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Why Do Dogs Roll in Dirt? 7 Vet-Verified Reasons

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

Golden Retriever rolling in the dirt

Why Do Dogs Roll in Dirt? 7 Vet-Verified Reasons


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

One of the main reasons we love dogs is because they can transform a moment from mundane to cheery and playful. However, some things they do, like rolling in the dirt, while certainly entertaining, might leave you wondering whether it’s normal dog behavior.

Dogs rolling in dirt is perfectly normal. Almost all dogs do it, and it’s nothing to be concerned about. In this article, we’ll discuss why they love rolling in the dirt and how you can prevent them from tracking this dirt inside the house.

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The 7 Reasons Dogs Love Rolling in Dirt

Most dogs love rolling in dirt and mud—they will jump into a mud pool without hesitation. Some of the reasons for this behavior include:

1. Scent

Your dog might start rolling on the dirt immediately after they come from a dog groomer or after you bathe them, especially if you use a fragrant soap. Doing this enables them to mask that scent. They may also do it to claim their territory and leave a scent for other dogs.

Dogs have scent glands all over their body, allowing them to spread their unique scent in the dirt or grass when they roll around.

Black dog rolling in the dirt
Image Credit: Patrick Hatt, Shutterstock

2. Cooling Off

When it’s hot outside, your dog may roll around in the dirt or jump in a muddy pool in an attempt to cool off. The ground just underneath the dirt is often cooler than the top layer, and dogs will dig away the top layer of earth and dirt to cool off on the cooler layer below.

3. Scratching

An itch is irritating for anyone, including dogs. Unfortunately, dogs cannot easily scratch their backs. Their options are limited to rubbing against a wall or a tree or rolling in the dirt. If you suspect this is why your dog is rolling in the dirt, first ensure they are free from parasites or insect bites that might need attention. You can consider getting them a back scratcher and attaching it to the wall; this will enable them to scratch without picking up dirt.

4. Joy

Rolling in the dirt is often simply a non-verbal way for your dog to communicate their happiness, especially when accompanied by a wagging tail. They are simply having a good time!

5. Masking Scent

Dogs inherit predatory instincts from their wild ancestors. Rolling in the dirt is an instinct that allows them to hide their scent when hunting and makes it harder for their prey to see or smell them approaching.

A cute but very naughty dirty English Springer Spaniel dog
Image Credit: Sandra Standbridge, Shutterstock

6. Learned Behavior

If your dog grows up alongside older dogs that love rolling in the dirt, they will likely pick up this behavior. They might not know why they are doing it but will do it nonetheless. For instance, if you bring a new puppy around older dogs that love rolling in the dirt, chances are that the puppy will inherit the habit, whatever the reason.

7. Play

Dogs enjoy rolling in the dirt and often do it together as a form of play. Doing this also allows them to release any extra energy. Many dogs also roll in the dirt because they know it will catch their owner’s attention, and they may want their owner to join them!

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Why Do Dogs Roll in Dirt After a Bath?

Many dogs dislike being bathed since they feel restrained, which leads to them getting stressed during bath time. If your dog is like this, they will run out immediately after you finish washing them and rub themselves on the floor, against furniture, on the carpet, or roll in the dirt. Some dogs also simply dislike being wet, and they will typically shake themselves or roll in the dirt in an attempt to dry off. Consider drying your dog after giving them a bath.

Some dog soaps and shampoos have strong scents that mask a dog’s natural scent. This might be pleasant to you but not to your dog. Dogs may prefer smelling like something natural and familiar, and rolling in dirt enables them to pick these scents.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi rolling in the dirt
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

Tips to Prevent Your Dog From Bringing Dirt Into Your House

1. Use a Doormat

There are certain doormats specifically designed for muddy paws. They absorb water and dirt, preventing your dog from bringing in dirt from outside into the house. The FurHaven Muddy Paws Towel & Shammy Dog Mat is a good option. It comes in various sizes, and you can purchase one that suits your dog.

2. Dog Shoes

Apart from keeping your dog’s paws clean, doggie shoes also help prevent them from getting injured. The key to getting dog shoes to work for your dog is to ensure they fit them comfortably. Unfortunately, some dogs dislike wearing shoes, and this might not work. In this case, you can also try to gradually train your dog to accept the boots using positive reinforcement methods.

Dog wearing shoes
Image Credit: wsanter, Pixabay

3. Trim Their Coat

A long thick coat is not ideal if your dog enjoys rolling in the dirt. Not only does it trap dust, seeds, and debris, but it’s also harder to clean. Trimming and brushing it often keeps it from trapping too much dirt and debris and bringing it inside your home. You should also consider trimming the fur on their paws—doing so makes it easier to clean their feet.

4. Wash Their Paws

Your dog’s paws are usually the main culprit in tracking dirt and mud in your house. The most effective way to keep your house clean is to ensure their paws are clean when they enter the house. You can use a soft brush or a soapy cloth and warm water. Ensure you dry their paws afterward to prevent your floor and furniture from getting wet.

Dog with dirty paws lying in the grass
Image Credit: OgnjenO, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

Rolling in the dirt is normal and nothing to worry about, and you should not punish your dog for it. There are many reasons for the behavior, and while it may be frustrating when your pooch tracks this dirt all through your home, your dog is simply exercising their natural instinct and having fun while doing it!

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Kim Britten, Shutterstock

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