Why Do Dogs Roll In Dead Animals

icon July 18, 2023

Have you been irritated by your dog’s disgusting behavior, such as rolling in dead animals and other smelly things? As one of the discerning dog parents, you may worry about your dog’s safety and want to know how to prevent your dog next time. But please don’t worry now. You will find useful information in this article.

Why Is My Dog Rolling In Dead Animals?

Dogs have a natural instinct to roll in foul-smelling things, which can include dead animals, feces, or even just strong odors. While it may seem unpleasant to us, there are a few reasons why dogs exhibit this behavior:

  • Scent Marking: Rolling in strong-smelling substances allows dogs to leave their scent on their fur, essentially marking their territory. This behavior harks back to their wild ancestors who would use scents to communicate with other pack members.

  • Camouflage and Prey Instincts: Rolling in smelly things might serve as a way for dogs to mask their own scent. In the wild, this behavior could help them blend in with their surroundings and make it easier for them to approach prey or avoid detection by potential predators. Although domesticated dogs don't require this camouflage, the instinctual behavior remains.
    Prey Drive in Dogs: What It Means and How to Deal With It
  • Social Behavior: Dogs are pack animals and have a strong sense of social hierarchy. Rolling in strong-smelling substances may help them bring back interesting scents to share with their pack members, signaling they have found something noteworthy.

  • Pleasure and Stimulation: Rolling in odorous substances can simply be an enjoyable sensory experience for dogs. The smell might be intriguing or stimulating to their highly developed sense of smell, providing them with a sensory thrill.

  • Exploration and Curiosity: Dogs have an incredibly powerful sense of smell. Rolling in smelly substances can be a way for them to investigate and explore their environment. They may find the strong odors intriguing and engaging, providing them with mental stimulation and sensory satisfaction.Can Dogs Feel Curiosity? - Wag!

If your dog frequently engages in this behavior and it becomes problematic or difficult to manage, you may want to consider seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide specific advice and techniques to help redirect this behavior or address any underlying issues.

Is It Safe For My Dog’s Rolling In Dead Animals?

Rolling in dead animals can pose certain risks to your dog's health. Here are some reasons why it may not be safe:

1. Bacteria and Parasites:
Dead animals can carry various bacteria, parasites, and pathogens that can be harmful to your dog. These can include bacteria like Salmonella or parasites like fleas, ticks, or mites. Rolling in a dead animal increases the risk of your dog coming into contact with these disease-causing organisms.

2. Toxic Substances:
Depending on the cause of the animal's death, there is a possibility that it may have been exposed to toxins or chemicals. Rolling in or coming into contact with such substances could lead to skin irritation, poisoning, or other adverse health effects.

3. Infections:
Dead animals can be hosts to maggots, flies, and other insects that can infest your dog's fur. These insects may lay eggs or larvae on your dog, leading to potential skin infections or other complications.

4. Foul Odors:
Rolling in a dead animal can result in a lingering foul odor on your dog's fur. This can make your dog less pleasant to be around and may require bathing to remove the smell.
Cat & Dog Deodorizer SprayPuainta® Cat & Dog Deodorizer Spray

To keep your dog safe, it's advisable to prevent them from rolling in dead animals. This can be done by keeping a close eye on your dog during walks, keeping them on a leash if necessary, and practicing basic obedience commands like "leave it" or "drop it" to redirect their attention away from dead animals.

If your dog does come into contact with a dead animal, it's recommended to thoroughly wash and clean your dog afterward, paying special attention to its fur and paws. If you notice any signs of illness or unusual behavior in your dog after such an encounter, it's best to consult with your veterinarian for appropriate guidance and possible treatment.

How To Stop My Dog From Rolling In Dead Animals?

To prevent your dog from rolling in dead animals, you can try the following strategies:

1. Leash Control
Keep your dog on a leash during walks, especially in areas where there may be a higher likelihood of encountering dead animals. This gives you better control over their movements and allows you to redirect their attention if they show interest in rolling in something unpleasant.
How to Train a Puppy to Walk on a Leash | Purina

2. Distraction and Positive Reinforcement
When you notice your dog showing interest in a dead animal, immediately redirect their attention to something else. Use treats, toys, or commands to divert their focus away from the undesirable behavior. Reward and praise them for responding to the redirection. Consistency is key in reinforcing this behavior.

3. Basic Obedience Training
Teaching your dog basic obedience commands like "leave it" or "drop it" can be invaluable in preventing them from rolling in dead animals. Practice these commands during training sessions, gradually introducing distractions to simulate real-world situations. Reward and reinforce their compliance with treats and positive reinforcement.
Is it Too Late to Train My Older Dog? — K&H Pet Products

4. Environmental Management
If you frequently encounter dead animals in your yard or nearby areas, take steps to remove or dispose of them promptly. By eliminating the presence of dead animals, you can minimize the temptation for your dog to engage in rolling behavior.

5. Scent Deterrents
Some dogs may be deterred by certain scents. Consider using products specifically designed to discourage dogs from rolling in undesirable substances. These can include sprays or repellents that emit odors dogs find unpleasant. Consult with your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to find a suitable product and proper usage instructions.

6. Professional Help
If the behavior persists or becomes problematic, seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist can be beneficial. They can assess your dog's specific situation and provide tailored strategies to address the rolling behavior effectively.
Why Your Dog Should Go to the Vet

Remember, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key when training your dog. With time and effort, you can help your dog break the habit of rolling in dead animals and ensure their safety and well-being.

Related Questions:

Why Do Dogs Roll In Smelly Things?
The reasons why dogs roll in smelly things are actually similar to the reasons why dogs roll in dead animals mentioned above, including scent marking, camouflage and prey Instincts, exploration and curiosity, social behavior and pleasure, and sensory stimulation.
Why Do Dogs Find Dead Bodies?
Dogs have a keen sense of smell, which is estimated to be tens of thousands of times more powerful than that of humans. This exceptional olfactory ability allows them to detect scents that are imperceptible to us. When it comes to finding dead bodies, dogs are often utilized for search and rescue operations or cadaver detection work due to their extraordinary sense of smell and trainable nature.

Why Do Dogs Love Rolling in the Grass, Poop & Other Things?


In summary, dogs have a natural instinct to roll in smelly things, and while it may seem perplexing to us. But if the behavior becomes problematic or difficult to manage, you can use positive reinforcement training techniques to redirect their attention or discourage the behavior when necessary to keep some healthy risks away from your adorable dogs.

Leave A Comment
All comments are moderated before being published.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Join The Puainta

Become one of pet parents and get professional tips, immediate product info, updated promotions and discounts, and more surprises from us!