Your dog just finished doing their business…
They adorably kick their feet backward.
Doing it again and again… Until grass and dirt are flying in the air.
It’s one of the funniest things you watch them do.
But sometimes it makes you wonder why they have this strange habit.
Well, you’re in luck!
In this article, you’ll discover:
- If kicking up grass is a learned behavior.
- 7 reasons why dogs kick up grass after they poop or pee.
- What you can do when kicking up grass becomes problematic.
- Whether grass kicking is a behavior you need to prevent or not.
- And a lot more…
Why do dogs kick up grass after they poop or pee?
Dogs kick up grass after they poop or pee because it’s in their instinct. They also do this because they’re keeping other dogs away, leaving their scent, sending a virtual message, wiping their paws, burying their waste, or announcing their availability to mate.
7 reasons why dogs kick up grass after they poop or pee
#1: They’re keeping other dogs away
“Leave me alone.”
Did you know that some dogs would kick up grass to keep other dogs away?
A study even showed that other canines often avoid male dogs who do this.
Don’t worry though. It’s just one of their ways of communication.
The same way they stare at another dog to say, “I challenge you”.
They kick up grass to tell other dogs to stay away… From their “business”.
You’ll probably notice that they do this when other dogs are around. Or when there are new pets in your household.
There are ways that dogs remind other canines that they want to be alone.
The following are other signals they do to let other dogs know to “stay away”:
- Raised hackles.
- Pushy behaviors.
But to be safe, make sure they’re not doing it out of jealousy.
To check if your pooch is jealous, watch out for the following signs:
- Rolling over.
- Pawing at you.
- Pushy behavior.
- Lunging forward.
- Crowding your space.
- Leaning towards you.
- Doing their business indoors.
- Paying extra attention to you.
- Sitting with their back facing you.
What you can do to avoid jealousy is to encourage them to socialize with other dogs.
And to know the proper way to introduce them to each other.
PetMD recommends these 4 simple steps on how to introduce dogs the right way:
- Find a safe area for the meet-up.
- Make sure that both dogs are being friendly.
- Go on a walk with them together.
- Let them interact with each other off-leash.
#2: It’s pure instinct
For most dogs, they kick grass after pooping or peeing as part of their instinct.
According to a clinical animal behaviorist, only 10% of dogs do this.
They call this behavior “ground scratching.” And it’s a trait that has been passed down by wolves and coyotes.
For wild animals like wolves, scratching the ground is a form of dominance.
They do it to claim their property and warn other animals not to cross the line.
Researchers also found that free-ranging dogs are more likely to kick up their feet after pooping due to territorial boundaries.
For domestic dogs, it’s less aggressive. And more of sending a message that they exist in that spot.
This is because they don’t necessarily need to protect their properties like wild animals.
But they still do it because it’s part of their instinct.
So the next time you see your pooch doing this, let them! It’s a sign that they’re healthy and enjoying their best life.
Here’s a list of dog breeds who enjoy “ground scratching”:
- Cairn Terrier.
- Border Collie.
- Siberian Husky.
- Jack Russell Terrier.
- Miniature Schnauzer.
#3: They’re sending a visual message
“This spot is mine. I was here!”
Do you know why some dogs kick up grass as if they’re making a mess?
This behavior may look hilarious to you but it actually has a deeper meaning to your pooch.
They do it to create a visual message for other dogs.
When other canines see the scratches left behind on the grass, they’ll know that another dog has been there.
It’s also their way of marking the spot. To show other dogs that they’re nearby and they’re not a threat.
This may explain why some dogs tend to kick grass more in an unfamiliar place.
This behavior is also called “scuffing”.
One pet parent’s experience with this was regarding his mixed breed, scuffing everywhere they go.
He mentioned that the pup would do it half the time they pee or poop.
The problem was that at their doggy park, pea gravel was used as the ground cover.
And there were numerous cars parked nearby. So you could probably predict what happens next.
So whenever the pup would scuff, pea gravel would launch at an alarming speed onto the cars. Or even at other dogs when they’re around.
Not only that, but the pup also leaves a huge mess behind. And this makes the owner feel embarrassed.
Another problem here is every time this happens, the pet parent yells at the pup to stop.
But did you know that yelling doesn’t help to stop the behavior?
It will only make your dog stressed. Or they might even feel more excited as they could think you’re encouraging them.
Instead, you can do the following steps to stop your dog from scuffing:
- Supervise your dog when they need to pee or poop.
- Make sure to pay attention once they finish doing their business.
- Distract them with a treat or toy before they start scuffing.
- Do this consistently until they stop the behavior.
#4: They’re leaving their scent behind
You’re walking your dog and they suddenly drag you to an area.
And they stop to sniff at that spot. You may wonder what they’re up to.
But this is just their way to find out which dogs were already in the area.
When your pup kicks up grass after they do their business, they’re also leaving their scent behind.
It’s a signal to let the next animal who happens to come by that they were there first.
According to AKC, dogs have glands in their paws that release pheromones.
This acts as your dog’s identifier. Both their pee and poop also contain this chemical.
This means that when your pup kicks up the grass with their paws, they also send the pheromones to fly through the air.
So when the next dog comes along, they’ll exactly know which dog was previously there.
Interesting fact: There are other ways dogs release pheromones. They can release this through their:
- Facial lip area.
- Mammary glands.
- Scent glands (Anal).
- Ceruminous glands (Ear).
Leaving their scent is also a way to mark their territory.
Another common thing they do to mark is by peeing a small amount of urine.
Although this is a part of their territorial nature, it may become excessive.
Stopping this behavior may be a little difficult, but here are a few tips you can apply:
- Neutering or spaying them.
- Limiting access to commonly marked areas.
- Removing the smell from marked surfaces or spots.
- Making sure not to subject them to sudden changes.
- Discouraging them to mark their territory during walks.
#5: They’re burying their waste
Most paw parents think burying their waste is the common reason why dogs kick up grass.
When in fact, they rarely do this because of that reason.
You probably also thought… “Aww my pooch is so smart. They know how to clean their own poop.”
Well, dogs are actually smart, but they don’t bury their poop for cleaning purposes.
They do this when they feel threatened. Or when they’re trying to hide their presence.
But take note that this is something that rarely happens.
They only do this when they feel that a potential rival is nearby.
It’s a trick they do for enemies not to find them. And it helps them hide their scent.
“How can I know if my pup feels threatened?”
Signs that indicate your dog can sense danger are:
- Being alert.
- Jumping up.
However, if your pooch starts to excessively bury their poop or pee. And leaving a lot of holes in your yard.
Then you might need to train them to stop their burying habits.
The following are solutions you can do:
- Assure your dog that they’re safe.
- Make sure there’s no potential danger around.
- Distract them when they start to bury their waste.
- Reward them every time they successfully avoid burying.
#6: They’re wiping their paw
“I like my paws clean, please.”
Some dogs don’t like having dirty paws. So some of them tend to kick up grass after doing their business as a way to wipe their paws.
Although many dogs can be messy pets, there are ones who prefer to be clean.
According to PetMD, here are the top 10 cleanest dogs:
- Chow Chow.
- Japanese Chin.
- Pharaoh Hound.
- Bedlington Terrier.
- American Hairless Terrier.
An example of this is from one fur parent that I know. She has two dogs who don’t like getting their paws wet.
So every time the pups finish peeing on the grass, they immediately wipe their paws.
Then they awkwardly walk back to their owner. Trying to avoid stepping on the wet grass.
It’s something you rarely see, but it does happen.
Some dogs may also kick their paws up as a sign of discomfort.
They do this to remove something that got stuck in their paws.
“So how can I help my dogs keep their paws clean?”
AKC suggests doing the following cleaning tips:
- Giving them a bath.
- Keeping a towel handy.
- Checking between their toes.
- Investing in a pair of dog booties.
- Using wet wipes that are safe for dogs.
- Making sure cuts, scrapes, or cracked pads are treated.
Tip: It’s not advisable to wash your dog’s paw with fragrant soap. They actually prefer their own scent.
Watch the video below to learn how to properly clean your dog’s paw after a walk:
#7: They’re announcing that they’re ready to mate
Another reason why your dog may kick up grass is because they’re looking to mate with other dogs.
Since they leave their scent behind when they do this. Other doggos would also know if the female dog is in heat or not.
Female dogs may also urine mark in the area to inform nearby dogs about their availability.
In this case, it’s important to pay attention to your pooch in heat.
It’s not a good idea to just let them mate with a dog you don’t know.
Or worse, not be aware that they’ve mated with other dogs.
So it’s best to know the signs whether your pup is in heat or not.
The common signs are:
- Swollen vulva.
- Nesting behavior.
- Bloody discharge.
- Mounting behavior.
- Frequently urinates.
- Agitated or nervous.
- Actively seeking out male dogs.
- Excessive licking of the genital area.
“What should I do if my dog is in heat?”
The following are tips you can do to ensure your pooch is safe:
- Never let them go out in the yard alone.
- Don’t let your dog go off-leash during walks.
- Consider spaying them after the heat cycle is finished.
- Consult your vet if you notice any signs of pain or illness.
- Ensure their ID tag and microchip information are up-to-date.
Reading recommendation: 10 Natural Home Remedies For Dogs In Heat (Fast & Cheap)
Is kicking up grass a learned behavior?
Kicking up grass is a learned behavior by dogs from other canines.
As mentioned, kicking up grass isn’t a common behavior among dogs.
Sometimes, it depends on their breed or the environment around them.
Some may also learn this as they mature. Or they might directly learn it from other dogs.
An example of this is the experience of one paw parent and her 2-year old Greyhound.
Her Greyhound never kicked up grass until they saw a Jack Russel doing it.
Another pet parent mentioned that his dog only started doing at a certain age.
Should I stop my dog from kicking up grass?
No, you should not stop your dog from kicking grass. This is a completely normal canine behavior. Also, it would be hard to stop something that’s genetically ingrained in their brain.
However, you might need to do something when it becomes problematic.
If you have a well-maintained lawn, they might keep destroying it.
Or if you’re in the dog park and they keep leaving a mess behind.
To manage this behavior, here are a few tips you can do:
- Provide them with a specific area to kick up grass.
- Interrupt them once they finish doing their business.
- During walks and they start to kick, redirect their attention to you.
- Replace the kick with another action like tug, high-five, spin or jump.
- Use positive reinforcement every time they successfully avoid doing it.