If you have ever watched your furry family members behave in ways that are so perplexing you’re certain they’re not running on all cylinders, you are not alone. From games of cat n’ mouse with their own tails to social behaviors that make you blush, our canine friends are an odd bunch.
Even so, what seems odd to us is often quite normal for them—so we must try to look at these oddities from a dog’s perspective. After all, strange behavior is relative to the species. Did you think your pet was thinking you were normal when they looked at you with a perplexed stare and cocked head?
Didn’t think so.
Let’s take a look at some of our beloved dogs’ strangest behaviors and the perfectly normal reasons why they exist. Perhaps their world may not be so strange after all.
Five Weird Behaviors in Dogs Explained
Coprophagy: Your Dog’s Appetite for Poop
Dog parents often wonder why on earth their dog would eat its own waste (or *gasp* someone else’s). How can your beautiful little darling lower himself to such vulgarity and filth? We are talking about poop here! Coprophagy, the scientific term for eating feces, is actually common behavior in our canine companions and several reasons exist to explain their penchant for going after such a poor food source.
The most common reason stems from a survival instinct as well as sanitary needs. For those of you who have raised a litter of puppies, you know that a mother will normally clean up after her puppies by eating their feces. This is not only a sanitary solution, but an age-old survival instinct that protected puppies in the wild. Predators hungry for a bit of puppy could locate the den simply by the scent of feces, and while the threat is long gone, good mama dogs continue to protect their young.
Walking in Circles Before Lying Down: Making Their Bed Comfortable
Credit your dog’s ancestors for this curious bedtime ritual. Think of the three-circle (or more) turnaround before they plop on their bed as the canine equivalent of fluffing the pillows. Out in the wild, before the invention of plush dog beds, wolves and other wild dogs slept in grassy areas and thick brush. Turning around in circles padded down the grass and helped clear sharp objects in order to make a comfortable and cushiony sleeping area.
Humping: That Awkward Moment When Your Pup Humps The Neighbor’s Leg
You’re at the dog park on a nice Sunday afternoon to let Fido have some playtime while you enjoy socializing with other pet parents in the neighborhood. Things are going great and you really feel some new friendships forming when the unthinkable happens. Like a slow motion accident that you just can’t stop, Fido proceeds to mount and start humping your new neighbors schnauzer. “I swear he is fixed,” you manage to muster from beneath the abyss-sized hole you have created to hide your embarrassment. You’ve been there. We’ve all been there. We may as well talk about it.
Though unneutered males are the most likely culprits, any dog, whether male or female, young or old, can turn to humping for a variety of reasons. Young puppies will often hump each other as a form of play. Confusion about status amongst a group or pack can result in humping as an attempt to clarify social standing and some of the more pushy dogs will do it as a way of controlling others. Some dogs may even attempt to hump their human parents or family in an attempt to assert some form of dominance, a behavior that may need training to fix.
Chasing Tail: The Dogdom Equivalent to Ring Around the Rosy
Looking at your dog running around in a circle with their tail between their teeth is one of the funniest things to observe in the dog world. Though to be honest, if we had a built-in fluffy snake-like appendage built into our backsides, we would probably chase it in circles all day too. As odd as it may look, there are a couple of reasons your dog may exhibit this type of behavior.
The first reason stems from a habit formed in the early stage of life. Puppies are barely aware of their own individuality, and also have a deep-rooted instinct to chase things (part of the hunter instinct). Put these two together, and it is easy to see why a pup will look at their own tail as an enjoyable play-toy to chase around. Over time, this becomes a habit that often sticks through adulthood. Alternatively, if your dog is not a habitual tail chaser, and you notice an occasional chase or tail bite, chances are they have a flea or tick problem or a skin issue such as dermatitis, which needs treatment.
Sniffing Backsides: How Dogs Make New Friends
If humans did this to express, “Hello, nice to meet you,” the world would be a vastly different (and quite scary) place. Luckily, it is our four-legged friends who greet and get to know others through the not-so-subtle act of sniffing the ‘tush. This is a completely acceptable form of behavior in the dog world, but it does not make it any less weird. Why the sniff? A dog’s ability to smell is 10,000 times better than ours and there are quite a few pheromones and revealing aromas that come from a canine’s rear end. Everything from the food a dog eats, how healthy they are, if they are fertile, and even if they are fearful or friendly, can be recognized by these pheromones. With so much information crammed in one little sniff, this type of greeting makes perfect sense.
What we think is strange is just an everyday walk in the park for our puppy pals. Stay tuned; we will be back with explanations for even more strange, funny, and crazy behaviors in the world of dogs.