It's getting cold outside, and with the beautiful fall season comes the great falling of leaves. This phenomenon has many dog owners scratching their heads asking themselves; why do dogs roll in leaves, and fearing that it may be a sign of some bad behavior.

A dog laying down in a pile of dry leaves

However, most dogs' urge to interact with leaves is perfectly harmless.

Why Do Dogs Love Leaves?

Many reasons could explain dogs' affinity to big piles of leaves.


First and foremost, dogs love to jump and roll in leaves because it's fun. It feels good to them, and they're expressing themselves through joyful play. Even if your dog is just getting into the leaves by pouncing or nibbling on them, you can see that this action brings him joy and provides a release for his energy. Dogs don't have a lot of ways to have fun with their owners, so when they can play with leaves and other objects, it's a good time for everyone.

Patrick Hendry - Floating Dog


Dogs also love to roll in leaves because they want to smell and "leave their mark" on the object. When dogs roll in leaves, they're getting rid of old smells and taking on new ones. Dogs often use scent as a way of communicating with other animals. If your dog is rolling around his favorite bush or tree, it's because he wants to communicate with passing animals and tell them that it is his property.

There's also a particular smell in most places during Autumn. Don't forget we only have about 5 million scent receptors, while a dog has between 125 and 300 million. Our canine friends have some of the best noses out of every animal on earth, so when they find a patch of leaves to roll in, they're enjoying an extra special treat from Mother Nature.


Even without an impending threat, dogs will often roll in leaves to hide. Often, they do it when they're tired or sleepy and just want to lie down without being seen. It's also a good hunting strategy- if another animal can't see them, it's harder for them to find prey. As you may already know, digging comes naturally to dogs, and sometimes they'll do it in leaves to "bury" themselves deep to get some good-quality naps.

Safety Tips For Leaf-Loving Dogs

There are a couple of things you should be aware of when letting your dog play with or roll in leaves.

First of all, not every leaf is safe for dogs. Most of the time, dogs will avoid ingesting anything that could hurt them, but they may not have a choice if they're rolling in a pile of poisonous leaves. To be safe, you should check with your local vet to see what types of leaves are harmful and can make dogs sick.

In addition, some nasty bugs like ticks are attracted to the smell of dogs. Even if your pup is rolling around in a pile of leaves that don't pose any danger, he may pick up tics, bugs, and insects he finds there. Make sure you check your dog's fur thoroughly after they've been playing with leaves.

Finally, there is always a possibility of a sharp man-made object hidden in leaves. Your dog may get hurt if he jumps into a pile of sticks or broken glass, so you should thoroughly check the area before allowing your pup to jump around in it.


Dogs have a lot of fun with leaves, from playing to hiding. As long as you check for potential dangers first, your pup will love jumping and rolling in fallen leaves.

For more information on how to keep your pup safe, feel free to ask us or check out the rest of our blog.