Why Do Dogs Roll in Grass?

Last Updated on March 19, 2023 by Becky Roberts

Buying or adopting 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.

Dogs on grass

Rolling Behavior Inherited from Wolves

Every dog shows the behavior of rolling, 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.

Dogs Roll on Grass to 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. Your yard is the perfect place for that because grass will help dogs to get rid of their smell. So your dog might be constantly rolling in the backyard until the scent is removed. If you are too worried about your grass then help your pup to alleviate the smell yourself.

Alleviating a Bad Itch by Rolling on Grass

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 (if it’s fleas, we would recommend heading over to our comparison of the best dog flea collars). 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.

Obsessive Behavior

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, like getting squeaky toys because dogs like squeaky toys. 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.

Becky Roberts

Becky Roberts

One of Becky's favourite things to do every morning is to browse the top pet-related forums, looking for issues and questions that people have. She then shortlists the most common ones, and turns them into blog posts for Fuzzy Rescue. She's had over 4 cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, so she does know a thing or 2 about raising/training, and more importantly, loving them. She's the only one on our team that doesn't like coffee, but it seems to us she really doesn't need more energy :). We're very fortunate to have her on board as she does most of the heavy listing for the site, outputting an insane amount of content each month. Read More

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