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  • Why oh why (part 2)?


    Continuing last week’s theme of “strange” dog quirks:

    •Why does my dog shake when he’s not wet?

    Part of it goes back to your dog’s primal instincts. In the wild, a dog would sleep on the ground and wake up covered in dirt and bugs, which he would shake off. So, shaking after a nap may just be a leftover instinct from those wilder days. Also, many dogs shake themselves after an emotional moment, whether a good or bad one. It’s just a way of “walking it off” so they can go back to their normal, daily routine.

    •Why does my dog sniff my crotch?

    Not wishing to embarrass us, even though with other humans around this may well be the result, dogs sniff our crotch (and butts) to gather information on us through their amazing sense of smell. This action is for the same reason that dogs sniff each other’s genital and anal areas, where there is a proliferation of pheromones.

    •Why does my dog move his ears up and down?

    Dogs use body language to communicate a lot and utilize the positioning of their ears to express a wide array of different emotions, moving them up and down with every passing mood. When your dog’s ears are up, it’s a good sign. It means he’s likely feeling excited, happy, content, and confident. If your dog’s ears are down, keep an eye on him. It might be signaling vulnerability or fear. This will likely be accompanied by his tail being down or tucked underneath himself.

    •Why does my dog love tennis balls so much?

    Put simply, tennis balls are a great stand in for tiny, erratic prey now that we’ve domesticated dogs. Prey in the wild is panicked and sporadic as it scurries around, trying to preserve its life. When you throw a tennis ball, it bounces all over the place and mimics this desperate prey behavior. This movement sends an immediate alarm to a dog’s instinct to chase, capture, and devour! In his book Oh Behave! Dogs from Pavlov to Premack to Pinker, Jean Donaldson explains that when a dog catches prey in its mouth and swiftly shakes it side to side, the dog is breaking the prey’s neck in order to kill it. You will see your dog take this very same action with a tennis ball after he “captures it.” Dogs are aware that tennis balls are not rabbits but will still take pleasure in practicing their hunting skills and letting their natural instincts take over.

    •Why do dogs lick their butts?

    As dogs can’t shower or bathe themselves the way humans do, dogs will lick their butts as part of their overall cleanliness routine. Moreover, dogs have two anal glands, also called anal sacs, inside their anus. These glands contain an oily, fishy-smelling liquid that’s used to mark territory and ward off predators. Most dogs release a tiny bit of this liquid every time they defecate, but it’s common for it to build up within the anal glands and become a nuisance to the dog. When this happens, your dog will need their anal glands expressed.  You’ll know your dog needs their glands expressed if you notice them licking their butt excessively and/or scooting around, especially if this behavior is accompanied by a fishy odour.

    After this 2 week mini-expose of some of your dog’s stranger actions, I hope that you may look upon your dog in a new, more understanding light.