September 18, 2012 @ 7:42 PM

The Scoop On Dog Poop


Well, I know Spring is in the air from the warmer temperatures, the snow is melting, and so are the poopsicles. 

Yes, it's that wonderful time of year. The time for more outdoor activities, and inside my fenced in property, the time to pick up those thawing poopsicles.

There are many pooper scoopers available out there, but I like the one-handed operation kind, although I also own a metal set that consists of two parts, sort of like a broom and dustpan. I find the dustpan part particularly handy for chipping out those most stubborn and not quite thawed remnants.

Being a full time dog trainer, I do spend an awful lot of my time talking to owners about pooping and peeing, so I thought it was appropriate to write about dog scat and urine.

Both pooping and peeing are scent marking behaviors in dogs. I have seen small male dogs almost tip over in their efforts to place their calling card, or p-mail, as high as they possibly can. The higher the mark, the more other dogs think a large scary dog has been in the area, but I really don't think they are fooling anyone.
Dogs mark their territory with both urine marking, scat, and scratching the ground with their paws which have scent glands, after they evacuate. Wolves in the wild like to place their scat on bushes or high grass so it not only says, "Hey, I live here" by scent, but also by the charming visual display.

I myself have seen my dog Chicory (who has passed on) literally shit up a tree, depositing it on a fungal growth. I guess he thought that it made a nice shelf for displaying his artwork, sort of like our displaying our knick knacks. "Take that you other dogs, I can shit higher than you can!!".
Many dogs have quite ritualistic behavior during their circling routine. The funniest dog I ever saw indulge in this behavior was a Dachshund named Dixie, she simply had the most ornate poop dance I had ever seen in my life. Averaging about ten or twelve circles, galloping along at breathtaking speed, spiraling inward to a slowly decreasing circle size, and voila! Spinning in place, Dixie would then deliver her all important deposit. Dogs like to circle when they poop to deposit yet more scent from their paws around the all important star of the show. They also have anal glands that excrete a small but potent scent on their scat as well. As if it isn't smelly enough!!

And let's not forget the lovely habit some dogs have, copraphagy, or in layman's terms, eating their own crap. This can be a genetic behavior, or certain dog's will just eat their poop out of boredom. Please don't let your dog get this bored, can you imagine being that bored, I can't. Poop eating does have it's origins in a Mommy dog eating the poop of their still nursing pups, both to keep the den clean, as well as to not tip off predators that nursing, vulnerable pups live here.

Many people ask me how to stop this lovely habit, and there are many solutions out there. I have heard it all. Putting manufactured products on the poop to discourage the copraphagy, feeding the dog certain products to make their poop taste yicky (you mean it's not yicky enough!), or putting hot sauce on the poop. Well I always tell them, rather than spending your time seasoning your dog's scat, just pick it up. They can't eat what is not there, and you never know, they just might enjoy it more with hot sauce on it. I know I prefer lot's of things I eat with hot sauce on it, so please, don't season your dog's poop. PICK IT UP!!

Let's not forget to cover another lovely canine habit, rolling in other dog's poop. When my son Justin was little we were at the park with my then puppy Bernese Mountain Dog Grimsby, who had found an especially wonderful pile of diarrhea. He proceeded to roll in it, I didn't see this as I was watching my son at the time. But, I found out soon enough when he pranced back to us, jumped all around my son, and smeared Justin with his new found prize. Dog's like to roll in funky things, they like the novel scent, sort of like when we decide to wear a new perfume. I will never forget trying to rinse off both Grimsby and Justin from a small water fountain and a discarded dixie cup I had found. When it come to dogs and poop, the fun just never ends. Or as we say in the dog training world, "sh**t happens".

Sole rights for this article belong to Linda Lukens of Common Ground