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Question
Posted by: Mish | 2012/03/11

Fox Terrier

My dog Izzie goes through stages where he rolls in poo. Do you know why he does this and how can I discourage it?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi Mish, this is a difficult one, as it is something dogs do naturally. Nobody is entirely sure why they do this, but it is thought that by rolling in it, they put their own scent on it and it is a notice to the animal that eliminated that they are 'on top' of them so to speak. Another theory is that they roll in the stool to disguise their own scent as a memory of their original hunting days. One other suggestion that has been made, is that when they do this, and then return to their own pack, all the other dogs will come and smell them - possibly raising them up in the canine hierarchy. I guess until we learn to really 'speak dog' we can just go on these and similar suggestions!
The only way really to stop this happening is management and a great recall. Management by way of keeping dog on lead (perhaps long) and of course an excellent recall if you see the dog about to roll.
Just about every single dog i have known seems to love to do this, regardless how revolting it is to us humans!

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: neil | 2012/03/15

I have a theory, having watched numerous of my dogs for years. Both current dogs, a male Irish Wolfhound and a spayed female cross ridgeback / jack russell enjoy rolling in poo. Poo from large birds and their own at times. they also enjoy rolling where there is NO poo, and enjoy rolling on the carpet inside. I reckon they are scratching itches, and also because it feels good, rather like being brushed. If I''m wrong, then possibly a disguise mechanism from wolf pack days, to confuse prey?

Reply to neil
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2012/03/12

Hi Mish, this is a difficult one, as it is something dogs do naturally. Nobody is entirely sure why they do this, but it is thought that by rolling in it, they put their own scent on it and it is a notice to the animal that eliminated that they are 'on top' of them so to speak. Another theory is that they roll in the stool to disguise their own scent as a memory of their original hunting days. One other suggestion that has been made, is that when they do this, and then return to their own pack, all the other dogs will come and smell them - possibly raising them up in the canine hierarchy. I guess until we learn to really 'speak dog' we can just go on these and similar suggestions!
The only way really to stop this happening is management and a great recall. Management by way of keeping dog on lead (perhaps long) and of course an excellent recall if you see the dog about to roll.
Just about every single dog i have known seems to love to do this, regardless how revolting it is to us humans!

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