3 min read


Why Do Dogs Act Like Bulls



3 min read


Why Do Dogs Act Like Bulls




Charge! Does your dog kick his or her back legs like a bull? Pet parents worldwide have witnessed this strange behavior and often wondered why. Does this mean your dog is half bull and should you be afraid? The most common scenario that pet parents report witnessing this behavior is after their dog poops. You might think that your dog is trying to hide their mess by covering it up with grass or dirt. At first, you might think this is unusual behavior, but this bull inspired poopy dance is common and natural among dogs. Continue reading to unlock the mystery behind this behavior. 

The Root of the Behavior

Dogs are domesticated in today’s world. They live happy and healthy lives with their human families. In the past, most dogs lived in the wild which required them to have built-in survival instincts. Dogs and wolves kick their back legs like a bull after pooping when living in the wild. Wolves and all dog breeds have glands in their feet. These glands contain pheromones that get released when a dog uses his or her back legs and feet to scratch the ground. 

The chemicals that get released into the earth are absorbed into the area. This is also known as the way a dog marks his or her territory. Dominant dogs mark their territory to warn other dogs to stay away, while non-dominant dogs are simply leaving a note saying they were there. In the wild, dominant dogs are aggressive towards other dogs if they mark on their territory. Domesticated dogs still use this natural instinct even though there is no reason for them to mark their spot. 

As a pet parent, you have probably seen your dog sniffing around on the ground to find their spot, so they can poop there again. Sometimes dogs mark a few spots and use each one frequently. Dogs' paws also have sweat glands that often mix with the chemicals and are used as an alarm to other dogs. 

Living in the wild is dangerous for dogs. They need to be concerned about other packs of dogs and predators. As dogs walk through their territory and beyond they leave a scent behind through the glands in their feet. It is meant to be a warning to other dogs to be cautious because the dog senses danger in the area. This helps warn part of his pack who might be following behind him that danger could be ahead and to stay alert. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

Your dog has a natural instinct to kick his or her hind legs after going to the bathroom. The behavior is natural, normal, and common in canines so there is no need to discourage it. Chances are your dog is going to exhibit this behavior throughout their entire lifetime. It causes no harm to the environment, people, or canines. However, the grass in your yard where your dog poops might take a beating from time to time. Dogs tend to go to the bathroom in their favorite spots, which means he or she will continuously kick up grass and dirt creating a small hole in your yard. 

This harmless behavior is usually expressed by dogs on a daily basis and almost every time they poop. Some dogs naturally bark or growl while kicking their hind legs. The combination of the kicking and growling are similar to a bull’s behavior right before he charges. However, your dog will not charge, he or she is just leaving a note behind to let other dogs know they have been there or that it’s their territory. The scent that is left behind by your dog’s paws will remain there after the poop has been removed or dissolved. Dogs have powerful noses and sense of smell that allows them to pick up the scent for a long time. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Pet parents often find themselves with several small holes in their yard due to this behavior. If you are concerned your dog is going to ruin your yard as this behavior continues, you can take action to improve the situation. Designating a specific area of the yard for your dog to use as a bathroom is recommended. This causes your dog to use a section of the yard to mark his or her territory and continuously use the same area. Choosing an area of the yard that is near the side of the house or not visible when looking outside from the window is wise. 


Pet parents often agree their dog’s bull-like behavior is kind of cute while others become upset. Whether you are happy or mad about this behavior, knowing it’s normal and natural should give you peace of mind as a pet parent. If your dog shows unusual signs such as aggressive behavior while kicking their hind legs discuss the situation further with a veterinarian.

Written by a Golden Retriever lover Maryanne Gaitho

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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