Seeing pooches do weird things has been a part of a dog parent’s life.
Now, your dog is doing it again.
This time, they’re kicking their back legs just like a bull would do.
Are they just trying to look funny?
Or is this something to worry about?
In this article, you’ll discover:
- 11 reasons why your dog kicks his back legs randomly.
- Serious underlying medical causes of this behavior in dogs.
- The true reason why your dog’s back legs are scuffing after pooping.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog kick his back legs randomly?
- 11 reasons why your dog kicks his back legs (like a bull)
- People also ask:
Why does my dog kick his back legs randomly?
Your dog kicks his back legs randomly because of excitement, territory marking, scratch reflex, muscle spasms, or active REM sleep. This could also be due to medical conditions such as infections, nerve damage, hip dysplasia, medial patellar luxation, seizures, or osteoarthritis.
11 reasons why your dog kicks his back legs (like a bull)
Did you just prepare Fido’s meal?
Or said the word ‘play’?
If so, then maybe you sparked your pup’s excitement.
Dogs convey their enthusiasm in many forms. And kicking their back legs is one of those. It’s like a push from their happiness inside.
Try to observe when this behavior starts to occur.
Do they start to bull kick when you’re opening a bag of treats? Or when you’re taking their toys out?
You see, simple things make a dog thrilled. You’ll know that your pawed baby’s excited if they are:
- Unable to settle.
- Wagging their tail.
- Jumping and panting.
- Grinning with an open mouth.
- With their tongue hanging out.
#2: Territory marking
Does your dog’s leg kicking start after they do their business?
It may appear that they’re trying to clean the area. Like your dog is burying their excrement. But that behavior is more than just that.
Bull kicking after urinating and defecating is a way of scent marking.
It’s known to be a part of a dog’s nature. This is in order to let them know what is theirs and what is not.
What’s more interesting is that dogs don’t only mark their territory with their waste. They’re using their sweat glands as well.
And this explains why your dog kicks their back legs.
The sweat glands on a dog’s paws produce pheromones. The latter refers to a chemical substance which mammals and insects excrete.
A pheromones’ scent can be spread when canines kick on surfaces. The scent of it serves as a territory marker in dogs.
#3: Scratch reflex
Bull kicking in dogs may also occur involuntarily.
Just like when you’re scratching your dog and they suddenly kick.
That unconscious movement is called a scratch reflex. It refers to a dog’s uncontrolled response to touch.
Here’s how it works:
Your dog’s skin has nerves underneath it. And there’s a part which is a dog’s ‘sweet spot’.
Let’s say you’re scratching your dog or giving them a belly rub. If you happen to hit the ‘sweet spot’, the nerves will start to react.
The nerves will send a message traveling to your dog’s spinal cord.
But instead of sending it to the brain, it goes directly to Fido’s back legs. Which makes the legs involuntarily kick as a reaction.
This reaction can be similar when a dog is jumpy when surprised.
Fun fact: The scratch reflex can help in diagnosing health problems. Such as brain or nerve damage.
#4: Active rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
Is your dog asleep when their leg kicking occurs?
You might be wondering why this happens. But let me ask you this first:
Have you noticed your pawed baby dreaming?
That’s when they’re breathing fast or twitching their paws while sleeping. It may also be accompanied by grunting and groaning.
The one who’s responsible for it is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This refers to a sleeping stage wherein the brain’s activity is the same as when awake. Which happens to both humans and canines.
Your pawed child may experience this more if they’re active during the day. Because when bedtime comes, they’re likely to dream about it.
Dr. Coren says that dogs get into REM sleep in the first 20 minutes of their sleep. And it usually lasts for only 2 or 3 minutes.
A study suggests that dogs may have longer REM sleep. Particularly if they’re awake for long periods of time during the day.
Further reading: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Breathing Fast While Sleeping
#5: Muscle spasms
A muscle spasm can also be a reason why your dog is bull kicking.
“What does that mean?”
Muscle spasms a.k.a muscle cramps. This refers to a rapid and involuntary tremor of muscles.
This usually occurs when your dog does extreme physical activities. It causes an interruption in muscle contractions. As a result, your pawed baby will experience muscle spasms.
A sign of spasm is when dogs kick their legs. It may appear as twitching or jerking repeatedly.
You may also confirm it by touching your dog’s legs. If you felt some vibration then that is muscle spasms or cramps.
Also, keep in mind that muscle spasms may indicate conditions such as:
- Muscle strain
- Pinched nerve.
- Physical injury.
- Neurological damage.
Note: Muscle spasms can cause pain in dogs. Particularly if these occur for a long period of time.
#6: Degenerative Joint Disease
In connection to the previous reason. Spasms may also be present in dogs with degenerative joint disease (DJD).
Dr. Kara says veterinarians believe that spasms may be due to DJD.
It’s short for Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), a.k.a osteoarthritis. This condition refers to the inflammation of a dog’s joints. Which is due to cartilage deterioration.
Damage to the cartilage may cause a dog to kick their legs.
Cartilage is a tissue that is located between the joints. It functions as support that helps joints move swiftly.
But it only works that way if the cartilage is healthy. Otherwise, the joints will be stiff when moving. Which may result in dogs bull-kicking involuntarily.
This condition mainly affects a dog’s limbs and lower spine. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Weight gain.
- Difficulty getting up.
- Reluctance to move.
- Yelps when touched.
Causes of canine DJD include:
- Joint infections.
- Injuries or fractures.
#7: Skin infections
Your dog may kick their legs due to skin allergies and infections.
Research about skin infections in dogs was conducted. Results show that 13.71% of dogs suffered from skin infections. And female German Shepherds are more prone to it.
In most cases, skin infections in dogs cause itchiness.
We know how it feels when something’s itchy. It makes us scratch constantly until we’re free of it.
It’s the same for our canine companions. Only pooches use a different method in getting rid of itchiness. They either lick or scratch using their paws.
How about when their back legs are itching?
Canines’ front paws won’t reach the itchy spot. So, they’re left with the option of kicking their legs.
Now, let’s talk about 2 common skin conditions that can cause dogs to act this way.
Your dog may acquire this through open wounds. Especially if not cleaned and treated right away. Bacterias will then start to form and contaminate the wound.
Bacterial infections usually come from animal bites.
Some symptoms of a bacterial infection include:
- Crusty skin.
- Loss of hair.
- Swollen lesions.
This skin infection occurs when yeasts build up on a dog’s skin. Primarily on their ears and paws.
This is likely to happen if a dog’s skin is oily than normal. Also, allergies and a weak immune system increase yeast organisms.
A dog has a yeast infection if their skin is:
There are dog breeds that are more prone to yeast infections. And these are:
- Basset Hounds.
- Cocker Spaniels.
#8: Nerve damage
One of the symptoms of nerve damage is bull kicking.
The issue with nerve damage is it affects relaying messages to the brain. It either delays or redirects to other parts of the body.
For example, a dog’s nerve on their lower body is damaged. The nerves that are present there will face a problem. They won’t be able to receive and send messages to the brain.
As a result, the nerves will deliver it directly to a dog’s legs or hips. Which explains why a dog is kicking like a bull.
And this is mostly caused by a condition called:
Canine leg paralysis
Dr. Thomas Schubert mentions that leg paralysis may be due to injury to nerve roots in the:
- Spinal cord.
- lower back or tailbone.
You can spot leg paralysis in dogs if the exhibit:
- Muscle atrophy.
- Dragging a limb.
- Loss of appetite.
- Excessive vocalizing.
- Chewing or licking the affected part.
#9: Hip dysplasia
Another condition that may cause leg kicking in dogs is hip dysplasia.
Dr. Joseph Harari says that hip dysplasia refers to an unusual growth of the hip joint. And is common in large dogs.
Hip dysplasia occurs due to:
- Excessive growth.
- Improper exercise.
This condition will be painful for dogs. It makes them hop when walking. And also twitch or kick their legs as the pain occurs.
But you can still help a pooch with this condition. Hip dysplasia can be treated by surgery. Aside from that, it can also be cured by:
- Physical therapy.
- Weight reduction.
- Joint fluid modifiers.
- Anti-inflammatory medications.
- Restriction of exercise on hard surfaces.
#10: Medial Patellar Luxation
Canines may kick like a bull due to medial patellar luxation. Or commonly known as dislocation of a dog’s kneecap.
Medial patellar luxation is hard to determine.
Because dogs barely show signs of pain. Dogs will only start kicking their legs. They’ll either kick them backward or sideward.
The reason for that is to extend the knees through kicking. And when it extends, it snaps back to its location. Meaning: dogs kick in order to treat their patellar luxation.
Kneecap dislocation is prone to happen in toy breeds. Such as:
- Bichon Frise.
- French Poodle.
Seizures in dogs may also cause them to kick their legs.
According to PetMD, this condition occurs when there’s a rare brain activity.
It causes dogs to twitch and shake uncontrollably. A dog will also experience contractions. Particularly in their limbs and muscles. Which makes a dog appear like they’re bull-kicking.
Sign of seizure in dogs will make the look:
- Hiding behavior.
- Clinginess from dog parents.
People also ask:
Why does my dog kick his back legs when barking?
Your dog kicks his back legs when barking because they want to play. Dogs communicate through body language and vocalization.
It’s best to watch out for your dog’s posture aside from kicking. A happy and playful dog will show signs such as:
- Ears down.
- Wagging tail.
- Relaxed body posture.
Why does my dog kick his back legs when sleeping?
Your dog kicks his back legs when sleeping because of a rapid eye movement cycle. It’s when the brain is acting the same way during waking hours.
Active dogs will often display this. It’s because canines will likely dream about what they do during the day.
For example, let’s say your dog runs every day. So, they might still exhibit motions like running while asleep.
Why does my dog kick his back legs when playing?
Your dog kicks his back legs when playing due to excitement. This is a dog’s way to convey their feelings of enthusiasm.
Pooches may only show it when they’re about to do exciting things such as:
- Going out.
- Seeing friends.
- Visiting their favorite place.
Why does my dog kick his back legs after pooping?
Your dog kicks his back legs after pooping because they’re marking. Leg kicking after urinating or defecating is a display of scent marking.
The reason they do it is that pheromones stay longer than the scent of their excrements and urine.
Why does my dog kick his back legs on the carpet?
Your dog kicks his back legs on the carpet due to scent marking.
That’s how they mark their territory. In this way, it’s easier for them to track what is theirs. And it also helps them avoid what is other’s territory.
The sweat glands on their paws release pheromones. The latter usually stay really long. That’s why this method works better than urine marking for example.