Dogcharmer: Rolling in trouble

Dogs love to roll around in distasteful stuff, even after a good cleaning.

If a newly groomed dog goes outside, it might roll around on the lawn to pick up new scents. — Courtesy Tom Shelby

Dear Tom,

Why does my dog love to roll in nasty stuff?


Dear Michael, 

Great question because it’s not just your dog, all dogs do it. My standard poodle, Paula Jean, is the first dog I’ve ever had that I take to the groomer. I always bathed, trimmed toenails and cleaned my dogs’ ears until I adopted Paula. When the groomer wasn’t available during the pandemic and Paula was beginning to look like a Sasquatch, I got the trimmer and did her myself. That resulted in her looking like a seriously demented Sasquatch. My wife Jaye and I had to work hard not to embarrass her by laughing at her, and instead lied, telling her how pretty she looked in her new haircut. She didn’t buy it, because instead of wagging her tail with a smile, with head down she’d walk away. 

So anyway, after getting groomed she’d come back looking gorgeous and smelling great. Smelling great to us, that is. Invariably, she’d find something stinky to roll in within a day or two of having been groomed. Why? To disguise her scent, or simply to get rid of the perfume and smell like a dog.

Wolves, our dogs’ ancestors, were clever hunters. Rolling in the carcass of a dead deer to disguise her scent, a wolf would be more likely to get closer to a live deer for the kill. So when our pet Chihuahua rolls in racoon poop, he’s not really planning on taking down a moose, it just feels like the right thing to do, the feeling inherited from his wolf ancestor. When poochie rolls around luxuriously on your lawn, it’s not just a pleasant back scratch massage. Think of all the smells your piece of lawn may be holding — people having walked across, birds, insects, butterflies, squirrels, cats, woodchucks, and more. To a dog it’s a cornucopia of interesting, natural scents, as opposed to Chanel #5. 

Revel in your dog’s “doginess,” because you really don’t have a choice.

Dog Charmer Tom

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