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Why Dogs Wipe Their Paws After Going To The Bathroom

I came across this question the other day, and just happened to have a video of Kitsune doing it, so decide to write about it here.  Not all dogs, but many, will wipe their paws on the ground after using the bathroom.  Apparently a lot of dogs only wipe their hind paws, but my dog does a silly dance and wipes all of his.  Some only do it after they defecate.  Others, like my dog, do it after urinating.  Some do it after both.  Have you ever wondered why? 

This is what I'm talking about for anyone who doesn't know...

I usually refer to it as wiping their paws, but I've seen other owners refer to it as scratching the ground, or kicking up dirt.  Whatever you call it, dogs all do it for the same reason - to mark territory.

Dogs' adorably cute paws (puppy paws are the cutest are they not?) are actually covered in glands that produce pheromones.  Scent producing glands are located both on the paw pads themselves, as well as between dogs' toes.  It's believed that by scratching or wiping their paws against the ground, dogs can leave scent signals for other dogs to pick up on.  Other experts also believe that the scratch marks on the ground can act as a visual cue for other dogs.  Almost like leaving a sign, readable by other dogs, that says "Hey look what I did over here!".

Like human fingerprints, each dog has its own unique smell.  Humans may not be able to tell dogs apart by their smell, but other dogs can.  As gross as it may sound to us, dogs can tell what other dogs have been in an area by utilizing these visual (ground scratches) and scent (pee, poop, and pheromones) cues.  They can even take it a step further, and learn things like another dog's sex, health status, and even mood, just by scent.

 

Think of it as being similar to a social media site for your dog!  While us humans may visit Facebook to catch up with what our friends and neighbors are up too, dogs just have to smell each others pheromones.

  • dh_jax

    Several of my Shelties do the same thing, wiping all four paws....

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