Dogs were one of the first animals that were domesticated. Although this happened hundreds of years ago, dogs still maintain some of their basic instincts learned from the wild. Have you ever wondered why your clean pup likes to roll around in stinky things (like the garbage)? Or why they enjoy chewing on a good bone? Most of these things are not harmful behaviors, unless it becomes obsessive. Let’s uncover the mystery behind these 5 weird dog behaviors, which are actually quite normal to them.
- Rolling Around in Stinky Things. This behavior does not have a clear origin, although scientists have a couple of reasons as to why dogs would enjoy doing this. Scientists have shown that dogs want to mark their territory by spreading their natural scent over the original strong smell. While others believe they used to roll in the foul smells to rid their natural scent and disguise it with the strong stinky smells. This would allow them to sneak up on their prey easier in their hunting days. The other reason could be that they really enjoy how it smells- think teenage boy that just discovered cologne. If your dog is a stinky smell lover, try to keep the garbage out of their reach. On walks, work on obedience training by saying “Leave it” when they start to roll in the stink.
- Endless Tail Chasing. Ah- the tail chasers! As puppies, the tail is a mysterious fluffy and long thing hanging off of their body. They find that chasing it seems to the fun and entertaining. Dogs will continue to do this as they enter adulthood if the behavior is reinforcement by getting attention from their owners by laughing or encouraging them. Tail chasing could become a dog behavior to worry about. If your dog continuously does this, they could be wearing down their nails and feet pads, or obsessively do this until they become dizzy. Notice when and how often your dog chases their tail. Tail chasing could be a sign of boredom, anxiety/stress, or they could be seeking attention. To prevent your dog from chasing their tail, provide them with an adequate amount of exercise, pay lots of attention to them when you are home, and do not encourage the behavior.
- For the Love of Bones. Dogs of any size and breed love bones. It’s one chew toy that they all seem to agree on (even those dogs that don’t love playing fetch). Thousands of years ago, bones would provide a source of nutrients for dogs because they had marrow on the inside and fat around it. While domesticated dogs do not need to hunt their prey for the meat and bones anymore, they still find joy in chewing on a good bone to remind them of their ancestors. Provide your dog with a bone that is fitted for their size and monitor when they are chewing on them. Bones can be dangerous when they get too small and could get lodged into their throat. Ask your veterinarian about what bone would be best for your pup’s size.
- Suckling on a blanket. Dogs can be as attached to suckling on a blanket as much as a child is to their binky. This behavior could mean that your dog was weaned off from nursing too soon or that they had to fight with their siblings to nurse. Suckling on a blanket is not usually a harmful habit, as dogs can simply find comfort and calmness from it. Suckling does become an issue if they are sucking on their own skin, known as flanking. This is particularly common in Dobermans, and should be corrected to prevent them from harming themselves. Giving your dog plenty of exercise and providing them with interactive toys to keep them entertained, can break the suckling behavior.
- Eating their feces. This behavior, coined coprophagia, is bizarre, to us. Why would they want to eat their own poop or throw up? There are a couple of reasons that are mentioned throughout evolution. When a mother had a litter, she fought to protect them from any prey. Their feces would smell like dogs, so she would clean up after them by eating their feces, which also keeps their area clean. Another reason, if dogs have a poor diet, they eat the feces because it has protein and traces of dog food in it. This is usually prevalent in impoverish environments. Dogs are also known for eating the cat feces in litter boxes. To prevent this behavior from happening, tell them to “leave it” when they start sniffing the feces and use positive reinforcement when they do. Use a hooded litter box to prevent your dog from getting into the cat feces as well. Providing your dog with a healthy and balanced diet fit for their needs should prevent them from looking elsewhere for their nutrients.
If your pup shows signs of these behaviors, use positive reinforcement and obedience training as a way to correct the behavior. Also, provide them with the exercise they need, as a tired dog is a content dog. Refrain from using negative reinforcement or scolding your dog as a method of correcting behavior.
What weird behaviors does your dog partake in? Share with us by commenting below!