Your dog’s number one priority on a walk can be his number two. He sniffs for a while, circles the area, and if he decides its worthy of being his toilet, he poops. And as a mere servant, you use a plastic bag to clean it up. However, there are times you walk your dog and he does the sniff and circle, only to move onto another spot. You might walk for longer than you thought because your dog is not satisfied with the options of where to relieve himself. If your dog has the luxury of the backyard, he might have a specific area that he’s designated his bathroom. Why does your dog only poop in certain places? Why does he sniff and circle and is picky about where he goes?
The Root of the Behavior
There are very few things we can be certain of in life, but one of those things is that everyone poops, dogs included. Just like you might appreciate a morning’s poo, your dog does too. You might be picky and only go number two in your home or a private bathroom. You might even have candles and air fresheners ready. While humans want to cover up that scent, dogs are quite the opposite. Dogs are a lot pickier than humans when it comes to their spot. Dogs choose their spot as a means to communicate with other dogs. One thing they’re communicating is marking territory. Their poop tells other dogs not only that they were there, but what they ate, if they’re a friend or enemy, and even if a female is in heat. Dogs use their strong sense of smells to determine what the poop is saying. Your dog might circle for a few reasons. It could be just to find the perfect spot to send his message, or he is aligning himself with the Earth’s magnetic field. It may sound strange, but according to a two-year study published in Frontiers in Zoology, dogs prefer to align themselves to the North-South axis of the earth’s magnetic field when dropping a deuce. If your dog is taking a long time to do his business, he might be stalling. If he only goes on walks to do a number two, he’s probably picked up on this and is going to sniff and search for the perfect spot just to extend his time outside. He could also be nervous and the environment is not calm enough. If he’s an anxious dog, loud streets and commotion might make it more difficult for him to do his doggy business. It’s possible your dog prefers grass over cement or dirt. When puppies are trained, they might have developed a surface preference that stuck with them through adulthood. If your dog doesn’t have access to his preferred surface, he might wait until he finds it. If it’s not available, you may have problems.
Encouraging the Behavior
You shouldn’t rush or discourage your dog from pooping. Communicating with other dogs is important and so is marking his turf, even if the behavior takes a while. Your dog wants to send the message perfectly and it could take a bit of effort. This pickiness can be problematic when there are weather extremes of 97 degrees or 10 degrees weather. You could be sweating bullets or freezing cold, and your dog will be circling and sniffing for ten minutes. Even in mild weather, you might be in a rush to get to a friend’s house and not have time for your usual long walk. But your dog doesn’t know this, and he still takes ten minutes to find his spot. When you need your dog to do his business quickly, it can be frustrating. Your best bet is to train him to go on command, with a command like “Go potty.” For this, you’ll probably need a trainer’s help. If your walks are short and your dog extends them by sniffing around, consider longer walks so he knows he’ll have some time outside to smell everything. If you have a busy schedule and can’t take him for longer walks, contemplate hiring a dog walker during the day. Your dog will not only be grateful for the opportunity to leave his mark exactly where he wants, but he’ll also get out pent up energy and be healthier. Longer walks will help with his behavior at home and will make him happy.
Other Solutions and Considerations
You should let your dog sniff and circle and dig until he is satisfied that he found the perfect spot to mark his territory. Make sure you take him on long walks so he has his selection of places. If you must rush, work with a trainer to teach him to go on command. Your dog’s pooping preference shouldn’t be too concerning unless it affects his health. If he won’t poop, even in his favorite spot and starts showing signs of constipation, you need to take him to the vet. Signs of constipation include not pooping for two or more days, lack of appetite, straining, lethargy, passing liquid stool or mucus after straining to go, crying or visible signs of discomfort while trying to poo.
Everyone has their pooping preferences, especially your dog. He has important places to sniff and serious messages to send, so let him send them. Whatever your dog’s pooping policy is, respect it. If you don’t, he might send a message to you, in the middle of your new carpet. That will send a message for sure.
By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020