Taking my little dog outside is an exercise in patience. She’s a walking pooper, which means she only poops if she can walk around. Try to hold her still with a leash, and she’ll hold her poop ’til her eyes turn brown.
Once she finally finishes up her business, it is time for the next ritual: the poopy dance. She attacks the lawn with her back legs, kicking so hard that she actually jumps backward in a spray of grass, dirt and, if I don’t intervene, sometimes the poop itself.
I ask her this question every morning, as they’re about the only words I feel like muttering at 5 a.m.
So why do dogs kick their feet after they poop?
The experts weigh in on the poopy dance
Since my dog wasn’t willing to provide any answers, I decided to do a little research about this bizarre habit.
Dr. Patty Khuly, a veterinarian writing for VetStreet, suggests that dogs kick after they poop for two reasons.
First, they could be covering the poop for sanitary reasons.
Second, and perhaps more convincingly, she argues that dogs kick after they urinate and defecate to mark their territory.
Dog paws have scent glands that release pheromones. Scratching releases a larger amount of these pheromones, helping your dog mark her territory. In other words, the poopy dance is really your dog’s way of leaving her calling card for the other dogs in the area.
Other experts, including the American Kennel Club, disagree with Khuly about her first theory. They argue that domestic dogs could not care less about covering up their poop (which I suspect my dog would agree with, seeing as she leaves it all over the lawn), and instead reassert that the real reason dogs kick after pooping is to mark their territory.
Can you stop it?
Knowing that my dog is marking her territory doesn’t make getting sprayed with grass and gravel any more pleasant.
Luckily, if your dog’s kicking bothers you, there are a few things you can do.
Sometimes, I distract my dog by calling her name. This tends to break her concentration, and we continue on our walk. If your dog is destroying your yard, consider putting him on a leash when you know he is going to poop to prevent excessive kicking or take him for a walk around the block to do his business.
Or you could be like me and simply accept your dog’s kicking for what it is — the poopy dance — and a cause for much celebration regardless of how early it is in the morning.