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Canine Quirks: Why They Do What They Do

Written by: Renee Moen
| Published on June 2, 2015

Ridgeback Pup

Fetch? Or is it?

Most dog owners have experienced this from time to time; the dog will bring a stuffed animal and lay it at the owner’s feet. The owner, more than likely, will pick up the slobber soaked toy and fling it away from them. Result being the dog chases after it, retrieves it, shakes it a few times and brings it back to the owner’s feet. Thus goes the game of fetch. Or is it? Let’s look at the game a little closer… It isn’t a ball, it’s a stuffed animal. The dog is presenting her person with her “kill”. She wants to make sure her person is fed. When the owner flings it away, the dog goes after it. Ensuring the animal is sufficiently “dead” the dog shakes it back and forth a few times in her mouth before re-presenting it to her human.

Looking back into a dogs distant DNA, pack animals often would go out to hunt. When they found their prey they’d place their jaws around the animal’s neck and proceed to shake their heads, back and forth until the animal was lifeless. After eating their fill, some dogs would bring food to the weaker members of the pack. The weak members wouldn’t dream of flinging the present away from them.

Social Eating Habits

Some dogs hate to dine alone. They may wait for their human to sit and begin eating before they tuck into their meal. Occasionally a dog will carry the full food bowl around until their human stops moving, only then will they sit the food down and begin eating. More often a “social eater” will carry bits of food in their mouth, to the room the humans are in, and begin their meal. Why are some dogs like this but not others?

Most training experts believe this behavior is a form of separation anxiety. The dogs that practice social eating habits are merely too stressed to eat, and sometimes drink, alone. If it truly bothers an owner or is affecting the dog’s health, consult a professional, certified dog trainer who specializes in behavior modification.

What was that?

Siren wails, high pitched frequencies, squealing voices… these are all instances that may cause a dog to do one of their most endearing traits, the head tilt. While behaviorists speculate on why dogs tilt their head on occasion, they don’t know for sure. It could be to determine exactly what the sound was; the dog may be sorting through the words looking for something familiar such as walk, car or squirrel. A dog may tilt their head to figure out which direction the sound was coming from. Or they may do it because their human finds it utterly adorable; dogs are all for accommodating their people.

Gimme that leg!

One of the more blush worthy quirks of the canine companion is the one where he can’t seem to “keep it in his pants” so to speak. This gender neutral behavior has nothing to do with needing to reproduce or natural urges. This behavior is more a display of domination and seeking attention. And it works because it gets the attention of all the humans in the vicinity. Unfortunately, for the dog, the wrong type of attention. The next time one dog mounts another dog, try to redirect the behavior with a more appropriate activity.

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