Why Does My Dog Kick His Back Legs Like A Bull? 5 Common Reasons

Why does my dog kick his back legs like a bull? Scuffing is very common among canines. Even my Golden Retriever Sherlock does this a lot.

It may appear as if your dog is preparing to attack, but it’s usually harmless and connected to its instincts. It’s possible that your dog is excited, trying to eliminate something from its legs or marking the surface with its scent.

why does my dog kick his back legs like a bull

In this post, I discussed the possible explanations behind this behavior. This will give you an idea if your dog’s bull-kicking habit is something to worry about:

Why is my dog kicking his back legs?

Scuffing with its back legs is observed in many dogs. Most do it after elimination, but the doggo will also exhibit this on other occasions. 

Why is my dog kicking his back legs
why does my dog kick his back legs like a bull

The following are the common explanations for why your dog exhibits the behavior:

1. Your dog is excited

Excitement often sends a dog scratching the floor. You’ll notice your dog tippy-tappin’ as it waits for something it really likes. Sometimes, the dog will kick its back legs like a bull as it gets more excited about something.

My dog Sherlock used to do this when we were about to go for walks. He likes going out, so once he hears the word ‘walk’, he goes bull-kicking until we take him out.

Many dog owners called this the ‘happy dance’. It’s not usually something to worry about as long as your dog isn’t anxious or exhibiting negative behavior. If the back leg kicking is accompanied by a wagging tail and a smiling face, your pooch is probably just excited.

2. Your dog is marking the spot

Another possible reason is that your dog might be marking the spot where it’s kicking. The dog marks the place so he can go back to it the next time he will eliminate it.

The next time your dog does this, just let it be. It’s just part of their instincts. Unless it’s harming the dog’s paws, this behavior isn’t a problem. Please read here Why Does My Dog Wrap His Paws Around My Arm?

3. Your dog is leaving its scent

Unlike cats, dogs that kick their back legs after eliminating aren’t trying to bury the fecal matter. The kicking motion allows canines to leave their scent on the surface. Like cats, dogs have scent glands all over their paws. Leaving its scent on the spot means that the dog is claiming it as his.

Take note that the scent that comes from a dog’s paws lingers on a surface longer than the smell of their urine. While human noses can’t pick it up, canines can easily distinguish if a fellow has been in that specific area.

4. Your dog is leaving a visual mark

Aside from that, kicking its back legs might be your dog’s way of creating a visual marker. You will notice your dog digging up the soil as if creating a mound. This is so they can easily go back to the spot as they wish.

This is similar to leaving breadcrumbs along a trail so your dog won’t get lost. The disrupted surface will carry the scent from the dog’s paws, making it easier for the canine to go back easily.

5. Your dog is showing dominance

Lastly, the dog might be showing dominance over another canine. A dog will kick its back legs to mark the spot when feeling threatened. It’s like your dog saying, “Hey, other dogs, this is my territory”. The scent serves as a warning for other canines not to breach the territory.

On the other hand, some dogs will kick their back legs to show other dogs that they are submissive. This part is tricky and can be difficult to decipher at first glance.

Should I worry about this behavior?

Most of the time, this isn’t a worrisome behavior. If your dog only does it randomly, it’s probably just a scent-marking habit. However, if there’s no apparent reason for marking, you can always consult your dog’s vet. This also rings true if your dog won’t stop kicking its back legs. Read more here why does my dog sleep between my legs

Any sudden changes in your dog’s behavior are worth consulting with the vet. This will let you get to the root of the problem, especially if it’s a health problem.

Why is my dog kicking his back legs while lying down?

Kicking its back legs while lying down might be a playful gesture. Some dogs will follow this with a rollover showing their belly. 

Why is my dog kicking his back legs while lying down
why does my dog kick his back legs like a bull

But if your pooch is sleeping, it might be dreaming and reenacting the scene, which explains the bull kicking. Please read how to teach your dog to roll over. However, if your dog can’t seem to stop or control the kicking, it’s best to consult the vet. While very rare, this can point to a health problem that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Why does my dog kick his back legs like when a bull when I scratch him?

If your dog kicks its back leg when being petted or scratched, it might be a sign of happiness. Your dog probably enjoys the sensation, especially if you’re scratching him behind the ear. Canines have unique ways of expressing joy, which could include scuffing with their back legs.

As long as the doggo isn’t exhibiting signs of anxiety or aggression, this behavior shouldn’t be a cause of concern. My friend’s dog will tap its feet when being scratched, while others grin with their teeth out. It’s a matter of knowing your dog and its habits.

Why does my dog kick his back legs after peeing?

It’s not to cover the pee but to leave its scent on the spot. Your dog does this to drive away other animals that will try to claim its potty spot.

Another possible reason is that the pee probably got into your dog’s back paws. By shaking and kicking, it’s trying to get rid of the gross matter.

Why does my dog kick his back legs on the carpet?

If you have a new carpet or recently cleaned the old ones, kicking its back legs on it is your dog’s way of re-marking the surface. The smell of newly bought or washed carpet is foreign to canines. 

Why does my dog kick his back legs on the carpet
why does my dog kick his back legs like a bull

With that, they feel obliged to mark in any way they can. Watch out, though, since some canines won’t just mark it with their paw scent. Many times, the doggo will also spray urine on it. If your dog is notorious for this habit, putting a dog diaper on the pooch will save your carpet from the mess. Please read here how to make a dog diaper.

Is my dog having cramps when he kicks his back legs?

Muscle spasms can cause your dog to kick its back legs, either voluntarily or involuntarily. This can happen if your dog overexerts its hind legs or is suffering from neurological problems. In this case, it’s important to involve the vet right away.

Aside from that, some dogs that kick their back legs incessantly might be dealing with nerve damage. Older canines may have arthritis to blame for the bull-kicking habit.


Why does my dog kick his back legs like a bull? It can be due to excitement, leaving its scent, or showing dominance to other canines. Most of the time, this is a harmless habit. But if you suspect that your dog is suffering from a health problem, it won’t hurt to consult the vet.

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