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5 Weird Things Dogs Do and Why They Do Them

As pet parents, we’ve all witnessed some pretty weird dog behavior. Weirder than cats, even. (Kidding!)

If you’ve ever wondered why your pooch does any of these five freaky things, hopefully we’ve solved the mystery for you.

1. Walk in Circles Before Lying Down

dog sitting in tall grassThousands of years before the invention of plush pet beds, wild dogs would create a comfy place to sleep by walking in a circle several times to flatten tall grass and other vegetation – as well as chase out large insects and snakes.

“This behavior was hard-wired into the dog’s ancestors as a way to build a safe ‘nest,’” Leslie Irvine, author of “If You Tame Me: Understanding Our Connection With Animals,” told LiveScience.com.

“I have also heard that circling the area and thus flattening it leaves a visible sign to other dogs that this territory has been claimed,” she added.

2. Chase Its Tail

dog chasing tailWhile it’s perfectly normal for a puppy or adult dog to occasionally chase its own tail, if your dog does it a lot, it could be a compulsive disorder.

Bull Terriers and German Shepherds are more prone to be tail chasers, writes Mark Derr, author of “How the Dog Became the Dog,” in Psychology Today.

Dogs don’t necessarily chase their tails simply out of boredom. According to a recent study, frequent tail chasers may have been taken from their mothers too soon, or have deficiencies of vitamins B6 and C. The study found that these dogs also tend to be more frightened of noises and shyer around people than dogs that don’t chase their tails.

If your dog is always after his own tail, you should have him checked by a vet for allergies, parasites and other underlying issues.

3. Kick the Ground After Pooping

dog standing in grassIf your dog kicks at the ground after he does his business, he’s not just trying to bury it.

“Although thought by many to be a way of covering up their doings, it is actually a way of further marking their territory after they pee or poop,” according to the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) HealthyPet.com.

“Dogs have scent glands in their paw pads and the act of kicking out their back legs helps to mark their territory. This action is predominantly a trait of intact males, but neutered males, and occasionally females, will be seen doing this too.”

Dr. David Dilmore, DVM, adds on Banfield Pet Hospital’s Sit and Stay for Pet Lovers, “Scratching at the ground is like drawing an arrow to the feces. This allows dogs to show that they are big and powerful.”

4. Take a Mouthful of Food to Another Room

dog carrying food bowl in mouthThis is another hard-wired dog behavior that goes back thousands of years.

After a kill, the lesser-ranking wild dogs in a pack will sometimes drag some of the meat away so they don’t have to fight the alpha dog over it, Dr. Julie Albright, MA, DVM, DACVB, who teaches veterinary behavior at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, told VetStreet.com.

“Fighting is obviously very risky, so most animals, especially subordinate ones, will go to great lengths to avoid an altercation,” she said.

A much more modern explanation is that if your dog’s food bowl is metal, the noise of his tags clanging against it may annoy him, so that’s why he relocates his food to a quieter place.

5. Kick a Leg When Getting a Tummy Rub

puppy belly rubDoes your dog have a special spot on his belly that, when you scratch it, sets his leg into frantic motion? If you think he’s kicking up his heel in joy, you’re mistaken – and you might want to try scratching a different spot.

“Dogs shake or kick their legs when you scratch them because of something known as the scratch reflex,” reports Animal Planet. “It’s a completely involuntary reaction, which explains why your dog may look as puzzled as you do when it starts to happen. When you scratch or tickle your dog’s belly, it irritates him, much the same way that the wind or a bug might. It activates nerves under his skin that are connected to his spinal cord and relays a message to his leg muscles to kick in an attempt to get rid of the irritant.”

Veterinarians often use this scratch reflex to test for spinal problems, just as your doctor might tap your knee with a hammer to check for a knee-jerk response.

PHOTOS: leis bell, Lil Shepherd, hoyasmeg, leffElizabeth Santana

Laura Goldman

Laura Goldman is senior social media writer for i Love Dogs, Inc. She does love dogs. And elephants and turtles. Along with writing about the loves of her life, Laura likes to play with her two pound pups and tell anyone who'll listen just how awesome Pit Bulls are.

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September 25, 2013 By : Category : Behavior Tags:
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14 Comments Print

The Dog Park   


And here I thought our dog Gracie just liked eating her food off the dining room rug so she could eat her dinner with us..


When I thought about the behaviors of my own two dogs, so much of this made sense.  However, my one dog (as always) does one of these things in a way that is a bit outside of the norm.  He does chase his tail frequently, but it only occurs between 3 and 4 pm, and he only does it in my bedroom.  I have never seen him do it any location other than this room, and never at any other time of day. 


My question is why my Australian Shepherd takes his dog treats (one's he get for doing his business outside) and hides them all over my house.  Could he have a "hoarding issue"??  LOL...


@mcourcel Interesting, but it didn't answer the burning question of why dogs eat their own excrement, or role in that of others.


Great Article, Thank you for sharing this.


How about licking the bed blankets?


My daughter has a blue Doberman and is a little on the nippy side when he gets excited. My daughters having a baby and I'm asking for suggestions on how to aclamate them. He is a good boy 3 yrs fixed but im nervous!!


@ChristineMalec @mcourcel They often eat their own poop because of a vitamin deficiency, or just because it tastes good. They roll in poop for 2 reasons: to put their scent on it, or to cover their own (such as in the case of stalking prey and wanting to be hidden).


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