If you are a dog owner, chances are you have asked, “Why does my dog…?” at LEAST one time, at some point, since you’ve owned your pup! Venturing into all things canine can be unknown territory for some. Even if you are an old pro, we can guarantee your pup has some new tricks up his sleeve that you might not have experienced. Dogs do crazy things; that’s just a fact of life. But don’t fret because you’ve come to the right place to learn a bit more about the “why” behind it all. Here is a quick list of our top 10 strange dog behaviors explained.
#1. Why does my dog… EAT GRASS?
You let Fido out back to do his business, and he is gone for quite a while. You saunter into the yard looking for the mutt when you see him sprawled out, nose buried in the ground, munching away like a little baby calf! Confused, you demand he stop immediately, and you walk away scratching your head. Sound familiar? According to a study led by Dr. Karen Sueda, 68% of respondents claimed their dogs ate grass on a weekly basis. We can determine that it’s common and appears to be completely natural.
Eating grass is likely a behavior passed down through canine ancestry. It’s also possible that your dog eats grass to pass the time, aid in digestion, meet dietary deficiencies, or simply because the grass is tasty to them! In short, don’t fret. As long as you haven’t had your lawn treated with chemicals or pesticides, eating grass is generally considered safe. Aside from potential puke, you shouldn’t notice any other issues. However, consult your veterinarian if you are concerned that your pup has ingested something hazardous along with those blades of green goodness.
#2. Why does my dog… EAT POOP?
Much like human babies, puppies like to explore the world around them through their senses. Many puppies will be satisfied with a sniff, but a few will feel the urge to give everything a nibble. Interestingly enough, dogs do not perceive the odor of feces as offensive as we do! Dog’s utilize something known as the Jacobson’s Organ, which essentially masks smells from being good or bad. They have unique olfactory systems that allow them to gather information through scent instead of simply dictating aromatic preferences. Their noses and mouths act as our eyes do to see and interpret what is happening around them. For this reason, “taste testing” another animal’s poop is an honest attempt at learning more about the creature who traveled by. Don’t get me wrong, it is still gross and should be discouraged. It is, however, normal and innate behavior for many canines.
#3. Why does my dog… KICK GRASS AFTER POOPING?
While it may appear that your dog is tearing up the lawn in a backward attempt to cover up their mess, I assure you it is for a much better reason! According to dog behavior is a way to mark their territory. Did you know that dogs have glands in their feet that secrete hormones? It’s true! Read more here. The pheromone chemicals that are released through the act of kicking trigger social reactions and interactions with other doggos. When another animal sniffs in that area, they can gather information such as territorial claims, possible food trails, and even warnings of danger. Pretty wild, right? Dogs are much wiser than many give them credit for
#4. Why does my dog… SNIFF BUTTS?
Sniffing butts is a dog’s form of greeting, similar to humans shaking hands or exchanging welcoming verbal pleasantries. Those same pheromone chemicals found in dog’s paws are also found in their anal sacs! As discussed previously, a lot of important information can be gathered from those chemicals. By smelling hinnies, dogs can learn whether their new acquaintance is male or female. They can also determine what kind of mood is present and if the two pups have ever met before. According to the Veterinary Centers of America, canines can identify other dogs they have not seen for years and who was the dominant member of the pair simply by smell. All of this knowledge is instrumental when deciding how to behave around one another. If you ask me, this is another truly remarkable trait of our canine companions.
#5. Why does my dog… HUMP?
Humping or mounting is one of the more embarrassing dog behaviors for owners to navigate. Although humping habits might elicit a giggle or two, they can be annoying and even cause fights between dogs. It is often not sexual in nature, nor is it an automatic attempt to display dominance, which is a common misconception. These explanations are possible. However, in neutered dogs, it is most likely a playful behavior due to heightened excitement levels. No matter the underlying reasons, humping should be corrected (unless you’re trying to breed, of course!). The best deterrent is to teach obedience commands for your dog to follow when they display inappropriate etiquette. Many dogs have noticeable patterns, so be consistent and try to offer alternative activities to redirect
#6. Why does my dog… HOWL?
Another strange behavior your dog may engage in is howling at certain high-pitched sounds, such as sirens or little Susie practicing her flute after school. We obviously know that our canine companions are descendants of the great wolf pack. Part of this practice is nature; however, there can be other explanations for the phenomenon. As dog expert Ceasar Millan explains, a common reason may be vocalization of what your dog thinks is a looming threat in the area. His howling is a way of communicating with you a concern about danger.
My pup often howls at my boys while they are roughhousing with my husband. If he thinks that his daddy is in danger, you best believe he will make some noise! Howling used as dog communication should be expected and isn’t anything to be concerned about. If the howling is ever accompanied by aggression toward other dogs or people, or your pup is showing other symptoms of illness, you should consult with your vet. These signs could be indications of a hidden illness or injury.
#7. Why does my dog… EAT SOCKS?
My toddler son has more pairs of tiny mismatching socks than I ever thought possible. Why, do you ask? Our dog! He has this horrendous habit of stealing socks straight out of the hamper, washing machine, or even dresser drawer. Sometimes dogs chew on clothes because they are hungry, bored, or seeking attention. It should also be noted that many dog toys are made of fabric materials which could add confusion as to what is and isn’t for chewing. But other times, it is none of those reasons. Clothes in the home smell and taste like it’s human inhabitants. That fact is pretty appealing if your pup is missing you (or his family).
Like mine, your dog’s reasonings might be sentimental at the core, but socks are dangerous for any animal’s digestive system. I now spend a good deal of time “laundry proofing” rooms to help keep our pup’s intestines safe and clear of obstruction. If this strange behavior genuinely drives you nutty, you might consider moving to Florida and wearing flip-flops indefinitely. Just a thought.
#8. Why does my dog… SHRED PAPER?
I remember the first time I witnessed my dog snatching the napkins off our dining room table after dinner. I was shocked, then I was perplexed, and finally, I was disgusted when my dog proceeded to eat the unnatural “snowstorm” he had created! Has your dog ever bitten into your electric bill or stolen a tissue you just tossed into the bathroom garbage can? This nonsense might seem completely illogical, but fortunately, it has some simple explanations. The Dog People tell us that holding down and shredding paper products “taps into a dog’s native instincts” and “echoes the behavior of a dog in the wild as it picks apart its meal.” The food remnants left behind on used napkins and paper towels can also be quite appealing. PLUS, shredding paper can be entertaining for a bored or anxious pup! Aside from the fact that cleaning up this sort of mess is an undesirable use of time, eating these items can certainly be dangerous. Ingesting too much paper can cause digestive problems, including intestinal blockage. So be aware of where you store or dispose of paper products at home, and provide plenty of easily accessible chew toys.
#9. Why does my dog… CARRY TREATS AWAY?
This one is simultaneously adorable and perplexing at the same time. Our pup gets very excited at the mere mention of the word “treat.” He marches his little wiggle butt over to the pantry door and longingly stares until we retrieve the promised treasure for him. Then, something weird happens. He slowly reaches in, plucks the treat from our hand, and proceeds to trot away hurriedly. When followed, we find him in a corner of the living room or his bed hiding the treat under his paws! Can you relate to this experience? You see, historically, dogs in the wild had to preserve their food at all costs. It took a lot of effort and skill for wild dogs to hunt down and kill their prey. Of course, times have changed, and all domestic dogs have to do is look cute to earn a prize (wink, wink). However, natural tendencies remain within a species long after environmental circumstances evolve. That same instinct that prompts dogs to shred paper also encourages them to store away their bounty. It is merely an innate reassurance tactic and helps them feel safe and powerful while devouring their reward.
#10. Why does my dog… SIT ON MY FEET (OR LEAN AGAINST ME)?
Some people can hardly sit or stand without their dog leaning against their legs or sitting/standing on their feet. My dog does this whenever I am watching a movie, washing dishes, or on a conference call at my desk! With four kids, I am personally quite busy and constantly in motion unless performing one of the tasks mentioned above. Though I can get annoyed at my (very large) pup’s body weight stifling my tiny frame, I try to remember that leaning (and plopping on my feet) are actually signs of canine affection and often a way to ask for some attention. It’s also proven that petting your dog is good for the physical and mental well-being of you both! That said, next time your dog decides to trap you like quicksand, just let it happen. Take the opportunity to spend a quality minute (or ten) with your furry friend. You won’t regret it. Also, if your dog exhibits these tendencies naturally, he may be a great candidate for Psychiatric Service Dog training. One very effective task to help combat anxiety and PTSD is “grounding.” This involves using deep pressure therapy to calm the nervous system. You can learn more about it here.
Many other strange dog behaviors exist amongst the canine species, but it would be near impossible to list them all! Dogs are curious creatures, yet completely amazing at the same time. They make us laugh, they make us scratch our heads, and most importantly, they make us feel loved. If you have a dog in your life, you should consider yourself mightily blessed. Continue to learn and grow alongside one another. Remember to cherish every moment spent as it goes by all too quickly.