Dogs are bundles of fun and laughter – but they can also get pretty messy too. In fact, if your dog is like most playful pooches, you probably think they have an uncanny ability to get covered in dirt and gunk wherever they go. Maybe you’ve even noticed your dog’s passion for one kind of mess in particular: mud.
Dogs and mud go together like tail wags and belly rubs. Whenever your pooch spots a pile of fresh mud, or a particularly muddy puddle, the first thing they’ll want to do is leap straight into it. So, what’s behind this unusual love affair? More importantly, is there anything you can do to stop your dog from getting so coated in muck every time you venture outside?
Let’s find out.
Why Do Dogs Love Mud? The Basics
Dogs are pretty much genetically programmed to love mud. Some experts believe that a dog’s interest in muddy pools has something to do with an old-fashioned method of self-defence. By rolling in mud, your dog can erase some of their own scent, and hide from potential enemies.
Notably, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog is afraid or sensing surrounding danger if they decide to take a mud bath. Even happy and domesticated dogs can sometimes feel the call of the wild when they see a muddy puddle.
Here are some other reasons why dogs love mud:
- It’s great for temperature control
Animals of all species turn to mud as an excellent way to cool off on a hot day. A thin coating of wet mud helps to protect your pooch from the summer heat, and ensure they’re left feeling cooler for longer. If your dog rushes for a pool of wet mud and it’s a particularly hot day, they may even be more attracted to the water than to the mud in it.
- Playing in mud is fun
Admit it, if you could get away with rolling around in mud with your pooch, you’d probably do it from time to time. Splashing around in a dirty puddle is a great way for your dog to finish off a great day of exploring in the great outdoors. If you had a habit of laughing or squealing with delight every time your puppy jumped in the mud as it was growing up, it might have even learned that you enjoy mud puddles just as much as it does. Whoops.
- Dogs like the earthy smell
Sometimes, dogs use mud to mask their scent from predators and threats – other times, they just enjoy using it as a kind of perfume. Remember, dogs are natural outdoor creatures whose ancestors spent most of their time in nature, they may just like the smell of their environment. If your dog has recently been to the groomer, or you’ve washed them with a scented shampoo, they might also use mud to get rid of a scent they don’t particularly like.
- Your dog likes the taste of mud
Yep, sometimes you’ll notice your dog eating some of the mud they’re playing in. Most of the time, this isn’t a sign of anything dangerous. Just like eating random bits of fluff or grass, eating mud won’t always mean there’s something wrong with your dog. However, if your pup starts snacking on dirt or mud regularly, it might be best to take them to the vet.
Sometimes, eating mud can be a sign of a health condition like anaemia or pica. It could also mean your dog is stressed or bored or has various nutritional deficiencies in its diet that it’s trying to overcome with mud. A dog who regularly eats mud is also more likely to be exposed to parasites and harmful bacteria too – so be careful.
- They’re acting out
Sometimes dogs play in mud specifically because they want to get your attention. If your dog is looking for some focus from you, and it knows you’re going to start shouting or “playing” with it when it starts jumping around in some mud – then that’s what it’s going to do. Behaviour like this could be a sign your dog needs a little extra training.
Can I stop my dog from loving mud?
Ultimately, if liking mud is wrong, your dog doesn’t want to be right. No matter what you do, you’re probably never going to convince your pooch that mud isn’t the best thing since bacon flavoured treats. However, there are some things you can do to make the love affair a little less problematic for you. For instance:
- Avoid muddy walks on rainy days: If you’re going for a walk on a rainy day, stick to the sidewalk and locations where you’re not as likely to come across mud pools. If you do notice spots of wet mud, try to veer away from them to keep your dog from jumping in.
- Give them a balanced diet: If your dog tends to eat mud whenever he gets the chance, it could be because he’s missing something in his current diet. Speak to your vet about getting a check-up and look for a way to provide a more nutritional diet for your pooch.
- Don’t encourage the behaviour: While this might seem like an obvious tip, it’s not as simple as it seems. It’s hard not to giggle and smile when you see your dog covered in a muddy mess. However, you should try not to make playing in the mud seem like too much of a good thing for your dog. This doesn’t mean disciplining or yelling at your dog though. They won’t understand why you’re upset, and you could end up scaring them.
- Try telling them “no”: When your dog goes running towards a pile of mud, try telling them “no” in the same way you want to discourage any other behaviour. If your pup resists the urge to go mud-jumping, reward them with plenty of pets and positivity.
- Keep up with grooming: If your dog tends to always end up in a mess, having their fur trimmed regularly should mean you don’t have to spend as much time washing the muck out of their long tresses. Your dog will probably still need a bath, but the work shouldn’t be as bad if their fur is already short.
Dealing with a mucky pup
If your dog does end up covered in mud – it’s not the end of the world. Use a paws and presto towel or dog drying bag when you’re out and about to get rid of most of the mess and moisture before getting in the car or going home. This will reduce the amount of mess you need to clean up later.
After you do get home, wash your pup to get rid of all the dirt, and dry them with an ultra-absorbent towel. Make sure to brush through your dog’s fur post-bath to ensure there aren’t any knots and hidden messes lurking beneath the first layer of fur.