Trixie was a small Chihuahua-mix who aimed to please. She possessed a few easy tricks in her repertoire to entertain the humans, including roll-over, “shake,” and sitting up on her hind legs to beg for treats. Trixie’s most unusual “trick” was both funny and appalling. Her master would say, “Trixie, drag and wag for Daddy.” The little dog immediately assumed the position and began butt-scooting across the floor, watching her owner and excited for the treat that was to come.
Yes, the dog was cute – sort of. But the carpeted floor belonged to me, and I imagined all kinds of nastiness Trixie might have deposited across my living room carpet.
The man was so proud of Trixie’s so-called, learned trick and had no idea that other factors might be at play with a butt-scooting dog.
Why Dogs Do the Butt-Scooting Routine
Sure, it could be a learned behavior, reinforced with the anticipation of a treat. Or it could be something as serious as a rectal prolapse. Below are some of the reasons why Trixie’s behavior might be more concerning.
Excess Fecal Debris May Create a Butt-Scooting Dog
The least concern, healthwise, would happen if a dog’s owner didn’t bathe his pet correctly. Fecal matter could get caught in the dog’s fur and left behind. That’s not as likely with a short-haired dog, but it should be the first thing to check when you see your dog scooting his rear-end across the floor.
Dog Ate Something that Needs to Come Out
Some dogs will eat anything. Coby, a large Blue Great Dane, ate 2 plastic grocery bags. I only discovered it when the bags began protruding from his butt. Watching a 135 lb Dane scoot his itchy butt across my off-white carpet took 10 years off my life. I moved Coby outside and watched him continue the same behavior until more of the bag was exposed.
Let’s just say that I moved in, armed with 2 more plastic bags over my hand and I pulled those offending bags from his body. Thus, ended Coby’s butt-scooting.
Anal Gland Blockage
A dog’s anatomy has 2 pouches, one on each side of the anus. These pouches produce a smelly, oily mess that helps canines identify each other and mark their territory. That butt-scooting could be a sign of anal impaction or infection. Either requires a vet visit.
Possibly the number one cause of allergies in dogs is food. Food allergies manifest with itching skin, rashes, intestinal problems and/or butt-scooting because of the itching. Here are a few other causes of allergies in dogs:
Fleas and Other Parasites
When a dog is infested with fleas, the insects may settle on or around the animal’s bottom. This causes itches and burning, and the dog may drag his behind on the floor to relieve it.
Medications & Mold Spores
Both causes of allergic reactions may present as itching skin, and the delicate tissue around the dog’s butt may be extra sensitive.
Fleas often host tapeworm larvae and transmit them to dogs. The tapeworm lives and grows in the animal’s intestines and pieces of it break off and pass out through feces. This process may irritate and inflame the dog’s rear end, causing it to drag its butt.
Rectal Prolapse occurs when an animal strains to urinate, defecate or give birth. Constipation is another possible cause. The discomfort may cause a dog to drag his butt. Sometimes with rectal prolapse, part of the intestine will push out and be exposed.
Reinforced Behavior Created Trixie’s Butt-Scooting
In Trixie’s case, her butt-scooting was due to her owner’s encouraging the behavior. By reinforcing it with a treat each time, the little dog learned that it was a good thing.
As writer Kevin Myers stated, “No matter the reason for the bum drag, it’s a behavior that all dog lovers have to contend with. It’s just a dog doing what a dog does.”