Dogs love to roll around in smelly stuff and often look very happy with themselves as they’re doing it – at least until they end up in the inevitable bath. What’s so great with being dirty?
In order to understand this strange behavior we need to go back in time.
The ancestors of our modern dogs needed to hunt to live, and the dogs’ prey was cautious. Dogs need to eat, but that doesn’t mean the food wants to be eaten. In order to make hunting easier, the dogs would attempt to disguise their scent, luring the pray into thinking they weren’t a threat. Disguising their scent could also protect them from being found and eaten themselves.
This behavior is so deeply rooted it’s difficult to break. Most dogs only roll themselves in icky stuff from time to time, but if it becomes a problem many dog trainers recommend making the pleasurable (rolling in something smelly) less pleasurable. For instance through squirting the dog with a little water when it does the rolling. Keeping the dog on a short leash can also help, so it doesn’t have a chance to roll in the stink.