Dogs love to play outdoors, whether it’s a game of fetch, chasing a frisbee, or running with their human companions on a nearby hiking trail. When your dog notices a patch of grass or sizeable green park space, it’s common for dogs to begin rolling around and smell specific areas. There are several reasons for this grass rolling behavior and why they are interested in investigating green space during their visit to the park.
A Keen Sense of Smell
Dogs have a strong sense of scent, which is forty times greater than humans, which allows them to detect a faint odor or change in smell immediately. The grass is full of tiny organisms, including insects, animals, plants, and droppings from other dogs and pets who visit the park or green area.
These scents can be overpowering at times, mainly if your pet detects a new or unfamiliar smell that they want to investigate further. As your dog sniffs and searches through the grass, it’s not uncommon for them to find small animal carcasses, parasites, fleas, discarded items, or pet droppings left from another dog.
The familiar lawn in a backyard, or local park, is an area rich in smelly stuff and where dogs and other animals find many plants, insects, and food items from a nearby garden or leftovers from another animal. Once a dog gets familiar with a scent and wants to get more familiar with it, they start rolling in the grass in a playful, carefree fashion.
After mowing the lawn or following a rainfall, the smell of fresh grass may entice your pet to roll and play and claim their favorite spot as their territory.
Searching for Prey
Grass rolling is a way for dogs to remove most of their natural scent, making it easier for them to hunt for prey. While domesticated dogs may not plan on hunting for prey animals, it’s an instinct that they act upon. Your pet may chase local squirrels, birds, or smaller animals, similar to a wolf or wild animal, though it’s more instinctual than intended for hunting.
If there are food scraps or the scent of an animal is left on the grass, your dog may become curious and roll around to get more acquainted with the scent. A dog’s sense is highly sensitive, and they can detect a lot from just a tiny green space, including the scent of many animals and insects.
Enjoyment and Comfort
Dogs often roll in the grass because they enjoy the activity and find it relaxing and soothing. If your dog has sensitive skin or gets itchy sometimes, grass rolling can provide much-needed relief from this discomfort. They may want to mark their scent on the grass to let other dogs know that this area is their territory or invite other dogs to roll and play with them. Dogs love attention, and rolling in the grass can be a way to initiate play or physical exercise outdoors, either with their humans or other dogs in the park.
Relief from Allergies and Skin Irritation
If your dog suffers from a skin allergy, irritation, or a reaction to tick bites or other nearby insects, they will roll in the grass for relief from the sting or itchiness. Rolling in the grass can help give your pet comfort from hives, skin redness or swelling, hair loss, and itchiness in areas where dogs have difficulty reaching, such as their ears. When grass isn’t available, some dogs may roll in the dirt for the same sense of relief or to enjoy the coolness, especially in hot or humid weather.
What Happens When Rolling in the Grass Becomes Compulsive Behavior?
Dogs naturally enjoy rolling on the grass, and it’s often harmless and a fun way to enjoy the outdoors. When your pet becomes visibly irritated and grass rolling becomes excessive, you may notice further discomfort when your dog rubs itself against carpets and rugs, signifying a skin infection or irritation.
Allergies and skin conditions are common, and fortunately, there are easy ways to treat your pet’s skin with a topical cream, ointment, or medical treatment from a veterinarian.
If your dog is exposed to an unwanted scent or odor from another animal or environment, they may roll in the grass or dirt to remove the scent. Excessive grass rolling can be a sign of chronic allergies and skin problems, which can also be addressed with a change in diet, dog shampoo, and other treatments as prescribed by a veterinarian. Territorial markings are another reason a dog may become obsessive over a specific area in the grass, especially if nearby dogs or animals are competing for this territory.
When there are no health or medical reasons for your dog to roll in the grass, it’s generally considered harmless and a fun way for dogs to play. If your dog enjoys rolling regularly, it’s essential to check the grass to ensure no poop or droppings from other animals, contaminants or chemical sprays, fleas, small animal carcasses, and other dead stuff that can impact your pup’s health.
If grass rolling becomes excessive, and you want to curb this behavior, you can consult with a professional dog trainer on how best to reduce or limit this activity.
Dogs enjoy playing outdoors and rolling in the grass often becomes a part of their routine, whether instinctual, playful, or a way to mark or remove the scent. It’s also a way to communicate with other dogs and humans about marking a specific territory or finding relief from a common skin allergy or irritation.
Grass rolling is also typical among dogs’ ancestors, and while it’s not necessarily for hunting prey, it’s done naturally and more playfully. Overall, it’s a fun way for dogs to express joy and a sense of adventure when they explore the outdoors at a nearby park, forest, or in their owner’s backyard.
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