Pets rolling in carcasses and the faeces of other animals is particularly unpleasant for owners, and most of us who own dogs have had the fun task of washing the stink and mess off our pet before letting them back indoors. However its very hard to prevent such an instinctive behaviour, and we know some dogs find it harder to resist than others.
Rolling in strong smelling substances is thought to be a behaviour handed down from their ancestors. There are different theories about why they do this:
It disguises their own scent, and smelling more like their environment they can get closer to their prey before being detected.
They can take back the scent to inform their pack of their find.
It is also possible that some dogs roll as it results in a response from their owners. Unfortunately, dogs don’t like it when they smell all flowery and clean, so try washing your dog in non perfumed products as using a perfumed shampoo might only intensify their need to mask the new fragrance.
Although our pet dogs no longer need to hunt, some have retained the desire to do roll in poo or a dead animal, particularly after a bath. Stopping them is difficult. One of the best ways is to develop a really good recall, be vigilant, and call him back whenever he has been sniffing in the same spot for too long. If you know your dog is about to roll, then teach him a ‘Leave it’ command, which you give just as he lowers his head to begin rolling. Always call your dog away immediately and make sure that you reward him well with a game, a toy or a tasty titbit to ensure he comes quickly next time. If you can’t get your command in quick enough, then keep your dog closer to you and distract him by playing games until you have passed the tricky area.
Aversion therapy is another approach. Every single time he goes to roll, interrupt the behaviour by spraying him with water, throwing a can full of pennies near him (not at him), or by making a loud obnoxious noise to convince him that rolling in the ‘whatever’ really isn’t worth it! A useful tool is a Pet Corrector spray which you can purchase from your local pet shop or via the internet.
As a last resort, you could try wiping him over with a cloth carrying the scent of the pack before he goes out. Keep this in the laundry basket where it will pick up all sorts of strong scents associated with the pack!