Why Do Dogs Scratch the Ground After Defecating?

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When you pick up after your pup does his business, you may get hit by a projectile of flying grass or a clod of dirt as he enthusiastically scratches the ground after he poops. It's annoying, particularly if he's digging around in your garden or leaving pits in your lawn; however, it's natural behavior for him.

Many a pet owner has asked, "Why do dogs scratch grass after pooping?" Scratching the ground after defecating is simply your dog's way of saying, "I was here." When housebreaking your dog, remember that outdoor some outdoor behaviors are natural and shouldn't be discouraged.

A little girl walking her dog on the grass in a park.
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Marking their territory

Your dog isn't too concerned with cleaning up after himself when he poops, nor does he care much about covering his tracks. As a matter of fact, he's all about letting other animals know he's been on the scene. When your dog kicks and scratches the ground after he poops, he's not wiping his feet off; instead, he's putting an exclamation point on his work, marking the spot as his territory.

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If you don't notice this behavior in your new puppy, give him time. Puppies don't start urine marking their territories until they are approximately three months old.

Paws leave scents

There's more than padding on your dog's paw.
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There's more than padding on your dog's paw. His paw pads contain scent glands that secrete pheromones. When your dog scratches, paws, or kicks the ground, he's leaving a trail, explains Modern Dog. The scratches in the ground serve as a visual statement while the scent of feces and urine provide olfactory clues.

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As your dog scrapes and scratches, his paw pads release their scent into the ground to further designate the spot as taken. That line of pheromones leads right to your dog's waste. If you have multiple dogs in your home and one relieves itself inside and scratches at the carpet, tile, or other flooring, you might ask yourself, "Why does my dog try to dig in the carpet?" It might be telling its roommates to stay away from this area.

Other animals do it

It's not just your dog who kicks up his heels after he's taken care of business. His canine cousins—wolves, foxes and dingoes—also scratch the dirt after their work is done. Scratching is not just for the members of the family Canidae; male deer scrape the ground and bear scratch on tree trunks to leave their scents, and other animals do similar things.

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If you see your dog wriggling on its side or back in a pile of poop or other smelly material, that's another way of either leaving its scent or bringing the scent back home to communicate to other dogs. Conversely, your pet might be telling you it doesn't like the shampoo you've been using and wants to rid itself of that scent.

Dog's scratch and circle

Chances are, when you go out on your daily stroll with your pet, he doesn't immediately get to work. Instead, there's likely a bit of sniffing and walking about as he searches for the right spot to make his mark. In addition to scratching and kicking after urinating and defecating, a dog may go around in circles before he settles down to business.

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Dogs may roll after they go.
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Though it's not exactly known why dogs engage in this behavior, it may be hearkening back to his wild roots, attempting to "tamp down" the spot for pooping or keeping an eye open for predators. He also may be trying to gauge what other deposits have been made there before or positioning his waste for maximum effect.

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