Why Do Dogs Scratch the Ground After Going to the Bathroom?

Whether you have a pet dog or not, you probably have seen a dog scratching or kicking the ground after peeing or pooping. Why do dogs scratch the ground after they pee or poop?

When dogs kick or scratch the ground, it releases pheromones from their paws which sends a message to other dogs that this area is their territory. When dogs scratch the ground, it multiples the potency of the scent by combining pheromones with the smell of their pee or poop.

Canine paws possess scent glands that secrete a fluid when the dogs kick at the ground. By scratching the ground with their paws, it spreads the scent around on all the little dirt specks or blades of grass that are kicked up in the process.

Bulldog puppy lying down and playing with toys

Other dogs will get a message by smelling the odor left behind in the process that they should stay away, and that they are trespassing on someone else’s territory. Although the urine or stool is also characterized by an odor, their smell doesn’t last long as remnants dry out in a short span of time and eventually lose their odor.

The odor released from the glands present in the paws of the dog is much stronger and long-lasting as compared to the urine or feces.

Apart from marking a dog’s territory, pheromones work wonders for communicating various other messages to dogs. They may signify danger signs, sexual availability, as well as possible food trails.

Do other animals do this as well and if so, is it for the same reason?

Scratching the ground is a natural behavior in some canines that are not exhibited only by dogs, but also by several other animal species. Even bears tend to scratch tree trunks where they’ve just peed. They do this to leave an olfactory marker. Cats are known to scratch the dirt or grass after pooping or peeing in order to simply cover up the mess or clean it.

Other canines like foxes, dingoes, and wolves do it because it is a major element of the social nature of pack animals. Typically, the alpha male of the pack is likely to scratch or kick the ground after doing their business. This way, they mark their territories and let the wandering packs know that they are trespassing.

The scratching of the surface not only leaves a mark on the spot but also spreads the smell from the urine, feces, or from the gland secretions. Even if the other animals didn’t witness them marking the territory, they will eventually smell the odor and note the marking.

Do all male or female dogs scratch the floor or the ground after going to the bathroom?

According to several animal behavior researchers, it appears that ground scratching is not a very common behavior. In fact, only around 10 percent of dogs tend to scratch the floor or the ground after they go to the bathroom. However, it occurs equally in males as well as females. The phenomenon is not a gender-specific behavior.

Some breeds, however, are more likely to scratch the floor or ground or dig through the grass or dirt than other breeds. For example, terriers showcase ground scratching more strongly than others, so those who are concerned about their floors should avoid getting a pet terrier. One can also eliminate the digging or scratching behavior by training it out of them at an early age.

Do dogs scratch the ground after only pooping, peeing, or both?

Dogs are likely to scratch the ground after pooping as well as peeing. The behavior isn’t necessarily an aggressive one, especially if it’s done by a domesticated dog. Instead, they do so to simply indicate their presence as mentioned above.

Do dogs scratch all forms of the ground after going to the bathroom?

The fact that dogs are genetically wired to dig the ground, the nature or form of the surface doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s grass, dirt, concrete, or even tiled floors – they will scratch them all after their done with their business.

Apart from that, they also do it to create comfortable nests for themselves where they can rest. Despite having a nice and cozy sleeping area in a modern home, many pet dogs experience the urge to scratch or kick the ground before they settle in to their beds. They claim the spot as their own and let other dogs know, and that’s why the form of the floor doesn’t do much to change this habit.

Ceramic tiles are less vulnerable than wood or stone floors when it comes to withstanding dog scratches without major damage.

What to do to save your yard from dog scratching?

Even though ground scratching is a natural and healthy behavior exhibited by dogs, you may find it troublesome when it comes to keeping the yard nicely manicured. Some pets are very enthusiastic, and they can scrape the ground a lot, eventually ruining the whole place.

If you are worried about keeping the grass intact, you can follow a few quick tips to get your dog to stop scratching and digging in the ground.

Make sure to be prepared to intervene when you take your dog out to go to the bathroom. You can grab your pet’s favorite chew toy or snack along and present them with the treat, further encouraging them to come and grab it right before they begin to scrape the surface.

The idea is to divert their attention from scratching the ground and spreading their scent to that special treat or toy that you have got for them.

You can also take your pet for a nice long walk and allow them to finish their business outside. This will not only save your yard or garden but also won’t restrict the little animal into changing their genetic habits.

Scratching the grass or floor after peeing or defecating is a natural action that’s a part of your dog’s DNA. The best thing to do is to just let them be instead of trying to force a change in their natural behavior.

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