Why Do Dogs Try to Cover Their Poop?

Dogs do many strange things, like kick and growl in their sleep and lick your elbow incessantly. One weird behavior you have noticed while walking your dog is that he likes to take a poop, and then attempt to cover it.

Beautiful Tricolor Puppy Of English Beagle Sitting On Green Grass. Smiling Dog
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While you appreciate his effort, he's kicking up grass and making it harder for you to scoop the poop. So why exactly do dogs engage in this strange behavior? What is the purpose?

Learn why your dog covers his poop and whether or not it means something is wrong with him.

What’s with the Poop Covering?

After dogs defecate, they do not try and cover up their mess like a cat does. Though their wolf ancestors liked to hide their mess, the dogs of today are not doing kicking back grass for the same purpose.

Instead, when your dog is scraping into the ground, he is marking his territory. Dogs have glands in their feet that discharge hormones, and when they are kicking back they are releasing those hormones.

Dogs are funny, because they are automatically marking a territory when they go to the bathroom there. It's a double whammy for them to also kick up the grass behind them. It's just telling the other dogs out there, "I was definitely here."

The dog looks at the camera
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Training your dog to stop covering

Let's say your dog isn't just covering his poop on walks – he is also doing it to your yard. Unfortunately, he's creating a lot of holes in your yard and messing up your lawn. If your dog is a puppy, it's going to be easier to train him not to kick up the grass, however, you can also train an older dog.

First, observe your dog when he is kicking back the grass. Does he take one or two steps and then kick? You have to catch him before he starts kicking. Then, use a squeaky toy and/or a treat to distract him from kicking. Make sure he sits before getting the treat.

Another plan of action is to interrupt your pup before he kicks your grass and let him kick somewhere else. For example, if he is kicking on your lawn but you have a concrete area next to it, interrupt the kicking so he can finish on the concrete.

More options for training your pup

If you are having trouble training your pup to go against his natural instincts, don't worry. You have other options, such as hiring a trainer, to come in and teach your dog not to kick the grass.

An easier and less expensive option may be to train your dog to go in a certain place in the yard where you don't mind him kicking up the grass. You can create a certain area that's full of dirt, for instance, and doesn't contain any grass. Your pup will still get the satisfaction of kicking without giving you an eyesore to look at.

Dog laying on grass
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You can also take him to the dog park or walk him around the neighborhood a few times a day so he engages in this behavior off of your property.

Just remember that whatever training you choose to do, reward works way better than punishment. Having treats on hand is always going to be more convincing than talking harshly to your pup. If your dog likes his favorite squeaky toy more than a treat, use the toy to distract him instead. If peanut butter is his favorite food, you can bet that a whiff of Jiffy is going to stop him from kicking.

With a little patience and practice, you can get your pup to stop kicking in no time.