4 min read


Why Do Dogs Rub Themselves On The Ground



4 min read


Why Do Dogs Rub Themselves On The Ground




How many times have you caught your dog rubbing his back all over the carpet? It’s a relatively common behavior for most dog breeds, but what does it mean exactly? A constant need to roll in the grass or on the living room carpet may simply indicate the natural instinct of disguising their scent or relieving an itch. One thing’s for sure: your dog isn’t rubbing himself on the ground to puzzle you. There are a number of reasons that cause your beloved companion to act this way and finding out exactly what they are will help you deal with the situation in the best way possible.

The Root of the Behavior

Whether your dog might smell something appealing or simply wants to relieve an itch, finding the cause for this common behavior in your canine friend will help you put a stop to it. By rolling on their backs, dogs aim to coat themselves with a new scent, while disguising their own. It all goes back to their survival instinct and the need to protect against potential dangers in the wild. And although the “wild” is not exactly as they picture it to be, their primal impulses always win. In some cases, dogs simply want to bring home the scents they find appealing outside. Which, unfortunately, in most cases translates to grass, dead animals, and even…feces. The canine nose is much more sensitive than ours, to the point that what smells good for you is actually quite irritating for them. Of course, scratching an itch on their back can only happen when they rub themselves on the ground. However, the frequency is very important here. You need to be aware of how many times this happens, as it could be an indication of dry skin, allergies, or fleas. Whether indoors or outside, addressing the issue will help you get to the bottom of the situation. Occasionally, there will be a medical cause for this behavior and some of the most important of them are:

Internal parasites: Tapeworms can cause your dog to rub his backside on the ground because of the severe itching they generate on their hind end. 

External parasites: Often caused by fleas, the allergic symptoms in dogs include itching and biting. 

Gland problems: This happens when your dog’s two little glands, situated on his rear end, do not empty entirely or correctly. 

Apart from all the doom and gloom, your dog could also be defending himself, when it comes to play fighting with other dogs. It’s a natural, defensive position that allows him to evade bites and prepare for his next move. It’s important to find out what exactly causes your dog to rub on the ground, so a simple visit to the vet can definitely answer your question. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

While rubbing onto their backs in front of you as their Alpha is certainly a sign of trust and respect, you need to be careful about how often this happens when you’re not close. Of course, we’re not recommending that you keep your pup away from other dogs or from the grass completely. The best approach is to determine whether or not his behavior is appropriate and follow up with some preventive actions if needed. Observing his reactions when you interrupt his little back rubbing game can also be an indicator of any potential risks. Keep him engaged in fun activities so that he forgets about rolling over and you avoid another needless bath. Consult with your vet if you’re concerned about fleas and skin allergies and make sure he’s on a flea and tick program. Allergies are usually caused by the food he ingests, household products, or even the grass itself, and you should make sure he is up to date with all necessary vaccines. While it’s pretty tricky to train your dog from rubbing themselves in smelly spots as part of their natural instincts, training can do wonders. The simple “leave it” command will distract them from any appealing areas and teach them to return to you when such occasions arise. Use your good judgment to determine what’s best for your furry friend and take him to the vet if you sense that something is not right.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If the vet determines that your pooch is experiencing symptoms of blocked anal ducts, gland cleaning exercises and procedures can be extremely helpful in this case. Some people might actually consider permanently removing the dog’s glands, however, this is a serious concern and you need to take into consideration all it’s physical aspects. The glands play an important part in a dog to dog communication and removing them will impact the way your pooch socializes. It can also stop the body from cleansing itself. As a solution, the vet can recommend a high fiber diet or regular exercise to strengthen his abdominal muscles and help encourage bowel movements.


You don’t need to let your pooch’s physical problems get in the way of his wellbeing. Try simple remedies if you believe your dog is experiencing skin or food allergies, such as herbal treatments and regular walks outside. The best way to keep your dog safe is to make sure he is up to date with all his vaccines and regular checkups. 

By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Published: 02/12/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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