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There are plenty of random dog behaviors that we may not understand. For example, why do dogs roll in the grass?
We don’t pay much notice to this tendency unless it comes with the risk of your dog getting dirty and bringing that dirt into your home. But there are some real roots behind this behavior.
Dogs roll in the grass for multiple reasons. The most glaring one of these is to mask their own scent, or to add their scent to the area to mark their territory. Another reason is that they just feel good doing it.
Rolling in the grass is a harmless canine behavior so you shouldn’t discourage it unless it’s resulting in any actual trouble. For example, rolling in muddy grass or animal feces can be very unsanitary and should be discouraged.
We spent time looking into the reasons why dogs behave the way they do, and how you can stop them from certain things if you feel that it brings about substantial harm. We have compiled this information together here.
Why Do Dogs Roll In The Grass?
It’s actually very normal for dogs to roll around in the grass, even if it’s not very acceptable to us. For us humans, we may see this as the dog getting dirt in their fur which they’d bring into the house. However, as dog owners, we need to understand the reasons behind certain dog behaviors before we decide whether we should encourage or discourage them.
It may not make any sense to us, but dogs have plenty of reasons to roll around in the grass.
Masking Their Scent
Dogs are carnivores, and their ancestors include hunters. Rolling in the grass may be a remnant of those hunter instincts.
While to us, grass just smells like grass, dogs’ noses pick up on a whole other set of smells. They may roll around in the grass to try and mask their own scent by taking on the scent of the grass. This is also why dogs tend to like foul smells. Their hunter instincts make them want to take on a scent that isn’t their own so they can hide from their prey better.
While your pet dogs don’t actually have to worry about being predators since they get their food in their bowls, the instinct remains and one of the outlets is rolling around in the grass.
Another reason dogs would want to roll around in the grass is because they are marking their territory. Dogs don’t put up signs to let other dogs know that this is their space – canines work with smells, and the clearest way to let another dog know that this space belongs to someone else is to mark it with their scent.
Dogs can sometimes roll around in the grass to add their own scent to the mix so any passing dogs know that this is another dog’s territory.
Scratching An Itch
Just like you can’t reach that one spot on your back, dogs can’t reach every part of their body that itches. The easiest way to relieve it is to roll over on their back. Since grass is prickly, it helps satisfy them and relieves the itches.
While occasional itches are fine and normal, you should keep an eye out for how often your dog tends to roll over to satisfy itches. If you notice that your dog rolls over and scratches very often, you should get them checked out for any skin problems or infections.
It Feels Good
Sometimes dogs will roll around in the grass because it feels good, or because they’re feeling happy. If they’re relaxed and exhibit other signs of pleasure while they roll around, they’re probably just enjoying themselves and have no other motivation behind it.
Should You Stop Your Dog From Rolling In The Grass?
Whether or not you should discourage rolling in the grass depends on multiple things. Since this behavior stems from instinct, discouraging it completely is probably not the best idea. If your dog is feeling happy and rolling in the grass to express that joy, there’s no real need to stop them.
Ideally, you should have your dog on flea and tick prevention to avoid them getting any infections.
However, sometimes dogs will roll around in foul smelling things like feces or worse, dead animals, which can be very unsanitary. In such cases, you should definitely stop this behavior.
Sometimes, grass can be treated with pesticides, which can be harmful for dogs. If your dog rolls around in this type of grass, you should stop them from rolling in it.
How to Stop Your Dog From Rolling In the Grass
If your dog is rolling in smelly grass and bringing that odor back into your home, you have some ways to stop it.
Positive Reinforcement Training
While discouraging the behavior entirely isn’t a good approach, you can try and redirect their attention elsewhere when they start and give them a reward when they stop. Letting your dog know what kind of behavior you expect from them is better in the long run than simply discouraging them from doing it to begin with.
This is called positive reinforcement training and is used to teach dogs a wide variety of behaviors.
Get Tested for Allergies or Infections
You should also get your dog tested for allergies or infections that may be making their skin itch. By taking steps to address these issues, you can minimize the dog’s need to scratch themselves and thus keep them from rolling around in the grass.
To better understand if you’re dealing with allergies or any of the other reasons dogs may roll around, you should keep an eye out for other signs of allergies. These may include hives, redness or irritation on the skin, swelling, sneezing, etc.
It’s likely that they’d also be scratching themselves on other surfaces to satisfy themselves, such as carpets or furniture. If you notice these behaviors in your dog alongside excessive rolling around in the grass, you should schedule an appointment with the vet. The main issue in such cases is the allergy or the infection, and not necessarily the rolling.
So, why do dogs roll in the grass?
Dogs’ hunter instincts make them want to mask their own scent by picking up scents from the environment. They may also want to leave their own scent there. They may also roll around to scratch an itch, or because they just feel happy.