WHY DOES MY GREYHOUND ROLL IN THE GRASS?
If you’ve ever seen your Greyhound rolling around in the grass, you might have wondered WHY are they doing that? And is it a cause for concern?
There are several reasons dogs roll in the grass, but most of them are about scent. Dogs have a strong sense of smell and use it to interact with the world. They can use scent to pick up trails of prey or communicate with other dogs. More about that in a minute.
TO EXPRESS HAPPINESS
The simplest reason might be that they LIKE to do it! It’s fun! If your pooch seems happy and relaxed as they are rolling in the backyard, chances are they are enjoying every second of it. To them, it is like rolling around in a massaging bath of bubbles that invigorates the skin and gets rid of loose hair. Rolling in the grass is like a mini spa for dogs. Doing so helps massage the muscles, exfoliate the coat and skin, and stimulate the nerves. Plus, many dogs get a great stretch workout while enjoying their grass-rolling adventures. If your Greyhound kicks his legs up in a relaxed manner, rolls over a couple of times and easily snaps out of it, don’t worry.
TO MASK THEIR SCENT
Dogs evolved from hunters and rolling in the grass may be a remnant of that predatory behavior. Dogs may roll in grass to cover up their own scent with whatever they are rolling in. This could mean rolling around in the dirt and grass, or it could be that another animal recently marked that spot and your dog is trying to pick up that scent. This kind of behavior may have aided wolves while hunting. If a deer smelled the scent of a wild dog or a wolf nearby, it would instantly run for cover and safety. For this reason, wolves learned to roll in the grass or deer dung to mask their smell and get closer to their prey.
COVER UP A SCENT
Similarly, a dog may be trying to cover up their own scent by taking on the odor of the grass. Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses while humans have a measly six million! In fact, the part of a canine brain that is used for analyzing smells is 40 times bigger than ours. So, it comes as no surprise that dogs aren’t fond of some scents that we humans find charming. Many hounds roll in the grass or dirt immediately after a bath - this may be an attempt to rid themselves of their clean, freshly shampooed scent. Just because we like the smell of soap doesn’t mean our dogs do!
Dogs communicate through scent. Many dogs (especially males, but also some females) will leave small urine markings (pee-mail) as they go on walks to communicate to other animals that they were there. Another way to leave their scent is to roll in the grass. Rolling in the grass leaves behind some of the oils that a dog’s skin produces, which in turn, helps mark the territory. Dogs do not do this to try to claim the space. Instead, it is their way of communicating to other dogs that they have been there. Marking a territory also helps dogs to recognize when they come upon an area that they have been to before. Where one dog leaves a mark, another may roll to pick up that scent or add their own to the mix.
Although this might feel counter-intuitive to us, Greyhounds really like to use the grass as a way to groom themselves. The grass is an awesome cleaning mechanism for dogs. Owners might notice that their dogs start rolling in the grass after running in the sand or getting muddy. Dogs may also try to get the residual smell off them after getting a flea treatment. Any time that a dog feels dirty in some way, even if the “dirt” is just a smell, there is a good chance that they will roll in the grass if they have an opportunity to do that. If your dog has something stuck to his back or other hard-to-reach regions, he might opt for a good roll in the grass to get that strange thing off him. Of course, rolling in the grass is no substitute for actual grooming!
You might like these articles: How to Bathe and Groom Your Greyhound
Soothing an itch caused by allergies or skin irritations is another possible reason for rolling in the grass. If it’s just an occasional itch, that’s okay, but if it’s frequent or your dog won’t stop scratching and rolling, it could be a sign of a skin problem. Similarly, dogs who rub their ears on the ground may have an ear infection.
If your dog is rolling in the grass because of food or environmental allergies it will exhibit other symptoms including swelling, sneezing, skin irritation, hair loss, and hives. You might also notice your dog rubbing on carpets, furniture, or rugs in an attempt to relieve an itch. If you are concerned your dog may have a skin infection or something else that causes itchy skin and ears, call your veterinarian for an appointment right away. Managing the causes of allergies will reduce or stop grass-rolling.
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WHEN TO BE CONCERNED
If your dog seeks out grass to roll around very aggressively, it might be sign that something is causing him discomfort. This can happen on all kinds of surfaces, though the smell in the grass and the itchy or tickling effect could heighten this sensation.
This doesn’t only happen due to temporary physical discomfort but also due to mental health problems, among them OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). If you are concerned, you should further investigate and consult your vet if necessary.
Stay away from grass where pesticides or anything else that may be harmful to your dog has been used.
Check your dog over after being exposed to grassy fields. Watch out for ticks, worms and other parasites that your dog can pick up rolling in the grass. If your dog is rolling in grass, you should have them on effective flea and tick prevention.
STOPPING THE BEHAVIOR
If your dog is rolling in the grass because they are happy, then there is no need to stop the behavior, unless you don’t want them getting dirty or dragging dirt into the house. We provide chew toys so our dogs can express their need to gnaw, and this is the same. It’s important to allow dogs to express their normal behaviors as long as it isn’t causing harm. On the other hand, if your dog seeks out dead animals and poop to roll in, then the behavior should be stopped because it’s unsanitary.
The most effective and humane way to stop a behavior you don’t want is by redirecting your dog to do something else. Using Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT), reward your dog for a behavior you do want them to do by giving them a treat or praise.
As soon as your dog stops rolling, offer them a reward – a tasty treat or praise will do nicely, or distract your dog with his favorite toy. This type of training is much more efficient in the long run as it will teach your pooch what type of behavior is expected of them.
Since there are so many different reasons that a dog might roll in the grass, it is important to pay attention to their attitudes, body language, and actions whenever they do it to figure out why they are doing it. Hopefully, this guide will make it easy for you to determine why your Greyhound likes to roll in the grass and how to stop it if necessary.
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.