Why does he scrape?

Dog scraping the ground

(Q) Our dog is fairly well behaved but he will scrape the ground with his paws after he’s toileted. He does this very vigorously and I used to laugh at him when he sent lumps of turf flying 10 or 15ft behind him. But it means our lawn ends up as a muddy mess and the carpet in the lounge also gets in a terrible mess from his paws in the winter.

(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: This activity is normal and natural although your dog does sound particularly proficient at it. The purpose is to increase the range of the dog’s own scent (spreading the scent he has left and adding to it from the glands between his toes) and to leave a visual sign that he has been in the area.

Some dogs will do it when other dogs are around as a challenge to them, while others who aren’t so socially confident will do it to try to limit contact with other dogs.

Your dog may have been accidentally encouraged to do this at first (laughing can be construed as attention), so now it is a habit. Be careful of how you correct him as there is a potential to make him anxious when he toilets if he begins to anticipate a correction.

To protect your carpet, a very useful lesson for all dogs to learn is to stand still to allow their owners to wipe their feet when entering the home. This is useful during winter months and during all wet weather. This might be easier to achieve than trying to completely stop such an instinctive behaviour.

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