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5 Odd Dog Behaviors Explained

shutterstock_177224921Dogs are wonderful, funny, and highly entertaining. How many people have watched their dog, or a group of dogs and wondered why they act the way they do? Dogs seem to function on canine instinct, several of their “quirks” are genetic, a carryover from when their ancestors lived in the wild so, so long ago. Most of the habits designed for survival are purely for a human’s entertainment today.

Lift Their Leg—

A male who lifts his leg to urinate, is seen more of an act of marking territory than elimination. By lifting the leg, the scent and secretion can be aimed to hit at another dog’s sniffing level. This goes back to when dogs were wild and roamed in packs. Patrol dogs would sniff out the territory, checking for enemies and marking their spots to alert other packs as to their presence.

Tuck Their Tails—

Usually, the tail does get tucked under the body out of fear, there is more to this act than meets the eye. Tails also get tucked when a submissive meets a dominant. It is to cover the anus and the scent secretions emitting from it. It is the attempt of the weaker canine to let the alpha know there is no threat, no challenge.

Drag Their Behinds—

Most dog owners have seen this less than desirable dance done in their living room, up and down stairs, in front of guests. When dogs were first studied it was assumed this was another territory marking ploy, but further studies revealed that it is a need for relief. Most dogs that do this often are found to have full anal glands that need to be expressed. Expression of anal glands is extremely common and can be done by a vet or a groomer.

Chase Their Tails–  

Dogs are social by nature; they need mental and physical stimulation everyday or their brains begin to break down and waste away. A dog will begin to chase its tail when it is so incredibly bored it needs to create its own stimulation. Watching a dog chase his tail may be amusing to humans, but it is really a cry for help from an under stimulated dog.

Howl/Bark

Why do dogs bark? That seems like a silly question, the answer is obvious, isn’t it? They bark to alert owners to someone at the door, answer a dog two yards over, or announce that a leaf has fallen off a tree three blocks away. When they lived in the wild, their bark told the pups to hide and the adults to fall into ranks. All dogs bark, but not all dogs howl. Howling was necessary to call the pack together, take a kind of roll call, or sound off.

The need to howl in respectable company seems to have ebbed in the last thousand or so years. Occasionally a pack of dogs may try to sound a howl alarm in a kennel, a shelter, or around the piano while the humans sing.

 Humans have been studying dogs for hundreds of years. Discussions and conclusions have changed over why dogs do some of the weird things they do. What we do know is dogs are lovable and fun, even with their occasional odd behaviors.

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Written by Renee Moen
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