Joan: Why does my dog grass dive?
minpin-dachshund cross, about 8-inches tall at the
shoulder, and this behavior is really slowing down our
walks because he often would like to stop every 25 yards
leash as we stroll through the neighborhood, he lowers
his head to sniff the grass — usually 2 to 4 inches
high — along the sidewalk. Then, when he finds the
“right spot,” he moves a bit farther into the lawn,
lowers the front legs while keeping the back ones
extended so he can almost touch the ground with his nose
and sometimes licks the grass — dangerous behavior of
course, in this era of heavy fertilizer and herbicide
he uses the back feet to propel himself forward and,
upon finding the next “right spot,” turns his head
left or right while lowering the back legs, and twists
and wriggles his way though the grass for maybe 3 feet
with his paws in the air. Could there be a snake
somewhere in his ancestry?
when almost finished, especially during pollen season,
possible reasons that occur to me: so the sneezes will
clear his nasal passages; to scratch his back, although
the grass doesn’t seem stiff enough for that; to
“correct” his scent; to lick up any moisture
remaining on the blades of grass from dew or irrigation,
although he does have the opportunity to drink his fill
of fresh water just before and after every walk; for the
fun of it.
Bruce: Dogs do roll in the grass because it feels good,
especially on hot days. The primary reason they do it,
however, has to do with their ancestry, not as snakes
but as wolves.
wolf comes across an unusual or different smell, it
often will roll in it. Dogs do this, too. The reason is
two-fold. One, by mixing a little of their scent on top
of the new one, they’re putting their mark on the
spot. Secondly, they like to share the scent, so by
rubbing it all over themselves, they can share it with
might help the pack to survive, if the odor turns out to
be from a predator. The wolves will recognize the scent
and be on guard.
diving (I like your term), your dog may want to share
the odor with you while simultaneously marking his
your dog might be trying to get rid of an unpleasant or
displeasing scent on his body. We might prefer the smell
of flowery shampoo over the scent of wet dog, but that
doesn’t mean your dog does. Unless you’re bathing
him before every walk, however, I’d say this isn’t
possibilities could be that he has a rash and finds the
grass soothing on irritated skin (be sure to check), or
he just might have an obsession with rolling in the
the licking, he’s probably trying to get more of the
smell, and the sneezing likely is caused by your dog
being so happy with his backstrokes that he smiles,
which tickles his nose.
a little risk with this behavior. As you mentioned, some
people put chemicals on their lawns. So if you limit the
dives to trusted areas, it should be just fine.