Weird things dogs do

Even when you think you know your dog well, there are times when you just have to scratch your head with some of the antics they get up to. Often, it’s the case that us humans simply don’t understand rather than the dog doing something weird. To them it’s logical or normal behaviour. So, let’s take a dive into some of their more confusing activities. Ameera Mills, writing for Animalwised, guides us through some of these canine idiosyncrasies:

  • Why do dogs scratch the ground after they poop? “There are two reasons for this behaviour: the first is hygiene. By kicking dirt onto the poop, dogs attempt to cover up their mess. The second reason dogs have this habit, although somewhat strange, is to spread their smell through their legs which are full of odoriferous glands. This is done with the objective of marking their territory and making it clear that they have been there.”
  • Why do dogs turn circles before they lie down? “We must not forget that dogs are instinctual. Dogs in the wild turn around before lying down to check the perimeters for any dangers. This action is now habitual in dogs, despite where they were born or come from. Another reason dogs carry out this action is to mark the space where they are sleeping, stamping down on any ¨twigs¨ or uncomfortable floor matter.”
  • Why do dogs chase their tails? Nearly everyone has had a good chuckle at a dog chasing its tail. Puppies often run after their hindquarters because of the novelty of catching sight of their tail. Dogs may also chase their tails for attention or out of boredom, as a way to play and burn off energy while also earning laughs from you. Occasionally, chasing the tail can be a sign of a medical problem, such as fleas, or a behavioral concern, particularly a compulsive disorder. If the tail-chasing seems more serious than just a weird and occasional habit, it may be worth consulting the veterinarian.
  • Why does my dog grab something in his mouth when he gets excited? As Dr. Wailani Sung, veterinary behaviourist, writes in  “I think some dogs are so excited to see a visitor because it may represent a new person who will play with him/her, so the dog grabs a toy to try to entice the person to play, whether it is tug or throwing the object. For other dogs, it may be a behavior that the owners taught them or encouraged to give them something more appropriate to do in place of jumping on people or barking. The dog may also be reacting to your own excitement at seeing them and responding in kind.

The above questions all have logical answers which, once explained, make sense to us. However, there are some behaviours that my own dog, Finn, does that I am still trying to figure out. The first one that comes to mind is: like all dogs, he will pee in an off-leash area, sometimes scratching the ground immediately afterwards, sometimes not. Why the difference? The second one happens every morning: on going into the back yard (more specifically the deck) he will let out a series of barks in different directions, reminiscent of a lion letting the world know that he is in the world. There are no specific dogs he’s barking at, apparently just at the world in general. Was he a lion in a previous life?

Bemused or not, God bless them all!

About the author

Steve King

Steve King

Steve King was President and Founder of Community Therapy Dogs Society, a volunteer with Lions Foundation of Canada and a dog trainer.

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