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Is There an Explanation for Those Confusing Canine Behaviors…?

24 May

All dog owners can agree on one thing… dogs do some pretty unusual and crazy things, but why?

Easy to please and entertain, dogs may seem like simple-minded creatures, however there’s a lot more to those slobbery smiles and wagging tails than meets the eye. Everything your dog does, it does for a reason. With the help of some pooch pros, I’ve figured out some of the reasoning behind the madness.

Almost every time I take my dog somewhere he has to munch on the grass!  I am sure the property owners appreciate the portable lawn mower, but why do dogs find grass so delicious?  It’s all part of evolution!   According to Dr. Benjamin Hart, who has studied animal behavior for more than five decades, it’s a trait they inherited from their ancestors.  For thousands of years, dogs were natural scavengers that ate anything in sight that provided dietary nutrients. While munching on the lawn can sometimes cause stomachaches or vomiting in dogs, most experts find that grass-chomping shouldn’t cause too much worry.  Just beware of letting your pooch nosh on any lawns that have been recently treated for pests or weeds.

You all know what I am talking about when I say ‘butt scooters’…. Why is it that dogs scoot their butts along the carpet?  This question has two simple answers.  1. Your dog has an itch that needs to be scratched. 2. Something is bothering him in the hindquarters region. This behavior is normal for the most part, but if you notice that your dog is doing it more than usual, be sure to check out the situation. There could be a chance your pup is suffering from allergies, tapeworms, flea bites or anal-sac disorders, all of which should be taken care of immediately.

Why are dogs always hungry and seem like they will eat anything?  Ages ago, long before dogs were domesticated, wild hounds did whatever they needed to do to survive.  Because of this, contemporary canines are capable of gorging themselves to the point of regurgitation.  This explains why your dog may sometimes eat its own feces or vomit (gross I know); it does what it needs to do to conserve calories and energy.  However, if your dog’s excessive hunger continues, be sure to check that his food is providing him with the proper nutrients to satisfy his needs.  Just like our junk food, some snacks your dog loves can have empty calories.

I cannot help but laugh when I see a dog sound asleep on his back.  The reasoning your dog is sleeping belly up is because it means that he’s feeling relaxed, secure and happy. The belly side is one of the most vulnerable areas of an animal, so the fact that your dog is exposing his underside means that he feels like he is safe in a comfortable setting.

I have heard some dog owners give cues in different languages.  Are dogs multilingual?  As much as we’d like to believe that our dogs understand us when we talk to them, the truth is that they’re not really listening to what we’re saying, but how we’re saying it.  Dogs listen to sounds, not words.  For this reason, you could speak to your dog in many different languages, as long as you’re consistently speaking to them in the same manner.  While your dogs may not be able to distinguish whether you’re speaking English or Spanish, they are excellent body-language decipherers.

My dog cannot hold its licker!  He will lick everything in sight, why?  It may not surprise you to learn that licking is a totally normal behavior, but the reason behind it might.  Licking can represent a number of things.  Dogs lick to show affection; they lick to groom themselves; they lick because they like the way something tastes; and they lick to gather information.  Their taste ability is far greater than ours.  However, if your dog’s licking is obsessive, you may want to bring him to the vet to make sure there isn’t anything more serious going on.  A variety of things could be the cause for obsessive licking including pain, allergies or stress.

You hear about the ‘ankle biters’ of the canines.  Is there a reason they do it?  Your dog could be displaying this concerning and annoying behavior because of instinct.  Dogs with herding backgrounds, like German Shepherds or Australian Cattle Dogs, have been known to nip at the heels of other dogs, animals and people, because this is what they were bred to do.  Often this behavior is just being playful.  But you should never encourage this behavior.  Be sure to teach your dog not to do it.  Give him proper chewing toys so that he can take his aggression and biting out on something other than your neighbor’s ankles!

That awkward moment while at the dog park, you look over at your dog and he is humping a fellow pooch.  Why do dogs do this?   Even if they’re neutered or spayed, dogs will continue to display their dominance over another by mounting behavior.  This is not done in a sexual manner, but rather to exert power over another pet.  In fact, dogs will mount on the same sex to show their social position.  That said, neutering and spaying may eliminate dogs’ sex-drive-related hormones and aggressive behavior, but it won’t necessarily stop them from wanting to be the leader of the pack.

Do you constantly get followed around the house by your fellow companion?  Just like a child, you are your dog’s family, so wherever you go, your dog will follow.  From the moment they are born, a dog learns to follow his littermates.  This same behavior explains why wild dogs used to travel in packs.  Dogs are social creatures that love companionship.  Your dog follows your every move because you are his security blanket, his food and his shelter.

These are just a few odd behaviors that are common with dogs.  There are several more that I didn’t get to… why?  Because it is a never ending list!  With that being said, it’s never a dull moment being a dog owner!

Thank you to Dogster for providing some of the information listed above…

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