As dog lovers you and I both know know dogs love to roll around in smelly excrement such as fox poo. It’s not pleasant and almost seems like they do it just to annoy us. The kisses, cuddles and belly rubs soon come to a halt, the slow stroll and a beer garden stop is a no-go, and you find yourself wondering how you will transport them home without ruining the inside of your car so you can give them a bath. This scenario may sound familiar but why oh why do dogs roll in fox poo?
Why do Dogs Roll in Fox Poo?
It's an old behavioural instinct left over from the wild dogs they came from. They do it to mask their own scent so they can blend into their environment undetected by their prey or their predators.
Thousands of years of evolution has taught dogs that they need to mask themselves as one of their prey to prevent them from being detected by others. They do this by rolling around in the local excrement to ensure they have the same scent as the local area. Once their scent is masked, they can go about stalking and catching their pray only nowadays that prey is probably your tennis ball unless they are a hunting dog!
Let's look at an example of this.
If your dog is hunting a rabbit and the rabbit got a scent of your dog, they will instantly run and hide from your dog causing the hunt to be a failure. However, if your dog rolls in some nearby rabbit poo then their scent is masked, they blend in, the rabbit detects no unusual scent and stays put and your dog will have a successful hunt and catch of that prey.
What's the Difference Between Prey and Predator Poop Scents?
Different poop has different scents for example prey animal poop will smell different to predator animal poop. A predator and it's poop will smell of meat and its predation whereas prey animals will not smell the same, their scent will be more like vegetation.
If you are a predator hunting some prey you will want to find poop which smells of your prey which is most likely a vegetation smell, whereas if you are prey and you are trying to remain undetected by the predators you would roll in predator poop to mask your scent and avoid being hunted.
What Does Foxes Poop Look Like?
Before we can actually prevent our dogs from rolling in fox poop, we need to know what it looks like although to be honest, anything that looks like poo is best avoided! Fox poo looks like dog droppings which are pointy at one end and full of clutter such as seeds, berries and little bones and feathers mixed into it. I would put a picture up, but I think I will let you Google it if you really want to see.
How Do I Stop My Dog Rolling in Fox Poo?
It's very hard to stop this kind of behaviour due to it being so ingrained. You could prevent it if you could see it but nine times out of ten, they will smell it and see it long before you do. However, there are a few tell-tale signs to watch out for. It's like a game of dog poker only they are rarely bluffing.
- The moment where the head tilts like they can smell what the Rock is cooking.
- The look of intensity and honing in on a particular spot.
- Our boy Francis does a slight tilt to the side like a preparation for an army roll only in slow motion.
- They will usually target it with their head, neck and back so the angle of the body gives it away.
Now you know the signs you may be in a better position to use your command to prevent the behaviour, or you might be in for a tug of war to get them away from the poo. Knowing the signs is a good first step to avoiding the 'poo roll'.
Your best possibility of preventing this behaviour is to train it out of them when they are very young. A loud noise or sudden command every-time they show a signal or 'roll intent' could help you to stop them being a 'poo roller' when they are older.
Is Fox Poo Harmful to Dogs?
Rolling in it is only really going to be harmful to your sense of smell, however if your dog ingests the fox poo then there are potential consequences. I would say you need to be aware of these rather than panic and think of the worst-case scenarios if it happens.
Eating another animal's poo is known as 'coprophagia' which is Greek for 'consumption of faeces'. I'm glad I am not about to have my dinner..
Dogs can catch diseases from eating fox poop, and whilst it’s not toxic or poisonous it may contain parasites such as hookworm and tapeworm which can cause echinococcosis.
Why Do Dogs Roll in Other Animal Poop?
You may have noticed that it isn't just fox poo they roll in it's just that a lot of the time we make the assumption it is fox poo. In reality dogs will roll in any kind of poo including horse poo, cow poo, deer poo and cat poo. They love it despite us hating it. Even dead fish and other animals can seem appealing to them, nice huh! The more it smells the better it is, not so much for us when we are gagging on the car drive home.
Can I Stop My Dog Rolling in Fox Poo?
Some basic ways of preventing dogs from rolling in Fox poo include using a long Flexi line which still allows them to roam and explore but gives you control over them.
Use commands and very tasty treats to reward them for not rolling or going near the fox poo.
Training them from a young age as a puppy is the best way to prevent this kind of behaviour for when they are an adult dog.
How Do You Clean a Dog That Rolled in Fox Poop?
If there is one piece of advice, I can give you, never wash your dog before you take them outdoors. Have you ever noticed that once you pop them in the bath they will slide themselves and drag themselves along anything and everything in the house to try and pick up and leave their scent? So, what will they do if you take them straight out? They will hunt for the smelliest things they can, and they will roll in it much to your delight!
Fox poop absolutely stinks. It is rank and it is tough to get rid of the smell so if you have no bathtub you will need something which has a strong, pleasant smell to use when you are out.
So, how do you clean a dog that rolled in fox poop? It's a good question and once answered will mean you can.
- Quickly clean fox poop off them.
- Continue your nice stroll on a sunny day.
- Still visit the pub beer garden together.
- Keep your car smelling clean on the way home.
- Not give them a bath.
- Get that Sunday roast on the go asap after building up an appetite.
So, how do you achieve this without ruining a towel or taking a watering can? You need just two items;
To conclude, dogs love to roll in fox poo because it is an instinct ingrained in them. They do it to protect themselves when they are hunting prey. To prevent them from rolling in poo, you need to spot the signs and prepared with the right dog accessories just in case the inevitable ever happens.