Why Is My Golden Retriever Rolling In The Dirt?

Quick Answer

Your golden retriever is most likely rolling around in the dirt due to their genetic hunting instinct. When hunting, dogs and wolves instinctively try to cover up their own scent to prevent prey from smelling their approach until it’s too late to react.

This might seem a little hard to believe since goldens will happily roll around in dirt, mud, grass, poop, dead animals, and all other manner of disgusting things they found on the ground. But at the end of the day, it’s instinctive behavior passed down to domestic dogs from their wolf ancestors.

golden retriever rolling in the dirt
Tired after rolling around in the grass

Even if your golden isn’t about to pick up a scent and start hunting, he’ll find it hard to pass up the opportunity to camouflage his scent whenever he comes across something particularly smelly outside. If you’re ever wondering why your golden retriever smells so bad after a romp outside, he probably found something gross to roll in while you weren’t looking!

While this hunting instinct is the explanation 95% of the time, there are a few other reasons your golden could choose to roll around in the grass:

1. You just gave your golden a bath

Many golden retrievers don’t enjoy baths. A lot of owners notice their goldies are much more likely to find a patch of mud to roll around in right after bath time, which can obviously be infuriating to see.

If you notice your dog rolling around outside right after bath time, it’s either a stress-relieving behavior demonstrating how “glad” he is that bath time is over, or he doesn’t like the scent of the dog shampoo you use and is trying his hardest to cover it up. Switching out your shampoo with a shampoo and conditioner option that’s meant for golden retrievers is an easy fix here, and many owners see a dramatic decline in this rolling behavior after doing so.

2. Your golden is “marking” and spreading his own scent

Just like you might notice your golden marking their presence with urine on a walk, many dogs also mark and spread their scent by rolling around on the ground. This, again, is instinctual behavior from their wolf days and is simply their way of letting other animals know that they’re in the general area.

If your golden is rolling around as a marking behavior, they may be choosing spots where other animals have already marked in order to replace or cover up that scent with their own – unfortunately this also often means your dog is once again rolling around in old pee, poop, or other bodily secretions.

3. Your golden retriever is itchy

Grass and other debris on the ground are an excellent way for your dog to scratch an itch, and this very well might be why he’s rolling around in the grass. At the end of the day, dogs are animals just like people are and you well know people do odd things for the sake of scratching an itch or simply feeling good in the moment. If it wasn’t so odd for people to do it, you’d probably find yourself rolling around on the ground just as much as your golden does!


Should you stop your golden retriever from rolling in the grass?

The answer is usually no. It is perfectly safe, and even healthy for your golden to roll around in the dirt to his heart’s content. That being said, you will want to stop your dog from rolling around in poop or on top of dead animals for obvious health reasons. Finally, pay attention to the frequency of this behavior, and try to see if your golden is focusing on a specific part of their body when rolling around. Excessive rolling on the ground, or specifically rubbing their ear and/or anus on the ground can indicate larger health issues such as allergies, ear infections, stubborn anal glands, and more. In such a case, take your golden friend to your vet to get them more thoroughly checked out.

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roger stanley site owner and primary author
Meet The Author Roger Stanley

Co-owner of goldenretrievergoods.com. 15 years of experience living life with Golden Retrievers and 15 years of experience spending way too much money on them – I believe life’s not worth living without a Golden involved!

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