Watching our pups poop is a big part of every dog parent’s life. The frequency, color, and consistency of their “offerings” tell us a great deal about their health, so we dutifully pay attention whenever our pooches assume the position.
You may have noticed when dogs poop they often perform a number of behaviors that may seem weird to us. But rest assured, they actually serve an important purpose.
1. Holding Out for the Perfect Spot
Does your dog search out the perfect poop spot the way a bloodhound tracks a missing toddler? You’ve got a picky pooper on your hands!
Carlo Siracusa, director of the Small Animal Behavior Service at the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary teaching hospital, says the primary reason for this behavior is communication with other dogs.
“These messages can tell your dog how many other dogs are in the immediate area, the sexual status of those dogs…whether a particular dog is a friend or an enemy, what he or she had for lunch, and when they were last in the area,” Siracusa says.
Picky behavior when dogs poop may also be their way of prolonging their walk or dealing with overstimulation and/or performance anxiety.
2. Making Eye Contact
This behavior is a bit awkward. Your dog selects the ideal poop spot, positions himself perfectly, and then stares directly into your eyes while relieving himself. Strangely enough, this uncomfortable exchange has a very reasonable evolutionary explanation.
“Your dog is instinctively aware of his defenselessness. But your dog also knows that she is a part of your ‘pack.’ You are a member of the family group,” writes iHeartDogs’ resident veterinarian, Dr. Kathryn Primm. “If your dog watches you during this time, it is because she is depending on you to give her a body language signal or ‘heads up’ if she should be afraid. She may also be looking to you to possibly defend her should the need arise. If you suddenly leap away, you can bet your dog will respond also.”
Quite the opposite of the dog that stares into your eyes, some pups prefer privacy when they poop. These dogs may duck behind a tree or back their fanny into a cluster of bushes. Although it is a very different method than staring, this behavior is also all about safety. Concealment gives them a sense of security during their most vulnerable moments.
4. Pooping on Concrete
This strange behavior actually goes against dogs’ natural instinct to relieve themselves on soft surfaces. When dogs poop, most prefer grass or soil for better traction. However, dogs kept in pens or only provided limited space may develop the habit of eliminating on concrete.
Rescue dogs often display this behavior after life on a chain or extended time in a shelter. These dogs can definitely be trained to use the grass rather than your patio. Just remember, dogs from these situations need patience and compassion. Contact a trainer or behaviorist if you need help.
Does your dog dig and circle before deciding on the perfect sleeping position? Behaviorists believe this is an attempt to ensure the spot they have chosen to bed down in for the night is safe. When dogs poop they are also in a vulnerable position to predators. Spinning allows them to check their immediate surroundings for potential threats.
Additionally, circling and sniffing help stimulate the bowels and flattens down the grass, so other dogs can easily find what they’ve left behind.
The spinning and rearranging before having a bowel movement may also have something to do with the earth’s magnetic poles. When dogs poop, they prefer to do so “with the body being aligned along the north-south axis under calm magnetic field conditions.” However, scientists do not yet understand why.
According to VetStreet‘s Dr. Patty Khuly, there are two major reasons dogs may kick after they poop. First, they may feel the instinctual need to keep their “den” clean by burying their stool. Second, kicking the ground helps spread their territory-marking pheromones far and wide as a message to other dogs.
“In the wild, canines such as wolves, dingoes and foxes may kick the ground after elimination for sanitary reasons. They are simply covering up the mess,” Khuly says. “But the behavior is also a way to mark territory. All dogs have glands in their feet that secrete pheromones, and a couple of backward scratches into the earth releases those chemicals.”
Scooting after a bowel movement may indicate something is irritating your dog’s backside. It could be diarrhea, constipation, full anal sacs, or intestinal parasites. If this is a new behavior for your dog, check in with your vet to rule out any serious conditions.
On the other hand, your dog may simply have high hygiene standards and consistently scoot after pooping as a way to “wipe” himself clean. No pooch wants to develop the dreaded “poop butt!”
Many dogs take a celebratory sprint around the yard after a good bowel movement. It may seem like just another silly canine quirk, but there are actually several possible motives behind your pup’s post-poop “zoomies.”
For many dogs, pooping outside means a treat from their owner. Scampering about may be their equivalent of an end-zone dance because they know they are going to get a reward. Others – especially longer haired dogs – may use this method to dislodge a stubborn “cling-on” from their fanny.
Finally, pooping brings on a powerful feeling of relief, especially if your pup has been holding it for a while. When dogs poop, the decreased pressure simply makes them feel like celebrating.
Did we leave out any strange dog pooping behaviors? Tell us about your dog’s weird bathroom habits in the comments!
H/T to Mother Nature Network