Why would a perfectly normal dog choose to roll around in rubbish, dung, or something equally offensive smelling to humans? Some dogs do and they seem to get great pleasure from it. Maybe it’s a dream come true for them to roll around in a smelly pile of rubbish and perhaps it excites all of their acute canine senses!
One theory explains that this is instinctive behaviour inherited from their wolf ancestors. Wolves will roll in the decomposing bodies of animals and feces to cover up their own scent. This gives them an advantage in sneaking up on their prey since they will smell less like wolves. Your dog may be practicing this same hunting behaviour when he rolls in stinky stuff.
Another theory suggests that dogs are trying to get rid of a scent that they don’t like and replace it with an earthier scent. It’s important to remember that a dog’s sense of smell is many times more sensitive than humans. Dogs and humans have different ideas about what smells “nice”, most dogs don’t appreciate perfumes and floral scents particularly in shampoos. Some dogs after a bath may seek out the smelliest thing they can find to roll in to cancel out the shampoo or fragrance.
If your dog is prone to rolling around in stinky stuff it’s not good to punish him. He’s only indulging his dog instincts. To prevent your dog smelling of eau de stinky keep things as clean as possible around the home and garden. While on walks, keep an eye out for rotten rubbish and dead animals. Make sure you decide when your dog stops to relieve themselves, or investigate. Practice the Leave it! command, as well as a reliable recall command to stop an off-leash dog from rolling in stinky stuff. If he particularly does these things after a bath you should try to find an unscented shampoo.
According to experts, dogs are less likely to roll in dog feces. Dogs who do roll in dog feces, especially their own, may be trying to get attention or may be showing signs of stress.