Why do dogs roll in grass?

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I’m willing to bet that your pooch has stopped, dropped, and rolled at some point on a walk. Almost every dog has rolled around in the grass at some point, and many pups seem to do it pretty regularly.

It’s funny to watch, but you might have found yourself wondering “why do dogs roll in grass” and then tried to work out if it’s normal behaviour or whether your dog’s just acting up.

Luckily, rolling around in the grass is pretty natural and normal for our furry friends. However, there are a few different reasons why dogs roll in grass. We’ll talk through all the reasons why Fido’s floundering on the lawn, and if there’s anything you should watch out for with their wacky behaviour.

Why do dogs roll in grass?

It’s in their DNA

Like most natural behaviours our furry friends enjoy, it’s got something to do with their ancestry. Wild wolves and dogs roll in weird things like dead animals, poop, and urine, which can include rolling around in the grass to get covered in all those stinks.

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No one knows exactly why wolves do it, but common theories are that it’s to mask their own smell and to carry new smells home for their packmates to sniff and follow later on. That explains why wolves do it, but why do dogs roll in grass?

It’s useful for hiding their scent

Like wolves, it’s believed that dogs roll in grass and other stinky stuff like fox poo to try and hide their own smell. Since they are predators, hiding their smell helps to confuse their prey and give them more chance of a successful hunt. By smelling like grass, and not a dog, it means your pooch could creep closer to their unsuspecting prey since they haven’t smelt a dangerous predator.

That being said, your hound probably isn’t out on the hunt very often, unless it’s to pounce on an unsuspecting sofa. But it’s still a perfectly natural behaviour that’s hardwired into their DNA.

They’re marking their territory

Another theory to try and explain why dogs roll in grass is that they do it to mark their territory. Your pup could be scooting around on their back to rub their own scent onto the grass, leaving their personal smell behind for other dogs to notice, and making it clear they’ve claimed the area.

It’s puppy perfume

Dogs navigate the world with their nose, and their sense of smell is basically a super power. It’s thousands of times greater than our own, so they can pick up smells we would miss. For example, we humans can smell cut grass but our dogs can smell the grass and everything on it whether that’s the smell of another dog walking across it, a cat’s pee, different dirt, or anything else.

While dogs might be rolling in the grass to hide their smell, it’s possible they’re rolling in it just because they like the smell of grass, dirt, and anything else down there. This means your dog rollicking about could be the puppy equivalent of putting on some perfume!

It feels positively great

If you’ve ever walked barefoot on grass, you’ll know it’s pretty soft and prickly underfoot. That slightly prickly and abrasive texture must feel great as your pooch rubs against it and it could help to scratch their back and get rid of any pesky itches. We all love a good back scratch, and rolling in the grass could be like the perfect massage and scritch combined!

Having grass running through their fur could also help to loosen any dirt or dead fur that’s stuck in your dog’s coat. So rocking and rolling on the lawn could be helping them to feel cleaner and more comfortable.

Since rolling in the grass helps to scratch any itch, a dog that’s suddenly rolling around more than normal might be suffering from itchy skin. If your pup seems agitated when they’re rolling around, they’re scratching themselves a lot, or biting at their fur, it could be a sign of parasites or an itchy illness. Check your pup out for any sores, scabs, or dry skin and contact your vet for advice. Keep up any preventative treatments to keep ticks and fleas at bay.

It’s a perfect pass time

The simplest explanation as to why dogs roll in grass is just that they enjoy it. It looks fun when they’re on their backs wiggling around, and they look pretty happy whenever they do it. The texture of grass on your pooch’s back probably feels great, plus it’s also providing sensory stimulation to their sense of touch as well as smell.

Just like you might have rolled down hills as a kid, your pup is probably rolling around in the grass just because it’s fun. It feels nice, it smells good, and it’s enjoyable!

It can be compulsive

For some dogs, rolling in the grass is more than just a fun pass time. Some pups can have compulsive disorders, which can be like the doggy equivalent of OCD. If your dog is repeatedly rolling on grass and it’s getting in the way of walkies, there is a possibility that it’s compulsive behaviour. You should contact your vet for advice if you have any concerns about your dog whether their behaviour has changed suddenly, or it’s getting in the way of their daily life.

Why do dogs roll in the grass after a bath?

Dogs always seem keen to roll around on the carpet or some grass after a bath and there are a few reasons why they do it. Firstly, rolling around is a good stress reliever. Lots of pup’s don’t like bathtime, so rolling around afterwards is a way of getting that nervous energy out, and the massaging effect of rolling around can help to ease any tension in their body.

Another reason why dogs roll in the grass after a bath is to change how they smell. Most canine professionals are fairly confident that dogs don’t always like the smelly shampoos we use. You might love your pup smelling like blueberries, but your pooch is probably far less keen.

To a dog, dirt and grass and anything else is far more appealing an aroma. So they’ll roll in grass straight after bathtime to try and make themselves smell more familiar and to give themselves a scent that they prefer. If your pup really seems to hate the smell of the shampoo you’re using, it’s probably best to swap to a fragrance-free formula.

Is rolling in grass bad for dogs?

Rolling around in the grass is a perfectly natural behaviour and there’s nothing necessarily bad about your dog doing it. However, there can be hidden nasties lurking in the lawn that can ruin your pup’s playtime.

Some lawns might be treated with plant food, pesticides, or herbicides to keep them lush and green. But these can contain chemicals that are harmful to your dog if it comes into contact with their skin or if they lick it off their fur.

Ticks also hang out in the grass, especially if sheep or deer live in the field too. Your pup could pick up one of these nasty parasites while rolling around and end up with a bloodsucking tick treating them as tea.

That’s why it’s important to use flea and tick treatments that repel these bugs and kill them and their eggs, helping to keep your pooch safe. Ticks can carry diseases too, so it’s always best to keep treating your pooch and prevent them from being used as a bug buffet.

Finally, you might think your pooch is rolling in grass only to find out too late they were actually smothering themselves in something stinky like fox poo, cat poo, or even a dead animal. Man’s best friend seems besotted with rolling in all things smelly. Although a normal behaviour for our furry friends, it isn’t very pleasant to deal with.

Plus, those poops and carcasses your pup’s rolled in could be harbouring parasites and diseases. If your pup’s rolled in something they shouldn’t, or even if it was just grass, it’s a good idea to use some pet-safe wipes to clean them off. And if they’ve definitely rolled in something stinky, that means a trip to the B-A-T-H is in order.

Dogs roll in grass because they’re dogs

So why do dogs roll in grass? Because they’re dogs, basically. It’s just another quirk of their personalities and for our furry friends, rolling around on the lawn is a natural and enjoyable behaviour.

We’ll never know exactly why a dog rolls in grass until we can teach a dog to talk, or we can read their minds. Until then, it’s time to accept it’s a perfectly normal and natural thing for dogs to do, even if we humans think it’s a little strange.