Question: I have a five-year-old male, and we live in a rural area, so he mostly walks off-leash. When we go out for our first morning walk, one of his first tasks is to find a secluded spot and relieve himself, but as soon as he does, he stretches out his hind legs, violently carving the ground in long channels. scratching him with his claws, once he is done he joins me and continues his walk.
What does he do and why?
Answer: dogs know that they are temporarily very vulnerable when they eliminate and are at a temporary disadvantage. You can often see them looking for a place to go in the bushes or in a tree so that no one can sneak up on them. However, once the deed is done, your dog has a second job to do, and this explains the very vigorous scratching. He spreads his scent as far as possible so the other dogs know who he is, that he was there.
These very distinctive scents convey a lot of information to our dogs, and their scent can be as distinct and identifiable to dogs as fingerprints are to humans. The sense of smell is extremely important for dogs. As your dog spreads its scent, it kicks back vigorously to make sure it is marked as widely as possible. Not only is he letting the other dogs know he’s been there, he’s also leaving as big an impression as possible and trying to look as big as possible with those scratches. And then they usually jog happily with a look on their face like, “Nice, well done!”
Amazing fact: Tree-dwelling monkeys can’t scratch like dogs, but some species spread their scent in a different way. A capuchin monkey urinates on the palms and soles of its feet, then rubs the scent on the branches as it climbs, leaving a signal in the trees as strong as a dog on the ground.