Dog Behaviour

WHY DOES MY DOG…?

Dogs do many strange things that makes us think, why do they do that? Some things may make you go ‘aww’ while other things they do may gross you out. I’ve compiled a list of a few things I’ve seen dogs do and an explanation to help us humans understand the reason behind it.

Why does my dog…Sniff other dogs butts?
This is a dog’s way of greeting and getting to know each other. You will generally see this somewhere like a dog park, where there are lots of dogs interacting with each other for the first time. Dogs contain glands in that region, and each dog has a unique, identifiable smell. This means dogs can learn a lot about another dog by sniffing their butt including their gender, if the dog is in heat, their diet, and whether the dog is friendly or not.

Why does my dog…Kick the ground after going to the toilet?
Dogs have glands on the bottom of their paws which releases a scent that is enhanced by scratching. Dogs will kick the ground after going to the toilet to distribute their scent and mark their territory. This lets other dogs know who they are and that they were there.

Why does my dog…Drag their butt along the floor?
This is called scooting. Dogs have something called anal sacs located on either side of the anus. Anal sacs in dogs usually empty when the dog has a bowel movement. If the anal sacs don’t empty this can cause the dog discomfort resulting in them dragging their butt against the floor. If you notice your dog doing this regularly you can bring them to a vet or groomer who will empty the dogs anal sacs.

Why does my dog…Roll in disgusting things?
What humans consider “disgusting”, dogs consider intriguing. It may also be a behaviour that goes back to their wild ancestors. Wild dogs would do it to mask their scent and help them sneak up on prey. Wild dogs may have also rolled in smelly things to let other dogs in their pack know where they’ve been and what they encountered.

Why does my dog…Turn in circles before going to sleep?
Some aspects of a dogs behaviour goes back to wild dogs. Even though the dogs we have as pets today have been domesticated and trained, they still have basic animal instincts. Wild dogs would turn in circles before going to sleep for a number of reasons including:
To make the grass they’re sleeping in as comfortable as possible.
To check for any threats hiding in the grass before settling down.
To sniff for the direction of the prevailing wind, so they can sleep with their nose in it to smell the approach of anything dangerous.
As a sign to other dogs in the pack that the territory they are circling has been claimed.

Why does my dog…Scratch at the floor/bed before laying down?
This is another thing dogs do based on pure instinct. Dogs in warmer areas will scratch at dirt or grass before they lay down on it to reach the cooler dirt below. In cooler areas, dogs may scratch in an attempt to create a warm place to rest.
Another reason dogs may scratch before laying down is to mark their territory. Dogs have glands on the bottom of their paws which releases a scent that is enhanced by scratching.

Why does my dog…Dig?
There is a number of reasons your dog could be digging.
-If it is hot, dogs may dig to reach the cooler dirt below the surface to attempt to cool themselves down.
-Dogs dig to bury food or toys. This is pure instinct and goes back to wild dogs who would bury food to hide it from other wild animals so they can eat it later.
Some dogs dig to escape if they are confined or suffering from separation anxiety.
Some dogs may dig small holes to eat roots and other inedible material found in dirt.
A lot of dogs dig due to boredom and not having enough mental or physical stimulation.

Why does my dog…Eat poop?
This is known as coprophagia. One reason for coprophagia in dogs is nutritional deficiency. Dogs who luck nutrients in their diet may resort to eating partially digested food in poop to meet their nutritional needs.
Pica may also cause dogs to eat poop. Pica causes dogs to crave non-food items, and usually occurs due to the dog not getting enough nutrients or having enough to eat.

Why does my dog…Eat it’s own vomit?
While this may seem pretty disgusting to us, dogs have no problem enjoying it as if it’s a second meal. As dogs have a heightened sense of smell they can find food particles in their vomit making them want to eat it.
Another reason dogs may eat vomit may be because as puppies their mother regurgitated food for them to eat.

Why does my dog…Lick everything?
Dogs use their tongue to investigate and determine what different things are. Unless the licking is excessive it is generally not something to be concerned about. Excessive licking can signal a behavioural issue like anxiety or fear. Dogs may also lick due to boredom and not having enough mental or physical stimulation.

Why does my dog…Break all the toys I give them?
Even though dogs have been domesticated they still have many of their hunting instincts. Dogs may shake a toy violently, or scratch and bite at it, as this is what they would do to prey in the wild.

Why does my dog…Jump on people who come over?
Jumping up can seem playful or like your dog is greeting you. However if this is something your dog does constantly it could be a sign of your dog exerting dominance over you or your guests.

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