Many dogs seem to have some unusual rituals when they poop, and these actions are often driven by their psychological needs.
As a recent article notes, canines tend to sniff around a prospective area, expel their waste, then kick up grass or dirt over the area.
While owners may think their pets are trying to cover up the mess, they're actually leaving an additional message to dogs who may walk the area afterwards.
"All dogs have glands in their feet that secrete pheromones, and a couple of backward scratches into the earth releases those chemicals."
This behavior could be traced to more primitive times when wolves and non-domesticated dogs would try to warn off other animals by leaving their scent.
Modern canines still have extremely sensitive noses, containing as many as 300 receptors, so they are able to learn about their counterparts through these olfactory cues.
While marking their territory is one reason for the post-poop digging, Dr. Brittany Jaeger, a Tampa veterinarian, believes it could also help dogs "cover their tracks so that other animals won't know they've been there."