As much as we love our dogs, we have a difference of opinion when it comes to defining what smells "good." Considering that our dogs' sense of smell is hundreds of times better than ours, who's to say which species is right about what smells the best?
Now, about that rolling in those malodorous messes. It's pretty simple, actually: People like to put on nice scents, and so do dogs.
One theory on stink-rolling is that it represents a canine celebration of abundance. Now and then a dog will encounter a rewarding tidbit with a pungent smell; it's like a person finding a $20 bill on the ground. Sweet! It's certainly a good reason to stick a canine nose as close to the scent source as possible and inhale all that wonderful aroma. But to discover an entire rotting fish or other large pile of nastiness often triggers the urge to celebrate with a hearty roll; like a person who won the lottery throwing $100 bills all over the bed and "rolling in dough." You've noticed how silly-happy they look doing this, haven't you?
There's a survival element, too. For a hunting animal, there's a tactical advantage to not smelling like a predator: The prey don't know you're coming. Rolling in strong odors -- feces and even dead animals -- is thought to provide scent cover, to help predators land their lunch a little more easily.
Of course, none of our pet dogs have to hunt for their supper, but old instincts never really go away. That's why if there's a bad smell available, there's a good dog happy to roll in it. And not long after, a spoil-sport human with warm water and soap ready to ruin it all -- from the dog's point of view.
Just about the worst thing any dog can smell like is skunk. In the interests of domestic bliss, we're going to share the best recipe ever for eliminating skunk smell.
Take 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, for you scientific types), and 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap, such as Ivory. Mix and immediately apply to the stinky pet. Rinse thoroughly with tap water.
You can double or triple the recipe if you have a big dog, but always get the solution on your pet as quickly as you can after you combine the ingredients. The chemical reaction is what eliminates the skunk smell, and it doesn't last long.
Don't mix up the solution in advance, and don't try to store it in a closed bottle -- it'll burst any closed container you put it in. But do keep the ingredients on hand ... just in case.
Commercial products are available that do pretty good job, as well. And what about that old stand-by, tomato juice? Use it and what you'll end up with is a pink dog who still stinks -- maybe just not quite as much.
Q. Does tug-of-war teach a dog to be mean?
A. A few years ago, many dog trainers put tug-of-war on the list of games you should never play with your dog. The idea was that if you play tug-of-war and end it by giving the tug toy to your dog, you are letting the dog win a contest of strength against you. And that, the theory went, leads to dominant behavior.