My Scottish terrier McDuff’s greatest joy other than therapy dog work was rolling in anything he could flop on that was sure to freak me out The first few times caught me by surprise. But after the messy and smelly clean ups from his thick double coat, I learned to be on guard during our walks. I write about what McDuff did the night of his obedience school graduation in a chapter from my book, Life with McDuff: Lessons Learned from a Therapy Dog.
Why do they do that to us? Well, dogs descended from wolves and still retain behavior of their wild ancestors. Wolves roll in animal carcasses or the feces of animals they are hunting to mask their smell. And they also roll in stinky things to communicate with their pack. It tells others what they have been up to.
Rolling in smelly stuff is perfectly normal behavior for dogs and they should not be punished. But you don’t have to live with it. There are things you can do to discourage your dog. I kept McDuff on a short leash so I could jerk up and prevent his attempt to drop to the ground. You can also make it unpleasant by squirting them with water when they start to do it, or by shouting to distract. Once they get the idea that you don’t like it, they will probably stop.
I know this isn’t a pleasant subject but someone has to tell it like it is. Hope this sheds some light on what can only be described as “Yuck!”