Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our June-July issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
Some dogs wait for the perfect pooping conditions, some kick up grass afterward, and some scoot their butts on the ground. Others might find a shoe to poop in, some have messy diarrhea that no doggie bag could handle, and some … well, some dogs give their walkers an intense “poop stare” during the act.
So, what’s up with your dog’s pooping behavior? Take this Dogster quiz to see what kind of pooper your pup is and why he does the things he does.
1. What’s your dog’s preferred place to poop?
a. Outdoors, mainly on nice, soft grass
b. He used to only go outside, but lately he goes anywhere and everywhere!
c. Usually outside, but sometimes he poops exactly where you don’t want him to
d. In a quiet spot, on grass, when the sun is shining, and it’s not too hot or too cold
2. The weirdest thing your dog does during potty time is …
a. Kick up grass
b. Scoot his butt on the ground
c. Bark at the door when it’s time to go outside
d. Give you the “poop stare”
3. It’s raining, and it’s time for a walk. Your dog …
a. Is totally up for it. Time to poop, then splash in some puddles!
b. Used to have fun in the rain, but now he goes sluggishly
c. Barks at the thunder and drops a piece of poop right in a puddle
d. Will not get his paws wet. No. Way. Time to bust out the pee pads!
4. You’re on a busy street with a lot of distractions, and you know your dog has to poop. He …
a. Enjoys the sights, sounds, and smells, then does his business
b. Nervously looks around and then has a little diarrhea
c. Stares down another walker, barks at a squirrel, then drags you to a spot another dog just pooped in and does his business
d. Arches his back to poop but gets distracted by a big truck that comes down the street and forgets all about pooping
5. You realize you forgot to take your dog for a potty break before you left to run an errand, so you check on him via the app on your phone. You find him …
a. Sitting patiently by the door but squirming a bit
b. Leaving diarrhea on the kitchen floor. At least it wasn’t the carpet!
c. Pooping right in the middle of your bed
d. Pooping behind the big plant in the corner
You might think your goofball dog is anything but normal, but he sure is when it comes to pooping. Although he does some weird things, like kicking up the grass afterward (scent glands on your dog’s paws leave his mark), he sure is regular. Laura Christiansen, dog trainer and founder of Canine Learning Centers in San Diego, said that “normal” pooping “depends on a number of factors [including] the age of your dog, type of food, and individual digestion.” A discussion with your veterinarian will shed light on what’s normal and not normal for your dog.
Laura recommended contacting your vet if your dog has “loose or mucusy stool, diarrhea, straining, constipation, or no bowel movement at all.” Watch for changes in poop or pooping behavior, like if your dog has lethargy, diarrhea, or scoots his butt on the floor. A scooting dog could have irritation from leftover poop, pressure from a full anal sac, or worms. And remember, even the most wellbehaved dog might poop in the house if he’s sick!
“An untrained dog will poop in places you do not want, like the middle of your living room rug,” Laura said. Her secret to teaching a bad-mannered pooper is to not allow him the opportunity to poop in unwanted places. She recommends crate training, close supervision, and keeping the untrained pooper on a feeding and walking schedule. Praise your dog when he poops outside, but never scold him if he has an accident in the house. “Be consistent and patient!” Laura said.
“Dogs, like people, have preferences and particular quirks,” Laura said. Some dogs are more sensitive to noises and movements around them, some are sneaky poopers (perhaps they’ve previously been scolded for pooping), and some, “are pampered and indulged by their owners so much that they become finicky.” If you have a picky pooper, find a trainer who can help you use positive training techniques to make your dog more comfortable pooping. And as for that unsettling “poop stare,” he’s just looking for you to give him some praise for pooping in the right place!