Why Do Dogs Roll in Dead Animals and Poop?

As cute as doggies are, they also have some disgusting habits. You may have noticed, as a dog owner, that your pup likes to roll around in the remains of dead animals. Why do dogs roll in dead animals? Or poop for that matter?

Perhaps your dog ran to the woods, channeled his inner hunting dog and brought back an animal carcass, and rolled around with it, or found some remains in your yard to roll around in. Either way, you want to know what’s behind this dog behavior and if you can put a stop to it. By learning more about why dogs roll around in dead animals, you can figure out how to curb this gross behavior before his next bath.

It’s From Their Wolf Ancestors

So, you’re wondering: Why do dogs roll in stinky things? This is a fairly common behavior called “scent rolling.” When your dog rolls around in carrion, or the decaying flesh of a dead animal, it may be because he’s channeling his inner wild ancestors. 

Wolves roll around in dead animal carcasses to mask their own scent, which is helpful when they’re hunting for prey and need to sneak up on them. Your own dog could be rolling around in the carcass because he’s trying to hide the smell of his dog shampoo, for instance. 

Additionally, as members of the pack, a wolf will roll around in dead things because it wants to communicate to his pack mates where to find that food for scavenging. This is especially useful if wolves are in an area where there isn’t much prey for them to hunt. Every pup has a wild dog inside of him, and sometimes it comes out in seemingly odd dog behaviors.

He’s Showing Off to Other Dogs

If your pup is rolling around in dead animals or other gross things (like his own poop), he may want to signal to his canine friends that he’s found something interesting. He’s just trying to say to them, “There’s something near here that’s tasty!” by appealing to their sense of smell.

Your Pup’s Marking His Territory

how to teach place to a dog using a dog bed

Behaviorists may argue that dogs like rolling around in dead animals because they’re marking their territory by leaving their scent behind. Dogs produce scents behind their ears as well as on their paw pads, so if your dog is scratching at a dead fish’s body or rolling his head around in it, then he could be marking. He could also mark it by urinating on it to signal to other dogs or the rest of the pack that the carcass is his.

He’s Having Fun

When dogs roll around in animal carcasses, it may just be because they’re having fun. This rolling behavior could increase your doggie’s dopamine levels, which brings him pleasure. If your dog is also snorting while rolling around, then chances are, he’s having a blast.

Washing Your Stinky Dog

how often should a dog be groomed

Let’s say your dog has rolled around in an animal carcass, feces, or some other smelly stuff. As a pet parent, you’ll need to bathe him right away. Hose him down and use dog shampoo to get out the smell. Never use human shampoo, as it’s not formulated for dogs and could harm him.

Between baths, you can put baking soda on your dog’s fur and then let it sit for five minutes before brushing it out. Note that shampoo and baking soda will never fully eradicate your dog’s natural scent and that you should only bathe your pup when he needs it. Excessive bathing can result in your dog’s natural oils being stripped as well as itchy skin and a dull and dry coat. If your dog is very smelly or his hair is matted, you can always take him to a groomer for professional help.

Preventing Your Dog From Rolling Around in Dead Animals

why do dogs roll in dead animals and poop

It’s pretty gross to see your dog rolling around in dead animals, no matter how much fun he’s having. He might also roll around in some other dog’s poop (then you’ve really got a smelly dog on your hands). You may have even seen your dog eat poop that he’s rolled around in. Thankfully, you can take some steps to try and stop your dog from doing this in the first place so you can take a break from scrubbing the stinky stuff off at bathtime.

You may want to consider not letting him off-leash anymore or keeping him on a short leash, especially if you live in an area where there are wild animals like skunks, coyotes, and raccoons roaming around. Some wild prey animals carry rabies, fleas, and other parasites, so it could be dangerous for your dog if he encounters one of them alive or dead. Fence your dog in the yard, and, when you take him for walks, make sure you have a strong harness and leash on him.

Work on recall

It’s crucial to use positive reinforcement dog training to train your dog as well. Having a solid recall is essential. You can teach him to “come” using a clicker and treats. Every time he comes to you, praise him and give him a high-value treat. Pretty soon, he’ll learn how to come without needing a treat.

Try Raw Freeze Dried Beef & Liver Dog Treats, which are made with limited ingredients that are 100% natural and are grain-, filler-, and preservative-free. Since they are bite-sized, they are easy to carry around and perfect for training multiple commands.

Make sure he’s getting plenty of mental stimulation in addition to physical activity

human helping dog with puzzle

If your dog is running around and rolling in all sorts of smelly things, he could just be bored. You can make sure he gets enough exercise by walking him and taking him to the dog park, as well as playing with him on a daily basis. Get him a nice durable squeaky toy to play fetch with, like Invincibles Green Gecko Plush Dog Toy. There is no stuffing, which means there is no mess, and this toy is uniquely designed with an inner Dura-Tuff lining and reinforced with double-stitched seams for longer days of interactive playtime.

What if my dog eats an animal carcass?

pug lying down

It could be very harmful to your dog’s health if he eats a dead animal carcass. You never know what kind of diseases or parasites it contains. Call your vet right away if this happens. They may advise you to get your dog to throw up by giving him hydrogen peroxide. Typically, your dog will need 1 teaspoon of it for every 10 pounds of body weight, but make sure you confirm with your vet first.

Keeping Your Dog Safe and Healthy

When it comes to dog care, remember that it’s instinctual for dogs to roll around in dead animals as well as poo and other smelly stuff. By taking preventative steps and helping your dog once he’s rolled around in and/or ingested an animal carcass, then you can ensure he will be healthy and protected.