Eau de Fox Poo isn’t really the fragrance for humans. But you’ll quickly notice that it hits the right spot for dogs. Preference for smells will probably be one of the few things you butt heads with your dog with. Get ready for it. 

That said, you might drive yourself mad wondering why dogs roll in fox poo. Lucky for you, we’re here to fill you in on it. In this article, we’ll cover all the reasons why dogs roll in fox poo, if fox poo is bad for dogs, what to do if your dog rolls in fox poo, and ways you can stop your dog from rolling in fox poo. Simply telling them that it’s gross will only want to make them roll in it more.

If your dog is a frequent fox poo-roller you’ll need to learn how to bathe and groom them in a way that brings them the most positive experience possible. We provide all of this guidance and much more on the Zigzag app, including a personalised programme based on your dog’s breed and personality to get them ready for the big world out there.
Our team of professional dog trainers will also be happy to walk you through every step on your journey. They’re wonderful and will want to help you with all of those burning puppy questions you don’t even know you have yet.

spaniel with tongue out walking
Photo by Nathan McDine on Unsplash

Why do dogs roll in fox poo?

Here’s a history lesson for you: Dogs probably roll in fox poo as an evolutionary means of survival. Back in the day, rolling in fox poo or other wild poo lying around left a strong scent on their fur which helped mask themselves from predators like bears, and them from hunting other animals too. 

Here are some more details on theories of why dogs roll in fox poo and other kinds of poo. The world is full of them:

To mask their own scent and avoid predation

We tend to think of modern-day domestic dogs as animals located pretty high up on the food chain. But there was a time when much larger predators were above them like wolves, bears, and maybe even woolly mammoths! 

By dogs rolling in fox poo (or dead fish or rotting carcasses…gross) they masked their own scent to avoid being detected and surviving an extra day.

It’s a wild hunting tactic

We know we can’t imagine your Pug being much of a prolific hunter either, but early dogs would have hunted, even if they were small as Pugs. Rolling in fox poo would have helped to mask their scent and allow them to hunt successfully. Kind of like a camo disguise.

To leave their own scent behind

Another theory behind why dogs roll in fox poo is that they do it to leave their own scent behind.  Dogs have scent glands that release pheromones, a bit like a doggy cologne that gives other animals information about them. Two of these scent glands are located on either side of their bum holes and leave a fishy, pretty strong scent behind when expressed. But dogs also have scent glands in their feet, which typically release scent when they scratch the grass.

The musk drives them quite mad

There is something quite amusing about how dogs react around fox poo. It probably gives them a huge dopamine rush. If you’ve ever had the (dis)pleasure of getting a whiff of fox poo, you’ll instantly recognise it because it absolutely stinks like nothing you’re smelled before. Just think about how sensitive a dog’s sense of smell is. It’s no wonder the foxy smell makes them go a bit giddy.

pug walking in the woods
Photo by Kyle Bushnell on Unsplash

Is fox poo bad for dogs?

As we’re sure you know, foxes don’t go in for vet checks and routine vaccinations, which makes them likely to carry a wide variety of parasites such as fleas and worms. So, if your dog is eating fox poo rather than simply rolling in it, you bet they’ll be ingesting all these nasties. Not yum.

What do I do when my dog rolls in fox poo?

When your dog rolls in fox poop, you’ll want to clean them up as soon as possible. Carry some wet wipes with you on walks to clean off the worst, and then give them a nice bath when you get home. And yes, things like fox poo shampoo do exist – you’re lucky people have already thought of ways to get the stench!

How do I stop my dog from rolling in fox poo?

First, make sure that your walks together are fun and interesting. Bring their toys along and play with them to keep them on their toes. Next, teach them some basic obedience cues. The two most commonly known cues that you’ll want to do a lot of practise for this are ‘leave it’ and ‘come’ (the recall cue!).

In puppy language, ‘leave it’ means ‘leave that, I’ve got something better for you’. This cue is great for getting your dog’s attention back when they’ve caught a whiff of fox poo somewhere. You can teach them not just to leave fox poo, but to leave that trail of leftover chips on the street, or to leave that squirrel they’re staring at a bit intently, or your neighbour in their tight, neon running shorts. You can get loads of use out of this one. 

Recall or ‘come back when I call you’ is also a useful cue to teach. For example, it’s good to use it just when you see a sniff and a little foot scratch on the poo before the ‘drop and roll’.

Important to note: Recalls should be instant. It should go like this: ‘I want you to come back now’ and followed up with lots of praise and a reward. Remember to never tell your dog off if their recall is a bit slow, it will make training slower not faster!  You can learn much more about this training in our ‘best dog in the world recall’ in our training games article. It’s only a quick read, and you’ll have your dog rushing back to you and away from fox poo in no time. 

Don’t forget to read our full articles on leave it and recall – they’ll come in very, very handy when you run into stinkies at the park.

muddy dog lying down
Photo by Yvette Serrano on Unsplash

There we go. We hope you’ll now look forward to wonderful walks where you can smell the pines and roses rather than poo. Hopefully, you won’t be yelling out anything like ‘for fox sake’ when Rover comes out of a bush.

Just remember that dogs love to roll in fox poo simply because they’re hard-wired and instinctual. They just can’t help themselves, so if you do have a dog who rolls in fox poo, try to focus on making your walks more fun so they’re more likely to interact with you, but also teach them some easy cues like ‘leave it’ and ‘recall’. 

Looking to learn more about the quirks some dogs have? How about reading why do dogs lick my face, or how about a deep dive into puppy sleep habits?  You can always learn more about training and behaviour with the support of our team of professional dog trainers if you download the Zigzag app. Not gonna push it, but I swear you won’t regret it.