Can you stop your dog from getting filthy when out on walks?

Can you stop your dog from getting filthy when out on walks?

Health & Safety

Dogs are not among the cleanest of animals, largely because dogs have different ideas about what is disgusting and desirable, what it means to be clean, and different evolutionary drives to communicate and interact with their surroundings. Most dog owners have faced a situation in which they have turned their backs for a few seconds and in that time, the dog has found and rolled around in something disgusting, like fox poo-and some dogs seem to take great pride in making it their mission to get as mucky and dirty as possible when out on walks.

If your dog is of the type that constantly wants to run through muddy puddles, makes a beeline for stinky, foul and disgusting things out on walks and that seems to spend half of their lives either in the bath, or needing a bath-you have probably wondered if there is anything that you can do about it!

In this article, we will consider whether or not dog owners can realistically curb such behaviour and prevent their dogs from getting into the worst mud and muck when out walking. Read on to learn more.

Why do dogs like to get messy?

Many dogs seem to very much enjoy getting messy, while others simply don’t care or even seem to be aware that it has happened-but every dog has their own views on what they like and dislike. If your dog is the type that actively avoids puddles and hates going out in the rain, they are probably fairly clean on a day to day basis-but if your pooch can’t resist a muddy puddle or seems to trek through as much muck as they can find, this may be a breed-specific trait!

Some breeds and types of dogs were bred and evolved for working purposes out of doors, and an important part of making the dogs fit for these roles involves factors such as not disliking wet weather and water, and not being reluctant to get down and dirty in the mud. Many gundog and retrieving breeds like the Springer spaniel and Labrador retriever will fall into these categories, as will a lot of other breeds and types with working origins-which can make keeping them clean that much harder.

Why do dogs roll in pooh and carrion?

Getting soaked in puddles and rain and messy from mud might be incidental rather than deliberate, but no dog accidentally rolls around in a pile of poo or an unfortunate finding of decaying wildlife!

This behaviour can be more repellent to people, but also, occurs for different reasons in the mind of your dog. First of all, dogs like the smell and taste of all sorts of things that turn people green-and will often view something that smells foul to us as a delicacy to be enjoyed, by means of rolling around in it and generally getting filthy and stinky.

Additionally, dogs scent-mark their surrounding area by rolling and rubbing in it, marking things out as theirs to other dogs. Finally, dogs also have strong evolutionary memories of their role in the wider pecking order of nature, as potential as prey for larger predators, and so rolling in something that smells very distinctive and also, that has a scent present in the wider area, can help to mask your dog’s scent and hide them from perceived or imaginary threats!

If you think your dog seems to make it their mission to do this in particular soon after they have had a bath, you might actually be right-bathing makes your dog smell good to humans, but very odd to themselves. If your dog feels that their scent is out of place in the environment or otherwise makes them not feel like themselves, they may seek out ways to cover it-like rolling in something that reeks.

Ways to prevent your dog from getting filthy out on walks

You may never be able to keep your dog squeaky clean and prevent them getting into a mess-and all dogs do of course need to be bathed on occasion! However, depending on your own dog and how you want to tackle the issue, there are a lot of different things that you can do to keep your dog cleaner than they would ideally like to stay on their own, some of which involve training and management and others that involve avoiding potential challenges!

  • Walk on routes that you know stay fairly dry, and do not involve trekking through mud and puddles.
  • Keep your dog on a lead in areas that they often take off in and get messy in.
  • Consider investing in a waterproof coat for your dog, to keep the bulk of their body clean.
  • Keep an eye out ahead to try to spot mess and muck before your dog does, and recall them and take another direction.
  • Work continually on your dog’s recall and willingness to follow commands, so that you can stop them in their tracks before they get into a mess, or in time to divert their attention. This can take time and effort, but are skills that all dogs should have, for a variety of reasons!
  • When you bathe your dog, try not to use highly scented shampoos and fragrances. They might smell good to you, but can make your dog more likely to get into a state afterwards.
  • Don’t bathe your dog too often, as this can make the problem worse.
  • Have your dog checked out by the vet if you suspect they might roll around in things because their skin is itchy or uncomfortable.
  • Clean mud and muck off your dog before it has the chance to dry, using wipes or localised washing.
  • If you can smell something foul around you when walking, you can bet that your dog picked up on it way before you did-but you may not be in range of it yet, so this is a good time to put your dog back on the lead just in case!
  • Don’t get mad with your dog or yell at them when they get into a mess-this is not going to stop it happening, and can be counterproductive and make your dog less likely to respond to you when you call them.


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