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Why Do Dogs Poop Where They Poop?

My dog always does 16 spins before releasing it, and I must know why

Dogs spend the majority of their time almost entirely unbothered. They lick the ground, play in the mud, destroy their toys, and their adorable mugs look absolutely smug through it all.

But when it comes time to poop, for some odd reason, dogs put their business hat on. They examine the area, press their snouts to the ground, and once they land on a general spot, they revolve like a ballet dancer. Only once their poop dance is complete do they poop.

So, wut? Why? What is this thing they do? Why do dogs circle before they poop? 

Apparently, dogs are drawn to a specific pooping procedure by a combination of instinct and some strange, mystical force from within the earth. “Dogs spin before eliminating, typically with their noses to the ground, so they can find the exact ‘perfect’ spot,” says Linda Michaels, dog psychologist, certified veterinary assistant and author of the upcoming book, Do No Harm Dog Training and Behavior, Featuring the Hierarchy of Dog Needs. “Many animals are sensitive to the Earth’s geomagnetic field, and research indicates that dogs prefer to poop with their spines aligned with the North-South axis. We don’t know why they do this, or whether or not they do it consciously.”

I’m not sure if I should be impressed or terrified, but okay.

Beyond their penchant for geomagnetic activity, dogs are also peculiar about their poop placement because they want to make sure other dogs and animals witness their grand release, as if to say, “Behold, my marvelous poop mountain, my dearest ass-made Everest, you puny neighborhood creatures. Try as you might, but you’ll never be able to create a more perfect poop.”

In that sense, the spinning may also be them stomping the grass to make their poop more prominent and noticeable. “Dogs aren’t only eliminating, but often ‘marking’ territory, or marking over someone else’s territory, to let the world know they’ve been there, too,” Michaels explains. “It’s rather like staking a claim. They may mark with urine, defecation, and also with the sweat from their paws to finish the job.”

Finally, the ways in which dogs poop could also have something to do with how they’ve been trained. “Dogs can be very choosy about where they go, but if you think about it, we train them where’s a good place to go and where isn’t,” says Zazie Todd, animal psychologist and author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. “If someone has used punishment to try and toilet train their dog, the dog may become nervous about going in front of the person, and it can make them take a long time to find a place to pee, or wait until they’re desperate. So, never punish a dog for a house-training accident. Instead, make sure they have plenty of opportunities to go, and reward them with treats for going outside.”

Well, now I feel kinda bad about always picking up my dog’s poop after all his hard work.

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