If you’re a dog owner, you may have experienced your fair share of quirky dog habits. One particular habit that some dogs exhibit may come with bits of grass or soil being kicked up in the air — that is, the habit of dogs kicking the ground after they pee or poop. But what exactly does this behavior mean? Is your dog trying to bury evidence (whether it’s pee or poop) after they do their business, just like cats do? Let’s find out.


  1. Why Do Dogs Scratch the Ground
  2. Why Do Dogs Kick Their Back Legs
  3. Why Do Dogs Kick After Pooping
  4. Why Do Dogs Kick After Peeing
  5. Conclusion

Why Do Dogs Scratch the Ground

You’ve probably noticed this behavior (if not on your dog, somebody else’s) and wondered, “Why do dogs kick up grass?” or “Why do dogs scratch up the ground?”

Also called “ground scratching” by veterinary experts, the behavior may be dismissed as an odd quirk by some. However, studies suggest that this behavior may prove to be a useful communication tool for dogs.

Meanwhile, it is important to note that not all dogs scratch the ground after they poop or pee, and apparently, it is not that common. LiveScience spoke with Rosie Bescoby, a clinical animal behaviorist at the Association of Pet Behavior Counsellors (APBC) in the UK, who said that only about 10 percent of dogs exhibit the behavior. She also shared that specific circumstances trigger it. For example, they normally do it after urinating or defecating (often when they’re in a new area with smells that they are unfamiliar with) or when they smell another dog’s poop.

Similarly, apart from dogs, other mammals such as coyotes, wolves, and lions also exhibit ground scratching. LiveScience spoke with veterinary behaviorist Carlo Siracusa of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, who shared that there are several studies on ground-scratching behaviors in mammals (most specifically on wolves and coyotes) that have helped researchers relate why dogs do it.

Marking Territory

Comparing them with dogs, Siracusa shared that with wolves who live in packs, the behavior is linked to their social nature. There is a tendency for the more dominant ones in the pack to exhibit this behavior as a way to mark their territory. It’s as if they’re telling other wolves that if they cross the area, they may be attacked. This is addressed to strangers, not to those belonging to the same pack.

This marking of territory involves the visual scratches on the ground and the scent left behind either by the pee or poop or the scent from fluids released by their paws.

So how is it similar to a dog’s behavior? For one thing, when it comes to domestic dogs who exhibit ground scratching behaviors, it often comes along with the marking of urine on a tree, post, or patch of grass, mirroring how wolves and coyotes mark their territory. In addition, it also appears that dogs release fluids from their paws while doing it.

Making Their Presence Known

While it’s easy to conclude that ground marking is a way for dogs to threaten other dogs that cross the marked “line” or territory, Siracusa also thinks that the reason may be more complex. First of all, since dogs are already domesticated, they don’t exactly claim “territories” like wild animals do in the wild. Rather, he believes that ground scratching may be a way for dogs to let other dogs know of their existence. So if a dog knows them, then they’re good, and it’s perfectly fine for them to stay. Meanwhile, if they don’t get along well, ground marking may be their way of telling the other dog to look somewhere else.

Ground marking in dogs rarely causes significant harm, if at all. Though unrelated to ground marking, it’s important to note that dogs may be susceptible to pet emergencies, whether indoors or outdoors. And as pet parents, while such occurrences may come unexpectedly, it’s best to be prepared in ways that we can.

One example of how we can prepare for pet emergencies is by subscribing to a pet insurance alternative such as Petcube’s Emergency Fund. With the Pet Emergency Fund, dogs and cats are welcome regardless of age, gender, and medical history. With an annual subscription, you get $3000 for pet emergencies for up to six pets. Yes, you read that right! You also get access to a 24/7 online vet service for first-aid guidance and emergency triage. What more can you ask for? Fortunately, being one of our blog readers gets you an exclusive 27% off on subscriptions if you follow this link.

Why Do Dogs Kick Their Back Legs

When your dog scratches the ground and kicks their back legs after urinating or defecating, questions such as “Why do dogs scratch the ground?” "Why do dogs kick their hind legs?” may enter your mind. While some may think that it is their way of covering their urine or feces, just like cats do, this is not the case for dogs.

According to Bescoby, it’s a fact that a dog’s paw pads have sweat glands and/or sebaceous glands in between their toes. In addition, Siracusa shared that such glands also release pheromones, so the act of a dog scratching the ground and emitting these substances in the soil further spreads them by way of kicking their back legs. This powerful scent may let other dogs know that they are there. While no conclusions can yet be drawn, it is highly probable that when a dog kicks their back legs after scratching the ground, they leave a mark on other animals that they’ve been there.

Why Do Dogs Kick After Pooping

When a dog defecates, a scent is released from their anal glands, apart from the poopy smell. This can then be recognized by other dogs when they smell the poop. But have you ever noticed some dogs kicking after they poop? Why do dogs scratch the ground after they poop? Moreover, why do dogs kick after they poop?

When a dog kicks the soil or grass after pooping, it likely has to do with wanting to leave their scent for other dogs to recognize. Apart from the scent they release when they poop, the act of scratching the ground and kicking their hind legs releases scent glands as well as pheromones that can stay on the ground for a long time.

Observing and monitoring your dog may amaze you with how they perceive things. At the same time, it may also help you understand your dog better. In an indoor setting, a pet camera like the Petcube Cam 360 may come in handy when watching over your dog, especially at night when you’re sleeping or when you’re out of the house. Its features, such as the 1080p HD video, the 360-degree panoramic view, and the 8x zoom for details, will help you look out for your pet.

Why Do Dogs Kick After Peeing

If you catch your dog kicking after they pee, you might see it as an odd quirk, but you may also start to wonder, “Why do dogs kick after they pee?” It likely has something to do with scent marking. First, when a dog pees, a scent is left behind both by the urine and the fluids that get secreted by their glands. And when they scrape the ground and kick their legs, they also leave pheromones and spread them in the area. These things are a dog’s way of making their presence known to other dogs who pass by.

When you’re outside with your dog, it is essential to watch over your dog and observe how they behave. When indoors, a pet camera like the Petcube Cam may be your companion in watching over your pet. Apart from its innovative features, it also gives you access to an online vet service that allows you to consult with certified veterinarians 24/7, anywhere you may be. So if you have any concerns, you can get answers in a matter of seconds.


A dog’s olfactory capabilities are indeed amazing, and so is the way they use scent to communicate with other dogs and animals. A dog kicking after they urinate or defecate is not just a quirk, but a sensory tool to communicate and make their presence known.

So what do you do if your dog is kicking the ground after they pee or poop? Well, nothing. Letting them do what they do to be able to communicate with other dogs is actually healthy. If they do it so vigorously, however, you can try to redirect the behavior using positive reinforcement or calm them down so as not to make much of a mess.

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