Why do dogs kick their back legs?

Why do dogs kick their rear paws backwards?
Have you ever noticed some dogs kick back their hind legs after they've gone to the bathroom? They do these backward kicks that scrape their paws and nails along the ground, and if this happens to occur on a patch of dirt and/or grass, it sends debris and other unpleasantness flying.

Contrary to what many people think, dogs aren't doing this to cover up whatever waste they just left behind. In fact, dogs have scent glands in the pads of their feet, and by kicking back and scraping their paws along the ground, they are trying further spread their scent around and mark their territory. In dominant dogs, this could be a signal to other dogs to keep out unless they want trouble. In submissive dogs, this could be their way of letting other canines know that they've been there and they're not looking for a confrontation.


Some people don't recommend allowing dogs to carry on with such behavior, as not only does this create a mess, but it could also mean you're losing control of your pet, particularly dominant dogs. Dominant dogs who try to spread their scent aren't looking to you for direction, but actually asserting their leadership in the area that they've marked, which probably means they don't have much respect for you either. Even if your dog is mostly well-behaved, allowing such behavior basically encourages the pup to take control of a walk.

And a walk should mostly be for that purpose walking. Walking or running outdoors should be more about exercise than anything else. Training your dog to eliminate outdoors should always be in a specific area, this way you can ensure you have a well-behaved pet that won't leave waste anywhere he/she wants and cause a mess that your neighbors will scowl at you for.

12 comments:

  1. My female lab does this and it's annoying the hell out of me. I probably as you said don't get respect out of her when comes to this part but other than that she is a fine girl. At home she does what I tell her, most of the time I think. LOL! Anyway I still love her to pieces!

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  2. My Shitzu Coco always does this! And sometimes she'll growl/ bark a little bit while she does it, I think it's kind of funny. I don't see any harm in her doing it. If she feels dominant or whatever while she does it then it's fine, she's a dog for goodness sake! I feel like people are always trying to stop dogs from doing things that are in their DNA. My dog listens and she doesn't act dominant when she at home so that's fine with me. If she feels she controls the walk that's okay, because that's her time to explore and run around. I control everything else she does so I can at least give her that.

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    1. Totally agree. My Shih Tzu does that as well and she is funny as heck. She only does it in our back yard; which really is her territory. Laugh at her all the time.

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    2. Same here I totally agree my male Shin Tzu does the same no harm it makes him feel good let him do it

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  3. if you do that she will get use to being dominant mode all the time. and if you let her control the walk and shes possesive of you and someone gets too close to you she can bite them. she could be the sweetest dog in the world. but that can easily change. does no one watch the dog whisper?

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    1. That guy is not God when it comes to dogs. He "teaches" things from a human-property type of view. Animals are creatures and just like your kids deserve to be happy... No trained to be a stuffed animal.

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    2. If you watched the dog whisperer you would understand Ceasar's dogs aren't just trained to be a stuffed animal, they are HAPPY. Maybe you should take a look at dogs in the wild. See how they act without humans involved. They act like normal dogs, not all crazy and excited... if that's what you think happy is.

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  4. So if a dog on the loose approaches me, stops and begins kicking back the grass with his back legs, should I be concerned for my safety?

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    1. I want to clarify first that I am NOT a dog behavior specialist, so to get a definitive answer I'd suggest you ask someone who is.00

      But from my many years of being around dogs I have never encountered an aggressive or violent one that stops and kicks its legs first before it wanted to hurt me.

      Generally, violent dogs will growl, their tails will be raised and they might bare their teeth at you. Sometimes they won't show their teeth, but their aggression is made clear by their tense body language and they tend not break eye contact.

      However, if a dog is just walking along minding its own business and happens to stop near you to kick at the grass a little ... I would say that sounds more like you two just happened to be at the same place at the same time. Watch out for flying dirt!

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  5. My French bulldog does the back leg kicking when he sees another dog outside threw the glass door, he has the fearless little dog syndrome. I let him have a go then side track him with toys or a cuddle or he'd go on well after the dog passes by. I agree he is dominating bit I also agree it's his dog given right, but do try to keep him neutral as a I chose to make him a domesticated pet compared to a wild one I let him act as his breed should but control it so as not to allow him to become aggressive. It's simple as being a responsible pet owner and keeping a happy dog. So kick em up boy I kick up with unwanted salesman at the door so I praise for his loyalty to his home outdoors I would comfort quick as to not let a unwanted esculated agression. In the home he's the dog but outside he must show his best behavior as I'd rather people enjoy him rather than fear him.

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  6. My Bichon, Grizzly, who is 7 does this, drives me nuts. But my 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd, Alex, does not. Griz is the Alpha dog here.

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  7. Hi my shih Tzu, scrapes her back legs on the carpet but not for toilet reasons, she does it to get noticed and if I pretend not to notice she will bark at me, then if I ignore that, shes will jump on me, she is so cute

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