As much as you love your dog and understand many of the habits he has - rolling in what seems like a random patch of grass isn’t one of the relatable moments for any owner. Even though you truly enjoy seeing your four-legged bestie in a state of bliss, you can’t help but think of all the gross stuff he might be covering himself in - dirt, another dogs’ urine or worse? Sometimes ignorance is bliss - but in this case, there are several interesting reasons for your dogs’ harmless grass wiggles that he just cannot resist.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs have different preferences than humans when it comes to smells, so what you might consider a “clean” scent can be considered as an unpleasant or an annoying smell to your dog. Although, it seems safe to conclude that both owners and dogs enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass - so much so that even the owner might feel the occasional temptation to lay down on the lawn in the warm sun. Another reason for your dog's grass rolling could be territory tagging. Similarly to peeing, rolling around in a particular spot can be your dogs’ way of marking the area as his territory, trying to get his smell onto the grass to leave a mark. Lastly, your dog might just have an itch, his back is an area that is difficult to reach and isn’t something he can easily access to scratch or groom. If your dog was rolling around in the grass but continues to be rubbing his back against couches or other furniture indoors he might be trying to alleviate it.
Encouraging the Behavior
Rolling around in the grass is a natural behavior for dogs and in most cases completely harmless. The only time you should discourage it is if you know that whatever your dog might be rolling around in could be harmful. For example, a tick-infested area in a forest or an unidentifiable oil stain on the side of a sidewalk. Whether or not your dog manages to do a roll before you manage to drag him away from the spot, always make sure to check for ticks - especially if you walk your dog in areas with dense greenery or if your dog exhibits excessive itching.
Even more so, it is recommended to see a veterinarian in case of obsessive or consistent itching or scratching to rule out any irritation, allergies, fleas or dermatological problems. Discouraging the behavior without valid concerns may just confuse your dog, as wanting to roll around on a relatively clean green lawn is one of dogs’ natural urges and it can be difficult to resist. This is especially the case if your dog has thick fur that isn’t brushed regularly. Your dog might also be experiencing a back itch caused by a buildup of dead hair and is using the coarse grass as a tool to brush his own hair and alleviate the scratch.
Other Solutions and Considerations
It’s very common for dogs to enjoy rolling in the grass and it is not at all something to be concerned about. However, if you find your dog incessantly trying to scratch a particular spot on his body, whether it be outdoors on the grass or at home against the table, it is best to consult your veterinarian.