10 Weird Dog Behaviours Explained
From Head Tilting to Butt Sniffing…There’s Always a Reason Why
We all have our quirks. But when it comes to dogs, they take the cake on weird ways and hilarious habits.
Some of these canine rituals are so common, we just take them as a way of life. But if you really stop and look at your dog rolling around in something disgusting or having “sexy time” with the sofa, you’ll see how bonkers it all is.
Rest assured, there’s a reason for every doggie eccentricity.
1 – Circling Before Lying Down
It’s one of the cuter quirks dogs display. How fun is it to watch your pup circle and circle until she finds the perfect time and exact place to flop down? Some call it nesting, but it turns out it’s an instinct that goes all the way back to the stone age.
Behavourists believe this dizzy ritual began with wolves and wild dogs who would turn circles to flatten grass and clear twigs to make a better resting place. It might look ridiculous now when it’s done on a comfy blanket, but it does come from early canines.
However, if your dog is circling more often than usual and outside the sleeping spot, it could be a sign that something is wrong, ranging from anxiety to hearing imbalance or neurological issues. Check in with your vet.
2 – Tail Chasing
When it comes to chasing their tails, puppies in particular can’t get enough. They simply see their tail as a fun toy with the added bonus of never losing it (we hope). They are also getting to know their bodies and navigating themselves in the big new world.
It’s also a natural way dogs let off steam and expend energy. However, like any overdone behaviour, if your dog chases his tail obsessively, it may warrant a visit to the vet. It could be a sign of a flea infection or an unfortunate anal gland problem.
3 – Sniffing Other Dogs’ Butts
Thank goodness humans didn’t evolve with this trait. And when our dog meets another, we know it’s gonna happen, so we just take it as normal, or look away and talk about the weather.
But in the canine world, butt sniffing is a perfectly polite and acceptable way to greet one another. Considering a dog’s sense of smell is about ten thousand times as sensitive as ours, this sniffing tells a dog all he needs to know about his new pal.
The glands in a pup’s behind emit information about a dog’s sex, diet, healthiness, and even mood. And don’t be embarrassed when a dog takes a big whiff of your crotch either. He’s just saying hello and getting a read on your pheromones.
4 – Eating Grass
What is this attraction to grass with our dogs? Sure, it’s better than eating garbage, but why do they keep doing it?
Some experts believe it helps them stay regular, others think it points to a deficiency in diet. But the common answer is that they simply enjoy eating grass and like the taste! And veterinarians agree it’s quite normal and harmless, and may even be a decent source of fibre.
Watch out what kind of grass your dog is munching on. Keep her away from lawns sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers, and if you’re not sure, just keep walking.
5 – Humping Everything
This is a mood killer for everyone but the dog. There’s no better way to feel awkward when guests are over, and your pet starts “doing it” with another dog, the sofa, or leg of your friend. We may laugh it off, but it’s the worst.
Of course, humping has roots in mating and sex, but it rarely has x-rated connotations – especially since spayed and neutered dogs keep mounting things and each other.
Dogs hump away to release energy and to seek attention from others (and boy, does it get our attention). It’s also said that it might be a show of dominance. The bottom line is, what’s harmless to them is a bit embarrassing for us, so it’s best to avert attention or distract the dog with a toy.
6 – Licking Us
Non-dog people will never understand how we let our dogs lick us on the face and lips. It’s simply a friendly greeting and display of love. It also shows safety and dominance towards the lucky ones being licked. Researchers say it also stems from the instinctual way a dog will lick and clean her pups.
And as good as it feels when your dog licks your toes, she’s actually going for spots that have more smell and sensory information. So don’t take it as a compliment. Your feet smell.
7- Eating Poop
This is one even dog lovers wish wasn’t a thing. The medical term for eating feces is coprophagy (memorize it to impress friends and workmates!), and it’s actually quite harmless. Dogs experience the world through their noses and mouths, and sometimes they just like a bite of poop.
Experts also point out that dogs occasionally eat poop when they feel like they’re lacking nutrients or digest food too fast and want to regain those nutrients. Either way, it’s gross.
8 – Staring at Us
Ever had your dog stare at you so long it gets a bit creepy? They’re simply trying to tell you something (like the need to pee) or wanting information or perhaps a treat. It’s also a form of affection, and when a pet parent and dog look into each other’s eyes, happy hormones are released and their bond is strengthened.
But even if they stare at you, many dogs actually don’t like direct eye contact and feel threatened by your long gaze. So before you stare back, make sure it’s mutual.
9- Tilting Head
Probably the most adorable trait on this list, it’s always fun to watch your dog cock his head when you whistle, ask him questions, or talk in baby voices.
When your dog cocks his head, he’s trying to capture the sound better or attempting to make sense of the funny sounds in the air or even pick out key words like “walk” or “treat.” Hey, at least someone is really listening to you, right?
10 – Rolling Around in Yucky Stuff
When dogs roll around in the grass, it’s usually because it feels nice, like a good back scratching. But when dogs choose to roll in disgusting things, like garbage, dead animals, and (god forbid) poop, the reasons go way back to their ancestors.
Dogs instinctively cover themselves in smelly stuff to mask their own scent in order to stave off predators or to hunt prey. And because this is unnecessary these days, it becomes a drag when you have to hose a dog off after a safe suburban walk around the block.