The other day, I came across this question and decided to write about it here. Not all dogs, but many, will wipe or scratch their paws on the ground after using the bathroom. Apparently, a lot of dogs only wipe their hind paws. My two dogs, Kitsune the papillon and Fenrir the Alaskan Klee Kai can be quite enthusiastic paw wipers. Some only do this after they defecate. Others do it after urinating. Some, like my dogs, 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’ Paws Produce Pheromones
Dogs’ adorably cute paws 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. Experts also believe that the scratch marks themselves left on the ground can act as a visual cue for other dogs. It’s like leaving a sign, readable by other dogs, that says “Hey look what I did over here! Smell how awesome I am!”.
No Two Dogs Smell the Same
Like human fingerprints, each dog has his or her own unique smell. Humans may not be able to tell dogs apart by their smell, but other dogs can. It may sound kind of gross, but 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!
Imagine being able to tell how another human is feeling just by the way that they smell! You can think of dirt kicking 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 an area where another dog has been. What an interesting perspective of the world dogs must have, being able to learn so much about the world around them just by the way that it smells!
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