Why do dogs roll in poo?

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My 3 year old male Cocker spaniel Nimrod has a very interesting habit.

If he can get dirty then he will and this often includes rolling in the most obnoxious substances and smells that he can locate – which includes poo.

My other dogs don’t bother and just get smelly and dirty as a matter of course, but Nimrod goes out of his way to do so – and the quicker the better.

So, why do dogs like Nimrod roll in things like poo?

A dog’s sense of smell is much more powerful than a human’s and, for a dog, is his eyes, ears and everything else. By rolling in poo your dog is taking on a natural scent that helps him to fit in more closely to his surroundings. It is a bit like doggy camouflage which disguises his smell and helps him to hide.

Smell is communication

When you take your dog out he will stop and sniff at virtually anything that he can, lamp posts, trees and bushes, car wheels, in fact anything within reach.

This sniffing is more than just smelling, for dog’s it is like reading the mail or newspaper – it’s a source of up to date information.

Dogs leave scent wherever they go, through urination, rubbing against objects, their saliva and even just from their paws.

When another dog comes along and sniffs he can tell who was there before him.

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He can detect if the dog was ill or injured, ready to breed, where they had been before and can gain lots of information and intelligence that we can only imagine possible.

Smell should be natural

Dogs get smelly, that’s a fact that any dog owner will be familiar with and, if you consider that a dog is an animal, it’s not normal for him to smell of shampoo or perfumes.

Having an unusual smell ( such as of soap or similar ) could place a dog in danger of detection by predators as his scent would easily stand out from his surroundings, making him more detectable.

So, smelling bad could be an advantage.

why do dogs roll in poo
We can only imagine how sensitive a dog’s sense of smell is

Dogs rolling in poo could be camouflaging themselves

As scent plays such a significant roll in a dog’s life it’s possible that getting smelly through doing things such as rolling in poo, is a form of camouflage.

A strong, unpleasant smell, such as poo, will provide a powerful mask to a dog’s normal scent.

This could be advantageous to a dog that was hunting as his prey would be less likely to identify his smell and, likewise, would also be helpful in preventing a predator from detecting him.

Your dog might be seeking attention

It’s possible that your dog might be attention seeking and rolling in poo is the way that he gets it.

If you always bath your dog when he gets stinky then he may have learned that he gets a response from you ( in the form of a bath ) by rolling in poo.

You might just need to spend a bit more time with your dog.

Final words

There are many reasons why dogs like to get smelly and, for some such as Nimrod, getting stinky on an almost nuclear level, is a major achievement.

Whether it’s for attention or camouflage or simply to see just how far they can go before the shampoo comes out, we’ll probably never really know the answer.

One thing is certain though – getting smelly is attractive to almost every dog and rolling in poo is a quick way to get a result.

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