Oh My Gosh! My Dog Rolled Around in Her Poop Again!

Oh My Gosh! My Dog Rolled Around in Her Poop Again!

Let us admit it. We bathed our dogs the night before or that morning, and then what do they do? They smell a smelly opportunity! The animal runs outside to find the single pile of poop and rolls around in it. We complain, yell, or beat our hands against your legs. We ask, “Why!”

Sometimes we forget that dogs live a completely different existence than humans. They have taste buds and mouths, but they live through their noses. Their smelling capabilities are 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than humans. A dog’s sense of smell is more nuanced than us. How does this relate to rolling around in poop or gross things?

The dog not only smells the poop but smells everything else in the poop too. Last night's dinner. The good gut bacteria. The doggie treat from two days ago. A dog’s nose is sensitive enough to find cancer on human skin or smell Orca scat a mile away in the ocean. There is probably a whole universe of smells in their own poop  and other animal feces. There could be a hundred reasons why our dogs do this. We found three reasons why your animal might love to roll around in poop or other gross stuff.


First, rolling around in poop has been coined as scent-rolling by scientists. Many scientists believe the scent-rolling in poop, or other gross things, is an evolved form of communication. Wolves have been observed rolling around in prey carcasses. One scientist believes it allows one wolf to communicate to the pack where it's been and what’s been going on.

Some speculation is the rolling around in a carcass helps wolves guide others to leftovers from a hunt. The smell would be on the animal’s breath and its fur. When the rest of the pack smells it on the hunting member, the others could go find the remaining food to eat.

It’s also been established that scent rolling is a possible social behavior. A lead wolf has been observed rolling in a carcass after a meal, and then other pack members follow the lead. This scent rolling has been identified in Canadian wolves and African Wild Dogs. The habit could help establish a uniform scent profile for the pack. Rolling around in urine or a carcass seems to provide many benefits to these highly sociable canines. It's not only about communicating with the pack, but with other outside dogs/wolves and predators as well.

Marking their territory

Peeing on things isn’t the only way dogs, and wolves mark their territory. Scent rolling is a speculated way of establishing dominance in a given area. It’s a well-known suggestion that dogs urinate in places to establish their domain. But what happens when a competing animal marks another’s land with feces or urine?

One scientist believes competing canines are trying to deposit their own scent. Rolling around in rival's poop lets others know they are willing to defend their territory. On the more cordial side of scent rolling, it’s a supposed greeting. Not everything is as combative as it seems. The animals could be letting others know they’re around in the area. It's a dog’s way of shaking paws.

Because dogs love rolling in poop

This scent rolling might be because they love it. Stanley Coren, who wrote Why Do Dogs Roll in Garbage, Manure, and Smelly Stuff?, believes dogs, like humans, love sensory stimulation. They savor the chance to roll around in a nice feccal pile as much as we enjoy a nice beer while grilling steaks. If anything, this habit is a leftover instinct. These reasons given are scientific guesses.

How to Stop It

We wouldn’t recommend trying to stop a wolf from rolling around in poop. There is a method to help correct the dog's actions. Before the dog rolls, a couple of signs present before scent rolling occurs. It does take patience and some delicious treats. 

The Signs

First, dogs aren’t going to dive nose-first into the foul odors and waste. Our animals provide some tells before they decide if a stink is the right stink. Your dog might sniff around more than usual. This indicates some stench, or other smells, have caught the dog's full attention. Scent-rolling is possibly imminent.

The second tell is the doggo might have a pre-roll posture. Your animal will turn its head to the side before falling into the gross sting. They start with their face and necks, then move towards their backs and rears. Once the signs of scent rolling show, you have to take immediate action.

Methods of how to stop it

There is a two-step dog training exercise to help prevent the dreaded rolling. In fact, Wag! explains in several steps how to train your canine companion. They won’t understand that the scent rolling is a bad behavior until you train them to understand the command leave it.

Wag! calls this training The Hidden Treat Method and PetMD recommends a similar technique. You should have several treats ready for repeat instruction. Take the treat and place it in your hand. Ball up your fist tightly; so, your pet can’t get to it. Have a backup treat in your other hidden hand for a reward. 

Your dog will nudge at your hand to get the treat and you should ignore them until they back away. This might take several attempts. However, once the pet backs away, you should say leave it and feed your animal the treat. Repeat and reward your pet for their excellent behavior. 

After your dog understands the command, you can start implementing the method in the yard and then while taking your pet for a walk. The leave it/hidden treat method is more of a general command for improper behavior.

Owners have to realize the senes of smell is a huge part of a dog’s universe. We know that their smell is 100,000 times stronger than ours in some cases. In fact, there is no sure reason why dogs roll around in poop or gross things. This a dog’s world, and we live in it. Either way, there is a method to help your dog realize scent rolling is an unappreciated behavior. One final joke before you leave though: why do dogs roll around in gross things? It’s because they are poo-ches!