Though there are several theories as to why dogs roll around in fox poo, there isn’t a factual study for the behaviour. For some reason, dogs are drawn to the scent of other animals’ poo. Some say they like the smell, and others believe they roll around in it to mask their own scent to better enable them to hunt. Whatever the reason behind this foul behaviour, it’s still a nuisance to the owner.
Let’s dive into some of the theories as to why a dog likes to roll around on its back in fox poo, and other animals’ poo for that matter. Plus, talk about whether or not there are preventative measures you can take to dissuade your dog from partaking in the ritual.
Foxes produce a nasty, musty odor from glands that are located all over their bodies. Primary locations for these glands are on their feet, tail, and anus. They use these glands for marking their territory and for attracting a mate.
When a fox defecates, the scent from these glands are deposited around the area. Fox poo and the urine have an undeniably strong, foul odor that is easily detectable to humans especially if your dog is covered in it. A dogs nose, however, is considerably more advanced than ours, and consider this scent an aphrodisiac of some sort. They are capable of sniffing out where a fox has pooped, then basking in its aroma.
It is thought that a dog desires to roll in fox poo to cover their scent like their ancestors before them. Dogs in general were derived from the wolf and then domesticated. So, it would make sense that a dog reverts back to instinct, rather than common sense.
Other reasons a dog may like fox poo, is because it feels good to them, similar to a bath. As humans are drawn to nice smells such as cologne and perfume, a dog prefers the pungent odor of animal feces.
In addition, it also speculated that a dog would roll in fox poo, or other animal feces to cover up their own scent to enable them to be better hunters. Humans, when hunting, also use this technique by using odor blockers and camouflage. It helps to mask the scent of a predator seeking prey which equals a better success rate.
There are several reasons why a dog will eat fox poo. A simple answer would be because they like the taste and smell. Another common reason is that they are missing certain elements in their diet. Fox poo could contain those missing ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals.
Though at the time, you might feel it is harmless for your dog to consume fox feces or any other animal feces, it could be extremely harmful to your dog. You see, fox poo in general is not toxic to a dog, however, what might be hidden in the fox poo could be potentially dangerous. Fox poo is known to contain parasites such as hookworms, or tapeworms. When consumed by a dog, those worms are also consumed and can lead to a disease called Echinococcosis.
A fox can be the carrier of other diseases as well. Though it hasn’t been proven that those diseases can be transferred to a dog, it’s still a risk you’d rather avoid.
In short, it is virtually impossible to stop your dog from rolling in fox poo, especially if you allow your dog outside unattended. If you live in an area where foxes are common, you can pretty much guarantee that they have left a deposit in your yard. Sometimes, poo isn’t visible to the owner, but you can guarantee a dog will find the spot, and roll.
As a dog owner, you need to be vigilant and train your dog to respond to commands, whether it’s using your voice, a clicker, or a whistle. The best preventative is to have a dog that listens and will obey when called back.
Though we may consider rolling around in fox poo a disgusting behaviour, your dog feels otherwise. Something in their genetics or ancestry has deemed fox poo or other smelly things a delight and luxury. Just be prepared, if your dog comes home smelling like death, it probably located a pile of fox poo. Therefore, a bath will be in order.
Dogs like to roll in other animals’ poop for the same reason they roll in fox poo. It seems they enjoy the odor, or they are masking their scent. Some believe it is a pack mentality and they are trying to signal to the others that they have located something.
Dogs roll on their backs in poop to get the most coverage. They instinctively try to encase the majority of their fur with the smelly poop.