Most people know that dogs are fond of lifting their legs on fire hydrants, telephone poles, and the occasional wall. When they can’t find one of these objects, they usually stick to grass or at least some organic material of some kind.
But what about bushes?
If you’ve ever seen your dog poop (or pee) on or in some bushes before, you may have done a double take. Why on earth would your canine friend be fond of going to the bathroom on a bush, of all things?
In this article, we’ll attempt to answer this question and several others related to it. Let’s get started!
Why does my dog poop in bushes?
It’s probable that the better answer to this question is: Why does your dog poop on anything in particular?
And the answer is: They’re marking their territory. Male dogs, especially, have a fondness for marking their territory. They want to let other dogs and animals know that they’ve been there. And by doing so, they’re also relaying information about themselves to these other animals — for instance, what they’ve recently eaten, where they’ve recently been, and what type of a mood they were in. Believe it or not, all of this can be conveyed by the simple practice of marking territory.
If your dog poops in the bushes, specifically, it’s probably simply because they like to mark that spot. We might liken it to why humans tend to relieve themselves against something like a wall or a tree if they ever do so outside. In Europe, it’s quite common for adult men to go to the bathroom on a side street, for example. They don’t do it in the middle of the street. They do it against a wall.
Dogs are ironically similar. They either go where they feel safest (which may be in the bushes because it’s hidden and sheltered), or they go somewhere where another dog has recently marked their territory.
Why does my dog poop on plants?
Similar to pooping on bushes, many dogs poop on plants. Garden-owners often have this problem. Their dog will have an entire lawn or open area where they can go to the bathroom. Yet, given the chance, they’ll go straight for the garden and poop on the plants.
This ultra-picky mannerism can be extremely exacerbating. After all, who wants to reap the produce from a garden full of dog excrement?
So, let’s get to the bottom of it.
The truth is, your dog is probably pooping on plants for the same reason some dogs poop on bushes: They want to leave their scent behind for the next lucky dog to encounter. In this scent, they’ll record everything they can about themselves. It’s almost like your dog’s way of sending out a tweet: “Here I am! This is what I’m like! Come take a look!”
However, there are other reasons why your dog may be pooping on plants as well. For one thing, it’s possible that your dog is simply trying to stay safe while going to the bathroom. Instead of pooping out in the open (like in a field or park), dogs who poop in the bushes or behind or onto plants and other objects are often just trying to keep other animals at bay. They don’t want them around, and they’d rather have their privacy.
Why does my dog poop against trees?
Let’s go back to the very beginning when we were talking about the relationship between how dogs relieve themselves and how humans relieve themselves. In fact, the two are quite similar. Yes, both dogs and humans — when given the chance — will likely go to the bathroom against a tree rather than go in a wide, open space.
This is largely because trees provide cover. They’re quite sheltering, and even if you’re exposed on one side of the tree while going to the bathroom, you’ll be hidden on the other side. The same goes for walls and lampposts.
One thing to also note is that most of the dogs who go to the bathroom against a tree are males. That’s because male dogs especially want to contact potential mates. Unneutered males want to relay to their female counterparts that they’re “single and ready to mingle” or, basically: in the area and available.
How do I stop my dog from pooping on my bushes?
Dogs who poop on your bushes shouldn’t be severely punished. It’s definitely a natural inclination and not one you can just stop in a day.
Still, you can stop the behavior over time and with some hard work if it’s upsetting to you or if your dog is doing it on a neighbor’s or friend’s bushes (this can cause some tension between the two of you, to say the least).
The most obvious way to stop your dog from pooping in the bushes is to not have bushes available when they need to go to the bathroom. That is, keep your dog in an area where there are no bushes when you take them outside.
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
We understand that this isn’t an ideal situation for everyone, however. So, if you want to keep your bushes exactly where they are and it’s still causing problems for you, try some positive reinforcement therapy as your next course of action.
Basically, this means reinforcing good behaviors in your dog with positive praise, encouragement, and treats. When your dog is doing something you like (not pooping in the bushes or on plants or trees, for example!), give them some love. Tell them what a good dog they are, and give them a bone or treat.
You can also, of course, try negative reinforcement. As long as you don’t harm your dog in any way, you can try scolding your dog when they do something you don’t like. For example, after they poop in a bush, tell them to sit, and give a slight push downward (non-aggressive) on their bottom so that they really do sit. Then make them stay there for a few minutes before letting them go.