If you’ve ever owned (or walked) a dog, there’s a good chance you know what I’m talking about: your dog sniffs around, sniffs some more, turns in circles, then finally finds the perfect (and apparently only) spot in the yard to do their business.
Afterward, they move a few inches and then kick their feet backward, sort of covering the mess with dirt and flying grass.
Even though dogs have been domesticated for a very, very long time, they still retain some behaviors from the days before they were man’s best friend – they were once wild animals after all. It is innate instinct that drives around 10% of dogs to kick at the ground after going to the bathroom.
Dogs are territorial as a species, and are always sensitive to other dogs encroaching on their territory (it’s also why they bark out the window when another dog takes a stroll past, or – GASP – wanders onto “their” lawn).
Pooping sends a message to other dogs that the property has been claimed, and by kicking up dirt afterward, they stir up the scent that, along with pheromones released from glands on their feet, creates a strong and distinct smell. A “this is mine” sort of smell.
Other dogs then take the kicked-up grass as a clue that they’re treading on stinky, owned ground.
The pheromones actually smell stronger than the pee or poo, and can alert dogs to other things, like food trails or potential danger.
Experts warn against interrupting your dog during the ritual, claiming that doing so can make your dog feel vulnerable and confused.
So, just stay out of the way (and hope your lawn-obsessed neighbor isn’t watching your dog toss around their new grass seed. Oops.) and let nature take its course.
There’s no way to stop (or speed up) evolution, you know, so just give you pooch a pat and thank them for their vigilance.