Why your dog rolls around on dead animals

First, I have to throw in that she rolls around on dead snakes, also. Nasty, but fair. On any given neighborhood walk, my beagle Piper undoubtedly finds an animal that has recently passed away and because her sense of smell is better than mine, she finds it long before I do. Here’s what she does: she sniffs it, then backs up and beginning with the side of her face, she dips down and rub in it all the way to her hind legs. Unless, of course, I can halt the behavior in time to avoid a bath later. She’s not unlike a stubborn child but why does she want to make my life more difficult? Well, that’s where the story gets interesting.

[also check out my blog about why dogs curl up in a ball when they sleep]

She’s acting on ancient instincts when she baths herself in the scent of those poor creatures that have bit the dust. The behavior can be linked to the wolf. To hide it’s own scent, the wolf rubs in a dead animal carcass, making it easier to approach it’s prey before the prey realizes what’s happening. The wolf is badass… and hungry no more. Hunting breeds of dogs are more prone to rubbing in dead animals, so that’s why Piper does it. It’s jungle league. My dog automatically knows how to get down and dirty and stalk her prey. I’ve got a badass beagle.

Are we all just hungry like the wolf?

The idea behind this hunting behavior is so similar to human behavior it’s scary. First dates, resumes, job interviews, first impressions, meeting a spouse’s parents, making friends at school, politicians, wanting to be liked… we take on some or a lot of the characteristics of the intended target. We do this to be accepted, to arrive with no drama, to make others believe we’re the person they see in front of them, and someone that should be liked and accepted. It’s about finding common ground, in a way. None is more obvious than “the politician.” When election time comes around, politicians roll around in society so the members of that society will believe the politician is one of their own. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you will. The ol’ rope-a-dope.

My dog wants other rabbits to think she’s a rabbit. Or a squirrel. Or a snake. If they accept her, she will take full advantage. The next time you catch yourself modifying your behavior to match the crowd you’re in, you should howl. It’s the way of the wolf. It’s the way of the man.

But I would never roll around on a dead snake, that’s just gross.

Published by Ben Wilder

Since 2005, I've called Nashville home. I'm the leader of the pack, which includes an 11-year-old beagle and a 9-year-old blue heeler mix. My days include writing, video editing, dog boarding, and other fun activities. Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it!

9 thoughts on “Why your dog rolls around on dead animals

  1. My pup does this ALSO. Ty for informing US thru ur site WHY our canine companions do THIS. I actually thought maybe it was a natural repellent to insects since my Ishi has been running DEAD frogs behind her neck where I put her flea n tick med. NOW I understand and it makes perfect sense.


  2. I noticed my dog whom is a Bassador – doing this a few times on our walks and I was disgusted. I then decided to do some research and it’s quite interesting. Seems like they’re trying to disguise their scent so that when they hunt their “prey” wont smell them. LOL is if they had to do that.


    1. I have 2 dogs now, and my youngest has been doing it quite a bit on walks around the neighborhood. Sometimes I can’t even see what they’re trying to rub in. They’re behavior is so interesting, but I like that they still have a little bit of “wild” in them… know what I mean? Their instincts are not totally domesticated.


  3. yeah my dog rubs his face on dead moles and birds and i couldnt understand it great to know the answer now


  4. could not believe what i was seeing, my dog Buddy appeared to be caressing the snake, rubbing his chin and the side of his face on the snake, gently rolling the snake with his paws and rubbing it again, thought it was the most bizaar behavior i have ever seen! glad he is not the only one!


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