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Why Dogs Roll in the Grass

why-dogs-roll-in-the-grass

Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Dogs have a strong sense of smell and use it to interact with the world.

They can use scent to pick up trails of prey or communicate with other dogs.

So if your dog is rolling in the grass, it may be about picking up a smell, covering a smell, or leaving their scent behind.


Some Insight

Ever catch your pup writhing and rolling around in the grass?

This behavior could mean a couple of things.

“Every dog loves occasionally rolling around on different textures just for the pure joy of it,” explains Dr. Faught.

In fact, a large part of the way your dog interacts with their environment is through smell and touch.

After all, he’s not out there sniffing every inch of the backyard for fun, you know.

It’s a part of how he interacts with his yard or anywhere else he goes.

If they find something that smells or feels good, choosing to roll in it is a totally normal behavior, even though it sometimes doesn’t fit our idea of normal or convenient,” says Dr. Faught.

Though you might be embarrassed when your pup dives into the neighbor’s grass on a walk or gets down and dirty on his back writhing in leaves, mud, or any other icky thing on the ground, it’s a pretty standard pup behavior.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Is it Normal for Dogs to Roll in Grass?


Yes, is it completely normal for a dog to roll in the grass.

But normal for a dog doesn’t always translate to socially acceptable in the human world.

So it really depends on the when and where of your dog’s behavior to decide whether to encourage, ignore, or redirect the behavior.

You’ve probably seen your dog do it on several occasions. You’re walking with them, then they find something that piques their interest.

If you encounter this behavior often, you’ve probably wondered what makes grass to attractive to your pooch.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Why Does My Dog Roll in the Grass?


It may not seem logical for us, but there are many reasons dogs roll in the grass.

Sometimes you can figure out why your dog is rolling in the grass by cluing in to their motivations.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – How Dogs Mask Their Scent


Dogs communicate through scent.

Dogs evolved from hunters, and rolling in the grass may be a remnant of that behavior.

Dogs may roll in grass to cover up their own scent with whatever they are rolling in.

This could mean rolling around in the dirt and grass, or it could be that another animal recently urinated or defecated in that spot and your dog is trying to pick up that scent.

This kind of behavior may have aided wolves while hunting—it would allow them to get closer to their prey without being detected by the prey’s strong sense of smell.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – How Dogs Cover Up a Scent


Similarly, a dog may be trying to cover up their own scent by taking on the odor of the grass.

Many dogs (especially males) will leave small urine markings as they go on walks to communicate to other animals that they were there.

Another way to leave their scent is to roll in the grass.

Where one dog leaves a mark, another may roll to pick up that scent or add their own to the mix.

For example, many dogs roll in the grass after being bathed, and this may be an attempt to rid themselves of their clean, freshly shampooed scent. (Just because we like the smell of soap doesn’t mean our dogs do.)


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – How Dogs Scratch an Itch


Dogs can’t reach every part of their body to scratch, so sometimes they roll on their back to relieve an itch.

If it’s just an occasional itch, that’s okay, but if it’s frequent or your dog won’t stop scratching and rolling, it could be a sign of a skin problem.

Similarly, dogs who rub their ears on the ground may have an ear infection.

If you are concerned your dog may have a skin infection or something else that causes itchy skin and ears, call your veterinarian for an appointment right away.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Because It Feels Good


Some dogs may roll in the grass because they are happy and having fun and it feels good.

There’s nothing wrong, and they don’t have a specific motivation; they are just being dogs. It’s kind of like sitting in a massage chair for a few minutes—it’s relaxing, and if the opportunity presents itself, why not?


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Should You Stop Your Dog From Rolling in Grass


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Should You Stop Your Dog From Rolling in Grass


The answer is: it depends.

If your dog is rolling in the grass because they are happy, then there is no need to stop the behavior.

If your dog is rolling in grass, make sure they are on effective flea and tick prevention.

Also consider whether the grass may have been treated with herbicides or pesticides, as these can be harmful to your dog.

On the other hand, if your dog seeks out dead animals and poop to roll in, then the behavior should be stopped because it’s unsanitary.

The most effective and humane way to stop a behavior you don’t want is by redirecting your dog to do something else.

Using Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT), reward your dog for a behavior you do want them to do by giving them a treat or praise.

When your dog starts rolling, or if they give you signals they are about to start, redirect their attention to something else.

If your dog frequently rolls in the grass, that could be a sign of chronic itchiness from allergiesskin infectionfleas, or something else.

Your veterinarian can examine your dog and make sure that any problems are taken care of so your dog can go back to rolling in the grass for pure happiness.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Reasons Why Dogs Roll in the Grass


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Dogs Basic Instinct


Let’s look closer into dogs’ ancestry. Research tells us that one likely reason why dogs roll around in grass is their natural instinct to mask their scent from prey in the wild.

Grass contains a variety of smells from the environment, and the act of rolling in grass helps animals mask their own scent and get a chance to go near their prey.

While dogs have been domesticated and aren’t really hunting for prey since their humans give them food, they may be still acting on their instinct.

Meanwhile, according to Pat Goodmann, a researcher who has studied how wolves practiced scent rolling, the behavior might also indicate that dogs want to bring some information back to the pack through the smell.

Another theory by Simon Gadbois, a canine behavior expert, is that some dogs might want to roll in the same grass as their pack to foster a sense of togetherness with other dogs.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – How Dogs Mark Their Territory


Another possible reason why your dog is rolling in grass is that they want to mark their scent, just like when they rub themselves on their bed, toy, and on you too.

It’s as if they’re marking the spot as theirs, or they might want other dogs to know that they’ve been there.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Dogs Have an Attraction or Aversion to Smell


Dogs Have an Attraction or Aversion to Smell


The truth is a dog relies much on their sense of smell. In fact, dogs are actually able to smell some scents in parts per trillion.

Their noses have 300 million olfactory receptors, which is 40 times more than us humans. Isn’t that amazing?

You’ve probably noticed it too when they sniff on everything they pass by, especially during walks.

So, when we might just smell the grass, dogs can smell a multitude of things — the scent of dogs that recently passed by that patch, food particles, insects, and plants.

Also, take into consideration that some scents that we find delightful are probably not so appealing to dogs.

For example, there are dog shampoos that smell so good for us humans, but may actually smell bad for a dog.

Because of this, they might want to rub off the fragrance from themselves when they get a chance to lay and roll in the grass.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Dogs May Have Irritation or Allergies


Another possible reason why your dog is rolling in grass is an itchy feeling due to skin irritation or allergy.

If so, you would want to address this issue first to relieve your dogs’ discomfort.

If your dog is rolling around in the grass because of an allergy, it’s usually accompanied by other symptoms such as: swelling, redness and skin irritation, hair loss, itchy ears, hives, and sneezing.

You might also notice that they also rub themselves on surfaces such as rugs, carpets, and the like.

If this is the case, it’s best to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to determine if it’s indeed an allergy, and what treatment would be best for your dog.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Dogs Simply Love The Feeling of Grass


It could also be that your dog just appreciates the feeling of rolling in the grass.

Observe your dog’s body language as they roll.

If they look relaxed and happy, that’s a good sign that they are just enjoying the sensation of soft grass and the company of those around them.


Why Dogs Roll in the GrassWhat to Look for If Your Dog Rolls in the Grass


It means that your dog is relaxed and playful. At that moment his stress is low, and he doesn’t have a care in the world.

He’s communicating to other dogs and the humans around him that he’s feeling happy.

If there’s another dog around, he might be communicating that he’d like to play.

Dogs frequently get on their back when wrestling around with each other, and he may be indicating he’s open to a play session.

He could be itchy. “We see this in dogs with environmental allergies, which are by far the most common type of allergy we deal with,” says Dr. Faught.

For allergic dogs, rolling around outside can be problematic because it may expose them to even more to irritants.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Dog Skin Allergies


If you suspect your dog has allergies because he frequently rolls around outside, talk to your veterinarian. “In addition to oral or injectable medications to control allergies, there are a lot of options for wipes, shampoos, and conditioners that can help keep a dog’s skin clean and allergen-free,” Dr. Faught stresses.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – What if My Dog is Rolling in Something Stinky?


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What if My Dog is Rolling in Something Stinky?


Some dogs do like to roll in super stinky stuff, and that’s normal too. Veterinarians have a lot of theories about why dogs roll in the remnants of anything smelly.

“We know that some wild predators do the same thing to hide their scent to make them better hunters,” says Dr. Faught.

Even though most dogs aren’t active hunters anymore, they may still be hardwired for the behavior of their ancestors, the wolves.

What’s more, it could be another way dogs communicate with one another.

They rub themselves in a scent as a message to another dog. “If your dog was a human, it might prefer Chanel No 5, but in real life, it may prefer the scent of rotten leaves or a dead animal,” says Dr. Faught.

While our nose turns up, your dog’s nose may think he’s rolling in the finest eau de toilette.

And finally, there’s the ‘Look what I’ve found!’ theory.

According to this idea, your dog may roll in some foul odor to show you and other dogs what he’s found—either bragging or warning them to stay away, claiming it as his own.

By “wearing the scent” he may command respect from the neighborhood dogs.

Dr. Jed Rogers, the other co-founder of Firehouse Animal Health Center, recalls when he was living in Hawaii with his cocker spaniel Mo.

During a formal photoshoot with his companion, Mo managed to find a dead octopus and roll around in it during a break in the picture taking.

He had just had professional grooming and was looking great. “We got the photos we needed but holding him post-octopus roll was no fun,” says Dr. Rogers.


Why Dogs Roll in the Grass – Final Word


It’s quite common to see dogs rolling in the grass, and as long as they’re not rolling in stinky odors or trying to alleviate skin irritation or allergy, it’s most likely not a cause for concern.

It might actually be good for your furry friend if it makes them happy, relaxed, and feel closer to their roots.

If, however, your dog appears to be obsessed with rolling in the grass and you want to redirect the behavior, positive reinforcement training might be an answer.

When your dog starts to roll, try to catch their attention, and when they stop the rolling, praise them or offer them a treat.

This helps them understand what behavior is expected from them.


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