Ever let your dog outside and see them start rolling in the grass immediately? It’s a familiar sight to encounter when having one of these lovable animals. But it does propose the question of what’s causing them to do this behavior. In fact, I’ve had several dog-owning friends ask me the question of why dogs roll in the grass. So I thought it was time to deep dive into all the reasons and other related questions. Let’s solve the mystery once and for all!
Is Rolling in the Grass A Normal Dog Behavior?
Before I dive into what’s causing this behavior, let’s address the elephant in the room. Rolling in the grass isn’t a behavior that should worry owners. In most cases, it’s normal for your dogs. How else are they supposed to itch those hard-to-reach areas on their backs?
But this behavior being typical doesn’t mean their humans appreciate it. The truth is dogs will roll onto poop and other disgusting stuff that’s hiding in the grass. So this rolling often ends up being a problematic situation for owners.
These owners must understand what’s causing this behavior. Once they do, it becomes much easier to address and prevent from occurring frequently. It’ll allow them to redirect the need for rolling in the grass to a more acceptable behavior. As a result, let’s move on and discuss the reasons behind your dog’s grass rolling.
Why Do Dogs Roll in the Grass?
There are six common reasons for a dog rolling in the grass: releasing excessive energy, self-grooming, masking their scent, covering up an unwanted odor, marking territory, or irritation/allergies. Here’s a look at each cause to see if it’s what is causing your dog’s behavior.
1. Releasing Excess Energy
Some dogs will need an outlet for releasing pent-up energy. It’ll happen whenever a pup doesn’t get the necessary exercise requirements. For instance, an owner who leaves them cooped up all day would likely see their dog roll around when letting them outside.
It’s also not always a result of an owner not providing enough exercise from them. In some cases, dogs will simply have a burst of unexpected energy. You may see them do zoomies around your house or roll around in the grass.
As you can imagine, these actions are natural. It can even become a bonding event if an owner uses this opportunity to start a play session with their dog. I’ve found nothing stops my dog from rolling around in the grass faster than a game of fetch!
At first, I never considered self-grooming as a reason for grass-rolling behavior. It doesn’t seem sensible to groom by rolling around on dirty grass. But once I thought about it, the action does make sense.
Let’s say your dog has something stuck on their back. Their only resource to remove the object is scratching or biting it off their fur. However, it could be in an area they can’t reach with their limbs or mouth.
So your has to be a little creative. Here’s where rolling around on the grass enters the picture and can remove the foreign object. This technique also comes in handy to remove loose patches of fur during shedding season.
An easy way to avoid them using this method is by staying on top of your dog’s care requirements. If you don’t, they may resort to this technique and other unsavory ways of grooming.
3. Masking Their Scent
Occasionally, dogs will want to mask their scent. It’s a behavior that many people have attributed to these animals evolving from hunters like wolves. So they attempt to hide their odor from prey or predators by rolling around in something stinky.
This stinky object could be grass, dirt, or another animal’s urine/feces. It all comes from them being curious about what left behind the scent. Therefore, the behavior is beneficial to wolves and other wild canines.
Of course, humans find it to be rather gross. I’d imagine that’s why most of you clicked on this article. After all, cleaning a dog who rolled in something disgusting is one of the worst experiences for pet owners.
Check out the video below from Canine Behavior Expert Angie Woods to learn more about why dogs roll in smelly stuff.
4. Covering Up an Unwanted Odor
Dogs often use the grass’s odor to cover up an unwanted scent on their body. It’s why you shouldn’t let their dogs out after bathing them. Most pups will try to remove the unfamiliar smell from their bodies by rolling around in whatever’s outside.
Recently, I didn’t remember to take this advice when bathing my Pitbull. I forgot my back door was wide open; she ran outside and started rolling around in the grass. I had to do the entire bathing process over again, which neither of us enjoyed.
5. Marking Territory
Your dog could be rolling around on the grass to spread their scent. It’s a simple way of indicating to other animals what’s their property. They do the same when urinating on objects or within certain places.
The rolling won’t stop in your backyard, either. Your dog may roll and mark its scent on the furniture, blankets, pillows, couches, or other items inside the house. Honestly, it could be anything that they feel belongs to them.
My dogs have gone as far as “claiming” the bedding inside their crates. I had to buy separate ones to stop them from being overprotective of the enclosures. Once I did, any snapping or barking at each other stopped entirely; I was quite relieved.
6. Skin Irritation/Allergies
Skin irritations or allergies are a massive issue with this behavior. Honestly, it’s the most concerning of the ones mentioned in this section. Nobody wants their dog to feel uncomfortable or agitated by an itch/allergy that they can’t seem to manage.
Thankfully, symptoms do present themselves when a dog is suffering from allergies or irritation. You’ll often see swelling, redness, hair loss, sneezing, or even itchy ears. So it’ll be apparent that there’s a medical issue behind your dog’s rolling behavior.
Another telltale sign is your dog rubbing themselves on objects around the house. It could be a couch, rug, carpet, or anything with a rough texture. Something capable of scratching whatever’s causing them discomfort.
If you notice these symptoms, schedule a vet appointment immediately. You’ll want to determine what’s behind the skin irritation or allergies and get proper treatment. In most cases, it shouldn’t be too difficult to manage or eradicate the discomfort.
But some allergies are a bit more severe than others. In these situations, the treatment regime could be more extensive or even require a procedure. It’s another reason why a vet appointment is such a critical step when dealing with irritations or allergies.
You may also want to consider giving Fido a supplement designed to support his immune system and relieve allergies. We recommend Vet Natural’s Immune & Allergy Chews.
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Should You Stop Dogs From Rolling in Grass?
As I mentioned earlier, rolling in the grass is a typical behavior for dogs. But there are certain situations where it can become problematic, burdensome, or even detrimental. So it’s vital to pay close attention to your dog’s body language (happy or not) when rolling around on it.
A dog who isn’t suffering from skin issues or allergies will be happy. If they aren’t, an allergy or other irritation is probably causing them discomfort. It may even seem like an obsessive behavior for them.
In these cases, owners will want to discourage the behavior and seek professional help. I’d recommend checking them for fleas, as well. It could be the source of your dog’s constant itching, scratching, and rolling.
You’ll also want to stop this behavior if your dog’s rolling on something gross frequently. It’s not only nasty, but it can make your pup sick if they eat another animal’s poop. So it’s best to figure out how to discourage the behavior when this occurs regularly.
Furthermore, it’ll stop you from having to give them constant baths. There’s nothing more tiresome than giving a bath to a dog who doesn’t want one: it’s a two-person job to keep my Beagle from jumping out whenever a bath is necessary. But don’t worry; I’ll show you how to avoid this situation entirely in the next section.
How to Stop Your Dog From Rolling in the Grass?
If your dog’s rolling around has caused issues, preventing this behavior isn’t difficult. I’d recommend using positive reinforcement techniques to get the job done. In other words, redirecting your dog’s energy into a more acceptable behavior.
These techniques are all about developing a reward system. So if they do an acceptable behavior after being redirected, you give them a treat or praise. I’ve found a milk-bone or other smaller treats tend to work best for my dogs. Here’s a quick step-by-step overview of what this training process would be like for an owner:
- If you notice your dog rolling in the grass, call their name. It’ll stop the behavior and have them come over to you.
- Some dogs will resist your command and continue rolling on the ground. Entice them using treats and calling their name again.
- Dogs who are still resistant to being called over should be put on a leash. Lead them away in a calm, collected manner (no need to yell) and have them sit. Once they listen to your sit command, give them praise or a treat.
- After they finish their treat, bring your dog indoors and start playing with them. This process should keep engrain in their mind that rolling around in gross things isn’t an acceptable behavior.
- If the behavior continues and seems obsessive, contact a vet. It’s probably a more severe issue like fleas, allergies, or a skin condition.
Anyone who wants to learn more about positive reinforcement techniques should check out this video. It does an excellent job of discussing tips and expressing how to do them effectively. It’s even helped me become more successful using them.
Your dog rolling around in the grass shouldn’t be a worrisome sight. It’s a common way for canines to release energy, self-grooming, and express scent communication. You’ll only need to worry if it becomes obsessive or accompanied by symptoms of allergies/skin conditions.
If these situations occur, discourage them with positive techniques and contact a vet. Your vet should provide an effective treatment plan to relieve their pain. Once treated, your dog will only roll in the grass when happy!
Do your dogs roll in the grass? What are your thoughts in the reason? Share below!