I am exasperated with my dog. I love Ben to death, but he insists on finding every stinky thing in the yard possible, and then rolling around in it. Since he has s white coat, this is truly disgusting on a scent AND aesthetic level. Why on earth would any dog want to do this and what can I do?
-- Fed up in Bishop, California
Hi Fed Up!
I guess we’re on kind of a stinky theme this month, are we? Okay fine. No problem.
I admit, this is one of the grosser things that dogs do. And no, it doesn’t make sense to humans. But you know, there’s plenty of things that humans do that make no sense to dogs. Like waxing.
BUT! The common scientific explanation for why dogs like to roll around in stinky things is because back when dogs were wild and roamed in packs and were considered more as hunters than cute cuddly things that you sit on the couch with, rolling around in a stinky mess would help hide our natural scent from the things that we were tracking. So our prey would catch a whiff, and think “Hey, that sure smells awful over there. Thank God it’s not a dog,” and they’d relax and then we’d POUNCE, and the chase is on.
Those days are long behind us, but the instinct is still ingrained within our DNA. Nowadays when we do it, it’s more like, “Oh my GOSH! Can you believe this pile of mess I found!? Nobody’s gonna believe this! I’d better roll around in it and take it back to show everyone so they too can be amazed at the utter STENCH OF THIS STUFF!”
In other words, it’s the human equivalent of a frat boy calling his brothers into the bathroom to look at the amazing poop he just took.
Yep, it’s gross. But seriously, can you BELIEVE THIS THING!
P.S., when you google the phrase, “Why do dogs roll around in dead animals, this picture of Russell Brand also came up. Which is hilarious to me, so I had to include it. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS THING!?”
Thanks for the question!
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