Dog Care 101: Tip #164 - Doggy Behavior Decoded Pt.1
Dogs are lovers, not fighters. And sometimes, they’re downright comedians. Best Bully Sticks knows we’ve all been pretty tickled at our dogs because of things they do, but why do dogs do the things they do? Why do dogs whine? Why do they circle before laying down or eating? Why do they lick things?
We have to remember, dogs were once wild animals and their behaviors, while they have adapted to a humans over the years, are still wild at heart. This is the first of a two part series that will detail some of your dog’s funny, weird or just down right alien behaviors. This week we’ll cover circling, whining, yawning, licking and elimination behaviors.
1. Circling before lying or sitting. No, your dog isn’t aspiring to be a ballerina, it’s just his ancestral wildness coming out. Before your dog had a comfy, cushy bed to lie down on, the nearest patch of grass was the best option. Circling was the way wild dogs would stomp down tall grass to make a nest. This behavior was also to see if there were any unwanted creatures in the area where the dog wanted to lay down. One more possibility could be temperature regulation. If moving the grass away from a spot would reveal a cooler layer of dirt, they the dog exhibit this behavior to find the coolest spot possible. When dogs circle today before settling down it’s just a leftover urge from the wild days, an old gene that never really left.
2. Whining. There isn’t a magical machine that can translate all “dog-speak” so until that happens, we humans will just have to realize that whining could be a lot of different things. Whining means your dog is trying to communicate something and that could be anything from “I’m hungry” to “There’s a toy stuck under there!” but it does mean he probably wants something and it might just be your attention.
3. Yawning. Your dog may yawn a good bit, but it’s not necessarily because he’s tired. Your dog could have all the energy in the world and still be yawning over and over. While it is true that dogs will yawn when they’re tired, dogs have another trigger that causes yawning and it’s stress. Dogs exhibit their stress in a few different ways, but yawning is a big one. Dogs yawn because they’re stressed and are trying to cope and relax themselves.
4. Licking. Licking is another behavior that is ingrained in dogs since birth. A dog’s mother will lick off all the oozy birth liquids and then later lick a puppy for grooming. A dog could also lick you because as a small puppy it was a sign for wanting their mother to regurgitate food. Puppies are just naturally lickers! In later life, licking becomes a submissive action. This means dogs will lick us because we’re the alpha. And of course, licking can also mean dogs have allergies, a hot spot or wound.
5. Eating poop. We know, it’s gross, but dogs sometimes eat poop. This is technically called coprophagia and it’s not flattering by any means, but again, there is an ancestral reason. When our dog’s ancestors were wild, they would eat their own feces to cover their tracks. A dog’s predators could smell the poop and come looking for the dogs or their litter. That’s why the mother dog would eat her own and her puppy’s poop.
There are a few other reasons why dogs would eat their feces, one being boredom. If your dog or puppy is by himself all day, it may just choose to eat poop to have something to do. It could also be a sign of cleanliness. If your dog is in a very small, confined space for a long period of time, it may just be easiest to eat his poop rather than sit in it. Again, we know this topic isn’t flattering, but it might help explain things a little better.
6. Pawing the ground after eliminating. This is the behavior dogs show right after using the bathroom; kicking up dirt. This is a derivative of marking and is used to show other creatures where your dog has been. It also keeps the scent on a dogs paw pads so wherever they walk after will have their scent, marking it as theirs.
Crazy, right?! Dogs are surprising creatures that we humans are still finding out more and more about! BBS will cover more interesting behaviors on June 4th!