Why Do Dogs Roll in the Grass? Discover the Mystery Behind This Quirky Behavior

a dog rolling in the grass

Dogs are quirky beings (or at least humans think so), displaying behaviors that are often times both puzzling and amusing to us. One such behavior is rolling in grass. If you have not seen this dog behavior, you're missing out. We are talking full, gleeful body rolls on sometimes wet, sometimes long, sometimes patchy grass. And they seem to absolutely love it. But why in the h-e-double hockey sticks do they do this? Well, question and curse no more, because we are here to uncover the mystery!

The Joy of Scent

Dogs and Their Acute Sense of Smell

Dogs experience the world primarily through their nose. You think you may have a good sense of smell, but dogs have your nose beat, by up to 100,000 times - yes, dogs' noses can be that much more powerful than a human's! And rolling in the grass can allow a dog to bask and pick up scents that we can't detect.

Masking Their Scent

Another theory is that dogs roll in the grass and other not-so-clean areas to mask their own scent. The evolutionary idea behind this is that by masking their own scent, a dog can go undetected by prey or predators.

Exploring New Scents

Rolling in the grass can also be a way for dogs to collect new scents. When they return home, they bring these scents back to their pack (you and your family), essentially sharing their experiences with you.

Natural Instincts at Play

Connection to Wild Ancestors

It is cool to think about, that all dogs are descendants of wolves, and a lot of their behaviors - the good and the bad - can be attributed to their wolf ancestors! Even though your dog isn't thinking about it, they do it (i.e. it is instinctual) to communicate, pick up scents, and mask their own scent!

Scratching an Itch

You know the feeling when you scratch an itch that was, well, really itchy. It feels great, right? Well, dogs sometimes roll just because it feels good, and some rough grass can hit all the spots they might not be able to reach.

Temperature Regulation

Dogs don't sweat like we do, so they have to have other ways to cool themselves (including panting) down and regulate their body temperature. Rolling around in cool grass can be just the ticket, allowing them to cool down and refresh themselves.

Communication and Social Interaction

Marking Territory

Dogs have scent glands located on various parts of their bodies. When they roll in the grass, they might be leaving their own scent behind, marking their territory and communicating with other dogs.

Social Bonding

Especially if dogs are a part of a pack, grass rolling can be a social undertaking. That's why you might see one dog start the fun, only for another dog to mimic them and join in!

Attention-Seeking Behavior

There are dogs out there who, just like humans, do things just to get attention. If rolling in grass consistently gets a positive response from their owners, a dog could be doing it just to get attention.

Behavioral and Psychological Reasons

Stress Relief

Also just like humans, dogs experience anxiety and stress. Rolling in the grass can be a way for them to release pent-up energy and stress, similar to how we might go for a run or practice yoga.

Pure Enjoyment

Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the most accurate. Dogs might roll in the grass simply because they enjoy it. The texture, the smell, and the freedom of movement can all contribute to a happy and contented dog.

Exploring Their Environment

Dogs are naturally curious creatures. Rolling in the grass allows them to explore their environment in a tactile way, feeling the different textures and experiencing the world from a new perspective.

Health and Hygiene Considerations

Checking for Parasites

While rolling in the grass can be fun for dogs, it's important for owners to be mindful of potential health risks. Grass can harbor parasites like fleas and ticks, which can attach to your dog's fur.


Some dogs might develop skin allergies from certain types of grass or the chemicals used on lawns. If you notice your dog scratching more than usual or developing skin irritations, it might be worth investigating.


While it's natural for dogs to roll in the grass, it's a good idea to ensure that the area is clean and free of harmful substances, like pesticides, that could harm your dog.

How to Respond as a Dog Owner

Encouraging Safe Play

If your dog loves rolling in the grass, there's no need to discourage them unless it's causing harm. Ensure that the area they play in is safe and free of harmful chemicals or sharp objects.

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming can help keep your dog clean and reduce the risk of parasites. Brush their fur regularly and check for any signs of fleas, ticks, or skin irritations.

Monitoring Behavior

Pay attention to your dog's behavior after they roll in the grass. If they seem overly itchy or develop skin issues, it might be time to consult your vet to rule out any underlying conditions.

Fun Activities to Try

A Classic: Play Fetch

If your dog is a grass lover, take advantage of this by doing activities with them on grass. Playing fetch is perfect, and fantastic exercise for them!

Training Sessions

A nice outdoor space, on grass is ideal for training. Teaching your dog new commands (or basic ones) in an open environment is easier than doing it in a confined space.

Nature Walks

Let your dog explore by taking them on nature walks (only go off leash if they have good recall). 

Building a Stronger Bond

Quality Time Together

We are all busy, and sometimes can neglect spending time with our dogs. If you can carve out time to be with your pup, preferably outdoors, this will benefit both of you. You will strengthen your bond while you both get exercise!

Understanding Their Needs

By being observant (and reading this blog and other articles about dog behaviors), you will deepen your understanding of their instincts, and grow a sense of appreciation for their unique being.

Celebrating Their Quirks

Every dog is unique and has its on peccadillos, and rolling around in grass is most likely just one of the behaviors that make them them! Celebrate these behaviors as part of what makes your dog unique and lovable.


When dogs roll in grass, they're engaging in a behavior that their ancestors (wolves) started thousands (actually close to a million) years ago. They could be doing it for a variety of reasons—from scratching an itch to just playing. This instinctual action connects them to their wild roots, offering you a glimpse into evolution! How amazing is that?


Why Do Dogs Roll in Smelly Stuff?

Dogs are, or were, wild animals. They have maintained behaviors that they don't necessarily need to survive anymore, and rolling around in smelly stuff is one of those behaviors. Rolling around in strong odors was a way for wolves (dogs' ancestral cousins) to mask their scent from predators and prey—kind of cool, right? So the next time your dog does this, know that this behavior harkens back thousands of years to their wolf days!

Should You Be Concerned If Your Dog Is Rolling in the Grass a Lot?

If your pup (or your older dog who you still refer to as a pup) is rolling in grass a ton, you might ask yourself if this should be something to worry about. The short answer is probably not. Dogs are going to dog things, and one dog thing, for better or for worse, is to roll in grass. With that being said, if the rolling is accompanied by a lot of scratching, this may be a sign of allergies, or even fleas. So if your dog is doing a lot of rolling with scratching, you should probably call your vet to get it checked out. Better safe than sorry, right? 


1) Jenny Ryon, J. C. Fentress, F. H. Harrington, and Susan Bragdon. 1986. Scent rubbing in wolves (Canis lupus): the effect of novelty. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 64(3): 573-577. https://doi.org/10.1139/z86-084

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