Why Do Dogs Kick After They Poop?

Dog kicking leaves up outside.
Dogs often kick after pooping to mark their territory.

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Dogs have several behaviors that would seem odd if a human were to do them but are completely normal in the canine world. Kicking the hind legs after pooping is one of these behaviors that may appear to have no purpose, but, in reality, there are reasons why your dog may be doing it.

Marking Territory

Dogs have scent glands in the bottom of their feet that they use to mark their territory. Domesticated dogs don't necessarily need these glands, but their ancestors used them to claim their domain.

The scent glands contain invisible scent-marking chemicals called pheromones and these chemicals are a dog's calling card or identifier. Urine and anal gland secretions also contain pheromones and may be used to mark territory. Other dogs will smell the pheromones after a dog kicks, even though humans cannot, and will be able to tell that the poop belongs to someone else.

It could be used as a warning signal for territorial dogs or as a sign that a dog is ready to mate. You may even notice your dog kicking like this after sniffing another dog's poop or urine. This may be in an effort to cover the other dog's scents with their own pheromones.

This kicking behavior is a natural form of communication for dogs, even if there is no longer a need for it as a domesticated canine, and it isn't something to be concerned about.

Dogs that tend to be more dominant, however, are often the ones that do the most aggressive kicking after pooping. If you live in a multi-dog household, you may notice that some of your dogs hardly kick while others put on quite a display.

Burying or Spreading Waste

Another reason why your dog may be kicking its feet after pooping is because it could be trying to bury its waste. This behavior is more commonly associated with cats, but dogs may try and bury their waste too.

The act of burying waste isn't done because a dog is trying to hide something, though, but rather to spread the scent of their poop further. Kicking up dirt and covering it brings more attention to the feces so it is another way a dog marks its territory after pooping.

On a rare occasion, a dog may actually try to bury its feces if it feels threatened and is trying to hide its presence, but this is more common in wild canines.

Wiping Paws

Some dogs do not enjoy having dirty paws, so if they get something on them after pooping they may be kicking in an attempt to wipe their paws off. They don't like the feeling of the dirt or debris on their paws and are simply trying to flick it off, much like they would rub their face on the ground if they feel as though something is on it.

Although kicking can be a sign of discomfort or an attempt to get something off paws, when this is done only after the act of pooping, it is more likely to be associated with one of the other two reasons above.

Can You Stop Your Dog From Kicking After They Poop?

While your dog may mean well when it kicks after pooping, many dog owners don't enjoy the damage it causes to their landscaping. However, where possible, the kicking behavior your dog exhibits should not be discouraged since it is natural and instinctive.

There are some management techniques you can apply, however, to limit the damage it may be causing to your grass.

Walking your dog on a leash off of your property is the best way to protect your landscaping. This avoidance method will still allow your dog to kick after pooping, but since it will be down the street or in a public dog walking area, you won't be upset if the grass gets ruined.

Another option is to train them or limit them to pooping in a specific area like a dog run. Designate an area for your dog to go potty and instead of using nice grass, put down river rocks, pebbles, or mulch so your dog won't do any damage. This way your dog can do what it does best and you don't need to worry about it.

Attempting to stop this behavior by yelling at your dog after pooping could result in your dog becoming fearful of pooping around you and it can damage the bond of trust between you. It may start pooping in the house in an attempt to do it in secret or develop diarrhea due to the stress of being yelled at.