No, they don't eat them, if that's what you're thinking. But if you are thinking that, I don't blame you. See, I thought the same thing.....until today. Just some advice: never let your dog get near a dead fish. EVER!

Today I went hiking. Took the dogs. Had a lovely time. My dog loves the mountains. So did the guy's dogs I was with. We'll just call the guy Bob. Anyway, about halfway through the hike, we stop at a lake to catch a breather. The dogs are running around and having fun, as dogs do. One dog, Euripides, a particularly adventurous sort (you know the kind), decided it would be fun to take a dip in the lake. And then the fun began.....

I really wasn't paying attention. Suffice it to say, the next thing I remember, the dog comes walking out of the lake with a disgusting dead fish in its mouth. I doubt the dog killed it; it must have already been dead. Bob and I watch with a mixture of horror and disgust, pretty much thinking that the dog was gonna eat the thing. But no! The dog proceeds the take the mangled thing, set it on the ground....

..... And roll around it in it! He rolled and rolled in the maimed fish body, rolled until there was just bones and skin left. His whitish fur had turned a yellowish tint, and don't get me started on the smell. Pretty much everybody knows the strong, disgusting (at least to me) smell of fish. Like that.... only this one was dead and rotting! Bob cussed Euripides out pretty much continuously for the rest of the hike, and wrapped the incorrigible thing in a blanket on the ride home. Needless to say, it didn't really work. The car will probably smell like rotting fish guts for the duration of its life. As for me, I'm glad that wasn't my dog and I sure as hell am keeping my dog away from fish of any sort - blech!

So, whenever you see your dog coming out of the water with a dead fish either 1: run, 2: shoot the bastard, or 3: call the pound, because it'll make your life miserable.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by National Forest Service
I had a dog vs. dead fish experience just a few days ago. The white American Bulldog I love dearly truly enjoys making a fool of himself on the beach. Unfortunately, most beaches are finicky when it comes to allowing dogs to enjoy the water along with every other kind of creature. So I took my beloved pet out to the beach by a giant power plant in the next town over.

It was extremely windy, and so the beach was deserted except for the dog, a friend, and me. And the dead fish, of course. But we didn't know about him yet.

Being the huge hundred-pound goofball that he is, the dog ran straight for the water. He waited at the edge of the lake for me, impatient as always. I ran into the shallows and jumped over the waves, the dog close on my heels. Usually he sticks close to me when we're in the water (he can't swim), which is the most common sense he has ever displayed, but that day was different. He took off down the shore after an invisible target after snapping at a few white foamy wave-tops.

I followed him to see what was going on. He had his head underwater, which was not that strange, but a little out of place. Soon he emerged, however, with the most disgusting, horrid, completely dead fish I have ever seen. He trotted over to me with his sideways gait, proud as only a bulldog with no intelligence can be, and dropped the fish in the sand at my feet.

Naturally, I squeeked and jumped back in horror.

The dog immediately started growling at the fish, and lowered his belly onto the sand. Next I knew, he was pouncing like a big dumb dog and hopping on the fish like he was going to stomp it into the sand. This continued for a minute or two, until he calmed down and took a step back. Then he proceeded to lick the fish gently, and finally turn his back on it and romp away.

In conclusion, dogs stomp on and lick dead fish.*

* My dog might not be the most valid example or normality.

But why do dogs feel compelled to roll on dead fish? No one has yet answered this.

A dog has a few key drives: it needs food and water. It needs exercise. In particular it needs to behave within the confines of its inherently programmed social behavior. This last one makes it very valuable to humans. The dog seeks to find a place in a pack-like group, which in most cases is a human family and perhaps some other dogs. The dog feels compelled at all times to have some sort of territory and make its presence known to other dogs, males more obviously than females. Males will urinate near trees and posts, especially. They do this so that other dogs will notice their presence by smelling the unique urine odor.

All dogs, also, want to have a unique odor which accumulates in areas they like to frequent, and make other dogs aware of their presence. Dogs like to make this odor as strong as possible, and the extremely pungeant odor of rotting fish flesh works very well. After your dog has rolled in the fish, you can smell it from a long ways away. To your human nostrils, he/she seems much more stinky than usual, and is detectable from a greater distance. To your dog, the greater smell is all that matters. It thinks, I know I can be smelled from farther, so other dogs know that I'm to be reckoned with. Rolling on dead fish fits the bill perfectly.

It seems to me that What dogs do on freshly cut grass, is the same action (rolling on it) for a completely different reason.

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