dog rolling in fox poo

Why do dogs roll in fox poo?

Dogs never cease to amaze owners with their quirky behaviors. Among the most puzzling is their inexplicable fascination with rolling in fox poo and other equally nasty substances.

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Why do dogs roll in fox poo (and other smelly things)?

There are many theories as to why dogs like to roll in faeces from other species (fox, sheep, cow...even human) or items such as rotting carcasses but experts don't know for sure.

  • Survival Instincts: Rolling in foul-smelling substances can be an instinctual behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. By masking their scent with the aroma of fox poo or other strong smelling odours, dogs may be attempting to camouflage themselves from potential predators or prey.
  • Communication: Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to communicate with each other. Rolling in pungent materials may serve as a form of social signaling, conveying messages about their presence, territory, or recent activities to other dogs in the area.
  • Pleasure and Stimulation: Believe it or not, some dogs seem to derive pleasure from rolling in smelly things. The strong odours associated with poo or decaying animals might trigger a pleasurable response in their brains, akin to how humans enjoy certain scents or sensations.

How to stop your dog rolling in fox poo?

That sinking feeling when you spot your dog merrily rolling in something ahead of you on a walk is something many owners have (myself included). As you head towards your dog you're never quite sure what you are going to be greeted with. There are a few techniques that can help stop your dog from rolling. 

  • Training and Positive Reinforcement: Utilise positive reinforcement techniques to discourage your dog from rolling in smelly things. Reward desired behaviors, such as ignoring foul odours or responding to commands, with treats, praise, or playtime. Carry high value treats with your to offer when you spot the rolling behaviour is about to begin.

  • Distraction and Diversion: Redirect your dog's attention away from smelly substances by offering alternative forms of stimulation, such as toys, games, or interactive activities. Engaging your dog in mentally and physically stimulating tasks can help prevent them from fixating on foul odours. Throw a ball away from the offending area to try and catch your dogs attention.

  • Avoidance and Supervision: When out for walks or in outdoor environments where smelly substances are potenitally present (such as near farm land, woods and grassy verges), keep a close eye on your dog and steer them away from potential sources of temptation. If your dog is off lead, clip them on lead as you pass something that may attract them (road kill or a steaming pile of cow poo). Be proactive in avoiding areas frequented by foxes or other wildlife known for leaving behind pungent odors.

  • Consistency and Patience: Changing ingrained behaviors takes time and patience. Stay consistent in your training efforts and remain patient with your dog as they learn to resist the urge to roll in smelly things. With persistence and positive reinforcement, you can help curb this behaviour over time.

How to clean fox poo from your dog's fur?

Any owner that has had the pleasure of smelling fox poo on their dog knows it is a very pungent smell that can take a lot of work to remove.

Wipes can be used for quick clean-ups whilst out walking but may only partially eliminate the smell. Tomato ketchup is an effective home remedy for neutralising the smell of fox poo. However, be careful with this remedy as it may tint dogs with porous or light coloured coats. To thoroughly remove the smell, gloves and a good scrub in the bath are recommended. No quick fix completely replaces a proper bath, especially after your dog has rolled in something as smelly as fox poo.

  • Rinse with water: Rinse as much of the poo off your dog's coat as you can with plain warm water.
  • Shampoo: Use a natural scented shampoo to give the coat a good clean. Repeat if necessary until the water runs clear and the smell has gone
  • Towel Dry: Give your dog a good rub down to remove excess water and then either let them dry naturally or use a hairdryer on a cool setting to dry the fur

Remember to wash your hands if you have not worn gloves, clean the bath and wash the towels, collar, harness and lead if any of the poo has got on them to avoid bacterial contamination. 

In conclusion, while the sight and smell of our beloved dogs rolling in fox poo and other smelly things may leave us exasperated, understanding the underlying reasons behind this behaviour can help us address it effectively.  And if that doesn't work, a good bath and scrub soon sorts the job!

With wags and woofs,
Laura, Dolly & Reggie

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