Your dog may be your best friend but that doesn’t mean you have to like everything they do. Dogs have some pretty frustrating habits and rolling in fox poo comes out at the top of the list. This habit is common across all dog breeds and while there’s no real risk of it hurting your dog, it makes for an interesting bath time when you get home.
So why do dogs roll in fox poo?
Well, it’s hard to ever be sure what an animal is thinking, but the most common theory is that dogs roll in fox poo and other types of poo in order to smell like their prey. This disguise theoretically makes it easier to hunt and explains why wolves share the same behaviour.
But there’s a pretty major flaw with this theory: most prey animals actually rely on their sight and hearing far more than they rely on their smell, because their noses are dependent on wind direction. This means that scent rolling isn’t a very effective disguise, so if the only reason for it were to hide their scent, dogs probably still wouldn’t be doing it.
Another popular theory is that rolling themselves in the scent of prey animals is kind of like wearing perfume. Many animal behaviours come from millennia of scarcity and the need to continue the species, so a dog rolling in poop could be their way of advertising that they’re from an area with lots of prey.
Of course, sometimes species do things for non-evolutionary purposes, and dogs rolling in fox poo could be a prime example. Dogs’ primary sense is smell the way humans’ primary sense is vision. They might be rolling in poop for the same reason we make art: to enjoy it.
The truth is we can’t be 100% sure why dogs roll in fox poo. It could be any one of these reasons, some combination of these reasons, or something humanity hasn’t even thought of yet. The only thing we can be absolutely sure of is that dogs love rolling in poo and other strong smelling stuff, often at the worst possible moment, and that nobody likes cleaning it out of their dog’s fur.
Can you stop your dog from rolling in poo?
Rolling in poo and other strong smelling substances is such a deeply ingrained dog habit that it is extremely difficult to stop. The most common suggestion is to get a retractable lead so you can actively stop them from getting into the poop pile.
You may also be able to train your dog to “leave it”, but there is no long term strategy for dealing with this behaviour other than constantly paying attention to what your dog is up to.
How can you get rid of the smell of fox poo?
Fox poo has a highly toxic odour which is almost impossible to get rid of. You are going to have to give your dog a good, thorough bath using high quality dog shampoo, ideally one specially formulated to remove the stubborn poo smell.
There are also sprays and pet wipes designed to get rid of the worst of the poo, but these are only temporary solutions until you can reach a bathtub. These products are also not ideal for dogs with extremely long and thick fur as they leave the fur extremely wet.
Unfortunately rolling in poo is one habit your dog will never give up entirely but there are ways you can reduce how often it happens—and excellent products to help you get rid of the stink when it does.