4 min read


Can Dogs Recognize Their Own Poop?



4 min read


Can Dogs Recognize Their Own Poop?


Do you have a calling card or social media profile? You quickly let others know who you are and what you do with these communication tools. There is also a social order that dogs use to recognize one another. They mark territory with scent. They greet one another by sniffing the hindquarters. 

Dogs learn about their world and who is around by relying on their incredible sense of smell. When it comes to recognizing their own poop, we really do not know if they are thinking, "Hey, that's me." We can have patience and respect for their needs to mark and sniff as their means of being in the world and communicating with one another.


Signs Dogs Recognize Their Scent

Dogs have their special ways of greeting people and one another. They take in information by visual, olfactory, and auditory cues. They show signs of recognition and social order with a variety of behaviors and body signs. 

When you bring your dog into different social environments, it is helpful to watch for signs of dominance, submission, appeasement, and play. You will want to watch how the dogs approach one another, initiate interaction, and respond to one another to keep your dog safe. It will also be vital for you to be aware of your dog's sniffing of the area for territorial markings. Just as you may be scanning the area to see who is around, so too, is your dog.

Your dog will show signs of friendly greetings in a number of ways. You will see your dog sniffing the ground and sniffing the hindquarters of one another. Once the sniffing is complete, the dog may proceed to initiate interaction. 

Friendly dogs may want to enter into some romping fun. They will invite one another with a play bow. You will see them running and chasing about, pausing to take turns as the play continues. If your dog has encountered a more dominant dog, you will see signs of submission. The dog will tuck the tail and go low to the ground. The dog may roll over and expose the belly. It is best to let the dogs continue to check each other out. The interaction should only continue for a few minutes.

When coming to a spot where they have peed or pooped, you may notice that your dog spends far less time sniffing than when they are smelling the scent of another animal. This is because the scent is familiar, and so it is not as interesting to them.

Body Language

Signs that your dog recognizes the scent of their poop include:

  • Alert
  • Sniffing
  • Ears Up

Other Signs

More signs that your dog knows their own scent are:

  • Spending Less Time Sniffing Their Poop
  • Ignoring Their Own Poop
  • Showing Lots Of Interest In The Poop Of Other Dogs

The History of Dogs Recognizing Scent


Your dog understands the world through the sense of smell. The dog's ability to detect scents is about 100,000 times stronger than humans. The analogy portrayed as sight is that what a human can see at one-third of a mile, the dog can see at 3000 miles. 

The dog has a specific fold in the nostril that holds the air, giving them a more intense and prolonged sensation of odor. The respiration of the dog is such that they are holding and taking in scents as they inhale and exhale. 

They also have a unique olfactory organ, that humans do not have, called the Jacobson's organ. It is located in the bottom of the nasal cavity and it detects pheromones. The sense of scent is their most powerful tool for recognition of other dogs, people, and things in their vicinity.

The Science of Dogs Recognizing Their Poop


Scent marking is serious business for the dog. This is their way of telling other dogs that they are around. They can also tell who has been in the area by the scent of urine and poop. When you see your dog sniffing the ground, they are checking out who has been there before them. They can even tell how many other dogs have been in the territory. 

When they leave their urine or poop, they are leaving their mark, in turn. Defecation leaves a special mark. The stool must pass the anal glands. If the anal glands are released during defecation, this is a signal of danger.

The main reason dogs will sniff poop is to detect what the other dog has eaten. You will notice that once a dog has sniffed the marked territory, they will then leave urine and/or defecate. The behavior is their way of laying claim to the area. 

There have been studies on how dogs recognize one another based on the scent of urine or poop. Dogs will spend more time examining the scent that is unfamiliar than that of known animals. It is likely that they do know their own scent as it is their calling card and mark.

Training Your Dog to Poop On Command


Nobody likes to find poop all over the yard. It is more convenient if the dog will learn to defecate in a designated location. Begin by choosing the area. A small dog can have a small spot. A larger dog will need more room for their potty area. Watch where your dog goes on your own. You may find your dog has a preferred location in the yard. You can work with that preference to make the training easier. 

Keep the area clean. Your dog will not want to go to a dirty place. Train your dog to eliminate on command. Watch your dog's behavior as he or she prepares to go. 

For example, you may see the dog sniff the ground, stop and spin in circles. As you see the dog preparing to eliminate, add the command words you plan to use, such as, "Go Potty" or "Hurry Up". Say the command clearly and wait for the dog to eliminate. As soon as the dog goes, reward the dog and give lots of praise. 

Practice over several days. Then lead the dog to the area you want them to use and try your command. Stay positive and use lots of praise as your dog learns the place to go.

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By a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lover Pat Drake

Published: 06/22/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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