Why do dogs roll in fox poo? | TeamDogs

Why do dogs roll in fox poo?

Dogs are often attracted to nastier smells, and there are a number of theories as to why

Danielle Elton

Posted 40d ago

Getty - Compassionate Eye Foundation

Written by Alec Evans

It is up there with dog owners’ worst nightmares – dogs sniffing out the scent of fox mess, then going for a roll in it.

It’s not the only thing dogs roll in – everything from ash to stagnant muddy water to dead animals are popular choices. But few dog owners would argue that poo from foxes or any other meat-eating animals are particularly nasty things to clean off your dog.

Through the autumn months, as fox cubs become increasingly independent from their parents, fox poo is found around more and more. But when dogs have such a strong sense of smell already, what could attract them to coat themselves in something so foul-smelling?

READ MORE: Why fox wee is potentially harmful to dogs

There has never been a definitive answer decided, but the American Kennel Club says that the most likely theory is that dogs do this to hide their own scent from prey or other predators. Meaning coating themselves in something like this is preferable to feeling under attack.

Another theory is that it is a habit descended from their ancestors. Pat Goodmann, a research associate and curator at Wolf Park in Indiana who has looked at scent rolling in wolves, believes the behaviour by even pet dogs may have evolved from their descendants bringing information back to their pack, rolling being their way of showing others what they have come across.

READ MORE: 9 reasons why dogs eat their own poo and the best ways to stop it

Her research also showed that wolves may also like to roll in sweet scents or those traditionally nicer-smelling to the human nose, such as mint extract and Chanel No. 5 perfume.

It may also have originated from a sense of community amongst wolves, where a pack would roll in the same smell to give themselves a sense of cohesion.

Rolling around in unpleasant odours is natural for dogs, but there are ways to prevent it from being too much trouble. Dogs can be distracted with squeaky toys or with strong recall training to prevent them from bringing nasty aromas home with them.

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