Why Do Dogs Kick After They Poop?

It may look funny - but there’s a biological reason why your dog kicks their feet after they poop! Here’s what you need to know.

Jun 13, 2024byMelissa Branthaver
why do dogs kick after they poop

After my dogs do their business, they both kick their feet. It’s cute when Fitzy does it – he’s 10 pounds, and he looks like he’s doing big things! But when Bingley does it, that 110-pound behemoth is kicking up piles of dirt and grass, flinging it all over the place.

I started to wonder why they were doing this and, more importantly if it was something that I should be concerned about. Spoiler alert: it’s not, but there’s more to the behavior than just making a mess. Let’s dig into why they do this – pun intended.

Three Common Reasons Dogs Kick After Pooping

dog sitting grass
Photo by JacLou- DL

Many dogs are actually biologically driven to kick their legs after going potty. It doesn’t matter if it’s number one or number two – they’re going to be kicking up their back feet to tell a story. Here are three reasons why.

Scent Marking

First and foremost, your dog is scent marking. A behavior that goes back to before they were domesticated, scent marking is a type of communication between animals. They’re leaving a scent trail to tell other dogs they were here.

How are they doing it? There are scent glands in their paws, so when they are dragging their paws, your dog is leaving olfactory footprints. This also happens when they’re walking, but the scent is much more concentrated when they are dragging their feet to mark the surrounding area.

dog playing
Credit: Brixiv

Do you know how your dog’s feet can sometimes smell like corn chips? That’s the scent that they are trying to spread around the area and share with other dogs. It’s completely unique to them, even if it may not seem that way to you.

Additionally, you may notice that your dog goes to areas that aren’t high traffic to mark their scent and poop. Dogs secrete unique scents when they poop from their anal glands, and kicking the ground can spread it even further.

Ultimately, they want their presence to stand out to other dogs when they are kicking their feet.

Visually Marking

sandy dog paws
Photo by Elina Sazonova

Sometimes, the scent isn’t enough, your dog may also want to visually mark an area. When they kick their legs, they leave indents in the ground – and sometimes even mounds of grass and dirt!

Dogs can see the claw marks in the ground and understand a lot about the type of dog who left those scratches. Dogs may want to steer clear of your pup’s territory, while other animals may be able to sense if there are prey animals around or if they are in danger.

If your dog is kicking dirt and grass on top of their pee or poop, this may also be intentional. Instead of drawing attention to their business, they’re actually trying to hide it. This can be a way to mask their scent, so it’s harder for dogs and other prey animals to know they’re there.

Dogs have a lot of strong instincts that they follow to protect themselves from harm while communicating with other animals in important ways.

Assert Dominance

dog walking
Photo by Mark Coenraads

Some dogs simply want to assert dominance – they’re the alpha dog in the area, and they want everyone to know it!

It’s why a dog will pee over a spot another dog peed on. Some will even pee over their poop. They want their scent to be the main one, so they try to over other dog smells – after they take a big sniff themselves.

These unconscious behaviors are ways that your dog may be trying to communicate that they are the top dog. It’s important to remember that just because they’re trying to assert dominance isn’t necessarily an aggressive behavior. Don’t get prematurely worried. It’s simply a way that they show how strong they are among other dogs.

Do All Dogs Kick After They Poop?

dogs laying grass
Photo by Sebastian Coman Travel

Not all dogs kick after they poop, but that doesn’t mean something is wrong with your dog if they do or do not kick. There are some themes when it comes to scent marking in dogs.

Kicking after pooping is more common in male dogs, especially as they strive to assert dominance. However, female dogs can do this behavior too. It often occurs in adolescent dogs. As they get older, they start to mark more.

Additionally, you may notice your dog kicking their paws after they pee and poop. This is completely normal. Your dog is simply trying to maximize the scent they spread across the area.

When Can Kicking Be a Problem?

dog jumping
Photo by Pixabay

There can be times when your dog kicking their paws can be a problem, so make sure to keep an eye out for the following behaviors.

Excessive Kicking

If it seems like your dog is excessively kicking, you may want to check out their paws to make sure they don’t have something lodged in there. They may be trying to get something out of their paws, which is why they keep trying to kick over and over again.

Kicking on Hard Surfaces

Kicking on grass is the most common, but some dogs will try to kick on concrete, gravel, and any other surface they may be on. Over time, this can become a problem because these surfaces can be incredibly damaging.

Injury

Your dog kicking their paws can also be an indication of an injury. Once you get home, look at their paws. See if there is any redness or irritation. If your dog is also licking their paws, this can also be a sign there may be something wrong.

If you believe your dog’s paws may be injured, make sure to get them checked out by a vet.

So, Why Do Dogs Kick After Pooping?

dog sleeping grass
Photo by Nothing Ahead

Your dog is kicking their paws to spread their scent in the area, communicating with other dogs. It’s a completely normal behavior. However, if your dog starts excessively kicking their paws or favoring them, you should check them out to ensure there is nothing wrong.

Melissa Branthaver
byMelissa Branthaver

Melissa is a dog mom of two - Fitzwilliam (4, Yorkshire Terrier) and Bingley (3, Newfiedoodle). She’s a long-time dog sister, auntie, and general dog enthusiast who prefers dogs to people. When she’s not giving them all the pets and snuggles, you can find Melissa chasing her toddler around, spending time with her husband, or crafting with her Cricut while listening to audiobooks.