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Why Do Dogs Like Mud? Canine Behavior Explained

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By Nicole Cosgrove

French Bulldog having fun in a mud puddle

It never fails to happen. You give your dog a bath, or the weather begins to warm up, bringing with it spring showers, and your dog seems to go haywire. You let the dog out for a bit of fresh air and dry out after their bath, and the first thing they do is find a mud puddle to roll around in.

Why do dogs like mud? The simple answer is that dogs have always loved mud. It seems to be in their DNA to find the first available mud muddle and roll around in it to their heart’s content.

However, there are a few reasons that your dog heads straight for the mud when you open the back door. We’ll discuss some of these reasons below, so join us.

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The 5 Reasons Dogs Like Mud So Much

Dogs roll in the mud for various reasons, and some of them may surprise you.

1. Mud Cools Them Off

Several animals, not just dogs, turn to mud to cool them off if the weather is sweltering outside. A thin coat of wet mud can protect your pet against the hot summer sun. So, if your dog runs and rolls in the first mud puddle it sees in the summer season, it could be because it is hot and looking for a way to cool off.

2. They Don’t Like the Way They Smell

Sometimes, your dog just isn’t happy with the way it smells. After all, what self-respecting dog wants to smell like dog shampoo and lavender? We all want our dogs to smell nice, but that doesn’t mean the dog wants to smell that way.

If you find your dog rushing to the nearest mud puddle and rolling around after a bath, it could be trying to change how it smells. The dog is probably trying to get back its unique scent. Dogs communicate with one another through their scent sometimes, and just because that scent is unpleasant to us doesn’t mean it is to the dog population at large.

jack russell dog in a mud puddle
Image Credit: smrm1977, Shutterstock

3. They Like the Taste

As icky as it may sound, some dogs like the taste of mud. A dog will occasionally eat the mud they’re playing in just because they like the taste. However, mud has parasites and bacteria that can make your dog really sick, so it’s a behavior you want to discourage in your canine pal.

If your dog is eating mud regularly, it may be time to consult your vet, as your dog could have an underlying health condition or deficiencies in its diet that must be addressed and treated.

4. They Are Masking Their Smell

Sometimes, a dog rolls around in and plays in the mud to mask their smell. This goes back to wild dogs, which will roll in the mud to mask their smell and keep them from being detected by predators. This is especially helpful in the wild because it keeps rabbits, squirrels, and other prey from knowing that a wild dog is hunting them.

This behavior is something domestic dogs do as well, though they don’t have to worry about hunting their own food. Don’t worry; your domesticated dog is just feeling the call of the wild when it sees a mud puddle.

muddy golden retriever in the rain
Image Credit: Cindy Hughes, Shutterstock

5. They Think It’s Loads of Fun

One of the main reasons that dogs love mud is that it’s loads of fun for them. You like bubble baths, and your dog likes mud, so it shouldn’t be hard to understand, at least in your canine’s opinion. As you probably already know, dogs live in the moment and don’t care who is cleaning up after them or that they are tracking mud onto your recently mopped floors.

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Top 2 Tips for Keeping Your Dog from Rolling in the Mud

Although these are all valid reasons your dog likes mud, it doesn’t mean you want your pet to roll in it, then track it into your home. You’ll find a few tips for keeping your dog out of the mud below.

1. Distract Them

Though it’s easier said than done, you can distract your dog from getting into the mud. Try distracting your pup with another fun activity, such as playing fetch or tug-of-war. Most dogs would much rather have fun with their pet parents than roll in the mud, though that’s also fun.

golden retriever in mud
Image credit: mis1il, Shutterstock

2. Take Your Leash

While no pet parents want to force their dog to be on a leash in their own yard, if you want to keep your dog out of the mud, you should take your leash with you on rainy days. Walking your pet on a leash will keep the dog out of the mud and your floors clean when you return home.

Make sure you don’t yell at or scold your dog, as you don’t want the dog to think that being on the leash outside on rainy days is a punishment.

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Final Thoughts

Dogs like playing in the mud because it’s entertaining. They sometimes get into a mud puddle to mask their scent or get the smell of dog shampoo off their body, but most times, it’s just because they think it’s a fun thing to do.

You can follow the tips above to keep your dog from getting into the mud, but if those don’t work, it might be best to keep your dog inside on rainy days, other than when it’s using the bathroom for the foreseeable future. However, if you don’t mind washing the dog, you can let them play until their heart’s content.

Featured Image Credit: Will Rodrigues, Shutterstock

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