Why Dogs Roll On Their Toys… And It’s As Cute As You Think


He might be man’s best friend, but unless you speak dog or have trained your pup to talk with buttons (yes, you can!), you’re probably spending a lot time wondering what’s going through your dog’s head.

For example, how does my dog ​​know what time I come home each day? Or why will my pet only eat food if it’s been microwaved?

Well, if you’re curious why your canine companion likes to roll over his toys, then Newsweek has the answer. We spoke to two experts about this canine phenomenon, and whether it’s as adorable as it looks.

A photo of a French bulldog rolling happily on the grass. Canine behaviorist Ali Smith said dogs rolling over their toys are usually an expression of joy.
yhelfman/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Why do dogs roll over their toys?

Rolling over your favorite possessions may seem weird to us humans, but if you catch your dog doing this, it’s a positive sign.

Ali Smith, dog trainer and CEO/Founder of Rebarkable, said Newsweek that it’s an evolutionary behavior passed down from their wolf ancestors, and that it’s “absolutely a happy expression”.

“It satisfies a lot of inner urges,” she said. “And those cravings tend to be for hunting reasons.”

1. To mark their perfume

Describing the act as “predatory”, Ali Smith said that in the wild dogs would roll in dead animals or feces to disguise themselves as their prey.

“While the toy doesn’t smell (at least to us blind humans!), it can also be so ingrained in a dog’s makeup,” she said.

Danville Family Vet medical director Dr. Jeff Smith agrees that rolling over toys is an evolutionary trait, one that stems from a need to “blend in with the environment.”

“Dogs will roll over things to leave their scent and mark their territory,” he said. Newsweek. “But they will roll around in smelly things to cover their smell.”

Since dogs often practice their hunting skills while playing, they can mimic these actions with their toys minus the smells and guts.

A small brown dog surrounded by toys
A photo of a small brown dog lying on the living room floor surrounded by toys. Sometimes dogs roll over their toys just because it makes them feel good.
TeamDAF/iStock/Getty Images Plus

2. A sign of affection

A less rude, but much gentler reason your dog might roll over objects is to show appreciation.

“Dogs roll over their toys in play behavior and as a sign of affection,” said Jeff Smith. “My little dog will roll over me in the morning when she wakes me up.”

Your dog may just roll over his toys because he likes them, but if you reward this behavior, even unintentionally, like a belly rub when he turns over, your pet is more likely to continue.

“After it happens a few times, it becomes a cue for the dog to get attention,” Smith said. “It’s part of the connection we call the ‘human-animal bond’.”

In other words, if your dog thinks rolling over his toys will make you happy (which he does, because it’s adorable), then he’ll do it more often.

3. It feels good

Have you ever had an itch that you’re dying to scratch, but just can’t get to? Well, dogs get it too. Fortunately, scratching an itch while rolling on the floor is more socially acceptable for dogs than for humans.

“They [might be] roll over it because their ancestors tell them it’s a good thing,” Ali Smith said. “Or the toy can just give really good scratches.”

Siberian Husky puppy rolling on a blanket
A photo of a Siberian Husky puppy rolling around on a blanket covered in toys and chewing on a stuffed animal. Rolling over toys is predatory behavior, dating back to the days when dogs disguised their prey scent by rolling over sharp objects.
Veronika Viskova/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Can dogs rolling over their toys be a bad sign?

It’s not uncommon for dogs to have a favorite toy, but why they like that toy over others can vary. But can rolling “or branding” their toys with their scent become an obsessive behavior?

“Anything can be a sign of obsessive behavior,” Ali Smith said. “However, riding isn’t usually associated with obsession.

“But as always, if you suspect he is becoming obsessive, please contact a qualified behaviorist or vet to ensure he is checked out.”

Do you have funny and adorable videos or photos of your pet that you want to share? We want to see the best! Send them to [email protected] and they might appear on our site.

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