How To Stop A Dog From Rolling In Poop
Nearly all dog owners have experienced watching (in horror) their beloved pet roll around in a pile of poop. How can you stop your dog from rolling around in the icky things they find on their walk with you?
Why do dogs roll in poop?
Before you try to stop this behavior, it is a good idea to know why dogs do this. While poop smells awful to us humans, to a dog, it does not smell bad. And this is interesting because dogs are believed to have a sense of smell that is one thousand times better than ours.
The root of this behavior comes from a domesticated dog’s wild ancestors. In the wild, dogs would roll in poop in order to hide their scent from their predators as well as hiding their scent from their prey as they are closing in on a kill.
Dogs will roll around in anything that they feel will disguise their actual scent, from animal poop to dead animals. But a study conducted in 1986 found that dogs are least interested in rolling around in the poop of herbivores and would much rather roll around in a carnivore’s poop, such as the droppings of cougars or bears.
Also, to a dog, it just feels good to roll around in poop! It is just something that they enjoy and get a kick out of. And even though we do not understand this behavior, it releases a rush of dopamine (the happiness hormone) in your dog’s brain when they do this.
How can I stop my dog from rolling in poop?
Teaching your dog to not roll in poop is good for both the health of you and your dog, as well as everyone in your family. It will also help to cut down on the number of baths that your dog receives, which is better for the health of your dog’s skin.
Training your dog not to roll around in poop is a difficult skill. This is because you may not even be able to see the poop that your dog smells and by the time you realize what your dog is doing, they could already be rolling around in it.
It is even harder to train your dog to not roll in poop if they are allowed off-leash or in your big yard. With that being said, it is still possible if you are willing to put the work into it with your dog.
The first step to getting your dog to stop this nasty behavior is to get to know the signs that your dog is going to roll in poop. Next time you take your dog out for a walk, observe their behaviors so that you can learn to recognize the signs that your dog is going to start rolling in poop. Every individual dog will have subtle telltale signs that will clue you in that your dog is getting ready to roll around in something they have found.
Next, you need to decide what the command will be for your dog to tell them not to roll in poop. Make it short and easy, such as “leave it” or “no poop.” Once you have your command figured out you are ready to start with the training. The two most important things you will need to teach your dog not to roll in poop are plenty of treats and loads of patience.
Training Your Dog to Not Roll In Poop
Teaching the Command
The first step in training your dog to not roll in poop is to train your dog to know the command that you have selected (“leave it,” “no poop,” etc.).
1. Take one of your dog’s favorite treats and put it in your hand and make a fist. Show your closed fist to your dog so they can smell the treat and know that it is there but not be able to get to it. Your dog will probably try to lick your hand or bark to try to get you to release the treat but do not give it to them.
2. When your dog backs away from your hand, say “yes!” (or click the clicker if you use clicker training). Then give your dog a treat from the other hand. Make sure to give your dog the treat from the opposite hand because you are rewarding your dog for leaving it, so you do not want to reward them with what they are leaving.
3. Keep doing this until your dog is consistently backing away from your closed hand and then add the command you selected as soon as your dog begins moving away. Repeat this exercise with the command until your dog knows that the command that you chose means to back away.
Practicing the Command
Once your dog knows the command that you have chosen, you should practice it with different items.
1. In your yard or another safe place, place a collection of items that may interest your dog, such as a food wrapper, a favorite toy, socks or shoes, etc.
2. Walk with your dog around the objects you placed in the yard and as your dog starts to go to check out one of the items, use your command.
3. When your dog leaves the item and comes to you, give them a treat and lots of praise.
Putting the Command into Action
Once your dog knows the command to leave the poop, it is time to use it when there is actually poop somewhere.
1. Take your dog for a walk in an area where your dog usually finds and rolls in poop.
2. When your dog begins to approach poop or is showing the signs that they may start to roll around in something, distract your dog and say the command.
3. If your dog leaves the poop alone, give them a treat as a reward.
4. Continue to practice these steps until your dog can consistently leave poop alone when you give them the command.
Have patience with your dog and remember that to them, rolling around in poop is fun and rewarding, so it will take time to break this habit.