Dear Didi: We lost our 11-year-old GoldenDoodle, Ginger, a month ago. She was absolutely the most perfect dog ever and we miss her horribly. To fill that hole in our hearts we just brought in a new Doodle puppy. His name is Cooper and he is 10 weeks old. He has an interesting habit we would like more information about. He always “wipes his paws” on the grass after going to the bathroom. Why is he doing this and should we do anything about it? Doodle Parents in Stockton
Dear Doodle Parents: What a great question! You are absolutely correct, in that, most people assume the dog is “wiping” their feet clean after going potty. Behaviorists have spent some pretty good time evaluating, observing and studying this particular behavior. A dogs’ sense of smell is so acute that they can get an idea of another dog’s health circumstances, age, sex and personality by sniffing their private areas. Urine and fecal matter have telltale hormonal smells included in the waste material. Many animals, besides dogs, use the bathroom with a very calculated intent, as far as, the location in which they place their special package. It is a form of marking territory. It lets others know who he or she is for social hierarchy.
The additional foot scratching that you see from your puppy leaves claw marks and additional hormonal smells. Dogs have scent glands in the pads of their feet. Therefore, your puppy is already trying to let the world know how tough he is. Quite the attitude for a young puppy! He probably smells the left over scent from Ginger and wants to warn her that he is in town now. It can be trained out by immediately distracting Cooper when he finishes doing his business. Distractions could be a ball, squeaky toy, running away from him so he chases you excitedly, or a yummy treat. Therefore, he won’t get in the habit of acting dominant. Your lawn will also thank you!
Dierdra McElroy is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is an Animal Behaviorist specializing in canines. If you have questions or concerns about the pets in your house, you can get them answered through a future column of Didi’s Dogs. For a free consultation with Dierdra or to ask your dog behavior question, email www.CaliforniaCanineUnleashed.com.