If you’re a dog owner, you may be familiar with your dog’s bathroom routine. You may have noticed that all dogs do a circular motion before they get down to their business. While we know that our dogs are a little weird sometimes, there is no denying that this habit is just downright odd. So, why do they do it? Well, there are several different theories that may just answer the age-old question, why do dogs circle before going potty?
Scaring Off the Creatures
One of the theories behind the strange ritual goes back to the dogs’ ancestry. Some believe that their poop circle is similar to their bed circle. They want to scare off anything that might be hiding in the grass, such as bugs, scorpions, or snakes. Dogs are vulnerable when they’re going to the bathroom. That is why it would make sense that they’d want to clear the area of any potential problems beforehand. Definitely gives you something to think about with this one.
Keeping the Grass Away
Again, this dates back to the olden days when dogs lived out in the wild and would often be in areas where the grass was obviously never mowed. By them doing a circle or two, they’d stomp down any tall grass under their feet. Some believe that this was a cleanliness habit since stomping the grass down would lessen the possibility that their poop would get trapped in tall grass and then smeared all over their hair. Plus, by trampling grass they also lessen their chances of getting a long blade of grass accidentally tickling their little booty.
Dogs mark their territory by leaving their personal scents behind. This can either be them peeing all over something or by leaving behind a fecal surprise. It’s gross to us, but to other dogs, it’s a way for them to learn information about other dogs through smell. Therefore, if they poop in the grass, they’re leaving behind a message. But dogs also have scent glands between their toes. So, if they’re stepping all over the grass before going to the bathroom, between their tootsies and their poo they can definitely leave a really powerful “I was here” message for the next dog.
Aligning with Earth’s Magnetic Field
This theory is probably the one that sounds most out there, but it’s actually inspired by a real study. A study published by the Frontiers in Zoology Journal shared that dogs seem to be very in-tune with the small vibrations made by Earth’s magnetic field. They got this information from a two-year study under which they closely monitored the bathroom habits of several dogs. What was found was all the dogs preferred to evacuate their bowels while facing the north-south axis. Quite particular but also not uncommon for several animal specials. Along with dogs, cows, deer, and foxes seemed to show a preference for the same axis when they were resting or grassing.