After he does his business, my dog sometimes wipes his (usually rear) paws on the grass. I heard this was to spread his scent in the area, but I figured the result of doing his business did enough of the "scenting". He does this more often when unleashed in our yard than when leashed on a walk.

Why does he scrape the grass with his paws?

  • 1
    Making sure there's no poop on his feet? Oct 10 '13 at 16:53
  • Can't be. They're clean beforehand. He occasionally scrapes right into a log, which is all sorts of fun to clean.
    – JoshDM
    Oct 10 '13 at 16:54

The behavior in wolves is known as "scrape behavior"; it is also present in their domesticated relatives.

According to Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers (Bonnie V. Beaver) the activity is commonly seen to be a visual marking, the scrapes, as well as a means of spreading scent to mark territory (as noted, dogs have scent glands in their paws). This activity happens most often in new areas, in the presence of other dogs, and in the early mornings. (Chapter 8, page 251).

It is possible to train your dog out of this behavior if you so desire. Basically, it involves distracting him immediately after his activity with something like a treat in order to get him out of the habit.


From what i know, It's an extra way of being territorial. By putting their claw marks on the ground they're saying This is part of my territory! :)


All dogs have glands in their feet that secrete pheromones, and a couple of backward scratches into the earth (or grass as in your case) releases those chemicals. Source : Why Does My Dog... Kick Grass After Pooping?


There is a lot of information about marking, but there are also some other reasons dogs wipe or dig after relieving themselves.

Dogs will behave different types of behavior depending on their environment, whether they are in a public place, contained in a limited area and their background. As shown by animals from overcrowded and inhumane puppy mills. So observed behavior can be an aberration of natural behavior and sometimes an adaptation of being kept in captivity. It is natural and right to derive animal behavior from it's natural state in the would, but behavior within the context of captivity cannot always be definitively explained. As with the pawing on the ground with elimination and defecation.

Dogs will also scrape or wipe their paws, or make digging actions after elimination or defecation for hygiene reasons.

One reason dogs scrape their paws after urinating or defecating is to clean their paws and another is to cover their waste. Similar to cats covering their mess, but not as thorough. You'll also find they scrape away from the direction of any food or water source or place that they sleep.

If you observe a dog that does not cock his or her leg to urinate, the urine pools and usually the dog will extend their back legs in a display as they are wiping their paws clean.

There are observable differences between how dogs scrape and dig after going to the toilet, depending on the ground surface, and how they have relieved themselves. Sometimes they will be more digging with front paws included in an attempt to cover up the faeces, other times the paws will be scraped backwards from behind the mess in an attempt to wipe urine from them. When there is plenty of earth and leaf matter on the ground, a dog will make a better attempt of covering up fecal matter, than well relieving themselves on a lawn. Then there will be the more theatrical scraping, which is consistent with marking.

In the wild, canines such as wolves, dingoes and foxes may kick the ground after elimination for sanitary reasons. They are simply covering up the mess ..


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