough, though, this can be a sole reason behind people who give up their dogs. 🙁

Side note: If you’re thinking about giving your dog away because he eats poop….Contact me. I’ll take him.

The good news is, it can be discouraged.

Scent Rolling

As it turns out, rolling in poop is likely just an extension of something called “scent rolling”.

Wolves actually practice scent rolling on a regular basis, or for a very specific reason:

They want to bring back all the new smells they find to the pack so that they can experience them as well.

It’s one of the ways the whole pack can experience their environment without each and every one of them going to all the same places.

As it turns out, it isn’t just nasty things that the wolves roll in when practicing scent rolling. They’ve also been known to roll in other scents as well, including mint extract, perfume and even fish sandwiches!

While scent rolling hasn’t been studied in domestic dogs at this point, we can still look to the wolves’ behavior, since dogs are direct descendants.

Even though no studies have been done, countless people have weighed in on the scent rolling issue. Some dog owners have said that they catch their dog rolling in their dirty work clothes, towels with which they’ve used to dry their hair and even their own toys out in the yard.

Furthermore, it seems that the dogs that are most likely to partake in scent rolling are those that are part of a multi-dog household.

This makes it feasible that it is, in fact, a pack behavior that is ingrained into their brain.

For instance, I had never seen my own dog, a husky-mix, do any kind of scent rolling.

Once we got our second dog, however, she started doing it, especially when the scents she rolls in are located a good distance away from our house.

My Dog Rolls In Poop…How To Clean?!

So now, we know a little bit about why dogs rolls in poop, but that doesn’t help us when it actually happens. If you have found yourself with a dog coated in poop, you definitely do a double take and slow down to think things over.

“How am I going to clean this up?”

…is most likely the first thought that crosses your mind, and rightly so.

Here’s what we recommend:

Step 1

Make sure that you have completely removed all the offending material, i.e. “poop”, from your dog’s fur.

A quick shampoo may drive bits of the nasty matter down into the fur, where it will continue to smell. Nobody wants that!

Step 2

Make sure you suit up.

Using those neat rubber gloves created for washing dishes is a great idea.

So is making use of a dog brush that will not only remove the poop, but will also work the soap into a nice rich lather.

Step 3

Adding a bit of orange peel to the dog’s bath water also helps, and works wonders in breaking down grease.

Overall, its cleaning properties and the scent it leaves behind, with both be greatly appreciated when it’s all said and done!

More Tips

  • Don’t rush! Take your time and let the shampoo have time to really sink in.
  • Apply the shampoo, then lather/massage for at least 10 minutes. You can go longer if you have time, which only helps to alleviate the odor, especially if you are doing the “lather, rinse, repeat” method.
  • When you’re all done, make sure to rinse very well, running several runs of clean, warm water over your dog’s fur.

How To Keep Your Dog From Rolling In Poop

Now that you’ve found out the trivial aspect of “why” your dog rolls in poop, and you’ve learned how to clean them once they have, you’re definitely going to want to learn the most crucial step”

How do I keep my dog from rolling in poop?

This is not an easy task for the dog owner whose yard is excessively large, or whose dog has the run of the property most of the time.

You can actually train a dog, with the firm term “leave it”, and use treats to drive the meaning home.

Follow this by lots of praise for actually moving away from the poop.

However, this method must be repeated dozens of times, since you are asking your dog to go against a naturally ingrained instinct.

Some dogs might never learn the command. At least, not as quickly as you’d like, right? 🙂

If you are in a more confined space, and have access to the entire area your dog will be in, you can do a walk through.

Scoop up any poop you happen to find and get rid of it.

Now, this might seem like it’s a lot of work to do, but it might be simpler and easier than dealing with a poop-covered dog.

Don’t you think?

Another way to make sure your dog doesn’t roll in poop is to walk him solely on a leash.

In this way, you can quickly steer him away from any opportunity he might find to roll in poop and save yourself the trouble of a messy clean up later.

Still another method that seems to work really well for a lot of dog owners is setting up a little pen or kennel.

Pens made for the purpose of exercise can be set up easily and temporarily and are very lightweight and easy to handle.

If walking your dog on a leash is not always feasible, this may be the easiest way to cure his habit of rolling in poop!

In Closing

Do your dogs roll in poop, or have they done so in the past?

If so, what are the best cleaning methods you have found, and were you able to stop it from happening? We’d love to hear your stories, so be sure to leave them for us and other readers!

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