You may be wondering why your dog loves to flop on his back and roll around on the ground. Various theories include: Scratching an itch, leaving his scent, disguising his scent, marking his territory, and killing an enemy or prey.
Dogs may roll on the ground to scratch an itch.
If it feels good, roll on it. No the dog didn’t sniff it first. He didn’t find enemy poo there. There’s no carcass you can see. He’s just rolling around to scratch his back because it feels good. If rolling on his back feels good, scratching it with a brush will too. Try adding a back brushing to his daily routine, and see if the rolling doesn’t subside.
Dogs roll on the ground to pretend they’re killing prey.
This is an instinctive reaction. In the wild, canines kill a rabbit for instance, and then roll on it to make sure it is dead. After appropriately smushing the dead prey, it is ready to eat or drag. If a dog rolls on it, he has conquered it, and claimed it. And he can carry the scent back to the pack to prove it. (Of course, since you’re officially “the pack” he may bring the stink and the prey home to impress you.)
Some dogs like to roll around on smelly dead things.
You dog may instinctively want to disguise his own scent, which is why he rolls around on smelly dead rabbits or other carrion. If he is a rabbit hunter, he figures the best way to sneak up on rabbits is to smell like a rabbit himself. That way, the prey doesn’t smell dog, and think “uh oh, predator alert!” We’ve all heard of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Same principle: He’s a dog in rabbit perfume, or Eau de Squirrel.
Megan Parker, research biologist at the Wolf Education and Research Center in Seattle says “It could be they (wolves) roll in carrion to take the scent back to the pack, telling them they’ve found something interesting.” “It could also be that they’re marking the carrion with their scent, to tell anyone else who comes along ‘this is mine.'” So even though your dog gets his food out of a bowl in the kitchen, those ancient instincts may motivate him to roll around on smelly dead things.
If your dog rolls around in his own poop, goose poop, coyote pee . . .
He may think of it as Aqua Velva. He is deliberately trying to stink himself up so that he will not be ignored. He may be trying to lure another animal, or out-stink another animal. Solution: Keep his and all other poop picked up. Put your hand inside a plastic bag, grab the excrement, and pull the bag down and over it. It’s fast, you don’t have to touch it or smell it.
Why does your dog roll on the ground instead of marking it with urine?
Rolling on the ground seems to be about eradicating the scent of an intruder, or scent disguise. The dog is saying “How dare you! Here’s how I would like to smush you! Smell this!” Whereas dogs mark territories with urine to show boundaries and to advertise sexual availability, rolling may have to do with intruders and prey. So, let him roll. He is sending an important message to someone.