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Why Does My Dog Scoot His Rear End?

black and white dog wearing yellow rain coat outside

When a dog scoots (drags) his rear end on the carpet, it can look bizarre—and even comical. And if it’s done in front of visitors, it can also be embarrassing. If you’ve ever witnessed this behavior, you may have wondered what is driving your dog to do this. In almost all cases your dog is trying to get relief from irritation in his anal region.

There are, in fact, several possible reasons for the irritation:

Full, swollen, or impacted anal glands. Your dog’s anal glands are located on the sides of his rectum. If everything is normal with your dog, his anal glands will empty when he defecates. This is one way dogs mark their territory. However, if the glands become clogged due to an infection or another medical problem, your dog may not be able to express (empty) his glands. As a result, he will experience discomfort in the anal area. To relieve this irritation, he may drag his rear end on a rough surface, such as a carpet.

Tapeworm infection. When a dog is infected by tapeworms, his anal area could become irritated or itchy when small sections of the parasite exit his rectum.

Skin allergies. When a dog has allergies, any area of skin can become itchy, including the skin around his rectum and under his tail.

Dried fecal matter around the anus. Another reason for irritation around the anus has a very simple explanation: dried particles of stool that are stuck to the area. If this is the case, your dog’s scooting might relieve the irritation—but it could result in stained carpets.

Treatment for the conditions that cause scooting

Normally, your dog’s anal glands will automatically empty (express) themselves when he moves his bowels. However, when the glands become clogged or swollen, professional help may be needed. If your dog occasionally scoots his rear end and you take him to a groomer on a regular basis, the groomer may be able to express your dog’s anal glands. But if you’ve noticed that your dog is prone to this condition, it’s best to take him to the vet for an examination. If left untreated, clogged anal glands can rupture—and you want to make sure your dog receives proper medical attention BEFORE that happens.

Tapeworms and skin allergies require treatment by your veterinarian. So if you notice you dog scooting, it's best to have him examined so that the cause of the problem can be identified, and appropriate treatment instituted.

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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