why dogs roll in poop



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Here's sort of a pot-porri of information I found on dogs rolling in poop

Chuck from Thornton asked:
Hello, we have a family dog that is a very good dog, except when she decides to roll in dog Doo. we canít seem to keep her from doing it. most of the time itís another dogs but sometimes itís hers. We think she is just trying to rub her scent on it. What can we do it stop it. Thank you. :)

Dear Mr. Heredia,
Donít dogs do some of the strangest things? Rolling in feces, though, is really very common. Possibly a dogís ancient instinct to mask his scent, which would then enable the animal to sneak up on their prey without detection. Even if your dog does not hunt, she may not like the way that she smellsóespecially if youíve just given her a bath! Or she just likes the smell of the feces.

But since the smell of poop is not as pleasing to your family as it is to your dog, I have a few suggestions:

1) You might keep her on a leash so that she canít roll in other dogís poop.
2) Pick up her poop up in the yard as soon as she does it.
3) You could also try pairing something unpleasant with her actions of rolling in poop, such as squirting her with a water bottle. OR a blast from one of those personal safety device airhorns (your neighbors might not appreciate this). OR get a citronella spraying collar with a remote spray capability. Dogs strongly dislike the smell of citronella, and this spray comes from the collar, under their chin and up toward their nose.

If you are consistent, she will start to pair rolling in poop with an unpleasant experience and this may be enough to make her stop.

Another suggestion is an aluminum can (soda can, coffee can) filled with coins to use as a noisy rattle. (If you use pennies, be careful that your dog never gets to the can to destroy it and eat the pennies, they are toxic to dogs).

Be absolutely sure that she is about to roll in the feces before you take aversive action. This could work against you. For example, if she is just sniffing for a place to urinate and you do any of these things, she may think that she is being punished for urinating (or thinking about urinating) and you may end up with housesoiling problems!!!
Dr. Julia Brannan, DVM
Argus Institute at
Colorado State University



Eau de Carrion 
Q:  My dog loves nothing better than to roll around over the carcass of a dead squirrel or rabbit. And he sleeps with us! What's his major malfunction?

A:  Lots of dogs do this, unfortunately. The leading explanation is that they're instinctively disguising their own scent so that prey animals won't sniff a predator upwind. Megan Parker, research biologist at the Wolf Education and Research Center in Seattle, says that, yes, wolves-the ancestors of dogs-regularly roll in carrion. But she's not so sure the reason is to disguise their scent. Both wolves and dogs have plentiful scent glands, she told us, so disguise is probably imperfect at best. 

"It could be they roll in carrion to take the scent back to the pack, telling them they've found something interesting." Kind of like a restaurant review.
"It could also be that they're marking the carrion with their scent, to tell anyone else who comes along 'this is mine.'" 

Of course, there's always the possibility that some dogs may simply enjoy rolling around in carrion, the way we enjoy a scented bubble bath.



An unusual behavior, scent-rolling, involves a wolf who finds something strong-smelling (often manure or a carcass) getting down and rolling in it, coating themselves. Some dogs also scent-roll. No-one is sure why wolves scent-roll, but it may be that they are bringing the smell back to the rest of their pack, which might then follow the wolfís scent trail back to the thing that smelled interesting. 



Why do female dogs love to roll in other animals' feces? My golden retrievers are littermates, and the females will role in anything stinky. The male doesn't have this habit. Is this a trait specific to female dogs? Why do dogs do this? -- J.S., Federal Way, Wash.
My dog loves the smell of dead and rotting fish, and will even roll in it. I can't believe my dog wants to smell like a dead fish. What's wrong with my dog? -- S.G., Boca Raton, Fla. 

"Some people love perfumes, others don't," says Terry Ryan, a dog trainer who lectures around the world on behavior and is the author of "The Bark Stops Here" (a brochure available at www.legacybymail.com). "Some dogs are very interested in any goose or cow poop, horse manure or rotting fish, and others just aren't." The effect of rolling in another animals' excrement is about as good as it gets for some dogs -- a canine version of rolling in catnip. If you think cow poop, horse manure and dead fish stink, imagine how powerful that smell must be to the sensitive and advanced canine olfactory system. According to Ryan, both male and female dogs enjoy such behavior. If you're a dog, this fascination with stinky bouquets is normal.

"No one has an absolute scientific explanation about why some dogs live to immerse themselves in essence of cow dung, while other dogs appear to be as revolted as most people are," says Ryan. There is one theory that rolling in rotten and rotting smells is an ancient instinct, a way to bring a message back to fellow pack members of, "Look what I found." In the wild, wolves and other canine species may be communicating that there's a rotting kill -- in other words, lunch. Ryan prefers a not-so-advanced theory: "I just think they like it -- really like it."

By Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services syndicated columnist



Dog Attracted To Other Animal's Feces

Q: Help! We live in an area with coyotes and other wildlife. We also have several very nice parks nearby. When we take the dogs to the park, they hunt out dog feces and one of them, Lucy, loves to roll in it. Besides being gross, it seems unsanitary and she gets several baths. It is difficult to get the smell out of her fur. Why does she do this? Our other dog only likes to eat it. Imagine that! I heard this was usual with puppies eating their own feces, but what can I do? Thanks.

A: This is a real pain, I know. I used to have a tracking dog who ate other animals' poop when tracking, and one year he got hookworms 4 times doing that. My other dog, who did not go out on the tracking field, didn't get hookworms that year at all. Some heartworm preventives now protect against hookworms, but they don't protect against all the parasites your dog can be exposed to by eating this stuff. So it's important to be careful.

This problem is exactly why we all need to pick up our dogs' poop, everywhere, no matter how "remote" the area might seem. Besides parasites, your dogs are exposed to viruses through contact with stools from other dogs. It is a major way that things like parvo are transmitted, and even vaccinated dogs are susceptible at times to illness from this source.

The best solution I know is to keep the dogs either on leash or on command at all times when you're outside a fence. In other words, you might practice retrieving, recall, or stay exercises, one dog off-leash at a time and under your full attention, if you know that dog is totally reliable on that command--but you wouldn't let them just run around and play off-leash.

Keep a close watch on your dogs for problems they may have already picked up from this fecal contact. For example, tapeworms can be contracted by eating a flea OR by eating a stool from another animal who has tapeworms. Tapeworms do not usually show up when your vet tests a stool specimen. You have to spot them yourself in a stool that has just hit the ground, or in dried segments clinging around the anus of your dog.

Eating the feces of other animals and rolling in this material to cover themselves with the scent are both instinctive behaviors in dogs. Unfortunately, neither instinct is healthy in our society, where a dog will come in contact with the feces of far more dogs than would happen, say, to a wolf living in a pack in the wild. Watch over those 2 "stinkers"! --Kathy Diamond Davis, author, Responsible Dog Ownership




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