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Reasons Behind 8 Weird (And Gross!) Dog Behaviors


Dogs do some things that seem pretty weird to us humans..and sometimes it’s things we find downright disgusting or annoying. But why do they do them? Canine behaviorists spend their lives trying to answer that very question. While we may never know for sure about some of these, thanks to research, we definitely know more than we used to about these strange behaviors.

#1 – The “Guilty” Face

Does your dog look just downright pitiful when you come home and find he has done something wrong? Many see this as “my dog knows he is guilty!” However, this is not true. Research has proven that if you don’t catch the dog in the act, he has no idea why you’re mad. Therefore, punishing him several hours later does not make any sense to him at all. So why the face? He is responding to your actions – angry face, shouting, punishment, etc.

Image source: @CortneyDean via Flickr
Image source: @CortneyDean via Flickr

#2 – Tail Chasing

To some it’s cute, to others, it’s annoying. And this is especially true if their dog just won’t stop spinning in circles. Regardless of what you think of it, occasional tail chasing happens, but compulsive tail chasing is a sign that something is wrong. It could be attributed to boredom, anxiety, itching, or even a sign of OCD.  If it interrupts daily life, go see a vet. (Find out more cool things about dog tails here!)

Image source: @TaroTheShibaInu via Flickr
Image source: @TaroTheShibaInu via Flickr

#3 – The Head Tilt

This has to be the most irresistible act of the strange doggy behaviors. The resulting pictures are enough to fill an Instagram feed with cuteness for eternity. But why dogs do it still remains a mystery to us. Some believe it’s to help them hear or see better, or it could simply be reinforced by our positive response when they do the behavior.

Image source: @RicardoVelasquez via Flickr
Image source: @RicardoVelasquez via Flickr

#4 – Coprophagia

If the last one was the cutest behavior, this one may be the grossest. Poop eating is not only disgusting, but it’s a great way to spread disease. (Not to mention who wants to be licked by a dog that just ate poop?). But why do they do it? Exact causes are unknown, though we do know that mother dogs eat their pups’ feces to keep the nesting area clean. We also know that starving dogs will eat feces to survive. Interested in more? The ASPCA has a whole page dedicated to Coprophagia.

Image source: @Amy via Flickr
Image source: @Amy via Flickr

#5 – Circling Before Lying Down

Does your dog circle several times before lying down? Maybe he also digs? This is one of those old behaviors that carried over from his wild ancestors. They are just trying to make their bed more comfortable. Some dogs will even “rearrange the furniture” by kicking blankets or beds around to make the perfect nest.

Image source: @AlanLevine via Flickr
Image source: @AlanLevine via Flickr

#6 – Sniffing Other Dog’s Behinds

This is a behavior that has a pretty clear explanation: dogs sniff each other’s behind as a way of greeting. In fact, it’s the polite way to greet. Dogs who meet face-to-face, heads up, ears forward and/or back in a stiff posture, will most likely end up in a fight. A dog that is friendly and at ease will go immediately to the backend of the other dog, who should reciprocate the action. It’s just the way they say “hello” to one another!

Image source: @Jackie via Flickr
Image source: @Jackie via Flickr

#7 – Reverse Sneezing

If you have ever heard a dog do this, you may get alarmed. It sounds like the dog is going into anaphylactic shock or something even worse. But it’s really the common name for pharyngeal gag reflux, which is cause by irritations in your dog’s throat and soft palate. Just like normal sneezing, it’s caused by things like allergies, mites, leash pressure, etc. Your dog is bringing air into the body to remove the irritants (petmd.com). Some also believe dogs may do it out of excitement.

#8 – Rolling in Gross Things

Aside from number 4, this is probably the worst on this list. You bathe your dog and he goes out, finds a dead squirrel, and rolls in it. Yuck!! But why do they insist on doing this?? Most theories believe it is connected to their wild ancestors. It could be a way of masking their scent when hunting prey. Or, they do it to let other pack members know there is something “good” out there, possibly food. It could also be that the dog is actually trying to mark it with their own scent, to claim whatever it is that they have discovered. Others believe dogs do it simply because they like the smell – after all, their nose is 10,000 times better than ours, so all that stink might just get them excited. (www.patriciamcconnell.com)

Image source: @JeffSmith via Flickr
Image source: @JeffSmith via Flickr


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Written by Kristina Lotz
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