Why do dogs kick their feet after they pee?
Why Does My Dog Kick Grass After Pooping?
Bella my Boston Terrier has been kicking at the grass for years when she pees and poops, but especially after she poops. Lately, she has been doing it more often, which has prompted me to find out why.
Can you imagine it’s a beautiful day outside, and you need to walk your dog. You go over to the usual spot where your pet does there business, and they take a nice big poo. Before you can say “good job” though, your dog starts kicking up your lawn.
In this article, I want to find out. Why has your dog started to kick up your grass? Is this an underlying issue or a behavioral problem. What steps can you take to stop this behavior? Here is what I found out…
Why Does My Dog Kick Grass After Pooping?
This behavior is because dogs produce pheromones in their feet. When your dog kicks the grass after pooping, it encourages the scent glands to start working harder. Stimulating the glands helps leave a stronger odor other dogs can identify as your pet’s territory along with their waste.
Other Reasons Why Dogs Do This?
Believe it or not, this is entirely normal behavior for most dogs. Many wolves and other canine relatives tend to do this to cover up their mess. Additionally, this may be a way of marking the territory that the dog has visited. Covering poop is just a way to keep the area the canines roam clean. We don’t always see domesticated dogs do this because the instinct may have been bred out. Kicking after using the bathroom is an action that some dogs do naturally, there is no real way to tell if your puppy is going to be a landscaper.
If you watch closely, dog’s don’t just do this behavior in the grass. Dogs will do the potty dance anywhere they use the bathroom or deem as their territory. Because of this, you may even catch them doing it in your home or other places that they haven’t even been using the bathroom.
Are Any Breeds More Prone To The Bathroom Dance?
Sadly, all breeds of dogs have the same chance of trying to mark their territory. In fact, some smaller breeds or anxious dogs may do it more than others. Whether your dog kicks or not depends on the individual pet. If you want to avoid grass kicking, you will either need to train your pet or adopt a dog who is fully grown. Keep in mind that a new environment could start this instinct even if your pet has never kicked grass before.
Common Causes For Kicking
Some situations will cause kicking to become more prevalent. One of the biggest reasons is other dogs being present. If you walk your dog in a park always filled with the neighborhood pets, you will probably see the kicking behavior.
This is because the dogs are communicating with each other through scent. Marking can be a way to simply try and create a space for your pet or a ploy to be dominant. Either way, if you’re walking your dog in a multi-dog area, you will see kicking or marking of some sort.
If your dog is new to an area, then this behavior may pop up even without other dogs present. A dog may feel the need to mark what they view as their territory. Claiming territory can be especially appealing in a new unclaimed environment. An anxious dog may even do this to feel more at home in a new place.
Can Excessive Kicking Harm My Dog?
The only time kicking really becomes an issue for your pet is if it is excessive. A dog that tries to kick everywhere it goes runs the risk of injuring a paw. An injury becomes more likely if your dog begins to kick on rough surfaces that could cut their delicate feet. Kicking on the carpet could help the dog create loose strands to consume.
If your dog has the obsessive need to mark their territory, then there may be an underlying behavioral issue. Common causes of excessive kicking are insecurity and anxiety disorders. The latter of these two may require a veterinarians assistance if it becomes severe.
Other than leaving scratch marks and a messy lawn though, kicking isn’t harmful to your pet. Some owners even encourage this behavior when in the woods or other natural settings.
How Can I Prevent It?
If you want to deter your dog from kicking, then there are a few methods you can try. To start with, if your dog is a puppy with this behavior, don’t wait to break it. While the little mess may be cute, it will eventually turn into a bigger problem.
If your puppy starts to kick up dirt, then pull them away with a firm no or stop it. If you’re on walks and your puppy begins to kick try using the “leave it” command while guiding your dog away from the area. If your dog is successful in leaving the spot, then reward them.
If your dog only participates in kicking around other dogs, then change your route. If you can avoid places where other dogs have marked, then your dog won’t be as inclined to retaliate. Avoiding other dogs can be more challenging if you live in a multi-dog neighborhood or your neighbors have a dog. For these situations, repetition and training is the only real way to break the habit.
For dogs with more severe marking problems, you can seek out the help of a trainer who specializes in behavioral correction.
Keep in mind that if you plan to train your dog out of this habit, you have to be quick. Make sure you pull the dog away the second your pet starts to kick. This way, they won’t associate the act of using the bathroom with negative consequences. Never scream or punish your dog as this may make them kick more due to feeling anxious. For more complicated cases, you can use calming treats to help your dog feel more at ease when pooping. Need help with your grass because your dog is peeing on it too often? Check out this article of mine, “How To Protect Your Lawn From Dog Urine“.
- PetMD – Why do dogs kick their feet after pooping?
Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.
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Why Do Dogs Kick After They Poop?
Adrienne Kruzer is a veterinary technician with more than 15 years of experience providing healthcare to domestic and exotic animals. She is trained as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets.
Published on 11/19/20
Dogs have several behaviors that would seem odd if a human were to do them but are completely normal in the canine world. Kicking the hind legs after pooping is one of these behaviors that may appear to have no purpose, but, in reality, there are reasons why your dog may be doing it.
Dogs have scent glands in the bottom of their feet that they use to mark their territory. Domesticated dogs don’t necessarily need these glands, but their ancestors used them to claim their domain.
The scent glands contain invisible scent-marking chemicals called pheromones and these chemicals are a dog’s calling card or identifier. Urine and anal gland secretions also contain pheromones and may be used to mark territory. Other dogs will smell the pheromones after a dog kicks, even though humans cannot, and will be able to tell that the poop belongs to someone else.
It could be used as a warning signal for territorial dogs or as a sign that a dog is ready to mate. You may even notice your dog kicking like this after sniffing another dog’s poop or urine. This may be in an effort to cover the other dog’s scents with their own pheromones.
This kicking behavior is a natural form of communication for dogs, even if there is no longer a need for it as a domesticated canine, and it isn’t something to be concerned about.
Dogs that tend to be more dominant, however, are often the ones that do the most aggressive kicking after pooping. If you live in a multi-dog household, you may notice that some of your dogs hardly kick while others put on quite a display.
Burying or Spreading Waste
Another reason why your dog may be kicking its feet after pooping is because it could be trying to bury its waste. This behavior is more commonly associated with cats, but dogs may try and bury their waste too.
The act of burying waste isn’t done because a dog is trying to hide something, though, but rather to spread the scent of their poop further. Kicking up dirt and covering it brings more attention to the feces so it is another way a dog marks its territory after pooping.
On a rare occasion, a dog may actually try to bury its feces if it feels threatened and is trying to hide its presence, but this is more common in wild canines.
Some dogs do not enjoy having dirty paws, so if they get something on them after pooping they may be kicking in an attempt to wipe their paws off. They don’t like the feeling of the dirt or debris on their paws and are simply trying to flick it off, much like they would rub their face on the ground if they feel as though something is on it.
Although kicking can be a sign of discomfort or an attempt to get something off paws, when this is done only after the act of pooping, it is more likely to be associated with one of the other two reasons above.
Can You Stop Your Dog From Kicking After They Poop?
While your dog may mean well when it kicks after pooping, many dog owners don’t enjoy the damage it causes to their landscaping. However, where possible, the kicking behavior your dog exhibits should not be discouraged since it is natural and instinctive.
There are some management techniques you can apply, however, to limit the damage it may be causing to your grass.
Walking your dog on a leash off of your property is the best way to protect your landscaping. This avoidance method will still allow your dog to kick after pooping, but since it will be down the street or in a public dog walking area, you won’t be upset if the grass gets ruined.
Another option is to train them or limit them to pooping in a specific area like a dog run. Designate an area for your dog to go potty and instead of using nice grass, put down river rocks, pebbles, or mulch so your dog won’t do any damage. This way your dog can do what it does best and you don’t need to worry about it.
Attempting to stop this behavior by yelling at your dog after pooping could result in your dog becoming fearful of pooping around you and it can damage the bond of trust between you. It may start pooping in the house in an attempt to do it in secret or develop diarrhea due to the stress of being yelled at.