Whenever I take my dogs into the woods in the winter, I notice a few things. First, my dog loves mud. He will love to roll around in the mud, sit in it, and will even progress to eating it. When he does this, our family calls him Swamp Pigshoe Bruce …… We don’t like having to give him a bath afterwards!
But why do dogs like the mud so much, whether it’s rolling in it or just sitting in it? It can be mud and water, park dams, puddles or duck ponds. I wanted to get to the root of the problem, so I hope my research below will be helpful to you – here’s the short answer.
Why do dogs like mud? Dogs like mud because it has a cooling effect and they can lie or roll in it to cool down. Dogs will also play with mud when they are bored or excited and want to investigate scents. The instinct to hide scents is also the reason why dogs like to roll in the mud so much.
Why do dogs love mud so much?
Like it or not, if your dog sees a puddle of mud on the road in front of him, he will run right into it. There are many reasons why your dog simply can’t resist mud.
1. Your dog is hot
When your dog is overheated and there is mud nearby, he will roll around in it. Mud is known to cool your body, and your dog instinctively knows this.
2. Your dog needs some stimulation
Remember when you rolled around in the mud as a kid? It was exciting and fun. So, when your dog is looking for some fun and excitement, he’ll run through that mud. He’ll roll in it, he’ll lay in it.
3. your dog is covering up his scent
Dogs also like mud because they have the ability to adjust their instincts. Wolves are known to roll in the mud when hunting to mask their natural scent.
Although your dog may no longer need to hunt, his instincts still tell him that mud is tantamount to masking his scent. He can’t control himself and has to roll in the mud.
4. Learned behavior
Do you ever squeal with delight whenever your puppy goes through the mud? He looks so cute, and then you reward him with a bath. All the giggles and cooing plus the snapping in the tub tell your puppy that rolling in the mud is good behavior.
5. He likes more natural smells
Do you bathe your dog often? If you use your favorite lavender soap or baby mild shampoo, your dog may not like the scent. The same is true for dogs who go to the groomer often.
They come back smelling like roses and they don’t like it. So, to restore some natural scent, they dive into a puddle of mud. If they had a choice, they would pick up mud on the slickrock any day.
For some dogs, they like mud baths, and they are preferable to your bathtub.
6. Tastes really good
If your dog is one of those dogs that likes to eat mud, then don’t feel alone. It’s common for dogs to start chewing on dirt or mud, and they do it for good reason. Here’s a shortlist, followed by more details.
- Your dog has a health condition, such as xenophagia or anemia.
- Boredom and stress related.
- Something in the soil smells funny.
- It’s fun to dig up a houseplant, and they enjoy the attention they get from you!
- There may be a nutritional deficiency in their diet.
It may be due to old food or dead birds falling into the mud. Dogs may eat mud because they are stressed or bored
7. Your dog likes water
Show me a dog that doesn’t like to splash around in the water. Most dogs will happily dive into a dam or your child’s play pool. My friend’s Great Dane is always in the pool, and Labradors are known for rolling in any water they can find.
Dogs associate water with mud or mud with water. Either way, if he has half a chance, your dog will be playing in that mud puddle.
Be aware, however, that there can be some risk in this game, especially if you have a dog who likes to drink muddy water. Read more about what to be wary of here.
How can I stop my dog from liking mud?
Well, I don’t think you can ever get your dog to stop liking mud. But you can train them to stay away from it. At least in most cases. Here are some ideas to keep your dog away from the dirt.
1. Stay away from the mud after bathing
This may seem obvious, but sometimes we forget that our freshly groomed dog will head for that mud pit in your garden as soon as possible.
You can lock him in the house until the mud pit dries up. Or you can fill the mud pit with sand or rocks. The key is to prevent your dog from coming into contact with the mud after bathing or grooming.
2. Distract them with toys and games
Playing in the mud is a dog’s game. But it’s a dirty, messy game, so you want to keep it as low-key as possible. Your other option is to distract your dog from the muddy area by letting them play other games.
3. Use positive reinforcement to break bad habits
If your dog has any bad habits, positive reinforcement is a great way to help him change it. Running and rolling in the mud may be considered a bad habit if he does it too much.
Try telling him “no” in a firm but gentle tone every time he goes to a muddy area. He will soon learn that this is unacceptable behavior.
When he stops getting into the mud, reward him with his favorite treats.
4. Don’t go out in the rain
When you and your dog are cooped up in the house all day because of the rain, a walk in the park seems like a good idea. Until you see all the mud puddles on the road in front of you! Have a raincoat for your dog to hide from the mud before you go out.
So either stay home or take a walk around the neighborhood instead of going to your local dog park. You can also leave your dog indoors until the puddles in the garden dry up.
5. Give him a balanced diet
If your problem is that your dog is eating mud or dirt, then you may need to have him checked out with your veterinarian. He may be deficient in some important nutrients or minerals, which can lead to unnatural cravings.
Dogs that are anemic are known to eat soil to try to compensate for physical deficiencies. Make sure your dog is getting all of his essential nutrient and mineral needs from his food.
Do you remember running in the mud as a child? I did and every time I did I would get my ears chewed because my family would ballistic.
I kind of understand that now whenever my dog walks into the house after rolling in the mud. Not only do I have to scrub the floors, I have to give him a bath.
However, it’s hard to get too mad at your dog because they don’t really understand the consequences and love the mud for some very good reasons.