Why Does My Dog Kick His Back Legs?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 03/12/22 •  6 min read
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Why Does My Dog Kick His Back LegsWhy Does My Dog Kick His Back Legs

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Sometimes dogs can be very strange and do such weird things! Have you ever seen your dog kicking his back legs? They may look funny, but is this a behavior that you should worry about?

We’ve put together some information on why dogs kick their back legs, and whether this can indicate a problem you need to be concerned about. Let’s get started!

Why Do Dogs Kick Their Back Legs?

There are usually reasons for dog behaviors, but they may not be reasons that make much sense to us! Even so dogs do kick their back legs for different reasons.

1. Marking Their Territory

Dogs may kick their legs against the ground, sending dirt flying into the air! They may do this after going potty. Pet parents sometimes believe the dogs are drying to “wash their hands” after going potty. However, that’s not the case. And the dogs are not trying to cover their poop as a cat does!

Instead, dogs usually kick their back legs after going potty to mark their territory. That’s because dogs have scent glands on the backs of their feet. When they kick dirt, they’re leaving their scent there. Dogs who are dominant may do this as a way to warn other dogs to stay off their territory.

However, dogs who are submissive may also do this to let other dogs know they were there and they’re not a threat.

2. Excitement

Dogs may also kick their back legs when they’re excited! For instance, if you ask your dog if he wants to go on a walk, he may become excited and kick his back legs! This is another normal behavior for dogs. They’re just showing how happy and excited they are!

Try to pay attention to your dog to see when he happens to kick his back legs. You may notice it happens when you mention a walk or going in the car. He may react this way if you open a box of his favorite treats or show him his favorite toy.

If you notice these actions coincide with something that makes your dog happy, you know he’s excited and showing it by kicking his back legs! He may also show the following signs that he’s excited:

3. Scratch Reflex

Another reason that a dog may kick his back legs is because he’s got a scratch reflex. It’s kind of like a tickle spot on a human. When someone tickles that spot, it makes the human involuntarily react in some way. It’s the same with a dog’s scratch reflex.

You may be scratching your dog’s favorite spot. Perhaps this is near the base of his tale or under his tummy. When you happen to touch that certain spot, your dog reacts by kicking his back legs. This is an involuntary movement caused by nerve stimulation. You touching that certain spot causes the nerves to react in a certain way, which causes your fur baby to kick.

4. Muscle Spasms

That leads us to muscle spasms. Dogs may have involuntary movements caused by muscle spasms. This could make him kick his back legs.

Some spasms may be caused by petit mal seizures or other illnesses. Petit mall seizures affect groups of muscles in a certain area. More serious seizures of this type are called grand mall seizures. These may cause a dog to lose consciousness, experience uncontrollable muscle spasms across his entire body, and even go potty.

Grand mal seizures may increase the higher the dog’s body temperature increases and cause brain damage.

Other conditions can cause involuntary muscle spasms, including changes in minerals and electrolytes, overexertion, physical injury, or neurological damage. In addition, dogs who have a lot of strenuous activities and don’t drink enough water may experience muscle spasms.

If your dog is having muscle spasms, it’s important to have him evaluated by a vet. Muscle spasms are often caused by an underlying health issue that need to be checked.

5. Rapid Eye Movement (REM)

Just like humans, our dogs experience rapid eye movement (REM) during sleep. When your dog is sleeping this deeply, it’s possible he may kick his back legs. Your dog may be dreaming and may show other signs, such as breathing fast, twitching paws, or even barking or whining in their sleep.

REM sleep is a sleeping state where the brain activity is like when its awake. This is common in both dogs and their humans. Dogs who are more active during the day may experience REM sleep and have dreams.

6. Degenerative Joint Disease in the Hip

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) can happen where smooth cartilage is lost. It works to protect and cover the ends of bones in joints that are moveable. The cartilage has no nerves; so when bones touch and rub, there’s no pain.

However, when the cartilage disappears, the bones (which have nerves) rub directly on each other. This can lead to inflammation and pain. A dog with this condition may also show other symptoms. Unfortunately, this is a condition that gets worse over time. It can be caused by normal aging or can be caused by diseases such as dysplasia.

7. Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can also cause a dog to kick his back legs. The problem can occur when a nerve is damaged. It’s unable to relay messages to the brain. Instead, the messages may be delayed or redirected to other parts of the body.

This symptom can be an indication of a condition called canine leg paralysis. So, if your dog is having this symptom, then it’s time to make an appointment with the vet.

Summing It Up

These are some of the reasons your dog may kick his back legs! Many of the reasons a dog kicks his back legs are nothing to worry about.

However, if you notice any concerning symptoms that accompany your dog’s leg kicking, then it’s a good idea to call the vet. Your canine companion needs to be checked to make sure he doesn’t have a serious medical condition.

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.