5 min read


Why Do Dogs Dance After They Poop



5 min read


Why Do Dogs Dance After They Poop




It's a common behavior that is comical to observe. Your dog has just finished his morning business when you spy him out in the yard doing what appears to be a jig. You can't help but stifle a giggle. The behavior seems preposterous. Why do dogs engage in the "poop dance?" What are they trying to do? Canine behavior often causes us to scratch our heads in bewilderment, yet the truth is there are often very logical explanations behind why Fido does what he does. Do bowel movements just inspire your dog to get down and boogie? Does it appear that Fido just might have "the music in him?" Regardless of the motivation, the activity certainly brings a smile to our faces. Upon careful consideration, there are likely many potential reasons behind this peculiar canine behavior. Studying canine actions can be fascinating and affords us powerful insights into what makes our favourite furry companions tick.

The Root of the Behavior

So, what in the world is all the dancing about? It's a good question and one that has several possible answers. As with a lot of canine behavior, ancestry plays a critical role in helping us to understand things. In the wild, dogs would often choose to cover up their feces to preserve proper hygiene and cleanliness. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are animals that like to be clean. Though they rarely groom and sanitize themselves as cats do, they prefer a scrupulously clean living area. This may be one reason that dogs choose to bury or cover their own excrement. Their instinct is strong to keep their home base as free from offensive dirt, debris, and mess as possible. Unfortunately, their idea of mess and ours are often at odds, and their attempts to keep your yard fresh as a daisy can often lead to unsightly holes in your carefully cultivated lawn!

Protection against predators is also a powerful motivator that could explain this behavior in the modern dog. Since excrement emits a potent odor, it serves as a "marker" to other animals that there might be prey nearby. This would be of major concern to dogs in the wild, and they would go to great lengths to cover any lingering scent or residue that might alert predators to their presence or the presence of their young. In this case, it would be a strong preservation instinct. To survive, a wild dog would have to take great precautions and to always be one step ahead of any animal that could potentially harm the pack. Hiding any evidence of their presence would be a critical survival tactic. Still, there are other reasons that deserve equal consideration for this mystifying canine behavior. Some experts suggest that the "poop dance" might be our dogs' way of marking their territory. Dogs often mark places they have frequented or consider their own personal space with urine, but it is interesting to note that this is not the only method dogs employ for this purpose. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

Did you know that dogs possess scent glands in their feet? These glands are capable of releasing powerful pheromones.  Pheromones emit a fragrance that is unique to your dog. It is possible that as your dog is digging at the dirt and grass surrounding his latest "contribution" to your yard that he is attempting to leave behind his scent as a reminder to other dogs that he has been there, and that he will be back! Other experts suggest that this behavior finds its roots in a different survival technique enjoyed by wild dogs. Being able to spot predators before becoming their victims was necessary to ensure the safety of the pack. Wild dogs would often engage in a type of circling and digging up of the earth. This would accomplish two important purposes. The beating down of the earth would naturally lower the dog's standing surface thus allowing the dog to view things but also to remain better hidden from the view of others. At the same time, the circling provided an excellent vantage point from which to spot potential enemies intent on harming the wild dog or his pack. When you consider all of the different factors, it is easy to see that this is far more than a spurt of excess energy or a desire to entertain. It is definitely instinctive in nature and is but one of many traits that remain in our dogs after years of powerful survival techniques engrained into the wild dog's composition. For most homeowners, this behavior does little more than provide them with their daily chuckle. Most dogs don't do much harm with their little poop dance and rarely is there much digging involved that causes any real property destruction. In fact, with most of our canine companions, their attempts at covering their own mess appears to be half-hearted at best. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Still, for some people, the mess from this seemingly bizarre behavior causes them distress. They put a lot of time and money into proper lawn maintenance, and they'd like to keep it as attractive and pristine as possible. Is there a way to successfully address it? Unfortunately, this is one canine behavior that is nearly impossible to eradicate. Most professional trainers suggest that if Fido's daily feces burial causes you distress that you head the problem off at the pass by taking him for several daily walks. By walking your dog in other locations, you can eliminate damage to your own property. If you choose this as your plan of attack, always be certain to take poop bags with you to allow you to properly dispose of your dog's mess. Also, if at all possible, try to pick up the poop prior to Fido's burial dance to ensure the least amount of soil and grass disturbance on public property. For the most part, your dog's poop dance provides a little entertainment for you in the midst of a busy day. It is always interesting to take a look behind the behavior to help us better understand our furry friends whose actions sometimes leave us bewildered. 


Does your dog seem to take great delight in doing the poop dance? If so, he is not alone! Dogs have been engaging in this activity since time immemorial. Regardless of the specific motivation behind it, our dogs do derive great pleasure from making us smile. Fido won't mind if you have a good belly laugh over his unique dance. In fact, he'd quite like it!

By a Parson Russel Terrier lover Jason Homan

Published: 03/01/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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