Why Do Dogs Roll In The Grass And Is It A Cause For Concern?

dog rolling and playing in grass

A dog rolling in the grass is a natural phenomenon among our canine friends, or so we think.

I’m sure you’ve observed your pooch rolling in the grass on several occasions while playing outside, and dismissed it as a purely doggy instinct.

While playing, some dogs will prefer to take a breather just by sitting and basking in the sun. However, others would want to roll in the grass, in movements that appear to excite some degree of passion and hysteria.

As a matter of fact, some dogs do it so passionately that they become utterly insensitive to their immediate surroundings. Others may also get too euphoric, so much that they want you to get down and roll with them.

But where does this feeling come from? Is it a sheer manifestation of instincts, or could there be some underlying medical explanations to it?

If you take a keen interest, you’ll discover that most dogs prefer to roll in the grass if that grass is also stinky.

Of course, this may be a turnoff for most of us. Now, the sight of your dog coming back home covered in grass is bad enough. But what if some stench also accompanies it? Well, that would be a terrible combination.

So, why does my dog roll in the grass, and as a pet owner, do I have reasons to be afraid?

Read on for a more detailed insight on this.

Rolling On Grass Could Be an Instinctive Behavior

Nearly all behaviors that animals exhibit are as a result of their ancestral instincts.

For instance, it’s natural for your dog to bark as a warning shot to an intruder, as a result of anxiety, or due to other physical and external triggers.

However, it’s not uncommon to come across the dog barking for no apparent reason at all. In such scenarios, it’s easy to attribute the behavior to the dog’s instincts. The same applies to rolling in the grass.

Bull dog rolling in grass

However, even instinctive behaviors have some explanations to them. As you probably already know, dogs are natural predators. And before man domesticated them, the animals roamed freely, hunting on their own.

One common hunting tactic that predators deploy is masking their scent. When going after prey, a dog can mask his scent in two ways.

First, it may choose to hunt in the downwind direction. This implies that the dog approaches the prey from the direction where the wind is blowing to. As a result, the dog can easily pick up the scent of its prey.

However, the prey will never see their hunter coming. The same principle of scent masking applies to rolling in the grass.

When a dog rolls in the grass, it picks up the scent of that grass. That means even if a prey would pick up the smell of an animal lurking nearby, they’d never make out what animal it is, based on that scent.

Now, this could explain why dogs specifically prefer to roll in stinky grass, especially if the smell resembles that of a common prey.

For instance, the canine could choose to roll in grass that smells of an antelope’s urine or poo. That way, all prey around that hunting zone would have no reason to be worried. After all, all they can pick up is the scent of a fellow prey.

Remember that dogs primarily rely on their smell to find food. According to Dr. Coren, dogs have a sense of smell that’s up to 60 times better than ours.

Dr. Cohen also notes that dogs use their sense of smell in the same way humans use their sense of sight.

That explains why our canine friends are always sniffing things. They’re always trying to hunker down on a specific food hidden within a mishmash of smells. Therefore, their habit of rolling in the grass is mostly a survival instinct.

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Other Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Rolls In the Grass

1. Dogs Prefer the Stink

While dogs have a very profound sense of smell, they do not perceive all smells the same way we do.

For example, the smell of shampoos and colognes may be pleasant to us. However, your dog could find that very smell repulsive. On the contrary, the smells we consider repugnant could be the same ones our dogs find pleasant.

When you wear very loud perfume, and your dog finds it distasteful, it may run to the stinky grass to remove that smell.

That’s why experts discourage the use of fragranced shampoos or smelly flowers. If you’re living with a furry companion, insist on unscented shampoos.

You should take even more care when cleaning or shampooing your pooch. Avoid anything with fancy smells. So, you may have wondered, why do dogs roll in grass after a bath? Well, you have your answer right there.

Also, some dogs simply don’t love the scent of their coats and fur. Therefore, they prefer to roll in the grass to change their body scent. Pretty much like humans changing their colognes or deodorants.

ALSO READ: 6 Tips to Stop Your Dog from Peeing in the House

2. Marking of Territory

This is another common reason why your dog rolls in the grass. Like many other animals, dogs are highly territorial.

They will guard and defend their territories from all kinds of intrusions. That includes intrusions from strangers, fellow dogs, and even other pets.

When a dog rolls in the grass, it seamlessly deposits its sent on that grass. That’s a warning to any would-be intruder that the patch is taken. And dogs don’t take kindly anyone or anything that ignores the message.

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3. It’s Fun

Like many dog owners, you may have wondered, why do dogs roll in the grass after eating?

There are times when your dog simply derives pleasure from romping in the grass, especially when he is full and needs to play.

As the dog owner, you don’t need to fret. However, there’s a thin line between your dog rolling on grass for fun, and doing so as a result of a medical condition.

To make sure the behavior is purely fun-driven, check the kind of grass your dog rolls on. If it’s any grass, then you have every reason to be worried.

Cute French Bulldog Looking at the camera

Generally, dogs find the soft, newly-manicured lawns fun to roll on. No dog would naturally prefer to roll in very high grass with potentially-dangerous sticks and thorns.

According to some veterinary officers, you may also want to establish whether the dog rolls leisurely or intensively.

For example, does the dog make happy sounds while biting at the grass playfully? These are some of the signs that might clue you in.

4. Scratching an Itch

Itches have a penchant for presenting themselves when we least expect them. And when they do, we often scratch them with anything we can find.

Our furry friends also suffer from numerous forms of itching. In most cases, canine itching is due to allergic reactions.

Typical dog allergies result from flea bites, certain foods, or even some medications. Certain environmental factors may also lead to an itch.

When that happens, your dog might roll in the grass to try and scratch the itch off. That mainly applies to irritations that are spread throughout the dog’s body, and in places its mouth cannot access.

As a pet owner, you should try and establish the severity of the itch. If apparent signs of irritability accompany the activity, the chances are that the dog might have come in contact with an allergen.

The first line of action is to try and find out what allergen it is. For instance, you should understand the common flea infestation symptoms before you conclude the allergy results from a flea bite.

All in all, your best bet is to make a date with your vet as soon as you can.

ALSO READ: How Do I Stop My Dog From Begging For Food?

5. Compulsive Behavior

Obsessive-compulsive behavior is a common phenomenon among dogs.

One way this behavior shows is by rolling on the grass. What starts as a simple and harmless routine could degenerate into an addiction. And as you know, anything that’s addictive to your pooch is potentially harmful to him.

If you notice that your dog takes to the grass as soon as you let him loose, there’s a likelihood that the habit has become compulsive. Thankfully, you can successfully redirect the behavior through training.

6. Attention-seeking Behavior

Rolling on the grass would be an act your pooch puts up to try and get your attention.

It’s their way of getting you to notice their presence. Veterinarians liken that habit to the tendency among humans to dress flamboyantly.

Just like us, dogs also care about standing out. But since they have no concept of dress, they exhibit their sense of fashion in behaviors like rolling on the grass.

However, you should remember that not all attention-seeking acts are considered healthy. Therefore, try to establish where the behavior emanates from.

Golden Retriever Dog In Grass

Does your pooch miss your attention so much that he rolls on the grass intensively even when you’re around?

Remember, dogs also suffer from mental and emotional conditions like depression and separation anxiety. So, whenever you’re around, ensure you give your canine friend your full attention.

It’s fine to be missed for a couple of hours when you’re out at work. However, don’t detach yourself too much from the dog, as that could lead to anxiety disorders.

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7. Loosening Dead Hair

Some dog breeds tend to shed a lot of hair. When that happens, their loose hairs feel uncomfortable on their coats.

Therefore, they prefer to lose it altogether. And one way to do that is to roll on grass, especially coarse grass.

Apart from shedding loose hair, your pooch could also opt for a grass roll to lose the dust and grime that accumulate on its coat every day.

But you don’t have to sit back and watch as your canine gets to these desperate measures. Regular hair grooming is all it takes for your dog to shed his hair smoothly and comfortably.

8. Massage Therapy?

Well, however strange it may seem, dogs also have an idea of massage.

Massage has a way of relieving muscle sprains and invigorating the soul. And who needs it better than our ever-playful canines?

border collie rolling in wet grass

Dogs get exhausted from their vigorous, playful tendencies and endless predatory runs. As such, they require regular massage sessions to help ease their tight muscles.

However, we may not always have the time to perform daily massage therapies on our furballs.

And that’s where grass squirms come in. It’s really not the grass that offers massage in this case. Rather, it’s the firm ground.

However, the dog would still prefer the grass because it softens the soil. As a result, the rolling experience becomes pain-free, while the ground remains firm enough to deliver efficient massaging.

If your dog is rolling in grass as a way of seeking a massage, you’ll observe that he arcs his body from one side to another.

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9. Cooling Off

You may have wondered, why do dogs roll in wet grass? You might notice your dog lying and rubbing itself on damp grass during hot weather.

As you may have guessed, it does that to cool itself from the excruciating heat. Remember that your dog has an extra fat layer that protects it from extreme temperatures.

When the weather is too hot, your first instinct is to prevent your dog from getting too much heat exposure. That would keep him safe from dehydration and other temperature-related conditions like heat strokes.

However, if you’re outdoors with limited shelters around, you wouldn’t mind your pooch rolling in the grass.

Rolling in Poop or Remains of Dead Animals

Have you ever wondered why do dogs sniff grass and then roll in it? Well, there’s a special kind of grass roll, known as the poop roll.

During regular grass squirming activities, dogs would generally lie on their back and wiggle around. However, the scenario is a little different from dogs that roll on poop or remains of dead animals.

In this case, the dog would sniff the grass and then rub the poop or dead animal matter on its shoulders, as well as on the sides of its face.

The explanation for the “poop roll” remains a mystery. It’s logical if the dead animal were an herbivore as that way, the dog would be trying to mask its scent for predatory reasons. However, it’s quite strange if the animal in question was a fellow predator, which is more often the case.

happy adorable dog in the grass

How Dangerous is This Behavior?

Rolling in grass carries potential risks to your pooch. First, some grass patches contain parasites like ticks and fleas.

If your dog romps in these infested grasses, it will likely pick up these dangerous parasites.

As a dog owner, make sure your lawn is treated against parasites. However, ensure the pesticides you use are pet-friendly. Better yet, avoid using toxic fertilizers on your turf.

Rolling in other substances like animal feces could also introduce your canine to potentially-harmful bacteria. Usually, the parasites enter the dog’s body when it licks the mess from its fur.

Examples include intestinal worms. These bacteria might also penetrate your dog’s coat, enter his bloodstream and cause a broad spectrum of infections.

There are also the risks of getting stung or bitten by poisonous insects and serpents. If you live in areas prone to venomous snakes and insects, then you should be anxious when your dog rolls on the grass.

A quick fix would be to cut all the grass short. However, a more lasting solution is to redirect the behavior through training and treats.

Most notably, rolling on the grass could cause the stomach of your dog to become twisted. Twisting comes with potential hazards, including a condition known as bloat. The condition is common among large, deep-chested dog breeds.

ALSO READ: How Long Can A Dog Go Without Pooping?


Dog rolling in grass is usually not a cause for worry. However, you should understand when the condition needs further examination.

For instance, does the dog exhibits other symptoms besides the mere action of squirming?

Symptoms like restlessness, loss of appetite, and other anxiety-related symptoms mean the dog could be suffering from a medical condition, especially a dermatological one. And it’s time to visit your vet.

If the dog is perfectly healthy but can’t seem to shake off the habit, you might consider training. Better yet, get the dog an artificial grass, and make sure you regularly treat the grass for pests and parasites.

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Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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