Why do dogs like to play in the grass so much? A better, yet sillier question would be why do dogs like to play so much? Think of your pup as a two year old that never grows up. Dogs love nothing better than a good roll around on their back, and you surely must have witnessed this while playing with your little pup outside. Is this apparently inoffensive behavior a reason to worry? The truth is, rolling in the grass probably serves several functions. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons that determine your pup to play in the grass.
The Root of the Behavior
One theory suggests that dogs like to play in the grass as part of their natural instinct. Just like their distant cousins – the wolves, dogs create 'nests' for themselves in the grass by rolling around and flattening their surrounding area. Think of it as their personal way of feeling comfortable and secure each time they let their guard down. More so, it is believed that rolling around in the grass can help change their own body scent. A dog’s sense of smell can be as much as 60 times more potent than a human’s, so it’s no wonder they stop and sniff at everything that comes their way. In the wild, a wolf would try to get the new scent onto their body by sniffing and then rolling in it, especially around the face and neck. Have you ever seen your dog do this? The new smell helps disguise their scent from their prey and ensuring a more successful hunt. Dogs might also be trying to rub their scent off on an area, marking it as theirs.
How about getting rid of that unpleasant new odor? Unfortunately for us owners, dogs may prefer the smell of rabbit pee to that of a fancy shampoo you just bought for him. Does this sound familiar? What smells good to us may smell unpleasant to them, and vice versa. But dogs also like to play in the grass simply because it feels good. By arching his body from side to side, he’s actually giving those back muscles a really good massage against the firm ground. Other times it could be as simple as scratching an itch or rolling to help loosen dead hair. By playing and rolling in the grass, dogs help 'freshen' up their coat, much like brushing their hair to speed up the shedding process.
Encouraging the Behavior
There is nothing wrong with your dog playing in the grass, per se, if it provides your doggie with an ideal opportunity to scratch his back and soak up the sun. What you have to do is look for signs that point to possible underlying medical issues. That means fleas, ticks, and other critters that may sting or bite and could pose a risk to your unsuspecting pup. Some lawns are treated with fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that may be poisonous for dogs, so if you notice any skin discoloration, be sure to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. It could also be that he has an allergy, rash, or other skin problem that you are not aware of, all of which require attention.
Keep your pup up to date on vaccinations as well as flea and tick prevention medicines and use your judgment to determine where and when a good roll in the grass is appropriate. At the same time, if the behavior is repetitive or lasts a long time, you should consider an obsessive-compulsive cause. In this case, you should distract your pup from stimuli by calling him back to your side or playing with him before he notices something that excites him.
Other Solutions and Considerations
You may have heard that rolling in the grass could make it easier for a stomach to become twisted, especially in big dogs. This is not a common situation, although it tends to happen to some large, deep chested breeds. There are even some trainers that discourage big dogs from rolling over in the grass, as they are concerned about the risk of torsion. To put it reasonably, discouraging a dog from rolling after eating a large meal is nothing out the ordinary, however, rolling doesn’t seem to be indicated as a risk factor in dog 'bloating.' It’s best to discuss this issue with your veterinary provider, but try not to worry, after all… a little play never hurt nobody.
Most dogs enjoy playing in the grass almost as much as they enjoy food. The idea is not to prevent them from this blissful activity, but have a better understanding of the surrounding areas in which your pup likes to play and any presumable risks that come along. Just make sure it’s not a health issue, in which case you need to bring him to a veterinarian. Dogs are 'born to be wild' so let them enjoy their moment as much as they can.