Many dogs kick their back paws after defecating, and sometimes after urinating as well. Why do they do this?
The Fake Reason
Many people mistakenly think the reason why dogs kick is to cover up the scent from their feces or urine. In a way, it makes sense: they usually kick up dirt or grass, which would seem to cover up the evidence.
In truth, dogs aren’t interested in covering anything up. If they were, no dog owners would have issues with their dogs marking. Which leads us to…
The Real Reason
The fact is, dogs are territorial. Kicking grass with their back paws is actually a way to mark their territory. If feces and urine aren't enough, then what is?
Dogs have glands in their paws that secrete pheromones. This scent is unique to your dog, and the glands that secrete the pheromones are activated as your dog kicks. It’s a way for your dog to leave behind a scent trail so other dogs know he was there. It’s like a kid scrawling “Jamie was here” next to his or her camp bunk, only with scent instead of marker.
Dogs kicking grass after they poop is an instinctive behavior. It's even been observed in wolves in the wild. Read More: Dog Behaviors That Come From Wolves
Want to test this theory with your dog? Watch him when he relieves himself in your backyard, then watch when he relieves himself on a walk through an area where lots of dogs pass. If your dog is like mine, you’ll notice kicking during the walk but not at home. He doesn’t need to claim his territory at home and is much more likely to do so in a public space where other dogs tread.
Why do dogs kick grass? It's to let other dogs know who was there first. Simple as that.
Did this give you insight on why your dog is the way he is? Get more - browse the blog categories at right for more practical dog know-how.
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Photo credit: Bruce McKay Yellow Snow Photography