Why Does My Dog Run Around After Pooping?

While there is no scientific research into the subject (yet?), experts have some theories, including hygiene, territory marking, and the fact that running might just feel good.

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Dogs have many bathroom rituals that are perplexing to us, but are important to them. Some dogs circle before urinating or defecating. Some dogs scratch the ground after pooping, while others go absolutely nuts after they poop.


If your dog runs around after pooping, you've probably spent a fair amount of time wondering why. The somewhat disappointing answer is that we don't know for sure, as there is unfortunately very little research into the subject.

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However, we have a few working theories as to why some dogs perform the amusing ritual of running around after relieving themselves.


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Running feels good!

Sometimes the answer lies in the simplest explanation. Your dog might run around because they feel relieved after pooping, especially if they have been holding it in for a while. Who are we to judge?


In addition, lots of dogs find running fun and enjoyable even aside from the act of pooping. It may be that humans simply notice the running more when it's tied to defecating, even if the dog is inclined to run around at other times.

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Your dog has been rewarded for running in the past

Many contemporary dog parents use positive reinforcement to house train their dogs (a good idea as it is the most effective and kind method). If your dog has been rewarded (with treats, toys, or praise) for pooping in the past, they might have a positive association with the act, and get excited afterward.


In addition, any number of your dog's behaviors may have been reinforced (either accidentally or on purpose) in the past, and they may repeating them now because of the positive association. For example, the people around them might laugh and praise them when they run around, because it's cute. It may be that your dog is simply already outside due to the need to poop, and it seems like a good time to run around.



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Running removes "dingleberries"

This theory is decidedly less cute than the previous one. If you've lived this long without knowing what a dingleberry is, consider yourself lucky. A dingleberry is a piece of fecal matter that gets stuck to a dog's butt area. They're more common in long-haired dogs, for obvious reasons.


Running around after pooping might help get rid of any dingleberries that may be hanging around in your dog's hair. If your dog does this successfully and spares you the honor of having to grab dingleberries yourself, give her an extra huge treat.

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Marking territory

Many of dogs' elaborate pooping rituals are associated with marking territory. Dogs have scent glands on their paw pads, and running around may help distribute their scent in the area where they've just defecated. Leaving their scent on an area tells other dogs that your dog has "claimed" this territory. This act is fairly useless in the life of a modern domestic dog, but try telling them that.


Dogs are weird, and they have many behaviors that we still don't fully understand. But if there's any chance your dog is sparing you from having to interact with dingleberries, be grateful.

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In summary

There is no formal scientific research that addresses the question of why some dogs run around after pooping. However, we have some working theories, including the fact that it feels good, the behavior may have been reinforced in the past, it may mark territory, and it may help remove fecal matter from the dog's behind.


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