On the spectrum of being OCD to being totally laid back, we, as humans, ALL have our habits and quirks. What makes no sense to one person, makes perfect sense to another. And so to dogs.
When we observe our dogs doing something which, from a human perspective, looks odd, rather than raising our eyes to the sky and making a comment such as “that dog is just stupid”, let’s look at the situation from a dog’s point of view. He or she may be thinking “how dumb is this human for not realizing why I’m doing what I’m doing: this is normal behaviour for me”. Not understanding why a dog does what it does doesn’t make the dog stupid. It simply means we don’t understand.
One quirk that our own dog has takes place at meal times. The kibble is in his bowl and he’s been given the ok to eat. First thing he does is to pick up on average 4-6 pieces of kibble, walk 8-10 feet away and drop them on the carpet. This is repeated once but on a different area of the carpet. He then returns to his bowl and finishes the remainder of the kibble. Having finished what was in the bowl he will normally (90% of the time) return to the dropped kibble and eat it. Even though I appreciate that dogs don’t do anything without good reason (in their minds), I am bemused by this behaviour. Unlike burying a bone in the back yard where, in his mind, no-one else knows where he has buried it, the kibble is left there for the world to see. Daily I am left smiling as this ritual unfolds before my eyes, never getting any closer to understanding what in his DNA drives this habit.
As a dog owner, I’m sure I’m not the only person to notice how dogs seem to wake up and go to bed at almost the exact same time each day, come rain or shine, summer or winter. This has always fascinated me. Having dismissed the possibility that dogs can tell the time by looking at a clock, I ask myself “how can they do this?” Is their internal body clock so well tuned that they know how many hours it is since they first awoke that habit has taken over?
Dogs enjoy routine, which invariably reflects human habits and the timing of certain events each day. When routine is broken, dogs may become upset or depressed, simply because their understanding of what should be happening has been altered. Life doesn’t always run as we expect it to so, if your dog starts to act abnormally, think back to what happened during the day. You may just find that his or her behaviour is reflecting a shift away from routine or habit.
Talking of change, November 4th brings a changing of the clocks to, in theory, give us an extra hour in bed. Good luck trying to explain this to your dog!