Why Do Dogs Like to Roll Around on Dead Things? - Pet Hub USA

Why Do Dogs Like to Roll Around on Dead Things?

Share this Article:

It sounds morbid, but dogs have a penchant for spaces where something has died. Find out what makes your dog roll around on dead things, and what to do about it.

Why Do Dogs Roll Around on Dead Things?

There may be several reasons your dog likes to roll around on dead things (or in a spot where something has died). Here are five leading theories:

1. It’s Mine, Keep Away

One theory as to why dogs like to roll around where something has died is that it is a way for them to deposit their own natural scent. 

Behaviorists believe this goes back to the predatory behaviors of their prey-seeking ancestors, wolves. Scent-marking the spot was a way that they publicly claimed the area to keep other scavengers away.

2. To Camouflage Their Own Scent

Claudine Sievert, DVM, disagrees with the previous theory and says they are rubbing the scent on themselves to camouflage their natural odor. This helps them “hide” from their prey and hunt more successfully, the AKC reported.

3. To Tell Other Dogs: “Look What I Found.”

Another theory says that rubbing around in the scent and depositing it on their own fur allows them to carry it around with them. That way, other dogs can smell it too. It’s kind of like wearing a statement on your fur: “Look what I found.”


Want more pet content and exclusive offers? Sign up for our newsletter today!


Dogs are known to sniff each other, not only as a greeting but to gain information about one another.

4. A Signal to Weaker Predators 

A subtheory of the previous point says by wearing the scent, a dog claims the kill. This, again, harkens back to their wolf ancestors. It’s a signal to the weaker predators, while at the same time showing off its predatory prowess.

5. “Gee, Your Fur Smells Terrific!”

The simplest of theories is that it says to other dogs: “Don’t I smell terrific?” In a dog’s mind, this foul smell actually makes them more attractive to other canines. A dog’s idea of perfume.

Many veterinarians will attest that dogs love to play in things that reek and are gross to our human sensibilities.

How to Stop Your Dog From Rolling Around on Dead Things – Maybe…

Unfortunately, because humans and dogs have completely different olfactory senses and abilities. A dog’s sense of smell is estimated to be between 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than humans. So, the two species look at aromas in completely different ways.

What we humans find gross or foul, dogs find interesting and appealing.

So can you convince your dog to stay away from dead things?According to some veterinarians, you can try giving your dog some of the most appealing treats available, but the dog may still find the whiff of death irresistible and decline your offer.

So, what can you do?

The inevitable remedy is letting your dog enjoy itself rolling and rubbing around in the stench of the departed, then giving your dog a bath when you get home. Don’t be surprised if your dog gives you a look that says: “Why are you washing this wonderful smell off of me?


Share this Article:

Providing expert tips, practical advice, and personalized product recommendations for happy and healthy pets. Part of the Castaway Studios media network.

As an Amazon Associate, PetHub USA earns from qualifying purchases.

Scroll to Top