As a dog owner, having your dog roll in fox poo and other animal faeces can be quite an unpleasant and stinky experience! You may find yourself avoiding certain locations where you know your dog is more likely to find some, which can be quite restricting if you don’t have many suitable places for dog walking in your area.
If you are struggling to understand why your usually well-behaved dog continues to roll in fox poo, despite your best efforts, and perhaps wondering if there is anything you can do to stop your dog from this unwanted habit, you have come to the right place.
The most common theory and explanation for why your dog would even dream of rolling in the excrement of another animal is that it is closely linked with ancestral traits. Behaviours like this would have once been an important and successful strategy that helped them survive in the wild.
How might this strategy help a dog’s wild ancestors? It is thought that it could be to disguise their own scent, helping them to camouflage more easily into the smells of the surrounding environment, which should, in turn, increase their chances of not being detected by potential prey when hunting.
How often does your dog roll just after you have given them a bath or they have been to the dog groomers? This may not be as coincidental as you think, as another possible explanation is that due to their increased sensitivity to smells, the strong scents from shampoos and products used to groom or bath your pet, may be too intense for your dog and coupled with the above instinct to ‘blend in’ rather than ‘stand out’ in their environment, they are driven to seek out the perfect solution to cover up the unnatural smell of dog shampoo!
Preventing Fox Poo on Dogs
Prevention is less than easy when you are dealing with an instinct that is strong and embedded. However, there are a few strategies you can try which may help you in reducing the number of incidences and hopefully help increase the variety of places you can visit with your dog.
Instead of keeping your eye on the ball so to speak, you really need to be keeping your eyes firmly on your dog when is coming to preventing fox poo incidences. Remember that your dog’s sense of smell is some 40 times stronger than ours, meaning they will have smelt their target from quite a considerable distance! There are certain telltale signs that your dog is in pursuit and about to roll – look out for alert face and pricked ears when there is no visible stimulus. Watch for prolonged and intense focus of an area of ground and be sure to quickly investigate or call your dog. Don’t wait until you see the drop of their shoulder, by that point you will have been too late!
If you don’t have a strong recall for your dog already, although it’s less easy to train them in adulthood, it is still possible to make improvements through repetition and reward. Invest in dog training classes which specialise in recall training, if you are not getting the results you are looking for. Once you have a good recall nailed, you can call your dog as soon as you spot signs that they are having an intense sniffing experience! Be sure to give them plenty of praise and treats when they come to you.
When your dog is engaged with you in a game of fetch, for example, it’s less likely that they will go looking for other entertainment. This could be a great solution to manage fox poo rolling behaviours in areas where your dog has previously offended or where you think might be high risk. However, be sure to allow your dog some natural behaviours in other areas where the possibility is reduced.
This is a training approach which relies on a loud noise to interrupt an unwanted behaviour. When repeated over a period of time, which may vary depending on the dog breed, your dog will learn to associate the behaviour with a noise that puts them off. This is not always an effective strategy for many breeds of dogs and in many cases, owners prefer more positive training techniques, such as recall with reward, mentioned above.