You’ve just given your dog a bath when it suddenly bolted outdoors and got back looking like a muddy seal. Almost every dog owner has been there, including me.
I’m a parent to a bubbly Golden Retriever, Sherlock, who loves rolling in the dirt every chance he gets. It’s a cute sight, but when mud is involved, I can’t help but shake my head.
If you’re also dealing with this weird behavior, read on to know why your dog loves dirt and what you can do about it.
Why dogs love rolling in the dirt?
Dogs exhibit a slew of weird behavior, so rolling in the dirt isn’t that surprising. But if you’re wondering, the following are some of the most common reasons why canines do it:
1. To hide their smell
In the wild, dogs will roll in the mud to cover up their scent. This is a survival instinct to evade predators. It’s a camouflage that they retain even up to domestication. Aside from mud, dogs will roll on freshly mowed grass and just about anything with an organic smell that will let them blend with the environment.
But there’s no ‘predator’ or enemy around my dog! As a hard-wired instinct, domesticated canines will still try to hide their smell. It doesn’t have to be an actual predator. It’s possible that your dog is scared of or threatened by another pet.
2. To leave their scent
On the other hand, it’s also possible that your dog is leaving its scent on the dirt. It’s the total opposite of the first point, but it still has something to do with a canine’s instinct.
As territorial and pack creatures, canines are very particular with their space. They will mark their territory through urine spraying and rolling their bodies on it.
By leaving their scent, canines can warn trespassers that someone else has already claimed the spot. Again, this can happen if there’s a new pet at home.
3. To cool down
As a Golden Retriever, it’s no secret to me that this breed is obsessed with water. My dog Sherlock is crazy about lakes, ponds, and even rain puddles as if it’s his job to roll on each one of them.
This behavior of my dog becomes more prevalent during summer when the weather can be very debilitating. And since dogs don’t sweat, a patch of mud is a perfect Jacuzzi to cool down.
Take note that if your dog is seeking water to cool down, you should take it to a ventilated and shaded area. Your pet might be at the onset of heatstroke, which can be life-threatening in a matter of hours. please read here how to heat a dog house without electricity.
4. To scratch an itch
Aside from their instincts, it’s also possible that your dog has an itchy back. By rolling in the dirt, your doggo will scratch the itch away. My Sherlock would also rub his body on our hedge for a good scratch.
I suggest checking your dog’s skin for irritations and even flea or tick infestation.
5. It’s a learned behavior
Lastly, rolling in the dirt might be a learned behavior. You might inadvertently rewarding the behavior by laughing, petting your dog, or simply making a loud sound. Over time, the canine will learn that he can get your attention when he rolls on the dirt.
Nevertheless, this is a harmless behavior, though you may have to deal with the mess later on.
Why you need to prevent your dog from rolling in the dirt?
While rolling in the dirt is a harmless act, it can still expose your dog to some problems.
Ticks and fleas can harbor on the ground, especially if the soil is moist and located in a cool area. Once your dog rolled in it, the parasites will cling to its coat and reach the skin. This will soon trigger an infestation that will put your dog’s health at risk.
If you’re a dog owner, you probably experienced bathing a muddy and stinky dog before. The thing is that canines don’t have a sense of what’s clean or not.
Even if the ground has animal poop, mud, or chemicals, they will roll in it just the same. And if you’ve just finished giving the dog a bath, this part would be extremely frustrating. God forbid your muddy dog runs inside the house.
How to stop your dog from rolling in the dirt?
If your dog’s obsession with rolling in the dirt is getting out of hand, there are ways to stop it. The following are just some of the helpful tips you can consider:
Keep the dog leashed
If your dog tends to seek muddy spots or bodies of water, it will help a lot to keep the canine leashed. This way, you can control your pet and stop once it tries to roll on the ground.
My dog Sherlock loves rolling on the ground and eating goose poop, so we always keep him leashed whenever we visit a nearby lake. While he can still sneak from time to time, the leash prevents him from getting dirty.
Check its skin for irritation
You should also check your dog’s skin regularly to spot irritations. Such irritation can be the reason why your pet is aggressively rolling and rubbing its back on dirt. If you spot any discoloration, redness, or swelling, it’s best to consult a veterinarian.
Bathe your dog regularly
It’s important to bathe your dog regularly so that it won’t have itchy backs. You can bathe your dog more often during summer or set up a basin where the doggo can soak. This way, your pet won’t be looking for mud to cool down its body.
Keep the dog mentally stimulated.
Another trick that will help is to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Take it to walks around the neighborhood, play Frisbee in your yard, and other activities that will drain your dog’s energy. It will keep your dog’s mind away from rolling in stinky dirt. And by the time you go home, your dog is ready to take a long nap.
Train your dog off it
Training is always the permanent solution to any negative canine behavior. You can utilize positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to stop rolling in the dirt. Over time, your dog will learn that staying off the dirt is a rewarded response.
Why does my dog roll in the dirt? This behavior can either be due to canine instinct or merely a learned behavior. Nevertheless, it’s harmless, but you can always train your dog to save yourself from the mess.
Do you have more tips to add here? Share your thoughts below!
Dave Bryan is an experienced editor with a passion for animals and writing. With a degree in journalism and years of experience in the publishing industry, he has honed his skills in crafting engaging content that informs and entertains readers. As an editor at Petcosset, Dave brings his expertise to ensure that the content produced is accurate, informative, and compelling. He has a keen eye for detail and is committed to maintaining high editorial standards. Dave is also a dedicated pet owner and loves spending time with his furry companions.