Not All Dogs Love Mud

Strangely, the mess does not have universal appeal
By Karen B. London PhD, November 2018

Playing in the mud is a pastime enjoyed by a great many dogs, and a lot of people wonder why they love it so much. I happen to be far more interested in the question of why some dogs don’t like to play in the mud than the question of why so many dogs do like to play in the mud.

For any dog who likes the water, mud is an obvious draw. It probably feels good to be covered in the slippery, gooey mud, and it may offer a chance to cool off in hot weather. Interestingly, there are some dogs who love water but do not like mud.

Given the appeal of mud, I’m intrigued by the dogs who find the mud distasteful, and I’m eager to learn more about them. Breed may play a role in objections to mud. Some breeds are known for disliking water, and many of these same dogs also avoid mud. (As is true for any aspect of behavior, there are plenty of exceptions to these breed generalizations, but that doesn’t mean that an overall pattern doesn’t exist.)

If you have a dog who actively avoids the mud and appears to find it revolting (or at least unappealing), tell me a little bit about what else your dog doesn’t care for. Does your dog dislike water? How does she feel about snow? Does she object to grass or gravel? Does she avoid dusty areas? Is there any other substance or substrate that she clearly dislikes?

I’m particularly interested to know if an affinity for mud is age related. Has your dog had a change of heart about mud with age? Did your dog love mud as a puppy and then begin to find it objectionable? Or, is the reverse true—your dog disliked mud when she was younger but has become fond of it with age?

For lots of dogs, paying in the mud is so fun that to miss an opportunity to dive in makes no sense. Additionally, dogs can be fabulously unconcerned about consequences, such as spreading the mess indoors or having to do any of the cleaning up, so there is no downside. Yet, lots of dogs don’t even see the upside.

What insights can you offer about those dogs who don’t care for mud based on your own dog?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.

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