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Why Do Dogs Roll in Fox Poo and Other Smelly Things?

It’s something that almost every dog owner has experienced at least once; you’ve taken your furry friend out on a walk, and you see them excitedly bound through the grass and roll over. It looks adorable – at least, it does until your dog runs back to meet you, revealing that they’re now covered in animal poo! If you’ve ever come back from a walk with a smelly pooch, you might be wondering what it’s all for and why they feel the need to roll in foul-smelling things. More importantly, you might be wondering what you can do about it! Thankfully, we’re experts in stinky dogs, so we can help you clear it up!

Why Do Dogs Roll in Animal Poo?

Researchers are split on what the exact reason is behind this disgusting habit, although most agree that it stems from thousands of years ago before dogs became domesticated. Back then, dogs would hunt in packs (just like wolves and coyotes do today), and would often try to sneak up on their prey. One popular theory is that dogs evolved to roll in animal poo (the smellier the better!) to mask their scent from their prey so they could sneak up on them. The dogs of today don’t need to hunt, but they can’t unlearn that old habit, and their instincts still tell them to roll in dog poo to this day!

There are some holes in this theory, though. The main argument against it comes from a study of wild packs of wolves, who are the closest relatives of domestic dogs. This study found that wolves preferred to roll in manufactured scents like oil and perfume, as well as the scents of predators like bears. The wolves completely ignored the scents of herbivore poo (in this case the poo of sheep and horses, which are prey animals). If the wolves were trying to mask their scent, why would they ignore the poo of their prey in favour of other predators, or in favour of completely unfamiliar scents?

This question gave rise to another theory; dogs don’t roll in poo to hide from their prey, they roll in it to hide from other predators! Thousands of years ago, it was quite literally a dog eat dog world, so it makes sense that dogs would want to disguise themselves as bigger predators like bears. This theory comes from a 2016 study, which found that foxes in California would seek out the territory of mountain lions to roll in their scents. This argument isn’t perfect either, though, as it doesn’t explain why larger dogs (like wolves) who are at the top of the food chain also roll in predator poo!

Whichever theory is true, one thing is clear; dogs really love rolling in animal poo! Dogs are no longer wild animals, and they have no need to hunt, but the instinct to roll in animal poo remains. You also don’t need to be a scientist to understand that your dog gets a rush of feel-good chemicals when they roll in animal poo – you can tell by how giddy they get every time they roll in something disgusting!Why do dogs roll in fox poo

How to Stop Your Dog Rolling in Animal Poo

What all of the above means is that it’s incredibly difficult to stop your dog from rolling in smelly stuff as their every instinct tells them to simply dive in! In addition, your dog’s advanced sense of smell means you’ve got no chance of noticing a pile of fox poo before they do.  Your best bet is to keep your dog close by when they’re off their lead. Spend a lot of time training them to respond immediately to your call (that means lots of treats!) so you can get them to return to you when they dart off to roll in poo. You can also train your dog to stick very close to you while you’re out walking.Why does my dog roll in poo

How to Spot When Your Dog is About to Roll in Poo

Even if you keep your dog close by, they might still sniff something they’d like to roll in. If this happens, they have a few tells that you can look out for before they stop, drop, and roll! The first sign is that they’ll start intently sniffing at a particular part of the ground. As we explained above, dogs get a real kick out of rolling in animal poo, so you’ll probably notice your pet get very excited.

Dogs also have a particular way that they like to roll in smelly stuff. They’ll drop their shoulders first and rub the side of their face and neck along the ground. After this, they’ll just fully go for it and roll on the ground, clearly loving life! Of course, while they make it look like fun, it’ll give you a nasty surprise when you go to fetch your dog, so it’s best to call them as soon as you notice them focusing on the source of that foul smell in the first place.Stop your dog rolling in fox poo

How to Get Animal Poo Out of Your Dog’s Fur

Of course, no matter how well you train your dog, you can’t ever fully undo behaviour that comes from thousands of years of evolution. This means you will almost certainly end up with a very smelly pooch at the end of a walk on at least one occasion! Unfortunately, cleaning animal poo out of your dog’s fur isn’t as easy as it sounds. It contains natural proteins that will cling to your dog’s coat long after the animal poo has been visibly washed away. This means the foul smell can stick around for many weeks even after you’ve bathed your mucky pup!

There are many different supposed remedies for cleaning animal poo our of dog fur (tomato ketchup being the most common), but there’s no proof that any of them will actually work. At most, they might mask the foul odour which will usually return with a vengeance within a couple of days. The best solution is to pick up some of our fox poo shampoo, which contains special enzymes to break down the proteins in your dog’s fur. This will break down foul smells at the source, so they’ll never return. At least until your dog rolls in fox poo again, anyway!

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