Why Do Dogs Rub Up Against Things That Stink?

Icky canine rolling habits are not out of the ordinary.
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Even if you think your dog is the sweetest thing around, you may be a little unsettled when he saunters into your home covered in icky and slimy trash. Though confusing to humans, dogs often actually enjoy rubbing up against odoriferous gunk, thanks to their wild canine origins.

Disguising Their Odor

If your dog has the rather baffling desire to rub his furry body up against anything that leaves your home smelling less than pleasant, it probably has something to do with his wild roots. Doggie relatives such as wolves often rub their bodies in decaying animal remnants, and with good reason. By rolling around in smelly things -- and therefore becoming smelly, too -- dogs conceal their individual bodily scents. By not smelling like themselves, canines can be a lot more sly and clandestine about approaching unknowing prey animals from behind.

Establishing Ownership

Some dogs may rub up against shudder-inducing substances in an attempt to establish ownership. By rolling their bodies around in ickiness, they express to everyone around them that they own the object or objects of offense, whether a rotting corpse of a rabbit, a pile of steaming trash or a heap of cow manure -- yikes. If a dog does this, he's basically saying, "This is mine, not yours, so acknowledge that and stay away."


Dogs also may rub up against things that stink as a way of notifying all the other canines in the vicinity of their impressive discovery. If a dog finds a dead squirrel carcass on the side of the road, smelling like the remains is probably the most effective way of getting his news across. Once he comes back inside of your home, any other dogs in your household will immediately be in the know.

Shampooing Smelly Dogs

If your dog smells awful after rubbing up in something unpleasant, your next step is to give him a thorough bathing -- with no further ado, as you probably don't want him getting the stink all over your couch or bed. When bathing your doggie, always use a mild shampoo that is made specifically for canine use. Shampoos made for people are generally too harsh and aggressive on doggie skin and hair, and as a result can lead to needless irritation and flaking.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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