October 9, 2013

Toby, Stop Rolling In Dead Things

Posted in: Dog


The first time I saw Toby roll on his back in the grass at the park I thought, cute he’s scratching his itchy back. I thought he was scratching his back for many months before I caught him rolling around in possum poo, his fur covered in it. Toby loves to roll around in possum wee, poo and dead carcasses that are usually birds. Not understanding why Toby or any other dog for that matter enjoys rolling around in gross stuff, I googled it to find answers.

The good news is your dog isn’t a weirdo, dogs rolling around in wee, poo and dead carcasses is very common, very normal and very natural. There are a few theories as to why dogs take part in such behaviour and here they are.

I’m a Hunter

A dog’s ancestors used to mask their scent to help them sneak up on their prey.  Wolves, for example, have been observed rolling in animal carcasses or the droppings of plant-eating animals, to cover up their own smell during the hunt. Unfortunately, thousands of years of domestication has not gotten rid of this instinctual habit hence why I find Toby rolling around in all those wonderful things.

I’m Trying to Show Off

Another theory is that dogs like to show off to other dogs where they have been and what great adventures they have encountered. Apparently dogs crave attention from other dogs and one way to get this attention is to roll around in poo so every dog that passes them will know what they have been up to.

I’m Working on My Beauty Regime

I was traumatised the day I saw Toby roll over a dead possum, it was fresh too. He tried so hard to get up and over it and roll as deeply into it as possible. I remember yelling at him, ‘Are you out of your mind!’ before trying to get him to chase me so I could get him away from it. As disgusting as what he did was, apparently dead animals have fatty acids that emerge due to fat degradation which can help improve their coat and that is why Toby was maybe, trying to get inside the guts of a possum…doubt it though.

I’m Trying To Tell You Where I Have Been Today

Another theory is that dogs like to ‘tell’ fellow dogs what they have been up to and one way of doing this is rolling in stuff so the other dogs can get a whiff of it. I’m not too sure about this one, I mean when Toby spends time at a café, he doesn’t roll around on the ground to let other dogs know he has been enjoying some A grade coffee at Market Lane.

How Can I Stop This Behaviour

If this behaviour is instinctual, I don’t really know if you can stop it. However, I am trying to stop Toby from doing this and I have become aware of where all the bird and possum carcasses are around the park and make a bit of a detour around these so Toby doesn’t get a chance to run to it and roll in it. When I notice he is rolling around in something gross, I try and distract him by yelling out his favourite friend’s name and running away from him, pretending to run to his friend. Although this is becoming less effective as Toby is slowly realising every time I do that, Spice actually isn’t there.

Other methods people have used to stop their dog from rolling around are giving their dog an unpleasant experience by squirting them with a water bottle or using a citronella spray collar that can be operated by a remote control. If your dog hates loud noises such as your stern voice, clapping of the hands or stomping the ground, this could help.

Have you noticed your dog take part in this behaviour? What have you done to stop it?