I’ve lived with a lot of dogs in my life, from hounds to labradors and even a terrier. All of them seem to have one thing in common about the enjoyment of rolling in something that smells disgusting. It might be fox scat, something dead or something completely unidentifiable. Every single dog I’ve ever had has followed this pattern, apparently, when they roll in things
that smell remover revolting to us humans.
There are several options put forward by behavioral experts for this one. No definitive answer is really possible. But there are many possible reasons. When wolves are observed rolling in something smelly, researchers studying their behavior initially believed that they were masking their own smell so as to confuse any potential prey.
Two other alternative explanations for the rolling I’ve also seen suggested is that rolling is going to take the scent of his find back to the pack for advertising what is found. The second, probably even less appetizing, is that the roller may be marking the carrion with his own smell, declaring ownership of it.
Neither of these holds up under argument and another idea suggests that both wolves and dogs roll in foul-smelling goop because they simply love the smell. One last suggestion may not be as far-fetched as it seems when you consider that the most expensive sense that humans apply traditionally contain organic ingredients, and we think they smell delicious, but most dogs wouldn’t agree with that any more than their humans would luxuriate in their eau de skunk.
The ‘scent masking and purely for enjoyment’ ideas seem the most likely options for anyone who has seen the expression of a dog rolling in something foul and identified it in human terms as radiating pure inexplicable pleasure for him, but torture for you–with the following smelly bath time!!!