Why Dogs Do the Things They Do

Posted by Tether Tug Team on

Dogs are marvelous creatures. They are filled to overflowing with love, but they can be zany, unpredictable, and downright strange at times. Why dogs do the things they do has captured the imagination of many animal behaviorists, animal trainers, and animal lovers.

Why do dogs do the things they do?

There are many behaviors that are completely natural for dogs that we humans find intriguing and downright strange. Then there are aberrant behaviors that some dogs do because they are acting out in the only way they know how to act. Dog personalities are as diverse as human personalities, and dogs can have mental health issues just like people do.

Here are some unusual dog behaviors along with some rationales for them:

  • Using the toilet as a drinking fountain – Fido finds this fresh bowl of water exquisitely appealing since porcelain does not change the taste of water the way plastic or metal bowls often do.
  • Stealing and hiding your things – Your favorite piece of jewelry, your cell phone, or some other type of bling may disappear around Fido and turn up under the sofa cushions, in the laundry or under a chair. Fido is the thief but he is loath to admit it at times.

At other times, you can tell that he has stolen your things for the attention he gets when he helps you find them. Dogs with an attention deficit disorder prefer negative attention to no attention.

Sometimes Fido steals out of boredom and a desire to have something to do. Dogs need jobs, and if they aren’t given jobs, they will create them for themselves. Some dogs steal because of an inherent urge to preserve excesses. Their ancestors buried excess food so they could later come back and eat the rest when they were hungry. Other dogs steal your things just to have something with your scent on it to comfort them when they are lonely without you.

  • Rolling around in stinky stuff – stinky stuff is the Charles of the Ritz perfume to your dog. Dogs enjoy odors that would repel any pet parent so much they cannot resist covering themselves in it from head to toe. Blame your dog’s ancestors for this unbelievably stinky behavior. Before the domestication of dogs, they had to hunt for their food. With other animals having a sense of smell equal to or greater than the dog’s odor sniffer, the dogs learned to disguise their sent so they could stalk and kill their prey.
  • Walking in circles before bedding down and other nighttime rituals – this habit began thousands of years agohttp://www.livescience.com/33160-why-do-dogs-walk-in-circles-before-lying-down.html when dogs made themselves nests by stomping down the grass, at the same time putting their scent on the area to signal ownership of a certain spot. Stomping down the grass made a fox hole of sorts that protected the dogs from the view of predators due to the tall grass all around them. Some dogs are satisfied with two or three circles before lying down. Other are a bit fussier, and will move blankets, towels, favorite toys, and even things of ours into their sleeping area. Not having the proper bedding can be a source of major anxiety to some dogs.
  • A dog who cannot hold his licker – Most dog owners are entranced by what they call doggie kisses when their dogs lick them. However, the licking is actually not always kissing from a dog’s perspective. The first thing almost all dogs experience when they are born is their mother licking them, cleaning them up to remove the birth sack so they can breathe. Mother dogs continue this licking behavior until the puppy is old enough to clean itself. As they grow, puppies lick their mother’s face to tell her they are hungry, and mother dogs often regurgitate food for their pups when this happens. As adults, licking shows submission to the alpha of the pack. So when your dog licks your face, ask yourself whether your face is dirty, your dog is hungry, or you have just been given your due as the alpha of your family pack.
  • Privacy in eating habits – dogs are not social eaters. Many of them prefer to eat in private away from other dogs or family members. This is based on the pack hierarchy in which the alpha dog ate first, with the remainder of the pack getting the leftovers.

You can even see this with some dogs when you give them treats or a chew bone. They will take the treat or the bone into another room to eat it away from you. This is just instinct kicking in, Fido really doesn’t think you will take back the treat or the bone.

  • Tail talking – dogs are wonderful at tail talking, but they cannot rival cats for the intricate messages cats can convey with their tails. Most folks would say that when a dog is happy, he or she wags the tail, but what is more important with dogs is not the wag but the position of the tail. A dog with a low-held tail curved into the shape of a “U” that is gently swaying back and forth is a relaxed, contented dog. A tail held high and over the back is either a sign of extreme annoyance or extreme curiosity. If the head is also tilted to the side, it is most likely curiosity, not anger. The tail is used to express feelings, but when no one is around, the tail is usually silent.
  • Making love to legs – a subject most pet parents would rather ignore, a male dog’s need to “hump” the legs of family members and strangers stems from an excess of raging hormones that give teenage dogs an unbelievably overwhelming sex drive. This usually subsides when the dog is neutered, but may need the attention of a vet if it continues on into adulthood.

We love our dog friends, and once we understand why they do some of the unusual things they do, it is easier to accept them as being part of their culture, heritage or special needs.


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