Why do dogs always insist on rolling in the most rotten smelling area they can find? Whether it is a dead fish, a rotting carcass, or just an odoriferous pile of dung, many dogs cherish being as offensive as possible in the perfume department. There are times when a dog may roll in the grass or a pile of leaves merely for the enjoyment of it, but beware the lingering aroma of road kill or feces as these may also invite an enjoyable romp from Fido.
There are many theories explaining why dogs partake in this nefarious behavior, most dating back to the wild days of wolf packs before dogs were domesticated. Some experts claim the new scent covers the natural scent of the dog in the wild making them difficult to track. It could also work to hide their natural scent from prospective meals enabling them to sneak up on their prey without detection. It could even fool members of the other species into accepting it as one of their own. Other authorities say the scent-roll is used to take information back to the pack.
Scent is a very strong sense in dogs and you will notice one dog sniffing anything new to the home such as groceries, new people, or even a family member returning from work. If one animal is taken for a walk or to the vet, they are immediately scrutinized upon their return by those that had to stay at home. Smells can tell other animals where their pack members have been, what is nearby, and who they have met. Again, all things that most likely date back to wild days when a pack would greet returning members and use their noses to pick out danger or food sources.
Most likely this partiality to strong scents has been used for multiple reasons. Although dogs may sometimes roll in the grass because it feels good, rolling on the carcass of a dead animal, feces or something else smelly has instinctive roots, perhaps going back to wolves. Although there is a temptation to scold your dog, it is best to realize it is natural behavior and make sure your pet doesn’t have the opportunity to roll in smelly stuff. Dogs will often roll in the yard or even on carpet after a bath. Obviously Fluffy’s idea of “fresh and clean” differs significantly from ours, so it is of special importance to monitor what your dog has access to immediately following a bath if you want to maintain that clean smell.
To view some origins of domestic dog behaviors, visit Wolf Park in Battleground, IN. They have an upcoming event Sept 25th called “Walk for Wolves” to help raise money for this non-profit sanctuary. Visit the Wolf Park website for more information: http://www.wolfpark.org/index.html
Can a dog see with his nose? -Ambrose Bierce; Devil’s Dictionary
Dogs love to roll in obnoxious organic material because they have a highly evolved sense of smell, probably a million times better than ours, and I believe that they have an esthetic sense in this modality: they like to wear odors as much as we, a more visually oriented species, like to wear bright clothes or something different for awhile. –Michael W. Fox; Superdog: Raising The Perfect Canine Companion
Once a great hunting dog, today the Cocker is useless in the field. It can’t hunt it’s way to the meat counter in a supermarket. –Richard A. Wolters; Duck Dogs