Why Do Dogs Roll in Grass?

Bulldog puppy rolling on back in a field of grass.

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Dogs have a real appreciation for grass—especially when it comes to rolling in it.

While it might seem like just another random canine behavior, a dog’s tendency to roll in the grass likely has some real roots behind it. The same goes for their preference toward foul-smelling grass, which although gross to humans, is actually quite delightful to your pup.

So what’s the reason behind your dog’s fondness for rolling in the grass? Here’s what to know.

Why Do Dog Rolls in Grass?

We could spend a long time trying to dissect why dogs do what they do. But when it comes to rolling in the grass, we actually have a pretty decent idea about why it happens and what your pup is trying to accomplish.

The first explanation: they’re trying to mask their scent. Grass is covered in smells, from humans, other animals, and from the environment around it. Rolling around in the grass is a way to rub those scents into their fur, which, for a dog’s ancestors, was a great way to conceal their own natural scent and be more unassuming while on the hunt for prey.

Alternately, your dog could be rolling around in grass in an attempt to add their own scent to the mix—just as they might do on a favorite toy or a new bed. This marks the spot as theirs, or at least tells the next dog that comes around that they were there.

Rolling in the grass also might just feel good. If your dog is happy and relaxed as they roll, there's a good chance they're enjoying the sensation and that there's nothing problematic behind it.

In understanding the logic behind why a dog rolls in grass, it's important to remember just how sensitive the canine nose is. While humans might only smell grass, your dog sniffs grass and smells a whole menu of different things. If they like what they’re picking up, they may want to rub it on, much like you might do with a perfume sample at a department store.

How to Stop Dogs From Rolling in Grass

In most cases, rolling in the grass is a totally harmless behavior. But if you’re not keen on it—for instance, if your dog has a tendency to go for smelly grass and bring that aroma back into your home—you do have some options.

Make Sure It’s Not Allergies

There’s a chance that your dog is rolling in the grass to scratch an allergy-related itch, such as one related to their food or the environment. If that’s the case, you’ll want to take steps to address the allergies and relieve any skin irritation, which in turn should take care of the rolling.

To better know if this is what you’re dealing with, look for other signs of allergies, such as redness or irritation on the skin, swelling on the face, hives, sneezing, or itchy and irritated ears. You’ll probably also notice that they’re rubbing on other scratchy surfaces too, such as carpets or furniture. If so, make an appointment with your vet so you can seek out proper treatment.

Do Some Basic Training

Positive reinforcement training can go a long way toward helping your dog kick their grass-rolling habit.

When your dog starts to roll, redirect their attention and behavior and give them a reward as soon as they stop, such as a treat or praise. This is a lot more effective in the long term than simply telling them to cut it out, since it helps them learn what behavior you do expect out of them.

If you’re struggling to train your dog to stop rolling in the grass on your own, work with a certified trainer to figure out your best next steps.

Rolling in the grass is a normal behavior for dogs, and as long as they’re not picking up unsavory scents in the process or rolling to relieve irritated skin, then it’s not necessarily problematic. In fact, it’s likely quite pleasant for your canine companion, and something that helps them tap into their inner ancestral spirit.

If your dog seems to have an obsession with rolling in the grass and you want to nip the behavior in the bud, work on your own or with a trainer and use positive reinforcement to redirect their attention. Over time, they should learn to simply enjoy grass and all of its smells without the need to cover themselves in it.