Do you ever despair about your pooch’s behavior and wonder whether they are just a little bit crazy? From their endless desire to sniff and lick, to chasing their tail and eating the grossest of things, there are times when their weird canine ways leaves you scratching your head.
Although their antics may be comical and are mostly harmless, it’s a good idea to understand the reason behind their little idiosyncrasies so you know which ones are ok and which ones you really do need to nip in the bud. To help you get to grips with your pup’s oddball habits, we take a look at some the reasons behind strange dog behavior.
Chasing Their Tail
At a simple level, chasing their tail means your furry goofball is having a bit of fun – there’s a wiggly tail he needs to catch! Canines also have a child-like quality when it comes to playtime – he’s being daft, expending energy and reacting to your positive reinforcement. You laugh, you clap, and he chases his tail even more! However, while those spinning antics may make you smile, you need to observe just a little bit more. Is his tail-chasing becoming a bit obsessive or does he try to bite his tail as he spins? This could mean he is developing an obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of anxiety or may be experiencing itching from dermatitis or blocked anal glands. If there’s an element of distress in his tail chasing, get your pooch checked out by the vet so you can get this dog behavior explained.
If your furry best bud is a slobber monster, constantly showering you with his doggy kisses, then it’s ok to assume he is showing his affection, which he knows will get your attention! But there are other reasons why your dog is a licker. Licking is actually a form of communication – he could be telling you something, whether that he is hungry, thirsty or needs to go out for a pee. It’s also a sensory tool, where he is testing a surface, or it could be that you just taste good! However, there are some downsides to having a canine licker as it could also be a sign of nutritional deficiency – if he licks your floor tiles, and they are made of clay or brick, he’s sensing minerals his body needs. Another reason for licking is anxiety or boredom so check out his routine to make sure he’s getting the right amount of exercise and stimulation.
This has to be one of the grossest habits your dog can have – eating poop, whether that’s other dogs or his own. And it’s such a common weird dog behavior that it has its own posh name – Coprohaga. And he is driven to do it for a host of reasons. First up, dogs are scavengers with a mantra of ‘waste not, want not’ and so many will see dog mess as a source of food – especially protein. It could also indicate he is missing out on key nutrition and is just trying to supplement with what he can find. There are also theories that it stems back to the wild, when dogs would eat their pups’ feces to clean it out of the scent zone of predators or that it’s a sign of stress. But it is most likely because your beloved pet just likes the taste! If your dog’s worming routine is up-to-date, while disgusting, poop eating shouldn’t do any harm but if you’re concerned, check it out with your vet.
Getting The Hump
It’s enough to make a dog owner blush and can lead to awkward moments in the park or when visitors call – your pup’s compulsion to hump anything or anyone. Humping is actually normal dog behavior and not always sexual. For neutered and spayed dogs, there are numerous reasons why they like to latch on and have a good old hump. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessarily a form of domination and humping other dogs could be a way of sizing them up as they play. It can also be a symptom of excitement, anxiety or attention-seeking. The best way to deal with excessive humping is to distract your pooch as soon as they start with a treat or a toy.
Sniffs The Butts Of Other Dogs
As weird as it looks, when your dog goes up to sniff the butt of another dog in the park, he is actually saying a friendly ‘hello’. Ok, but why the butt? Your pet can smell 10,000 times better than you and another dog’s rear end is a veritable reveal of aromas which he can learn from – from gender, reproductive status, temperament and diet. And it’s a positive form of canine interaction. In fact, if two dogs are allowed to get the butt sniff out of the way, they are more likely to get on. The downside is that your pooch can also take the same approach to humans – aka the crotch sniff. If this happens to you, redirect their attention with a toy to save any embarrassment.
Do you feel like you are always being watched when your dog is in the room? Is his staring starting to get downright creepy? Don’t worry, he’s just trying to work out what you are doing and what may come next. Watching is a major way your pup gets clues from you and will react to certain cues he has observed. He’s watching you get dressed as when you put on your shoes, there is a chance he is going to get a walk! Or he is staring at you to get your attention – and it may just result in a pat, a tickle or even better a treat. Just be mindful that some dogs see direct eye contact as threatening so look for any signs of anxiety before you gaze back into his puppy-dog eyes.
Pumping Their Leg
It’s a classic moment – you’re tickling your pup’s tum or back when their back leg starts to pump away as if it’s running or swimming. Why does this happen? Well look at your dog’s face when it happens, it will be a face of bliss as you have caught their ‘sweet spot’. This is their scratch reflex which they cannot control as it’s an involuntary reaction to your touch. And while it’s a moment of pleasure for your dog, it is also thought to be a reaction to help keep fleas and insects off.
Rolling In Foul Stuff
How many times have you spotted a cow pat, dog muck or something equally foul just as your lovely clean pooch decides to take a roll? Too late to stop them, you know that a stinky journey home and dog bath now awaits. This frankly disgusting canine habit is pure instinct that he’s never got over. It harks back to the old days, when as a wild dog he would have rolled in dirt and other animals’ feces to camouflage his own scent so he could hunt his prey. He could also be communicating by leaving his own scent. One thing we do know is that he can’t help it, so try and pre-empt before he can get into the roll.
Walking In Circles
We’ve all seen it, your dog is getting settled and walks in a circle, stops, then walks in a circle even more before lying down in the exact location they started with. This nesting behavior has been inherited from their wild ancestors and mimics the circling motions wolves would do to flatten leaves or grass to create a comfortable nesting spot. Don’t try to stop them but give them the time to find their happy sleeping space. However, do be aware of when and how often your pet displays circling behavior as constant circling without the final ‘nesting’ can signal distress or a possible health problem which you need to explore.
Eating Tissue Paper
Sometimes it feels as if your precious pooch will eat anything – and if they like to eat non-food items such as tissue or toilet paper it can be a sign that things are not quite right.
There is a condition called Pica, where a dog eats unusual items and can be a symptom of several things. They may not be getting the right nutrients; they could be bored or may have developed a compulsive eating disorder. The first step to tackle Pica is to give clear commands such as ‘give’ or ‘leave’ that he has been trained to respond to and will start to associate with the tissue paper or non-food item he has fixated on. Also get him checked out by your veterinary professional to see if there any underlying reasons behind his strange behavior.
So, there you have it – just 10 of the weirdest dog behaviors which to your pup are not weird at all! If your pet has some odd habits, just keep an eye on them and if in any doubt, pop them by your veterinary centre to get them checked out. When it comes to your crazy dog, he also needs to be happy and healthy.