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Why Do Dogs Roll in The Dirt?

Ever wondered why dogs roll around in the dirt, grass, or other not-so-great-smelling things? Well, the truth is that kind of behavior is embedded deep in their DNA. Here’s why you may find your dog rolling around your yard and other spaces:

  1. Dogs have evolved from wolves and are natural pack hunters. Wolves roll on a kill to take the message of what he found back to his pack, and these smells may have contained important life-saving information.
  2. Rolling in a scent was a survival tactic to disguise their scent from other predators and prey so they couldn’t smell or sense them as they traveled or hunted.
  3. Or, the scent is just too good. Dogs may just show they like the smell and want to revel in it.

In any of these cases, it’s obvious that this rolling behavior is simply part of who they are. According to Pat Goodmann, research associate and curator of Wolf Park in Indiana, scent-rolling is a phenomenon that does seem to be a form of canine communication. Goodmann observed, "When a wolf encounters a novel odor, it first sniffs and then rolls in it, getting the scent on its body, especially around the face and neck. Upon its return, the pack greets it and, during the greeting, investigates the scent thoroughly. At Wolf Park, we've observed several instances where one or more pack members then followed the scent directly back to its origin." 

Even though this is a natural behavior, it isn’t the most sanitary or pleasant for their human pack, and it may put your dog at risk of fleas and ticks hiding out in the grass. The best way to keep your dog from rolling in poop or dead animals is to keep their yard clean and protected from fleas and ticks with a topical preventive.

If your dog runs straight to roll in the stinkiest thing right after their shampoo, they may be telling you he doesn’t like that fragrance and is taking charge of changing it. This is easily remedied by making a different shampoo choice. Consider the PetArmor® Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Oatmeal for Dogs to give your dog protection against pests all with a fresh-smelling scent they’ll love.