Exploring the Scent-sational Reasons: Why Do Dogs Roll in Fox Poo?

Feb 15, 2024 | Dog Behaviour

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Photo of a dog rolling in grass

If you’ve ever grimaced at your dog joyfully rolling in fox poo, you’re probably asking ‘Why Do Dogs Roll in Fox Poo?”. The answer is surprisingly simple: it’s an ancient instinct. From camouflage tactics to social signalling, dogs have their reasons. But it’s often their incredible sense of smell that draws them to these potent odours we find repulsive. This article provides a straightforward exploration of the sensory and evolutionary reasons behind this seemingly odd canine behaviour.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs roll in fox poo and other smelly substances as an inherited behaviour from their wild ancestors; it’s partly to mask their own scent for hunting and camouflage, and also for social signalling.
  • Although rolling in fox poo is natural for dogs, it can expose them to parasites and bacteria like lungworms, roundworms, and Salmonella, which can cause serious health problems.
  • Preventing dogs from rolling in fox poo involves training with commands like ‘leave it’ and environmental management, but if they do get into it, promptly and thoroughly cleaning their coat is crucial to maintain their hygiene.

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The Science Behind the Stink

Photo of a dog sniffing the ground

To comprehend why your well-behaved canine suddenly develops a penchant for fox poo, consider starting with their dog’s sense of smell. Dogs have an incredibly acute sense of smell, estimated to be 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours. Their powerful olfactory abilities, enhanced by numerous receptors, enable them to detect a variety of scents, including the pungent odours in fox poo.

Additionally, their olfactory prowess is complemented by a natural instinct to mask their own scent. This behaviour, common among wild animals, helps them blend into their surroundings, making it harder for their prey to sniff them out. So, that smelly fox poo that makes your nose wrinkle is probably regarded as a potent and luxurious perfume by an animal and your dog.

Canine olfactory senses

Dogs’ heightened olfactory senses allow them to interpret the world around them more intensely than we can imagine. Their noses are like super sniffers, capable of detecting scents and changes in odours that we humans can barely comprehend. Part of the allure of fox poo to dogs is its strong smell. While this may seem gross to us, to dogs, it’s an intriguing scent that their noses find irresistible.

Furthermore, dogs don’t just roll in fox poo to enjoy the smell; they also aim to acquire the scent on their own fur. This act of ‘perfuming’ themselves while rolled in fox poo scent is a way for dogs to communicate with other dogs. It’s like them wearing a badge that says, ‘Hey, I’ve encountered a fox!’

Evolutionary instincts

Gaining insight into our dogs’ peculiar habits also requires a look back at their wild ancestors, including wild dogs. As descendants of wolves, dogs have inherited certain behaviours that were crucial for survival. One such behaviour is rolling in strong-smelling substances, a tactic wolves used for hunting and camouflage, also known as dog rolling or dog roll.

In the wild, blending in with their surroundings was vital for survival. Rolling in fox poo allowed dogs to other dogs masking their own scent and sneak up on their prey. Similarly, smell played a significant role in communication within the pack. By rolling in a strong scent like fox poo, dogs could leave a scent mark for other pack members, a form of social signalling that still exists in our domestic dogs today.

Why Do Dogs Roll in Fox Poo?: Theories and Explanations

With a better understanding of dogs’ olfactory senses and their evolutionary instincts, we can explore some theories explaining why dogs roll in fox poo. Some of the prominent theories include camouflaging their own scent, social signalling, and, believe it or not, just for fun.

Although these theories offer insight into potential reasons, a few theories suggest that each dog is distinct. Some dogs might be rolling in fox poo to:

  • mask their own smell
  • mark their territory
  • communicate with other dogs
  • relieve itching or irritation
  • engage in a natural instinctual behaviour

And, of course, some dog owners might just find that their dogs love their pets’ smelly habit, which they find fun.

Camouflaging their scent

One of the most widely accepted theories is that dogs roll in fox poo to camouflage their own scent. The strong, distinctive smell of fox poo can effectively mask a dog’s natural scent, making them less detectable to other animals. This is a throwback to their wild ancestors who used this tactic to sneak up on their prey or remain unnoticed by predators.

While our domestic dogs no longer need to hunt for survival, these deep-seated instincts can still drive their behaviour. So, when your dog sees (or rather smells) a fresh pile of fox poo or even dog poo, their instincts kick in, compelling them to roll in it and get that strong smell all over their dog’s coat.

Social signalling

Another intriguing theory is that rolling in fox poo serves as a form of social signalling. Dogs communicate with each other in various ways, and scent is a significant aspect of this communication. By rolling in fox poo, dogs can ‘wear’ the scent and convey information to other dogs.

This ‘scent message’ could be about the presence of a fox in the area or other important environmental cues. So, when your dog rolls in fox poo, they might be trying to tell their fellow dogs, ‘Hey, there’s a fox around here!’

Just for fun

Lastly, we cannot discount the simple fact that some dogs might just enjoy rolling in fox poo. Dogs have a keen sense of curiosity and are often attracted to strong, distinct smells. The unique and powerful smell of fox poo might be intriguing and enjoyable for them, prompting them to roll in it.

While this behaviour may seem puzzling (and disgusting) to us, it’s just another fascinating aspect of dogs’ complex sensory world. It’s their way of exploring and interacting with their environment – albeit in a very smelly way!

Dangers of Rolling in Fox Poo

Illustration of parasites and bacteria

Understanding why dogs roll in fox poo is as significant as knowing the potential risks this behaviour presents. Fox poo can harbour harmful parasites and bacteria that pose a risk to your dog’s health.

Parasites such as lungworms, roundworms, and even ringworm can be transmitted to your dog through fox poo. Additionally, the bacteria in the faeces can cause skin irritations and infections. Hence, it’s necessary to deter this habit and promptly clean your dog if they indulge in it.

Parasites and diseases

Fox poo can be a hotbed for various parasites, which can cause diseases in dogs. Hookworm, tapeworm, and lungworm are just a few examples of parasites that can be present in fox poo. These parasites can cause a range of health problems, from digestive issues to more serious conditions such as toxocariasis.

Understanding these risks is key to ensuring your dog’s health and well-being. If your dog shows symptoms such as loose stools or weight loss after rolling in fox poo, immediate veterinary consultation is imperative.

Bacterial concerns

In addition to parasites, fox poo can also contain harmful bacteria. These bacteria can cause infections and skin problems in dogs. Salmonella and Yersinia enterocolitica are just a few examples of the types of bacteria that can be found in fox poo.

If your dog rolls in fox poo, these bacteria can penetrate their fur and cause skin irritations and infections. In severe cases, these infections can cause significant pain and discomfort for your dog. Hence, immediate and comprehensive cleaning is necessary to ward off potential bacterial infections.

Preventing the Smelly Habit

Illustration of a dog being trained

Prevention is crucial due to the potential health threats linked with dogs rolling in fox poo. Training techniques and environmental control are two effective ways to discourage this behaviour.

Training your dog to respond to commands like ‘leave it’ can help keep them away from fox poo. Similarly, controlling your dog’s environment, such as keeping them on a leash and regularly checking your yard for fox poo, can help reduce their exposure to it.

Training techniques

Using training techniques can be highly effective in preventing your dog from rolling in fox poo. Teaching your dog the ‘leave it’ command can help them resist the urge to roll in fox poo. Training their recall against distractions can also be beneficial.

Enrolling your dog in a training class is another great option. This not only helps them learn obedience and specialized training for this issue but also strengthens your bond with your dog and improves their overall behaviour.

Environmental control

In addition to training, controlling your dog’s environment can also help prevent them from rolling in fox poo. Using a leash can give you direct control over walking your dog, allowing you to steer them away from fox poo.

Regularly checking your yard for fox poo and using deterrents can also help keep your dog away from it. By minimizing their exposure to fox poo, you can help reduce the likelihood of them engaging in this smelly habit. Additionally, learning how to clean fox poo properly can ensure a hygienic environment for your pets and family.

Cleaning Up After a Fox Poo Encounter

Photo of a person washing a dog on Why Do Dogs Roll in Fox Poo?

Despite our vigilance, our dogs may occasionally sneak in a roll in fox poo. In such cases, knowing how to properly clean your dog is essential. This involves effective removal methods and deodorizing solutions to get your pooch smelling fresh again.

Be it using specialized dog shampoos or effective home remedies, the aim is to cleanse your dog thoroughly and eliminate the fox poo odour. Let’s delve into some of these methods and solutions.

Removal methods

When it comes to removing fox poo from your dog’s fur, there are several methods you can try. Using rubber gloves, you can use a kitchen roll to rub off the poo from their coat. Afterward, a good wash with specialist shampoo can help remove rid of any residual fox poo and smell.

For those unexpected encounters when you don’t have specialist shampoo on hand, home remedies like tomato ketchup can also be effective. However, remember to rinse it off thoroughly to avoid any potential skin irritation.

Deodorizing solutions

Once you’ve removed the bulk of the fox poo, deodorizing your dog’s fur is the next step. Deodorizing solutions, such as dog-safe shampoos and sprays, can help eliminate the lingering smell of fox poo from your dog’s fur.

Look for good dog shampoos with ingredients like Aloe Vera, Citrus, and baking soda, which are effective in neutralizing strong odours. Natural deodorizers like sprays with glycerine and essential oils can also freshen up your dog’s fur without causing any harm.

The Scoop on Why Do Dogs Roll in Fox Poo?

Although many dogs commonly roll in fox poo, some also partake in dogs eating poo, specifically by consuming it. This behaviour, while gross to us humans, could be driven by various reasons, including seeking additional nutrients or simply being attracted to the smell. However, just like rolling in foxes’ poo, eating it also carries health risks.

Eating fox poo can result in serious health issues, like potential exposure to parasites and the threat of bacterial infections, if not addressed promptly. Let’s explore why dogs might eat fox poo and the potential health implications of this behaviour.

Reasons for eating poo

The reasons why dogs might eat fox poo can vary. Some dogs simply might be attracted to the smell and taste of fox poo, finding it intriguing and enjoyable. Others might eat fox poo in search of extra nutrients or enzymes that are not available in their regular diet.

Irrespective of the reasons, it’s crucial to deter this behaviour and keep a close watch on your dog to avoid potential health hazards. If you notice your dog regularly eating fox poo, it’s best to consult with a vet to understand the underlying reasons and find a suitable solution.

Health implications

Eating fox poo can pose serious health risks for your dog. Parasites such as hookworm, lungworm, and tapeworm can be present in fox poo, which can lead to diseases like toxocariasis if ingested. It’s important to train your dog not to eat poo, especially when it comes to potentially harmful substances like fox poo.

Additionally, harmful bacteria like Salmonella and Yersinia enterocolitica can be present in fox poo, causing infections and digestive issues in dogs. If you notice signs of illness in your dog after they’ve eaten fox poo, seek veterinary advice immediately.

Summary on Why Do Dogs Roll in Fox Poo?

Our dogs’ habit of rolling in fox poo is a fascinating blend of evolved instincts, sensory experiences, and individual preferences. While it might seem disgusting to us, to our dogs, it’s a way of engaging with their environment and communicating with their fellow dogs.

However, this behaviour does pose potential health risks, so it’s crucial to discourage it and know how to clean up after a fox poo encounter. By understanding the ‘why’ behind this smelly habit, we can better navigate the ‘how’ of managing it and keeping our pooches healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do domestic dogs roll in fox poo?

Dogs roll in fox poo to mask their scent and protect themselves from being detected by other animals. It also serves as a way for them to leave their own scent at the scene, potentially signalling their presence to other animals.

How do I stop my dog from rolling in the fox poo?

To prevent your dog from rolling in fox poo or other unpleasant smells, teach them the “leave” command or consider joining a dog training class to learn effective techniques. Keep practicing to reinforce this behaviour.

Why does fox poo attract dogs?

Dogs are drawn to fox poo most likely due to instinctual reasons connected to their non-domesticated wolf past. It’s possible that they enjoy the smell and the act of covering themselves in it.

Is fox poo bad for dogs?

Yes, fox poo can be bad for dogs as it may contain harmful parasites and bacteria, so it’s important to contact your vet for advice and ensure your dog is up-to-date with worming treatments. Take care of your furry friend!

What do I do if my dog rolls in fox poo?

If your dog rolls in fox poo, grab some rubber gloves, remove as much poo as possible with kitchen roll, then give your dog a thorough shower or bath using warm water and a good scrub. Trust me, it’ll make a huge difference!

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