Many dogs tend to display quite an interesting behavior after pooping: they scratch at the ground with their hind legs and start kicking grass and dirt to the spot where they did their business. But, why do dogs do this? Why do dogs cover their poop?
As a matter of fact, we might have to rephrase the question to why do dogs display this behavior, because covering their poop might not be what they’re doing at all.
There is a discussion about the reason behind this canine behavior and today we’ll go through it.
Why do dogs kick after pooping?
Although veterinarians and specialists discuss several reasons why dogs kick at the floor after pooping, there’s one that most of them agree with.
As a way of communication
When dogs kick at the spot where they did their business, they are not trying to cover it up. What they are trying to do is enhance the smell. But, how does this happen?
Well, our pups’ paws have scent glands that release pheromones, which give them their unique smell and are an effective communicative tool. After a dog scratches at their poop, the scent emitted from their paws transfers to the ground. This scent lasts longer than the one that is left from just peeing or pooping.
You might have noticed this scent too some time that your dog’s paws had a specific different smell, not one that indicated that they needed a bath, just a different scent from the usual one. This means that your dog’s paws have recently produced pheromones that spread that aroma.
Pet parents might notice this scent when it comes from their paws, but definitely won’t notice it coming from the ground. Nevertheless, other fellow furry friends will definitely pick it up. The smell will allow them to confirm the identity of the dog who did their business at that spot.
The scent left by kicking after pooping is also used by dogs as a way of marking territory. They are communicating with other pups passing by that they have marked that spot. What is more, the long scratches left on the ground can also indicate to a fellow dog that the one who was there is strong and powerful.
If a dog is not trying to communicate dominance, and wants to express submission, they might stop scratching the ground when another pup appears.
As a way of protection
Some veterinarians also claim that kicking at the spot where they do their business is a way of protecting themselves. They cover up their feces so enemies and possible predators won’t find them.
Dr. Brittany Jaeger also claims that this is an “evolutionary response”. This means that it is a behavior dogs inherited from wolves.
Should this behavior be stopped?
Many pet parents are quite annoyed by this behavior, displayed by their dogs, of scratching the ground after pooping because they say it ruins their lawn and landscape. But should this behavior be reprimanded and stopped?
The truth is that if possible, it shouldn’t. Veterinarians recommend pet parents to not disencourage this habit, since it comes from a natural instinct and it is a healthy thing to do.
But, we all know that life is not as easy as it seems, and you might have a neighbor that’s giving you a really hard time due to the scratches your pup leaves on the yard or around the block. If that’s the case and it cannot be avoided, there are some things you can do to prevent your dog from kicking after pooping.
You can try to redirect your dog’s attention to something else, such as delicious and healthy treats or a piece of food they love such as small bites of cheese. This way, as soon as your dog finishes pooping, you can redirect their attention to the price and they will not scratch the ground. After some time, your pup will hopefully learn to avoid this behavior after doing their business.
When has ground-scratching become a problem?
There are only three moments when this common dog behavior becomes a problem that should be attended to.
- If your dog used to frequently do it, and all of a sudden stops. If your pooch was a determined ground-scratcher and you don’t see them do it anymore, it can be due to reduced mobility as a result of arthritis. If this is the case, make sure to take your pup to the vet to confirm the diagnosis and supplement their nutrition and mobility with Hemp and Glucosamine.
- If your dog does the scratching on hard surfaces such as concrete, a carpet or kitchen tiles, it can be extremely harmful to your dog. They shouldn’t ground-scratch on such harsh surfaces as their paws can get damaged, sore and even bleed.
- If your dog is ground-scratching more often than usual. This can be due to stress or anxiety. If this is the case, try to see if there’s any changes in the environment or routine that can be making them feel this way. Alternatively you can try hemp calming treats to relieve anxiety and provide calm.