As much as we do our best to try and understand our dogs’ ‘unusual’ behaviors, we admit it, most of the time, we are clueless. For one, do you have an idea why your dog kicks right after it poops? Is that your dog’s way of cleaning up its mess, or is it an act of embarrassment?
Termed by veterinary experts as ground-scratching, this is normal canine behavior, but all dogs do not do it.
Believe it or not, it is estimated that only 10% of the dog population kicks the ground after pooping. It is mainly done as a form of territorial marking, letting known to other dogs that someone owns that particular spot.
Today, we are going to dig up more information about our dogs, specifically, why they kick the ground after pooping. Is this behavior more common among males? Is this instinctual? A sign of aggressiveness, perhaps? It’s time to get to know our fur babies deeper.
Why Does A Dog Kick After Pooping?
The reasons for this kicking behavior could be any of the following: marking territories through visual display and scent dispersal. Plus, dogs kick after pooping as a form of social display.
But one thing is for sure, though, our fur babies do not kick the ground out of embarrassment after pooping. If you think they are trying to bury their excrements under the ground because of sheer shame, you are wrong. So, here are the reasons why.
To Leave Visual Marks
Every dog owner knows that dogs are, by nature, territorial.
This behavior can be traced back to their ancestors in the wild. The ground markings generated by scratching were used as demarcation lines, threatening their enemies during conflicts.
These days, apart from sprinkling urine on upright objects, and in some instances, male dogs sprinkling urine on female dogs, kicking the ground after pooping is another method of territorial marking.
Unlike urine sprinkling, the ground-scratching is not gender-specific. Also, this behavior is more commonly observed among terrier dog breeds.
The visual markings on the ground, such as pronounced paw prints and scratches on the leaves, are our dogs’ way of letting others know that someone has taken and owns that particular spot.
To Leave Scent Marks
You’d be surprised, but our dogs’ paws are more complex than we thought. Yes, these are cushioned for safe walking and running, but scent glands are also present in those paws.
These scent glands contain pheromones which are stronger and longer-lasting than the smell of their feces. So when dogs do number 2, the pheromones combined with the smell of their feces plus the bacteria from the ground produce a very potent smell which they use as a communication tool.
So, apart from the visual markings, scent dispersal is another method some dogs employ to mark their territories. Leaving their scent behind for other dogs to smell and recognize that piece of earth as already taken.
This behavior even intensifies in the presence of other dogs, done to assert dominance. Plus, scent dispersal is sometimes done by female dogs in heat to announce their readiness to mate.
It is believed that the dust generated from forcefully kicking the ground helps spread the scent of her pheromones in the air. Male dogs can smell it because female dogs that are in heat emit a different kind of smell in the same way that pregnant dogs smell differently.
For Social Display
The ground-kicking behavior could also be done as a social or hierarchical display as this is mostly done by alpha dogs, as observed by animal behavior researchers. Plus, it was observed that alpha dogs tend to kick the ground with more brute force.
Is Kicking After Pooping A Sign Of Aggression?
For our domesticated dogs, no, this is not a sign of aggressive behavior. Yes, our dogs are territorial, but their level is not as intense as compared to their ancestors in the wild.
Rather, kicking after pooping is our dogs’ way of communicating to other dogs about their presence. Not necessarily an aggressive warning, but more of a friendly tone, broadcasting to others of their presence in the area.
Should You Stop Your Dog From Kicking After They Poop?
No, rather than stopping instinctive behavior, there are some ways you can do to prevent your fur baby from damaging your lawn.
As we’ve said earlier, this is a behavior that has been wired into your dog’s DNA. Thus, it can be very difficult to stop.
Unfortunately, for some fur parents who spend hundreds of dollars to keep their manicured lawn looking nice and neat, ground kicking can be a huge issue.
Tips On How To Lessen The Kicking Behavior After Pooping
First, walk your dog on a leash, even if it’s just within your property. When your fur baby is about to kick the ground, gently pull the leash to stop the behavior.
If in a public park, you may allow your dog to kick the ground for as long as it wants. But be sure to clean up the mess by bringing a poop scooper and a poop bag with you all the time.
Second, delegate an area for your dog’s bathroom needs. Rather than planting grass in that spot, why not use pebbles, river rocks, or even artificial grass?
Third, change your route if you’ve noticed that your fur baby only kicks the ground in the presence of other dogs. Avoid areas other dogs have marked as their own, so your fur baby won’t be forced to retaliate by marking.
Lastly, you can redirect your dog’s behavior. For this method to be effective, consistency is the word to remember.
Redirection must be done before your fur baby begins to kick. You can give it doggie treats or invite it to a game of fetch right after pooping.
At the end of the day, kicking after pooping isn’t a big deal nor a sign of embarrassment among our fur babies. The only time it becomes a nuisance is when fur parents complain of bare and damaged spots on their lawns.