There is a scientific explanation for why dogs kick their feet backward after they poop

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Have you noticed that after your dog takes a poop outside, he tends to kick his feet backward in the grass afterward? While it may seem like a weird quirk, it’s actually a common habit among all dogs. In fact, there’s a whole explanation for it that is rooted in science and canine evolutionary behavior.

According to experts, dogs don’t pick just any random spot on which to do their business. They’re actually very selective about where they go to the bathroom. When they go potty, they like to use the opportunity to mark their territory, whether with their feces or urine. Here’s how it works:

By kicking backward afterward with their back legs, a behavior that’s referred to as “ground scratching,” dogs manage to spread their scent around even more, and also to create a visual marker (with the scratched-up dirt and grass) to indicate that the spot is theirs.

In addition, dogs reportedly have glands in their feet that secrete pheromones so, by kicking, they’re double-marking their territory, letting the next animal who happens to come by that they were there first. It’s like each grassy area is a message board, and every dog who pees or poops on it is leaving a note there for the other neighborhood dogs to read.

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And ground scratching isn’t the only odd behavior dogs have deeply ingrained in them. If you’ve ever noticed your dog digging at his bed or on the living room sofa before laying down to sleep, it’s not because he’s trying to ruin the fabric. Rather, some believe it’s a nesting instinct left over from the days when canines lived in the wild. Dogs that turn themselves around in circles before lying down may be trying to position themselves in the best way possible to ward off any potential threats.

What other funny things do you notice your dog doing?

Animals, Curiosity, Pets

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About the Author
Margeaux Baulch Klein
Margeaux Baulch Klein is a freelance writer and digital strategist based in Los Angeles. She has written for publications like the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others. Visit Scripps News to see more of Margeaux's work.

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