Our dogs have a number of behaviors that both entertain and confuse us. We enjoy wondering what Fido will get up to next, and truth be told, we also spend an inordinate amount of time pondering just what the motivation behind his latest silly antic might be. Running away after pooping is one of those behaviors. Is Fido just offended by the smelly object his body has produced and trying to get away as fast as he can? Is this activity some sort of a victory dance for a job well done? It's hard to say. As with many things our dogs do, there is typically a logical explanation or two behind the behavior. It might not make any sense to us, but it makes perfect sense to Fido. A careful consideration of the history behind the modern dog can often provide us with powerful insights into why Fido does what he does. Why does Fido like to run after he has had a poop? There is bound to be some rationale to explain this seemingly strange action.
The Root of the Behavior
Most dogs seem to be quite pleased with themselves after having had a productive poop. For dogs who have been experiencing constipation issues, this sense of satisfied relief makes perfect sense to us. But for those who have regular bowel movements on a daily basis, it's a little more perplexing to try to understand their joy at this perfectly normal bodily function. Dogs respond well to positive reinforcement and are hardwired to try to please their owners. In the process of training a puppy to eliminate outdoors, we generally get very excited and lavish praise on our dogs when they have their first poops outside. This praise accomplishes a lot in our training endeavors. Your dog remembers the things that elicit a positive response from you. After all, making you happy makes him happy, and if he does something that achieves his goal, he's going to keep offering that behavior to you again and again in the hopes of the same reaction. With this in mind, it is entirely possible that Fido remembers back to the good old days when he was first learning where poop is supposed to go, and he is exuberantly running over to you post-poop, so you can celebrate with him. After all, he has pooped in the designated area; it's party time! We aren't quite as enthusiastic about it as we were in the early training days, but Fido's excitement about doing things the right way has not waned.
Another plausible explanation is the act of defecating itself is not only a welcome relief, it also feels good to our dogs. When our dogs have been pent up in the house all day without access to going outside, they will feel a sense of urgency to eliminate as soon as they have the opportunity for a good romp in the yard. As a result, our dogs do a form of a victory dance because they feel so light and free now that the poop is gone. When our dogs have a poop, they sometimes end up with some "residue" stuck to the hair surrounding their anus. Some dogs don't seem to notice this and continue about their day. But for other dogs, this sensation is irritating, and they want to do something to solve the problem. For many dogs, this includes a scooting of their bottoms across a grassy area to try to rid themselves of the offensive material.
Encouraging the Behavior
Dogs understand that the most effective means to eliminate a "will not" from their fur is to rub it against something. Once this remaining poop fragment has been removed from their coat, it is an immense relief, and the "dance" commences. From a thorough observation of canine behavior, it would seem to be a common thread that relief from an unpleasant or uncomfortable situation forms the basis for this action under this circumstance. It is an activity motivated by joy and a sense of satisfaction at being released from something of pressing urgency for our dogs. Some experts believe that running after a poop may be indicative of some sort of infection, itch, or even an injury to the dog's anus. Running is a common reaction to anxiety or even pain. Your dog may be trying to express to you that he is uncomfortable and needs some help. Of course, dogs who are running as a result of pain or discomfort exhibit an entirely different demeanor to those who are running from sheer joy. It is important to keep an eye on your dog's post-poop activity to properly assess if he needs to visit a veterinarian.
Dogs who have issues expressing their own anal glands often require veterinary assistance. The sensation of having anal glands that are overly full is most definitely unpleasant, and your dog will seek release from this uncomfortable situation. Another possible explanation for this strange euphoric running following a poop is the marking of territory. This phenomenon is usually evidenced first by a digging or burying motion after the dog has defecated. In the wild, it would have been important for a dog to bury his poop to hide his "scent" from potential predators. But there is more to it than this. Dogs contain powerful scent glands in their feet. When they paw at things or dig, they release their own unique fragrance in that spot, thus marking a place as theirs. The act of doing this lets other dogs know that they have claimed a space as their own. In the case of running after a poop, your dog may be marking your entire yard with his scent. If so, he is sending a message that is loud and clear; your yard is for his pooping enjoyment only. Dogs of the neighbourhood, take note!
Other Solutions and Considerations
We can safely deduce from both observation and the fact that our dogs spend a lot of time seeking out and sniffing or rolling in the feces of other animals that our dogs don't find the smell of poop to be offensive. Clearly, this is not a factor that plays a significant role in the poop dance; in fact, quite the opposite. The evidence would seem to point to the fact that our dogs want to spread their unique "scent" as far and wide as they possibly can, and running plays a significant role in helping them to achieve their goal. Taking your dog for frequent walks may reduce the number of zoomies you see post-poop, but it is unlikely to have much of a long-term effect.
Thankfully, this behavior is rather endearing and comical to watch. You might want to fetch yourself a cold drink and settle in to watch the show. It just might be the best laugh you've had all day! If you witness your dog enjoying a rather vigorous romp after a good poop, rest assured that this is perfectly normal dog behavior. In general, it is not destructive nor a cause for concern. However, should you fear for the potential of destruction to your property, you could choose to take Fido for several walks a day when nature calls. By keeping Fido on a leash, you will restrict his ability to take off on a frenetic post-poop run. If you opt to do this, always make certain you have plenty of poop bags with you to properly dispose of all waste materials. Your neighbors will thank you for it!
Yes, the poop dance is a common practice amongst our canine friends, and it can be very entertaining for us to watch. On the whole, it is a normal and safe activity for our dogs but should you suspect your dog's post-poop running may be motivated by injury, illness, or overly full anal glands, schedule a visit to your favorite vet right away. If Fido's poop dance seems founded in pure joy alone, sit back and revel in the many ways his silly antics bring a smile to your face every day.
By a Parson Russel Terrier lover Jason Homan
Published: 03/26/2018, edited: 01/30/2020