Cow pies, carcasses, and gunk..

Why do dogs roll in cow pies, carcasses, and other stinky gunk? The simple answer would be because they can, however, even though true that is silly. There is no one reason or simple answer.

Some behaviors (such as prey drive, mouthing, and marking territory) are deeply engrained survival skills. Survival skills they employed in the wild. Today, these skills may not be readily appreciated behaviors for our domesticated best friend.

Many experts suggest that rolling in cow pies, dead stuff, and other smelly gunk serves to mask their own scent. Those of us confronted with the stench of a wet cow pie aroma can attest to its masking ability. The dog covered in pooh scent is certainly an ‘oh my moment‘.

Although now domesticated and not hunted by other dogs, cougars, bears, and wildlife the behavior continues. In some locations the predator list might include alligators. We are not sure if alligators have a strong ability to scent prey but it seems fresh and salt water occupants rely heavily on scent. Oh and we must not forget sea lions and seals that can prey along the ocean edges. Unsuspecting dog owners have had an occasional pup devoured. There are many dangers out there which could prove a serious threat to a dogs existence.

Dogs in the wild mask their own scent in order to sneak up on prey. Dogs in the wild mask their own scent to go undetected. Those two things might sound identical, however, they two entirely different purposes. If a predator is looking for dog-meat you don’t want to smell doggy. If a competing stud dog is looking to thin competition you might want to avoid fighting. Fights usually erupted during the female heat seasons but defending your claim to a certain area or females would have been important. A smaller and less experienced stud might be quick but not ready to take on the established area zoltan. For this reason, eluding them might be be the choice.

The primary survival skills are eating, reproduction, and staying alive. Survival of the fittest also involved survival of the smartest and most cunning. Today, we often get glimpses of the clever behaviors that allowed our domesticated dogs to survive and even flourish. It is clear that although no one knows with absolute certainty why a dog rolls in smelly stuff they do. They not only roll in it they seem to enjoy it too. Sometimes a person feels as if they are so proud of their deed. They seem to not understand our less than happy reception. Regardless, it is clear big or small dogs often roll in things we would rather avoid having to shampoo from their coat.

Here are the theories or the reasons for this undesirable behavior….

  • To mask their own scent.
  • To announce their find; or advertise their success in the hunt.
  • To cover up the perfume you just sprayed them. Likewise, to get rid of the shampoo smell.
  • To rub or apply their own scent or body odor onto other objects. This would be another way of marking their territory or announcing that they violated another dog’s territory.

Fortunately for us humans, they don’t only roll in smelly stuff. It may seem that way at times. Your Weim probably rolls in leaves, dirt, and grass. Every roll doesn’t seem to smell horrid. So that brings us to the question is it totally about the scent? Possibly they just enjoy rolling their back on the ground or the feel of leaves. They may enjoy all kinds of scents. We will never totally understand or know what causes them to roll.

Rolling is not such a huge problem in and of itself. What is hard to deal with is their smelly choices. Dead carcass smell is one of the worst and hardest to remove for their coat. Although skunk scent is equally bad and difficult to remove it is not obtained by rolling. Nevertheless, the recipes or products for removing skunk scent will help with dead carcass scent too. It might be wise to keep a bottle of product on the shelf or the ingredients to make your own scent releasing shampoo.

There is no way around the fact that what we think smells good is not your Weims idea of a great cologne. They don’t relish smelling of lavender, man’s cologne, or flowers. They might eat your flowers but the scent is another matter. Rotting flowers might be more appealing.

Here are a couple of thoughts from profession dog trainers.

No one can say for sure why a dog rolls in smelly stuff. The hunting Weimaraner may well be using cammo (in the form of scent) like their hunting companion. They may also be bringing home a souvenir of their field trip. Punishment once again is not the answer. Though not pleasant to us, some dogs relish horse hockey. Upon locating a fresh supply of  horse pooh, they not only roll in it but devour some too. Disgusting and offensive as the behavior is, it is not a personal affront. Regardless, you may be well advised to keep them on leash upon returning home.  In this way, they cannot take the opportunity to deposit their treasured scent on the furniture. Who can imagine what they are thinking? Alas, maybe saving scent for future reference seems like a good idea.

About OwyheeStar

We are Professional Weimaraner breeders--with forty years experience at raising puppies. For many years, we have focused exclusively on the Weimaraner! If you are considering the Weimaraner, or live with one, we welcome you to sign up to our blog. We sincerely hope you will find the information, the stories, and varied posts insightful (as well as entertaining). To those who live with an OwyheeStar Weimaraner, we send special thanks. We appreciate the photos, the news, and your friendship. Thank you for being a part of the extended OwyheeStar family.

Posted on October 9, 2009, in Behavior & Training, Grooming. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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