Deciding to add a dog into your family home is a big decision, but one which is rewarding and fulfilling. They are wonderful companions, great pets, and bring a new sense of purpose to your life. One of the best things about dogs is their quirks and idiosyncrasies, and the weird and wonderful things they do to make us laugh— often quite unintentionally. One such behavior is when they go to tremendous efforts simply to roll on the grass. This action obviously brings immense joy, but why is such a simple act so important to your dog?
The first thing to reassure you is that rolling in grass is totally normal—for dogs at least.
It’s a Behavior Inherited from Wolves
Every dog shows this behavior, from the mighty wolf to their distant cousin, the yappy chihuahua. Wolves exist in the wild, and identifying scents is crucial for their survival. When they encounter a new smell, they will start by sniffing it, and then will roll in it to get the scent on their body, face, and neck. When they return to the pack, the other members will greet them, and during this will encounter and investigate the scent. One pack member may then follow the scent directly back to the point of origin to check it is safe.
Remove Unwanted Smells
Dogs are famous for their incredible sense of smell, and have an astonishing 220 million olfactory receptors in their nose, compared to the dismal 5 million receptors boasted by humans. The sense of smell your dog has is unthinkable to mere humans, and this means they will have more sensitive reactions to fragrances you think are pleasant, mild, or inoffensive. Just because you feel that new shampoo smells like sunshine doesn’t mean that your dog will agree, and they may roll on the grass to make their feelings perfectly clear and remove the smell from their coats.
Alleviating a Bad Itch
There is no better feeling than finally scratching an itch, and your dog is no different. If they are always rolling in the grass, this may be a sign that there is a health issue such as skin allergies, fleas, or ticks. These can be very uncomfortable and lead to more serious complaints, so it is essential to get your dog checked out by a vet to rule out any underlying causes. You should also implement a strict flea and tick treatment program to keep your dog healthy.
Constant rolling in the grass could be a sign that your dog is suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. The solution here is to see a behavioral specialist who can help to train your dog out of the behavior. It is also a good idea to implement distraction techniques when you notice that your pet is tempted to roll; have treats and toys on hand which are more appealing than the grass as this can help to break the habit.