Why Do Dogs Roll In Poop


One of the most annoying things dogs do on walks is roll in feces and carcasses. Dogs that do this smell so bad after, more so, it’s really hard to get rid of the smell. Can you stop this behavior? Why do dogs roll in poop?

Dogs rolling in poop is a strange behavior we don’t know much about. Most probably, dogs roll in poop to hide their scent. Other explanations are that dogs roll in poop to mark their territory and to communicate that there’s food nearby. 

Finding the root of strange dog behavior like this is no easy task. The methods available to investigate this behavior are limited. So, the only thing we can do is hypothesize. Let’s look at this thoroughly.

Why Do Dogs Roll In Dead Animals And Poop

Why Do Dogs Roll In Dead Animals And Poop

First of all, the dog doesn’t really know that it’s rolling in poop. The smell attracts it. Dogs will roll in poop, dead animals, and other things with strong odors.

So, don’t worry, your dog doesn’t like poop. It’s the odor that the dog is attracted to. If there is a carcass in the area you walk in, your dog will most likely roll in that too. Why is that though?

  • Instinctive hunting behavior to hide their scents. 
    Even though dogs are domesticated they still have their hunting instincts. Most animals could recognize wolves and dogs by their scents. So, dogs adapted, they started covering themselves with odors that are familiar and that are not seen as a threat by prey. [Source]

    This is one theory of why dogs roll in dead animals and poop. It’s quite reasonable. Most of the behavior dogs exhibit is just hunting instincts. By covering their scent, they can get close to the prey without alerting it.

  • Marking the track of the prey for the pack that is following the dog. 
    Yet again, we try to explain this by falling back to natural instincts. We have observed that wolves communicate with the pack by leaving their scents behind. The idea is to communicate to members of the pack that are following that there is food nearby.

    With this hunting method, the members of the pack can follow the dog’s scent or the poop’s smell to trace the prey’s tracks.

  • Territorial behavior.
    Now, there is another theory that denies natural hunting instincts. Instead, the theory is all about marking territory. Sometimes, it’s obvious that your dog is not really hunting anything when it’s rolling in poop.

    But dogs are territorial and possessive animals. So, dogs that are prone to territorial behavior will not tolerate strong scents in their area. Just like territorial dogs would pee over the place another dog has peed. Dogs will roll in strong odors to leave their scents in order to mark their territory.

[Related Article: Why Do Dogs Eat Poop- Will It Cause Any Health Issues?]

How Do I Stop My Dog From Rolling In Poop

How Do I Stop My Dog From Rolling In Poop

Dogs rolling in stinky things is not something you can tolerate every now and then. First of all, the smell is too strong, especially if you are going back home in a car. Cleaning the dog is no easy thing as well. You may get rid of the poop but the smell stays for a while.

There are a lot of pet owners that want to put an end to this behavior. Well, I don’t really have good news for you. Instincts are instincts, and your dog will continue to do this even if you let it know it’s bad. The odor is too strong for the dog to ignore.

Still, there are things you can try.

  • Get your dog’s attention when you see that is going to roll in poop. 
    Most pet owners teach their dogs commands to stop them from biting, licking, and jumping on stuff. Well, the same command will work here. The only bad thing is, you have to know when your dog is going to roll on the ground. Even then, your dog will still be tempted to do what it’s used to. [Source]

    This is what I did with my dog. My advantage is that I walk in an area where I know where my dog usually rolls. So, when we reach those spots, I get its attention. This is successful 8 out of 10 times.

  • Keep your dog on a leash.
    Another thing you could try is to keep your dog on the leash. This is not that ideal and effective though. You can’t keep your dog on the leash for the whole walk, you have to know the spots.

[Related Article: The Ultimate Beginners Guide To Train A Dog For Obedience]

How To Clean Poop Off A Dog

The hardest part in all of this is cleaning the dog. Even if you can tolerate the smell without being grossed out, getting rid of it is exhausting. The easiest thing to do here is just to give your dog a nice bath. This will remove the poop smell for sure.

However, a full bath is not always an option. What if you just gave your dog a full bath? What if it’s cold that night? Well, there is something you can try.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar

Disclaimer: Don’t use vinegar on open wounds.

  1. Dilute the vinegar with water. 
    Since apple cider vinegar is not that strong, a 50-50 ratio should be fine.
  2. Put the mixture in a spray bottle. 
    A spray bottle works better here because you can just spray the affected area. Alternatively, you can soak a rag in the vinegar-water mixture.
  3. Apply the vinegar on the part of the dog’s body with poop.
  4. Wait for two minutes. 
  5. Rinse. 

Using Dog Shampoo

  1. Make a soapy mixture with dog shampoo and water. 
  2. Soak a rag in the shampoo. 
  3. Scrub the affected area.
  4. Rinse

Related Questions And Other FAQs

What Is My Dog Rolling In

Dogs generally like to roll in things with strong odors like dead animals and poop. They do this to hide their scent. Dogs will also roll in the grass to cool down and to scratch themselves.

Is It Normal For Dogs To Step In Poop

Although dogs are aware of things on the ground, sometimes they can step into something unpleasant. Dogs will step in poop when they are playing or not paying attention. Dogs can also step in their own poop.

Tim Adams

Tim has experience of 15 years with a wide variety of pets. Anything animal-related is his passion, so he is here to share some good practices to know about owning pets.

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