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Why Do Dogs Sniff Around Before They Poop? (Explained)


Why Do Dogs Sniff Around Before They Poop

Who would’ve thought going to the bathroom was so much work for our furry four-legged friends? It isn’t as simple as sitting down, doing the business, and hitting flush!

As you already know, the entire world is a bathroom for the dog. When given such a space, sniffing around and finding the best spot is only explainable. 

However, if you’re curious, there’s so much more to learn about these loyal creatures and their bathroom rituals.

Their sense of smell is the primary medium through which dogs come in contact with the world. So, using their nose to find a place to relieve themselves is understandable. 

Why do dogs sniff around before they poop? Keep reading to learn more about their nature and if there’s any way you can speed up the process if your dog takes forever to poop.

Table of contents

The root cause of the sniffing before pooping

Dogs consider pooping quite a public affair. It’s mainly about marking their territory, besides relieving themselves. 

Every dog has a unique pheromone or scent secreted through glands on the anus. Although humans cannot detect them, dogs leave their scent everywhere and every time they pee or poop.

When you take your dog out for the toilet, he will start investigating and searching for the most recent scents left by other dogs and him. It’s like a world where borders and territories are constantly changing. 

Your pup is continually evaluating and re-evaluating where it places its scents. Also, dogs can gather a wide range of information about other dogs living or strolling in the area and their surroundings from a single sniff of their pee or poop.

The root cause of the sniffing before pooping

Although disgusting and entirely useless to humans, a dog’s poop contains information other dogs can gain with a sniff. It’s like turning on the news, where they learn much about the dog who left the poop

Your dog can also learn about when the other dog has last been, whether there is any food lying around, whether it was a friend or foe, and if he should be concerned about anything in the surroundings.

Knowing that a single poop imparts that much information makes us understand why dogs don’t “just poop” anytime and anywhere. 

Marking Their Territory with dog poop

Most of the time, it’s simply about marking their territory and giving the message about who the king of the area is. If your dog is sniffing around before poop, it could look for unclaimed areas to mark its place. Even if the area is claimed, it could still poop in the same place if it senses that the other dog is a weaker one. 

The interesting thing is your dog shares this information with you, even though you might be oblivious to it sometimes. If he senses danger and feels scared when both of you are outside for his business, he will take longer to make his mark.

Your dog will sniff around the area, false start, and then keep sniffing before defecating if he senses a threat. 

When marking his territory, your dog might also split his timing and pee and poop into different areas. That is because both the urine and feces release scent, allowing him to mark a larger area.

Marking Their Territory with dog poop

Communication via dog poop

Dogs have a sense of smell up to 10,000 times stronger than us. They use it to communicate with one another. 

Every dog’s distinct perfume allows other dogs to know if they are searching for a mate to reproduce. Female dogs in heat give off a different odor that gives the message to the other dogs visiting the same area.

Your male dog might acknowledge it and start behaving strangely in an effort to find this female. Unless your dog is neutered or you plan to do so, you’ll simply need to accept this behavior while ensuring that his efforts go in vain.

Neutered dogs have periodic sniffing patterns. They likely won’t respond to the female’s pheromones. However, it’s normal to see strange behaviors while encountering such scents.

Communication via dog poop

More Reasons Why Your Dog Sniffs Around And Takes Longer To Poop

There may be other reasons besides those mentioned above why your dog takes unusually long to go to the bathroom. You can determine which one based on your dog’s health, nature, and breed.

Mobility Issues

Older dogs or those with arthritis and orthopedic problems often take a longer time to get in position to poop. Since they might find it hard to squat, potty time can take more time.

These dogs will typically walk and squat while pooping to avoid pain and discomfort in their limbs. If your dog has suffered physical injuries recently, it will take him some time to poop like before. 

Visit the vet if you’re not aware of your dog’s mobility problems and suspect there might be an underlying cause.

More Outside Time

If your perfectly healthy dog is taking particularly long to smell around and poop, there’s a high chance he’s just enjoying the moment. He might want to stay longer outside if you only take him out for the bathroom or if the weather is lovely.

Consider increasing your dog’s outdoor time. Take him out more so that he finds it normal and his poop time less exciting. Your dog will stop considering poop time a reward and do his business quickly if you let him play outside more often.

Your Pup Is Shy

Not all dogs are bold and confident. If you have a dog that looks the other way or have issues pooping in other people or dogs’ presence, they likely have anxiety. 

No one enjoys being gawked at when they need to go to the bathroom; some dogs feel equally. Take your dog to somewhere isolated and less noisy where they can go number two privately. 

Distracting environments and loud noises can startle the dogs and prevent it from doing its business smoothly. 

Some pet owners train their pups to go to the toilet as soon as they go outdoors or reach a particular spot. You might want to start doing that if you have a new puppy. Training older dogs might give you a more challenging time, but you might just as well try if he is really hesitant. 

Encourage The Behavior

It is essential for dogs to sniff; we simply cannot prevent them from doing it throughout their lives. Trying to stop your dog from sniffing the grass or surroundings is like making a human stop looking around to see the world. 

However, many of us don’t have the time to wait around for as long as our dogs want to poop. You can only encourage the process and speed it up using your tactics. 

Dogs do not constipate like humans, in case you wonder if that’s the problem. They’re likely suffering from diarrhea if they frequently squat and for a long time. Take him to the vet if you suspect it’s a digestive problem.

Encourage The Behavior

Other Things To Consider

You might see that your pup poops in the exact same spot every day if you regularly visit a specific dog park or have a usual walking route. In such a case, the dog is simply competing with another canine for territory. 

The two pups are probably placing their scents above one another’s to compete and claim the location. Letting your dog encounter his counterpart might result in confrontation, although that depends on both dog’s natures. 

If you want to avoid such encounters, encourage your pup to find and mark new territory. It will forget the former location after a while if you’re successful. 

Other Things To Consider

Is Kicking Before Pooping Normal Too?

Your dog has chosen the best spot to drop his message and leave his mark. Sometimes he’ll even kick! Depending on his strength and size, it can be a cute or an embarrassing sight. 

So, why the kicking after an endless round of sniffing, circling and dancing? If you’ve owned dogs for a while and know their behavior, you might have predicted the answer already- Scent Marking.

Dogs leave their scent wherever they go by moving or kicking the grass. Their cute paws have special glands that produce pheromones. 

Although the kicking and scratching aren’t really necessary to let other dogs know that they’ve been there, dogs like to ensure that they leave their mark by behaving so.

So, don’t be alarmed when you see such behaviors from your dog after they take a poop. It’s normal for them to do things that amaze us and bring out our curiosity!


New dog owners may find it strange to see their dogs using their toilet time to communicate and engage with the rest of the dog community. However, this behavior is no longer foreign to humans. 

Unless your dog takes longer than 15 minutes (although that depends on the factors mentioned above) to poop, it shouldn’t be a matter of much concern. 

Before jumping to profound conclusions, ensure that your dog is healthy, has proper food, and gets enough time outside. 

A little patience from our side is also required when it comes to letting these furry friends use the bathroom.

Written by

Tim Smith
With years of experience writing about dogs, this author is a go-to source for insights on the furry friends. A lover of all animals, this writer's work has been published in many respected publications.
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