If you own a dog or been around dogs enough, no doubt you've seen a dog kick up dirt after going potty. While some have theorized that the dog is trying to bury its poop like cats do, that's not what's going on. For one thing, if that were the case, our dog would fail at it every time. He never, ever gets the dirt over his poop. In fact, he gets more dirt on himself.
So, why do dogs kick up dirt after going potty? In short, it all comes down to communication. It is a social dog behavior. There are scent glands in the dog's feet. When they scratch the dirt with their paws, secretions from these scent glands are released. In addition to the scent, the scratch marks are a visible indication that a message has been left for any animals in the area. Dogs also exude pheromones while going potty and these scents provide a lot of information about the dog, including sex, age, and health.
For dogs who have alpha tendencies, the messages he or she leaves may be intended as a show of dominance or to claim the territory for their own. In other words, they're signaling “don't mess with me”. Some experts think that some dogs might be doing it to cover their scent or as a sign of submission, telling the alpha in the area that they intend no harm while they pass through the territory.
If your dog's dirt kicking is tearing up your yard, there are ways you can break the habit. A squeaky toy or treat offered after your dog is done doing his business can distract your dog from completing his little potty ritual. If done consistently and enough times, it may become habit to come to you after going potty instead of kicking up dirt.