Why Do Dogs Scratch the Ground After They Urinate or Defecate?

If you are a dog owner, you might have seen this behavior in your dogs where they scratch the ground after urinating. Like all other strange behaviors, this one too keeps the curious dog owners wondering. Both male and female dogs scratch the ground using their hind paws after peeing.

This is very normal behavior in dogs and other hounds.

This is common canine behavior. It is said that cats scratch the grass after doing their business in order to clean or simply a cover-up. However, dogs are not concerned about cleaning up after their business nor they are much concerned about covering their tracks.


Most of the Animals do this

It is not just the dogs and cats who show this behavior. All canines like wolves, foxes, and dingoes show this kind of behavior. Bears scratch the trunks of trees where they peed. They do this to leave a visual and olfactory marker.

As wolves are pack animals, this behavior is quite common. According to studies, this is a part of their social nature.

The dominant member of the pack is the one to scratch the ground after urinating or defecating. By doing this they mark their territory.

They do this to delimit their territory so that the members of other packs know.

This can thus be compared to the scratching by dogs after urinating and defecting. There are a few similarities in the patterns of both. The ground scratching by both dogs and wolves is followed by peeing on a tree nearby. Also, both secrete marking fluids from their paws.

Territory and Scented Paws

Dogs kick grass in an attempt to mark their territory. While they scratch, the scent from their paws transfers to the dogs as dogs are said to have scent glands on their paws. The pads on the dog’s paw contain scent glands. These glands secrete pheromones which are responsible for leaving a trail. Also, the scratches which the dogs leave on the ground are said to be visual statements while the urine and faces are olfactory clues.

This is a dog’s way of telling other dogs that this is their territory. They want other dogs to stay away from their territory through these scratch marks and the smell. The dog’s faces are not enough for this job as these feces dry out soon and don’t really smell thereafter. However, the scent from the paw pads of dogs is long lasting. It is said tasty a lot longer than that of the dog feces.

This scratching behavior may appear aggressive to us. However, domesticated dogs do not own territory like wild animals. So, this may not be an aggressive warning to other dogs but simply a sign to indicate their presence. It is a very natural behavior and is therefore okay for dogs to scratch the ground after peeing or pooping. Anxious dogs tend to scratch the ground more often but it is common in other pets too. It may not always mean that your dog is insecure or anxious.

Saving the Yard

Sometimes scratching the ground after urinating may also lead to a ruined yard. In this case, you may want to interrupt his behavior. If your dog uses your yard to pee be sure to go out with him and intervene. You must let him do his business and interrupt right before the scraping begins.

You could do this with his favorite toy, a treat or a command. Encourage your dog with a prize right before he starts scraping. By redirecting his attention every single time he may forget about spreading his scent at all.

Should This Behavior Be Discouraged?

Scratching by dogs, after doing their business may be a complicated system of communication to us but it is considered to be healthy. It is a healthy display which is inherited from their ancestors. We should in no way try to discourage this behavior. This may even upset some dogs.

However, look out for instances where he is scratching by stress or other factors which may not be so healthy. Else, this behavior is completely normal and should not be stopped or discouraged.

If there is a need and you want to stop the scratching make sure you have a strong reason. Also, changing a genetic behavior may be a tedious task. It is very important to stay patient about it. Don’t expect a lot just in a single day.

You can even consider taking your dog on a long walk and let him do his business there. This will save your yard and also not restrict your dog into changing any genetic behaviors. Experts even say that trying to bring a change in this behavior could even lead to anxiety in dogs. So just let your dog be and let him go on with this.

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