Why Do Dogs Roll In The Grass? Is That Unusual?

Are you annoyed by your dog rolling in the grass every time you take a walk? Dogs have that distinctive smell after rolling in the grass, especially if the grass is wet. Although it can be funny, cleaning the dog is just too exhausting sometimes. What’s with this behavior though? Why do dogs roll in the grass?

Dogs have a natural instinct that was passed down with generations to roll in things with a strong scent. By covering themselves in the scent prey can’t detect them. There’s a carcass or feces in the grass that attracts the dog. The strong odor will trigger instinctive behavior. 

There’s no need for your dog to hunt prey though, that’s why this behavior confuses so many pet owners. Here we’ll try explaining this behavior so you can understand your dog better.

There Is A Dead Animal In The Grass

There Is A Dead Animal In The Grass

When hunting dogs like to cover their fur in a scent that’s familiar to the prey. Something that will not tell the prey that there is a threat nearby. Carcasses have a strong groundy scent that prey animals are used to.

Even though you may not be able to see anything in the grass, the odor will be there. Once the dead animal degrades it’s combined with the grass. The dog is attracted to the odor so it starts rolling in the grass. [Source]

If your dog was rolling in a dead animal, you will know by the bad odor that you can smell from a mile away. If the carcass is old enough, the smell won’t be that bad. But if it’s relatively new, the smell will be really bad.

There Is Poop In The Grass

One of the most disgusting things your dogs can find in the grass is animal poop. Because of the bad and strong odor the poop has, the dog will like to roll in it. The dog doesn’t really know that what it’s doing is disgusting. It’s just attracted to the smell.

Again, dogs will roll in poop to cover up their scent. A hunting instinct passed down by their ancestors. When the prey smells familiar animal dung it thinks that a friendly animal is around.

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It’s not hard to find out whether your dog is rolling in poop. If you don’t notice the smell, you will surely notice the poop on the dog’s fur. If you have a dog that’s rolling in the grass often, you must have noticed this.

When They Are Scratching Their Backs

When They Are Scratching Their Backs

Now, dogs don’t necessarily toll in the grass to cover up their scents. Sometimes, they just feel itchy, and rolling in the grass is the best way to relieve the discomfort. Dogs like the grass because it’s not too hard on their backs and it feels cold.

You will be surprised how much dogs like scratching their backs. In fact, dogs like scratching their back more than belly rubs. They can’t do it on their own so they use the grass. [Source]

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know when your dog is rolling in the grass to scratch an itch. If you don’t notice any odors and you see nothing in the grass the dog may be just scratching its back. Remember though, your dog may be trying to scratch its back but accidentally picks up a scent.

When They Are Cooling Down

When They Are Cooling Down

Dogs often get hot during walks in the summer. The grass feels cool for them so they see it as a way to cool down. So, sometimes, dogs will roll in the grass to cool down not to scratch an itch or cover up with a scent.

You can notice this during those warm summer days when dogs can’t cool down just by breathing. Occasionally, dogs will roll in the grass to cool down, especially in wet grass. Sometimes, the dog will dive into a pond with its head. It’s the same behavior.

To find out whether your dog is rolling in the grass to cool down, follow the places that it rolled in. Most likely, the dog will look for wet grass or grass that has been in the shade. Those places are more likely to be cold and the dog feels that.

When They Want To Mark Their Territory

Lastly, dogs will roll in the grass to leave their scents in it. Dogs are also territorial creatures so they do territorial behavior. Instead of covering themselves in another animal’s scent, they leave their scent in the grass.

This is mostly done by dogs that live in a yard. If they see another dog or another pet they will most likely feel threatened.

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If so, they will try to mark their territory in every possible way. Sometimes, it’s peeing on objects, other times, it’s rolling on the ground.

Try to see if your dog rolls in the ground when there’s another dog around. Look for related territorial behavior.

How To Stop Dog From Rolling In The Grass

I know that most dog owners will try to stop this behavior. Understandably so. But let me tell you, you won’t be able to completely stop this. The hunting instincts are too strong, the back may be itching too much, or the dog may be feeling too hot.

There are some things you can try to minimize this behavior.

  • Keep your dog’s attention when near spots that the dog likes to roll in. 
    For this, to work you need to know the likely spots where the dog is going to roll in. Consider offering treats or training a command like “leave it”.
  • Keep your dog on a leash.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Why Do Dogs Smell A Spot Then Roll In It

Dogs roll in things with strong odors to cover up their scents. Also, they will do that to cover the odor with their own scent.

They do this to hide their scent from prey or to mark their territory. The dog smells the spot first because it’s a particular odor.

Why Does My Dog Stare At Me

When dogs stare at their owners they are either expressing affection or they are trying to tell the owner they need something.

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