It’s an unfortunate fact of life. Animals poop. As their owners, it’s our responsibility to make sure they do so in appropriate places. The truth is Most of us want to think about and deal with poop as little as possible. There are even a surprising number of lucrative businesses devoted to handling the dirty work of poop scooping. Of course, ignoring the fact that your dog poops doesn’t make life any easier. It gets even more difficult when your dog seems committed to playing hide and seek with their waste. 

Why does my dog hide her poop?

Dogs don’t have the same social conventions people do,  but they do have some rituals and instincts around their bathroom habits. Dogs pee habits are well known. Most people assume a dog is marking every time it lifts a leg. Poop habits are a bit more mysterious. Dogs seem to have their own personal preferences for a number of reasons. 

Pheromones

Dogs mark their territory with their pee and poop because it contains pheromones. It’s essentially the dog’s calling card. A unique scent that other dogs can identify. However, pheromones aren’t just found in your dog’s waste. There are also pheromone glands on the paws. A dog will scratch the ground as a way to mark their territory. This can be used on its own, or as an exclamation point to their poop message. 

Keep Their Presence Secret

Cats often bury their poop as a way to hide from predators. While dogs generally use poop as a way to declare their presence, they can hide their poop to keep their presence secret. This could be a submissive behavior or simply an instinct. 


Scratching poop to Make Their Presence Known

In most cases, the assumption a dog is hiding its poop by attempting to bury it is wrong. If your dog poops and begins scratching at the dirt, it may look like they are trying to cover their poop. You’ll notice that they aren’t successful in covering it up, and only throw a bit of debris onto the pile. 

If you’ve ever seen a dog bury a bone or other loved treat, you know that they are perfectly capable of burying something when that’s their goal. So why are they digging around their poop? They aren’t trying to hide it. Instead, they are highlighting it. The pheromones contained in their paws enhance the dog’s message of “I’m here. This is my space”. The act of tossing debris on it can also stir up the scent, making it more powerful. 

Why does my dog bury poop with her nose?

It’s one of the strangest things dogs do. Why would they go near poop with their nose when we hold ours when we come near it? It’s important to know that dogs don’t mind the smell of poop the way we do. They smell poop as a means of communication, so the smell certainly doesn’t put them off. 

Instinct

Dogs have a burying instinct that dates back to when they were wild. Wild dogs would kill an animal and eat what they could. They would bury the remains for later consumption. This was necessary for their survival. Hunting requires energy, and resources could be scarce at times. Hidden stores meant the dogs wouldn’t starve during lean times. 

Even though today’s dogs are well fed and have no need to bury their food, these instincts still exist. It also carries over to other things. Dogs will bury their favorite toy or even your car keys. Of course, your dog isn’t burying its poop so it can eat it later, we hope. 

A Dog’s Nose is a Tool

Dogs don’t have shovels. Instead, they have their paws and their nose. Many dogs will use their nose when they want to hide something, instead of or in addition to their paws. This is likely because paws have pheromones. If a dog truly wishes to hide something, it might use its nose so other dogs don’t smell their way to the location. 

Avoiding Predators

If your dog wants to hide their poop to avoid alerting predators, it makes sense they would use their nose to do the job. This helps mask the scent of pheromones. 

Pride

Some dogs simply like their own poop. It’s common for dogs to eat poop or even roll around in it. They are far from disgusted by it. It’s not a common reason, but it’s certainly possible that your dog simply treasures its poop and wants to hide it for safe keeping. 

Why does my dog hide poop in the house?

There are few things worse than finding a poop mine in your home with your foot. The reasons dog’s hide their poop in the house are usually different from the reasons why they hide it outdoors. 

Fear of Punishment

This is the biggest reason a dog hides poop inside. They will poop in an area where they think it won’t be discovered because they’ve gotten into trouble for it in the past. The old method of dog training involved punishing your dog for pooping in the house. Hitting them in the head with a newspaper or rubbing their nose in it were common practices. Unfortunately, instead of teaching the dog not to poop in the house, many dogs learned to hide it instead. 

What if you’ve never punished your dog for pooping inside, but they are hiding it? It’s possible that your dog picked up on your frustration or unhappiness at their poop pile. Even if you didn’t whack them with a newspaper, some dogs are very sensitive to their owner’s displeasure. Frustration is a natural reaction to the mess an inappropriately placed poop brings, but it can exacerbate the problem. A raised voice or unhappy tone could be enough to send your dog into stealth poop mode. 

Away From Their “Living area” 

The old adage goes, “You don’t poop where you eat”. Dogs tend to hold firm to this bit of wisdom. It’s natural for a dog to poop as far away as possible from where they eat or sleep. If your dog can’t go outside, they may look for a room or area that’s infrequently used. This can look like your dog is sneaking around, but they are simply trying to poop outside of their typical living space. 

Why does my dog hide to poop?

Some dogs have no issue pooping with an audience, while others seem downright shy. This can be frustrating for owners. If you take your dog out to poop and they are unwilling to do so because you are there, it can cause quite a problem. Understanding why dogs hide to poop can help. 

Vulnerability

This goes back to the dog’s survival instincts. In the wild, predators could come at any time. To survive, a dog had to be ready to run or defend itself very quickly. Pooping posed a problem, because that’s when a dog is most vulnerable. It’s difficult for a pooping dog to do anything else, including running or fighting. 

For some dogs, this vulnerability means that they should only poop when there’s nothing around that could be a potential threat. This “shyness” can extend to not wanting to poop around their owner. It’s not that they feel threatened by their owner. It’s simply that their instinct is to poop when alone. 

The Poop Stare

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the poop stare. These dogs will stare at you while they do their business. It can be awkward for us humans, but it’s actually a way of showing trust and affection. If your dog looks at you while pooping, they are saying they trust you to have their back. For those few vulnerable moments, you are their protector. 

Punishment

If your dog has been punished or noticed your displeasure when they poop in the house, they may hide to poop out of fear. If you catch them pooping, stay very calm. You can interrupt and lead them to where they should be pooping, but don’t scold or raise your voice. A dog who is scared of punishment may hide signs they are about to poop as well. This makes house training more difficult. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.