One of the most puzzling and, frankly, repulsive habits of our canine companions is their seemingly magnetic attraction to fox poo. While it may be a source of dismay and discomfort for many dog owners, this behaviour is deeply rooted in the natural instincts and evolutionary history of dogs. As a dog behaviour expert, I’ll take you through some of the key reasons behind this perplexing preference.

Ancestral Instincts

Dogs, descended from wolves, have retained many of their ancestors’ traits. In the wild, wolves often roll in the scents of other animals to mask their own. This strategy helps them in hunting by allowing them to blend more seamlessly into their environment, making it easier to approach prey without detection. When your dog rolls in fox poo, they are acting on a deep-rooted instinct to camouflage their scent with that of another animal.

Communication Through Scent

Dogs have an incredibly advanced sense of smell, far superior to that of humans. To dogs, every scent tells a story, and by covering themselves with the scent of fox poo, they can convey complex information to other dogs. This behaviour can be seen as a form of social communication, allowing dogs to carry and share scents from one place to another, which could be crucial in a wild or ancestral context for sharing information about potential threats or food sources.

Attraction to Strong Odours

Dogs are naturally attracted to strong and interesting odours. Unlike humans, what dogs find appealing can often be at odds with our own preferences. The strong, pungent smell of fox poo is likely to be intriguing to dogs, stimulating their senses and encouraging them to investigate further. This attraction to potent smells is also why dogs are often drawn to other seemingly unpleasant scents.

Nutritional Scavenging

In some cases, dogs may be drawn to the scent of fox poo due to the undigested food remnants it contains. Dogs, being opportunistic feeders, might be attracted to these remnants as a potential food source. This behaviour can be traced back to their scavenging roots, where the scent of possible nutrition, no matter how small, would be worth investigating.

How to Discourage This Behaviour

While understanding that this behaviour is natural for dogs, it’s also understandable that many owners would prefer to discourage it. Training and positive reinforcement can be effective methods for reducing the instances of this behaviour. Distracting your dog with toys or treats when they show interest in fox poo, and rewarding them for ignoring it, can help teach them that avoiding these scents is more rewarding.

Additionally, keeping your dog on a lead in areas where fox poo is commonly found, and promptly steering them away from it, can help prevent the behaviour. Consistency and patience are key, as changing a deep-rooted instinctual behaviour can take time.

In conclusion, while the attraction to fox poo may seem bizarre and unpleasant to dog owners, it is a natural and instinctive behaviour for dogs. Understanding the underlying reasons for this behaviour can help owners address it more effectively and maintain a harmonious relationship with their canine companions.