If dogs ruled the world, there would be a lot more poop around. It is distasteful to us, but to a dog , fascination with pee and poop isn’t being vulgar or disgusting! Dogs live by their noses and to a dog there are no “bad” smells — only smells that give more or less information. And I suspect the “smellier” the smell, the more info there is to smell!
So that’s why a polite greeting in dogdom is butt sniffing. I saw a cartoon many years ago that summed it up. An adult dog was speaking to a puppy with two other adult dogs in the background. The adult dog said something like, “Junior, I raised you to be polite! You go right on over to the Fidos and smell their butts!”
That’s why dogs want to sniff our crotches. It’s a polite, non-threatening greeting and tells them a lot about us! Dogs get a lot of info about another being from their backside; residual pee, poop, farts, anal glands, the whole works. Apparently, dog’s noses are so good that they can tell health, reproductive status, dominance level and a bunch of other things just from sniffing you-know-what.
That’s also why dogs like to stop and sniff and mark objects on a walk. They are reading “pee mail” and sending their own messages. Dogs poop on walks to lay claim to territory. When they scratch backwards near the pile, they aren’t trying to cover it up (like a cat would do) but creating “markers” pointing the way to their “deposit!” Some dogs, mine included, seem to scratch not just to mark the spot, but to throw the poop over a greater distance. I wonder if this is deliberate, or just a by-product of over-enthusiastic scraping?
When I have a lot of dogs boarding or here for daycare, I make sure I pick up the poop several times a day. I think it relieves some stress because the yard smells less like multiple dogs are claiming it. I also find that when I’m using the ole poope-scooper, the other dogs seem to mirror me and sniff around, not paying a great deal of attention to each other. According to many dog experts, mirroring behavior is a sign of acceptance and pacification to other dogs. And dogs tend to mirror what the leader is doing. So maybe I’ve accidentally accessed poop power without leaving my own deposits!