Why Do Dogs Cover Their Poop With Dirt Or Grass?

When we take our dogs outside to do their business, they've usually got a little routine. They sniff around for awhile, search for the absolute perfect spot, get distracted, finally do their thing ... and then rake their feet back and forth, covering it up with dirt or grass.

It's pretty typical to see a cat bury their poop, but why do dogs look like they're trying to do it, too?

For years, my dog kicked grass over her poop and I just thought she was secretly a cat. Turns out, there's actually a reason.

The behavior stems back from when our dogs were wolves and wild dogs, trying to survive in the wilderness. When dogs kick up grass or dirt (or even just go through the motion of kicking) after they've finished doing their business, they're not actually trying to cover it up - they're sending a warning to other animals.

"It href="http://www.proiettovets.com/"> is not that they are covering their eliminations, they are enhancing it. Dogs do this for communication purposes," Dr. Robert Proietto, a veterinarian in New York City, told The Dodo. "Much like deer and other animals who scrape the ground or rub antlers on trees to communicate with each other."

When dogs kick their feet against the ground, they emit a scent from glands in their paws that helps them to mark their territory and tell other animals that they've been there, according to Dr. Proietto.

Another theory about why dogs display this behavior is that covering their poop could also be a way of covering their tracks.

"It's an evolutionary response designed to help dogs hide from potential predators," Dr. Brittany Jaeger, a veterinarian in Tampa, Florida, told The Dodo. "They do it to cover their tracks so that other animals won't know they've been there."

Dogs aren't alone in their need to hide from other animals. Cats also display a behavior after pooping that may be their way of trying to hide from predators.

So the next time you're outside with your dog and you see him kicking his feet up after he poops, he's not just being weird - he's showing off his survival instincts.