Why Do Dogs Roll In Dead Things? Spoiler! They Did It For Survival

The behavior of rolling around in dead things and stinking up the home is one that continues to perplex dog parents, and there are several questions as to why dogs act this way. So, why do dogs roll in dead things?

Dogs roll around in dead things because this is an instinctive behavior that has been handed down through many canine generations as a means of communicating with other dogs or simply to seek their owners’ attention.

Rolling around in dead things is a mostly harmless gesture, but as suggested in the opening paragraph, there are times when this behavior can mean that your dog needs attention, and this is why dog parents should be able to determine why their pooch has been rubbing vigorously against dead animals.

Additionally, it can get pretty unpleasant having to deal with the unsavory smell of dead animals on your canine buddy, and steps to immediately get rid of this unpleasant smell, as well as effectively stop your fido from rolling around in dead things, are outlined in this article. Before we take a look at all this, however, let’s see why your dog has been rolling in dead things.

Why Does My Dog Roll In Dead Things?

Dogs typically roll in dead things because it’s in their nature to do so, as a mode of communication with other dogs or as attention-seeking behavior.

Dogs rolling in dead things is one canine behavior that has left scientists perplexed over the years, but in the same vein, theories have been developed to try and explain why your pooch may be rolling in dead things. Some of these theories include that:

Rolling Around In Dead Things Is A Hunting Behavior

First on the probable list of reasons that dogs roll around in dead things is that this used to be a common canine hunting routine. By rolling around in dead things, dogs could successfully camouflage their own natural odor, thereby enabling them to hunt more efficiently.

Now, it is true modern dogs don’t necessarily need to hunt for survival again, but this behavior of rolling in dead things is one that has survived the test of time and been passed down through canine generations.

Dogs Roll In Dead Things To Keep Scavengers Away

Another reason why dogs may roll on dead things, particularly small prey, is to mark such dead prey with their scent, thereby keeping potential scavengers away. Scent-marking was an ideal way for dogs to publicly lay claim to a carcass in a bid to deter lurking scavengers.

Again, with the domestication of dogs over the years, rolling around on dead animals to ward off scavengers has devolved, but you may still notice your pooch rubbing its body against a dead squirrel due to an innate canine instinct to do so.

As A Means Of Communication

Another theory that explains the act of rolling around in dead things by dogs is that this is a behavior developed by dogs to communicate with each other.

Due to their amazing noses and remarkable sense of smell, dogs are able to communicate primarily by smell. By rolling around in dead things, a pooch can inform another dog that something exciting is nearby.

Also, by getting some of that dead animal scent on its fur, a dog may be trying to show its pack that it is a good hunter.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

It is also quite possible for a pooch that is deprived of attention to roll in dead things as a way of seeking its human’s attention.

Domesticated dogs thrive on human attention, and a pooch may be encouraged to roll around in dead things if its owner has previously reacted negatively to this behavior.

What Should I Do When My Dog Rolls In Dead Things?

Image from Darwin’s Pet

You should clean a dog that has been rolling in dead things by bathing, brushing, or making use of natural remedies such as a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

If your dog has been rolling around in dead things, the next course of action is to ensure that such a pooch goes through a thorough grooming exercise by either bathing or brushing such a pooch.


If you’re able to catch your dog rolling around in dead things relatively early, the chances are that you will be able to get rid of the majority of the oils responsible for the characteristic bad odor by brushing the pooch’s coat.

You have the option of brushing your dog’s coat with a host of brush types ranging from bristles to slicker brushesrake brushes, or pin brushes, just to mention a few. But your choice of brush should ultimately be influenced by the texture of your fido’s coat.


Once you’re done brushing a dog that has been rolling around in dead things, the next point of action is to bathe the pooch with warm water and shampoo.

If you’re to eliminate the smell of dead things from your pooch’s coat, the shampoo to be used, apart from being used, must also have special degreasing properties. This property enables the shampoo to break down the scent oils, thereby making it easier to get them out of a pooch’s coat.

Also, when you’re done bathing the pooch, ensure to thoroughly rinse the pooch and clean up moisture with a dry towel. Failure to properly rinse the shampoo off your dog’s body is counterproductive, and you may occasionally catch the smell of a dead animal from your dog’s coat.

What Natural Remedies Can I Use To Get The Smell Of Dead Things Off My Dog’s Body?

Apart from brushing and shampooing, there are some tested and trusted home remedies with which you can completely eliminate the smell of dead things from your canine buddy’s body.

Some of these natural home remedies that are effective at removing the smell of dead things on a dog include:

A Mixture Of Baking Soda And Hydrogen Peroxide

One time-tested means of getting rid of unsavory odors from a dog’s body is by making use of a proportional mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

This mixture is typically prepared by mixing together a liter of 3% hydrogen peroxide and ¼ of a cup of baking soda in a sizable bowl.

One or two teaspoons of grease-cutting liquid soap are also typically added to this mixture to facilitate the removal of oils that have been attached to a pooch’s body by rolling around in dead things.

Once this mixture has been prepared, you should rub it into the affected pooch’s coat – taking special care to avoid the eyes and lips – and leave it in for a few minutes, at most. Hydrogen peroxide can be quite harsh on the skin, and leaving it too long on a dog’s coat can lead to the coat getting bleached.

Hence, once the stipulated time is up, ensure to properly and thoroughly rinse off the mixture from the pooch’s body and wipe up remnants with a dry towel.

Additionally, if you’re preparing hydrogen peroxide to use on your dog, you’ll need to put on protective gear such as glovesgoggles, and an apron. You can also leave one or two drops of mineral oil in your fido’s eyes for protection.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apart from hydrogen peroxide, another home product that has proven to be useful in getting rid of the smell of dead animals on dogs is apple cider vinegar.

By mixing apple cider vinegar with a deodorizing shampoo and applying this mixture on a pooch, you not only break down the oils responsible for the characteristic bad odor that comes with rubbing against dead animals, but you can also get rid of this unsavory smell.

How Can I Stop My Dog From Rolling In Dead Things?

You can stop your dog from rolling in dead things by utilizing basic obedience training, paying more attention to the pooch, or associating experiences your dog doesn’t like with this behavior.

Rather than having to spend precious time scrubbing your canine buddy to get rid of offensive smells, it’s best to be proactive and teach your pooch not to roll in dead things.

That said, some of the ways by which you can stop your dog from rolling in dead things include:

Basic Obedience Training

One of the surest ways of stopping or preventing your dog from rolling around in dead things is by training the pooch to come back to you whenever you utilize a special recall command.

The usefulness of recall commands goes beyond preventing your pooch from rolling around in dead things, and there are times when they may come in handy to save your pooch’s life; Hence, we suggest you start teaching these commands to your pooch from an early age.

If you observe your pooch heading towards a pile of dead things, you can simply employ one of the various recall commands that must have been earlier taught to the pooch to stop its action.

Pay More Attention To Your Dog

As earlier stated, rolling around in dead things may be a dog’s way of getting attention, and this behavior can be stopped by paying more attention to your pooch – it’s that easy. Take your dog on more walksplay with your dog more often, and regularly engage the dog in exercises. Also, by engaging your dog in games, you can teach the pooch to ignore dead animals.

However, in cases where this lack of attention has developed into an obsessive-compulsive disorder for your pooch, it will be considerably difficult to break this habit of rolling around in dead things without professional help.

And, in this case, we suggest you hire an animal behaviorist or professional dog trainer to help correct your pooch’s behavior.

Associate Unpleasant Experiences With Rolling Around In Dead Things

The moment you notice your dog rolling around in dead things, you can discourage the pooch in question from carrying out such behavior in the future by trying to pair an unpleasant experience with this action.

This unpleasant experience can be squirting your pooch with water from a bottle as soon as it starts rolling or by suddenly making a loud noise. However, you shouldn’t yell at a dog rolling around in dead thingsnor should you physically hit the pooch in question.

Once your pooch starts associating these unpleasant experiences with rolling around in dead things, there’s every chance that the dog will avoid doing this again.

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Pete Decker