Why does my dog walk and poop? A vet's guide

Close up of man's arm holding poop bag with dog in background
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If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why does my dog walk and poop”, chances are it’s a habit you’ll want to put a stop to. After all, when it comes to ways to have more fun with your dog on walks, cleaning up a long trail of poop certainly isn't on the list!

There are actually several reasons why your dog is behaving in this way and understanding them can help you to resolve the issue. The same goes for dogs who are walking and peeing. It’s equally as embarrassing when you’re out in public and also avoidable or treatable by and large. 

So let’s take a look at why your dog walks and poops and get some expert advice from veterinary surgeon Dr. Rebecca MacMillan.

Is it normal for a dog to poop while walking?

First of all, let’s address whether or not walking and popping is actually normal. The good news is that, yes, it is – lots of dogs do their business whilst walking and it’s not always a sign that something is wrong! If your pet is otherwise well, put it down to a behavioral quirk. If your pet is showing signs of ill health, however, then you need to investigate further.

Why does my dog poop or pee while walking?

Dogs seem to poop or pee whilst on the move for a number of reasons, which could include the following:

To help the passage of stools 

Moving the muscles around his anus can help him pass his stools more easily. Some dogs will do this just because it feels more comfortable, whereas others may start this behavior if they are a bit constipated. 

If they are struggling to pass stools, then they may use movement to help ease that poop out. Changes in diet can cause constipation, as well as other health conditions, so if your dog’s stools are smaller or harder than usual get him checked over. 

Poop has got stuck on the way out 

Sometimes poop gets stuck on its way out. This is often the case if your dog has been eating something like grass or hair. These will pass through the digestive tract relatively unchanged, and the long fibres can get caught on the way out. This may mean faeces ends up getting stuck, hanging out of your dog’s bottom. Your dog will then wander around in an effort to try and pass it. 

Scent marking 

dog peeing on plants

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Your dog might be trying to spread his scent around. When your dog passes feces he will usually empty his anal glands too, which is his way of leaving his unique smell behind. 

Similarly, urine contains pheromones and scent markers which your dog will be keen to disperse as much as possible to let other dogs know he’s been in the area. So, walking around whilst he does his business is his way of scent marking. 

Your dog is distracted or excited 

Some dogs just can’t keep still! Perhaps they are excited to be out on their walk and don’t want to stop, or maybe they are distracted by the sight of other dogs or ball games going on. It’s easy to lose concentration and want to keep moving whilst peeing and pooping!

Pain or muscle weakness 

More commonly seen in older dogs, muscle weakness or pain can cause some animals to struggle with maintaining a squatting position. Sometimes it is easier to keep moving and adjusting. If you notice other signs like trembling in your dog’s hind legs, lameness or stiffness then you may need to get your dog checked over by your vet.

dog looking sad

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Digestive upset 

If your dog has severe digestive upset then your dog may not be able to control his bowels that easily. This could result in diarrhea and your dog getting ‘caught out’.

Faecal accidents are more likely to occur when your dog’s stomach is upset which may happen when he’s walking and hasn’t yet squatted properly. Alternatively, he may have an increased urge to pass feces and after a few strides of walking, may decide he’s not quite done and squat again. 

How to stop a dog from walking while pooping

In many cases, it’s not possible to stop this behavior, it’s just what comes naturally to your dog! By telling him off or trying to constrain him when he toilets, you may end up confusing him and causing more issues. 

In most dogs walking and pooping (or peeing) is completely normal. So, whilst it can be annoying, it’s not something to be overly worried about unless your dog is showing any signs of ill health. 

When to visit your vet

If this behavior is new to your pet and you think it’s part of a bigger issue then it’s worth speaking to your vet. Signs that indicate an underlying problem include:

Many dogs occasionally poop (and pee) whilst walking and it isn’t usually a cause for concern if your dog is otherwise well. If you do have concerns about your pet’s health, however, then make sure you speak to your vet for advice.

Rebecca is a veterinary surgeon who graduated in 2009 from the Royal Veterinary College in London. She has a wealth of experience in first opinion small animal practice, having done a mixture of day-to-day routine work, on-call emergency duties and managerial roles over the years. She enjoys medicine in particular and she is proud to have recently achieved a BSAVA postgraduate certificate in small animal medicine (with commendation). She writes on various feline and canine topics, including behavior, nutrition, and health. Outside of work and writing she enjoys walking her own dog, spending time with her young family and baking!