Dogs can be goofy, and their goofy behavior can cause their human pals to ask questions about their behavior, and wonder whether it is normal or a sign of something. Rolling in grass is one such oddity that makes dog owners ask what their dog is up to. As with most questions about animal (and specifically dog behavior) there are always a variety of possibilities for why they exhibit certain behavior.
One thing that can be helpful to know is that dogs roll around not only in grass, but anything that has a strong smell/odor.
Inherited from Wolf Ancestors: One theory is that the canine behavior of rolling in grass is something inherited from wolves. In the wild, when a wolf comes across a new smell or odor, it will roll around in the source of the smell, and rub its body (especially the area around the head and neck) to capture the odor; and when it returns to the pack, the other members will study the new smell thoroughly, and will utilize this information to track their way back to the origin of the smell, if the smell is of interest.
Dogs have inherited this behavior from their ancestors, and have the urge to roll around in grass or anything odorous.
Ridding Themselves of Unwanted Smells: Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and can detect even the faintest of scents. Certain human scents may bother dogs, and these might be scents that we as humans find to be perfectly fine, or even wonderful. Dogs may not share the same opinion about every scent. Because of this, if during their daily interaction with their human companions they happen to pick up a scent that is not to their liking, they may roll in grass or in dirt in order to get rid of the smell. This is also true for scented shampoos or perfumes that are used as part of the grooming process for dogs; if a dog does not like the smell of the product, she might bolt to the yard and roll in grass or dirt the first chance she gets after a bath. If this is the particular problem that you are experiencing, the best solution is to use an unscented shampoo, and stay away from perfume type products.
Dealing with an Itch: Rolling in grass may also be indicative of a severe itch that your dog may be trying to get rid of. If the rolling around is frequent and has no other explanations, it may indicate a skin condition or the presence of fleas or ticks. It is a good idea to have your veterinarian examine your dog to rule out such problems or prescribe relevant modes of treatment.
Obsessive Behavior: If your dog is exhibiting obsessive behavior by rolling in grass whenever she has a chance, then it might be necessary to intervene in order to address the obsessive behavior. Doing so will require close attention to your dog when she has access to grass, and by getting (and keeping) her attention with something else just before she engages in the behavior. By keeping her busy doing something else you can slowly break this obsessive behavior over time.
Rolling in Grass and Potential Problems
Rolling in grass in itself is not problematic; however, there may be things hidden in the grass that can be health hazards. Lawns are often treated with pesticides, weed killers which can be hazardous to your dog’s health. Grass can also hide parasites such as fleas and ticks, so it is important to keep up on your dog’s parasite control regiment.