Why Do Dogs Scratch the Ground After Defecating?

by Melodie Anne Coffman Google
"I was here first. This park is mine."

"I was here first. This park is mine."

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Does your pooch have to stop and scratch the lawn after leaving behind his business? While it might seem like an odd behavior to you, he’s actually strategically marking his turf, letting all other dogs know that he was there first. He’s not trying to make you mad by digging up your neighbor’s grass, it’s just a trait that’s in his blood.

The Grand Entrance

If you’ve ever gone to a party, you probably start waving hello and letting everyone know you’re there as soon as you walk through the doorway. When Cody scratches the ground after going potty, he’s doing the same sort of thing. He’s kind of announcing, “I’m here!” and letting any other four-legged mammals know that he is present. It’s his way of making a grand entrance.

Spreading Scent

Canines have scent glands right in their paw pads, in addition to their muzzles and rear ends. Of course leaving behind a pile of droppings marks the area with his signature perfume, but it’s not always enough for him. Rather than just prancing away daintily after relieving himself, he has to ensure that his aroma is stuck to the ground -- in case any pesky humans come along and remove the solid waste. He’ll claw up the grass to bury his scent deep in the earth, so any dog who comes around days from now knows that he was there beforehand.

Leaving His Mark

Scratching the ground surely leaves a big physical mark behind. After Cody clears out his bowels, he’ll proudly kick up his back feet, throwing grass, soil and rocks in the air. In case any predators were to come around, they’d clearly be able to see that Cody was there first. After all, he did quite a thorough job making sure the area was completely clawed up.

Showing Dominance

If you have several dogs or if you frequently take your pooch to the dog park, he may scratch his turf after going potty to show dominance. He’s letting all other dogs know that he is the top dog and the leader of the pack. Sometimes another canine may challenge him and exert the same type of behavior. Be careful in this situation, especially if your four-legged buddy is out at the park with strange dogs. Putting several dominant pups together could lead to a fight while they try to figure out who is the best pack leader.

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About the Author

Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

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