Every dog owner loves a long, relaxing walk with their furriest family member. If you let your dog off of the leash, he will almost certainly run off to explore the environment, until you call him back to you. When he comes bounding back, there is a good chance you will find his fur covered in mud, and in unfortunate cases, bad smells. Dogs love to roll around, and unfortunately for us, they aren’t too picky about where they do it. This means that, more often than not, your dog will roll around in something less than pleasant, turning your walk from satisfying to smelly.

Why do dogs like to roll in smelly things?

There are numerous theories about why canines are happy to roll around in the poop, pee, or dead carcasses of other animals. One of these is believed to hark back to the days when dogs used to have to hunt for food and may have rolled in heavily-scented secretions to help mask their natural odor. This is echoed by the fact that wolves sometimes roll in the feces or carcasses of other animals to cover up their scent.

Another theory is that dogs use the stinky stuff as a method of communicating with others about where they have been. Again, this is a nod to a time before dogs became domesticated, and may be an instinctual habit that hasn’t evolved or changed over time. Some studies suggest it can also make them stand out to other animals as fearless or a leader.

Finally, despite the other reasons given, your dog may just decide to roll in smelly stuff just because it is fun! Dogs have 300 million smell sensors in their nose, compared to our measly 5 million. This means that his sense of smell is around 60 times more powerful than our own. As such, he must not find the odor unpleasant in the same way that we do. In fact, he may even like it!

How can I stop my dog rolling in bad smells?

Unfortunately, unless you supervise your dog completely every time you step outside, it is difficult to prevent your dog from rolling in bad smells. Even when closely watched, many animal droppings tend to be well camouflaged in mud and long grass. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to prevent it from happening.

Most dogs will give you some indication of their intention beforehand. This includes paying particular attention to a certain patch of ground, or perhaps positioning themselves over it in a ‘ready to roll’ position.

The key to keep it from happening is to get your dog’s attention at this stage and issue a firm ‘leave’ or ‘leave it’ command. This command can also be used in other situations, such as when you want to avoid him picking something up with his mouth that he shouldn’t.

Teaching the ‘leave’ or ‘leave it’ command is much like any other sort of doggy training and should be complimented with lots of positive praise and reinforcement such as treats or games. Once your dog has the basics, ‘proof’ your training by practicing it in a range of situations so that your dog can recall what he is supposed to do regardless of where he is or what distractions are around.