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Why do dogs roll in fox poo?

Why do some dogs roll in fox poo? And is there anything you can do to dissuade, or even prevent your dog from indulging in this unsociable behaviour?
Why do dogs roll in fox poo?

Behaviourists aren’t totally sure about the reason behind this habit. Still, there are three main possibilities why dogs roll in fox poo.

Fox poo masks dogs' natural scent

Before dogs were domesticated, they had to rely on their hunting skills to survive. Smelling another type of predator may have given them some advantage. Another theory is that by masking their smell, dogs might avoid becoming prey themselves.

Certainly, here in the UK, dogs don’t have any natural predators but if you go back in time, they may have had to watch out for bears, wolves and big cats. By rolling in fox poo, they are masking their own scent and protecting themselves from being detected by any other animal that may want to eat them.

Equally, it could be that by rolling in fox poo, your dog is actually telling any other animals passing by that they have been there. It could be a way of them marking their territory.

Fox poo is dog perfume

We find the smell of fox poo repulsive, but dogs have a completely different nose to us and a highly developed sense of smell. For some dogs, the scent of fox faeces is very attractive. Other dogs may prefer to roll in an equally disgusting part of nature; decaying corpses. Either way, while it is pretty disgusting to us humans, for dogs, they think they smell divine!

It helps them communicate with the pack

Again, this theory relates to behaviour from when dogs were wild and lived in packs. When hunting, dogs might have rolled in animal faeces to communicate to their fellow dog friends where they have been. This would allow their pack members to follow the trail back to the source of the smell. This would have been very useful, especially if it could lead the pack back to the site of the prey.

The risk of rolling in fox poo

Apart from the smell, the main issue with your dog rolling in fox poo is the possibility of them picking up parasites. Foxes carry many intestinal worms; roundworms, lungworms, tapeworms and hookworms. These worms can cause your dog a lot of health issues. While you are hopefully very diligent with your worming routine, you shouldn’t rely on this to prevent infection. Try to stop your dog from rolling in fox poo and putting themselves at risk.

How to stop your dog rolling in fox poo

It’s not the easiest task to teach your dog not to roll in fox poo, particularly if they are running around off the lead. Some dogs can become particularly fixated with covering themselves in smelly stuff, which makes training them out of it tricky.

The best course of action is to teach them to ‘leave’. The aim of training dogs in this command is that you should be able to use it when you are out and about. Should you see them in time, you can use the leave command if you don’t want them to pick something up, eat something they shouldn’t or roll in smelly stuff.

If you aren’t sure how to teach your dog to ‘leave’, consider joining a local dog training class. It’s a handy command to have in your repertoire.

Fox poo removal

If you haven’t been able to prevent your dog rolling in fox poo, you will need to remove it. Warning: getting rid of the smell isn’t always easy.

First of all, get yourself a pair of rubber gloves on. Remove as much of the actual poo as possible with kitchen roll.

Get your dog in the shower or bath. Several dog shampoos are designed specifically to eliminate fox poo smells. You’ll need to use warm water may need to rinse and repeat.

Some other methods include rubbing the area with tomato ketchup before their bath. A chemical contained in tomatoes helps to neutralise the bad smell

In short, it’s best not to let your dog roll in fox poo in the first place by working on some training techniques and keeping a close eye on them when you are out and about. But, that’s not always easy so make sure you have a bottle of special shampoo and a pair of rubber gloves in your dog cupboard!

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