How to Get a Dog to Stop Kicking Up Dirt

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You may have noticed that your dog likes to kick up dirt or grass after doing his or her "business" -- and you've probably wondered why in dog's name? It's generally attributed to marking territory and done for one of two reasons: to spread the scent around so other dogs will know your dog was there or to leave scratch marks in the ground pointing to the scent. It is also believed that they do it to cover up their scent from the enemy, which was handed down from wolves. Whatever the reason, chalk it up to instinct. Here are some ways to "curb" the instinct or at least direct your pooch to a better spot.

  • Observe your dog's pattern of movement before he kicks, because it will likely remain the same. For instance, how many steps does he take?

  • Keep in mind what you learned about your dog's pattern and figure out a way to interrupt it. You might use a squeaky toy or a treat to get your dog's attention and lure her away from the spot right before she starts to kick. Test out what works best. If your dog is treat motivated, reward with a treat.

  • Once you find what works best, stick to it. This should eventually cure your dog of the kicking habit, so that you won't have to use an incentive.

  • Walk your dog around the block first if he normally does his business in the yard. Right after he's finished pooping and takes his usual steps, give him the "No" command and reward with a treat. This will also help prevent him from kicking up dirt when you let him in the yard because he will have already done his business.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be patient because timing is everything.
  • Keep your dog's nails trimmed, so she can't lift up as much grass.
  • Kicking on pavement will keep your dog's nails trimmed.
  • Some people believe that early spaying/neutering will help lower the tendency to mark territory, but it hasn't been proven.
  • Photo Credit Melissa Maroff
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