Dogs roll on their backs to show submissiveness or trust, and as an act of defense when fighting. They might also roll around on a toy, food or something they find during play or while exploring outside. When your dog rolls on his back on an object, he is doing it for a reason.
A dog rolling on their back may be showing that they are content. During play, a dog can expresses happiness and pleasure at the activity with every part of his body. Have you ever watched a dog rolling around on your bed on his back? It may just feel good to him. Certainly the exuberance with which they perform the activity is a sign of happiness. Rolling around on a favorite toy, for example, may just make them happy knowing that is their toy and they are staking their claim to it.
Rolling around on a smelly object is a natural and normal action for a dog. Even though dogs are domesticated, they still exhibit instinctual behaviors from the time when their ancestors had to survive in the wild.
If you think about the ways dogs defend themselves or go back to times when they had to deal with enemies in the wild, rolling on a stinky object was a way to disguise their own scent to keep away an enemy or predator. Wolves roll around in scents to disguise themselves from their prey when they are hunting. Rolling on something smelly is instinctual for your dog.
If it is annoying to you, or you don’t enjoy cleaning a dog that has covered itself in something smelly, distract them or remove the object. Don’t punish them for an instinctive behavior. If it is particularly odiferous, clean it up before they have a chance to roll around in it, or use a loud noise or a non-toxic scented spray to distract them from the object that triggers that behavior. Offer a CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Chewy Treat as a pleasurable alternative to the unwanted behavior.
Your dog may also be trying to rid themselves of an unwanted smell, such as scented shampoo. If you’ve ever seen your dog rub against things or do the “drop and roll” right after a bath, the smell of the shampoo may be annoying to them.
Sometimes your dog just likes how it feels to roll around on his back. He may like how rolling on a certain object feels on his back. If it is a toy that has no strong scent and you notice that your dog favors a certain toy to roll on, it may be simple pleasure, like a back rub. It may not look like it would be very pleasurable to roll repeatedly on hard or bulky objects, but your dog wouldn’t do it if it was causing him pain. It feels good to him.
Itching or Discomfort
Rubbing against a hard object or against the floor or bed may be how your dog is trying to deal with an annoying or uncomfortable itch from tick bites or some type of skin allergy. If you have concerns about that possibility, check their skin and fur carefully for the presence of something that may be irritating them.
On the positive side, a dog that is comfortable enough to roll around unfettered and happy is a dog that is secure in their surroundings and with the people in their environment. Rolling around on their back on an object may simply mean that life is good with you!