As a dog owner, you’ve likely seen your pooch doing some weird stuff that you cannot explain. But, these odd behaviors may be totally normal for dogs and have a perfectly good reason. Here are 10 common strange, but normal, behaviors you may see in your dog.
#1: Your dog chases their tail
Moderate tail chasing is considered normal, since your dog’s tail is simply a built-in toy that allows them to expend excess energy. However, some dogs take tail chasing to the extreme, and the behavior can turn into an obsessive disorder. This issue most commonly pops up in bull terriers, but any dog can be a tail chaser. Other reasons for this behavior include anal gland issues or a flea-bite allergy. If your dog’s tail chasing seems excessive, they may be suffering from a medical or behavioral condition.
#2: Your dog cocks their head to the side when listening
Head tilting is an adorable action that likely receives plenty of attention and positive reinforcement. Whistling, speaking in a high-pitched voice, making funny noises, and speaking to your dog with their favorite words can instigate a head tilt. Although the cause is not completely understood, dogs are thought to tilt their heads from side-to-side to capture sounds better and make better sense of what they are hearing. However, if your pooch is cocking their head to one side without an auditory trigger, they may have an ear infection or other underlying medical condition.
#3: Your dog eats poop
Poop-eating behavior has a scientific term that sounds less disgusting, but coprophagia by any other name is still gross. Whether your dog eats their own feces, digs in the litter box, or snaps up unidentified animal stool on walks, they likely engage in coprophagia simply because they enjoy the smell and taste. In some cases, however, your dog may be suffering from a nutritional deficiency or malabsorption issue. If your dog’s poop-eating habit is out of control, ask your Southwest Vet veterinarian for help.
#4: Your dog humps you, other dogs, or objects
Whether your dog is male or female, intact or sterilized, they may still display mounting behavior. While humping can be sexual for an intact dog, most spayed or neutered pets will still hump in certain situations. The most common reason for a dog’s mounting behavior is overexcitement, and they do not know how to handle all the excitement that comes with meeting a new dog or person, playing a rousing game, or darting around the dog park. Some dogs also hump to seek attention, because any attention is rewarding, including a scolding. If your dog humps people, dogs, or objects when they become too excited, try to redirect them with a toy or command.
#5: Your dog walks in circles before lying down
This behavior likely hearkens back to your dog’s wolfy ancestors. Behaviorists believe that wolves and wild dogs would walk in a circle to stomp down leaves, grass, and other debris to create a nest for sleeping. Now, your dog turns in circles to ensure their bed is cozy and comfortable before they settle down.
#6: Your dog sniffs other dogs’ butts
In the dog world, butt sniffing is a socially acceptable greeting. A dog’s hind end reveals a plethora of revealing aromas, and can impart a great deal of information about a dog’s health status, emotions, and sex to the sniffer. As such, dogs will also “greet” people in this fashion, so don’t be alarmed when a dog becomes too friendly on introduction.
#7: Your dog gets “the zoomies”
Every now and then dogs will get a random burst of energy that results in running laps around the house or yard. Cases of “the zoomies” help your pooch burn off steam and display their happiness. Such behavior is commonly seen after a bath, when dogs are relieved to escape from the tub, and they zoom around to shake off the stress of the bath.
#8: Your dog eats grass
Grass’s high fiber content may attract your dog if they are plagued by a gastrointestinal obstruction or parasites, since eating grass may help them pass the foreign material. Other dogs may simply enjoy the taste, although too much grass may make your pet vomit.
#9: Your dog rolls in foul-smelling substances
Dogs love rolling in foul-smelling substances, whether it’s a dead insect, dead animal, urine, or feces. In addition to your pet’s obvious delight when rolling in an unpleasant odor, they may also be attempting to mask their own odor. This behavior may have ties to their ancestors, who would use the smell of their prey to mask their own scent while hunting.
#10: Your dog carries their food from one location to another
Many dogs will carry bits of food, and sometimes their entire bowl, from one place to another before eating. In the dog’s mind, they are protecting a valuable resource, and moving their food prevents it from being stolen.
If you are concerned about your dog’s unusual behaviors, they could signal an underlying medical issue. Contact our Southwest Vet team for an appointment to get to the root of your canine companion’s odd antics.