Why Do Dogs Try To Cover Their Poop?

Why do dogs try to cover their poop with scratching and kicking? You will be surprised to know the reasons and where they got this habit from.

It happens with the pet owners so many times that they cannot forget about it – your dog, out of nowhere, squatting in the middle of their walk and pooping like there is no tomorrow. 

Once they are done, you will notice that they try to hide or cover the poop with the help of their legs. Many dogs also dig a hole in the ground before pooping and once they are done, cover it with dirt. So what’s the deal here is my dog super hygienic?

Most dog owners assume that their pooch does it because he is a good boy and simply wants to cover it so that no one can smell their do-do. Well, he is a good boy, absolutely, but there is a reason why he does it other than just manners.

One of the surprising reasons is that they are either trying to hide their scent or else trying to mark their territory. Read on and find out more reasons about this habit of your furry friend. 

Why Do Dogs Bury Their Poop?

It is a natural canine behavior to try to cover or bury their poops. So, it shouldn’t come to you as a surprise when you see your furry friend covering his poop. 

Evolutionary Reasons

When we tried to track the reason behind this behavior, we discovered there were many links to the time when dogs, like wolves, belonged to the wild. 

Since they used to live in the woods or forests, they were threats to animals like rabbits and rodents, but they were potential food for lions, tigers, hyenas, etc. 

Thus, to hide their whereabouts from the predators, they used to bury their poops deep in the soil, leaves, or grass so that the enemy couldn’t trace them. 

Dr. Brittany Jaeger, a veterinarian, told The Dodo that this is an evolutionary response to put predators off the trail of their scent. By hiding their poop and pee, dogs will not have to be worried about larger and dangerous predators following them.

The instinct to hide their ‘waste’ was handed down to them from their ancestors, wolves. Yes, those who didn’t know, dogs are the descendants of wolves and thus, carry similar features, habits, or personalities, even after years of evolution. 

Territory Marking

Another theory related to dogs covering their poop states that they do it to mark their territories. Yes, you might have seen cats hiding their poop as well, and the dominant reason for them to do it is for territorial reasons, and many dogs, especially those in the wild, do it for that very reason. 

Warning To Other Animals

The third reason dogs try to cover their poop conveys that dogs don’t do it just to hide from their predators or enemies; they do it because they also want to send a signal or a warning to other animals that they are around and that the area is their territory. 

It is one of the most noticed traits in wolves and wild dogs in all eras but many domestic dogs don’t do it now. The reluctance behind hiding their poop amongst pet dogs is because they do not have to hide from the enemy or warn other animals in the house about their territory. 

So, they exhibit a reprogrammed behavior developed once they start living with human beings. Even so, if you take them out of the house and they suddenly poop, you will notice that they will scratch the dirt on the waste with their paws and cover it instinctively. 

Why Do Dogs Try To Cover Their Poop – The Concerns of a Dog Owner

Why is it a problem?

If he starts doing it in the neighbor’s yard or public place, you might get fined for ruining the garden.

Now that you know why your dog tries to cover its poop, you might be concerned about his behavior. Why you should be concerned, if you think, then understand that the repeated scratching to hide the poop can lead to an unwanted yet bare spot in your backyard or garden. 

The worst side of this behavior is that if your dog is out in the park or a neighbor’s house, you can expect some signs or complaints from their side, because well, it scratched their yards too!

The other side to this concern is that your vet will ask you not to stop your dog’s behavior since it is an instinct and so should not be suppressed in any way. Yes, even though it is and will be an inconvenience for you as a pet parent, it is pretty healthy for the growth and self-connection of your dog. 

So, instead of stopping your dog from trying to cover his poop with leaves or grass, you can find a solution to it so that its after-effects are minimized, and you, your dog, and of course, your neighbors can happily live with each other.

So, what are the possible solutions to minimize these effects? 

The best solution is to distract them when they are about to do this, and over time they will get rid of the habit.

To begin with, you can re-direct their attention to other things the minute he starts pooping and is ready to cover the dump. For example, you can carry his treats with you, just in case he stops pooping and then wishes to cover it up with his legs. 

Tasty food will attract all his attention, and you will be free from the eyesore that watching your dog covering his poop and destroying the area often brings to the pet owners. 

What if my dog suddenly stops scratching at poop?

Notice if he is experiencing pain in the process, and if so take him to a vet.

It can be a matter of concern if your dog suddenly stops scratching at poop and covering it with dirt, leaves, and grass. If your dog is a frequent scratcher and stops doing the same, it means that he is losing interest in the process. 

It can be for several reasons, but lack of mobility might be one of your concerns. You should notice if he walks, sits, or runs the way he usually does. If you see that his movements are slower than usual, you should take him to a vet since it can be a sign of arthritis. 

Why Do Dogs Cover Their Pee and Poop?

They do it as an instinct to cover their tracks and to mark their territory.

Dogs try to cover their pee and poop to protect themselves from predators. It is a primal instinct in dogs to follow the steps of their ancestors, the wolves, who had a strong instinct to keep them safe from the enemies in the wild. The wolves used to cover their scents to protect themselves from other animals, primarily those interested in hunting them. 

Modern-day dogs still follow the lessons taught by their ancestors to distract other dogs or animals from learning about their presence. However, many pups also cover their poop or pee to mark their territory. 

So, if you see your dog licking and scratching the floor after pooping, it is their way to communicate a message to other animals in the area. If you wonder how it happens, well, when they scratch their paws, a secret scent gland releases a hormone called pheromones, whose smell is unique for every dog. 

This smell spreads in the area and lets other animals, primarily dogs, become aware of his presence and that the dog has claimed its territory in the area. 

In simple words, your dog covers its poop and pee to send a strong signal to other animals about its presence and that it has been here, but at the same time, it doesn’t want them to learn about its tracks.


Why Do Dogs Kick Their Feet When They Poop?

To release pheromones and mark their territory.

Dogs kick and scratch their poop for several reasons. They kick their feet to release a hormone named pheromones, whose smell is unique to each dog. It is a way to mark his territory in the area and message other dogs that he has been here. 

The scent is so unique already and backed with kicks and scratches, and it spreads across the area to communicate with the other dogs. They also kick their paws to leave a visual display for other dogs to see and understand about his presence. 

It is also done to assert dominance over other dogs. Dogs who scratch their paws and kick their feet while covering their poop are considered solid and robust amongst their high-level pack members. 

Thus, the unfamiliar dogs try to keep their distance from the one who kicked his feet when he did his business, simply because he seems too powerful for them. 

Why Do Animals Try To Cover Their Poop?

For marking their scent on the place.

There is no one reason why different animals cover their poop. Cats cover their litter box after pooping to get rid of the unwanted attention from them. Also, they do it to let their owner understand who is the alpha in the house. 

The dogs do it for various reasons, such as marking their territory, communicating with the other dogs, covering their tracks so that their enemies cannot find them, sanitation, etc. They have developed this habit from their ancestors, the wolves, who used to cover their poops to avoid getting attention from their enemies. 

Final Words

It is entirely normal for your dog to squat and poop and then cover it, and it is suitable for their health since they tap into their primal instinct. 

You might not have to stop them from scratching their poop but remember, you also don’t have to encourage the behavior and find ways to minimize the effects of their scratching and kicking. Rest assured, your dog is lovely the way it is, and we hope you continue to live a happy life with him. 

Thank you for reading our article and we hope we answered most of your queries. If you have more questions to ask, please drop us a comment below.

There are other things that you should know about dog poop and pee as well, such as: Why Wont My Dog Poop In My Yard? And When Will My Pet Dog Pee After Being Neutered?