If you own a dog, then you’ve probably seen them do some funny things like barking at the mirror or chasing their tail. These wacky antics can be nothing more than a dog having fun, but some strange dog behavior actually conveys a message. Read below to learn about the most common weird dog habits and what they might mean.
What Exactly Is Strange Behavior?
Every dog is different. Young dogs play more than older dogs. Energetic dogs jump up and down at the sight of a leash. Calmer dogs might head for their bed at the sight of a toy. There are many unique characteristics and personality types for every breed and individual dog.
Dogs inherit their behavior from their ancestors, but also from their environment and how they are raised.1 This makes the spectrum of pet behavior wide and diverse. But, there are a few strange behaviors that almost any pup is capable of doing.
Keep in mind that what we find strange in a dog’s behavior is most likely very normal within the canine community. That’s because dogs have their own set of communication tools that differ from humans. Even their barks can have subtle and different meanings.2
So, when you catch your dog doing something that you don’t understand, there might be a very good reason for it. Below you can find some of the most common strange behaviors and what they might mean.
Note: Consult a veterinarian if you’re concerned about your pet’s behavior.
Eating Grass – A Dog Diet Tradition
Does your dog run outside and eat grass after a meal? Your pup may just be eating grass out of boredom or because they actually like the taste. In certain situations, however, it could be a sign of an underlying problem. If you notice your pup eating grass on a regular basis, consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to rule out any deficiencies or other health problems.3,4
Even if they are just doing it out of boredom, eating grass might not be the healthiest thing for your dog. Lots of lawns and outdoor areas are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides which might not be good for your pet.
To help curb your pet’s grass cravings, bring treats along when you go out for a walk. Try to encourage your pup to snack on those instead of blades of grass.
Circling Before Sitting Or Sleeping
Almost anyone who owns a dog has seen this before. Your dog sniffs and walks in tiny circles around their bed. Then, they sniff some more and repeat the whole process. It might look strange, but there’s a good reason for it.
Dog behaviorists believe that canines carried this behavior over from their ancestors. Dogs in the wild needed to position themselves in a place where they were safe from attacks before going to sleep. Plus, they didn’t have the luxury of pillowed beds, so they pushed down grass and cleared out uncomfortable debris to make better beds for themselves.5
Note: Walking in circles is a totally normal activity for dogs. However, if your pet repeatedly gets up and down as they try to lie down, they may be uncomfortable from arthritis. Check with your vet to see if this is the case.6
Strange Culinary Traditions – Eating Poop
There’s no polite way to say it. Dogs eat poop. It’s a culinary choice that makes most people feel a little squeamish. But, like a lot of strange things dogs do, it’s generally done for a reason.
Sometimes, mothers may eat the feces of their pups to keep the litter clean, and eliminate any scents that potential predators might smell.7 As a result, some dogs might pick up this habit from watching their mother do it.
Additionally, your pup may eat feces as a way to supplement enzymes and b-vitamins missing from their diet.8
If you want your pup to drop this habit, there are things that you can do. First, keep their living area free and clear of feces to eliminate the potential for this behavior to occur.
Also, watch your pet on walks. If you catch them reaching for something you don’t want them to eat, then use commands like “no” and “leave it.” Then, offer a reward or treat if they obey.
If you can’t break the habit, talk to your vet. They may have other suggestions.
Howling – An Ancient Cry
It’s not unusual for a dog to let out a big howl, especially if they hear another dog in the distance. Most likely, this is just them tapping into their primal communication habits. Dogs howl to alert their owners of danger, to acknowledge other dogs, and even for a little attention.9
While howling is a totally normal way for your pet to announce their presence, it may also be a sign that your dog is feeling nervous. Some pups suffer from separation anxiety when their owner leaves. This anxiety can sometimes be expressed through howling.10
If howling becomes a persistent issue, or if your pet seems distressed or anxious, consult a veterinarian.
Sometimes, you may catch your dog rubbing their behind on the grass or floor. This is more than a canine dance move. It’s most likely something your dog does to relieve impacted anal sacs.
These glands are located on your dog’s bottom near their tail. Unfortunately, they can become clogged or irritated. When this happens, your pet will scoot their rump across the floor in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. Dogs might also scoot if they have worms or even allergies.11
This is one of those behaviors that lets you know that your dog isn’t feeling well. If you catch them scooting often, you may want to consider taking your dog to the vet.
An Important Distinction – Strange And Bad Behavior
There’s a big difference between a dog who acts quirky and a dog who misbehaves. If your dog becomes destructive or demonstrates aggressive behavior, then you might have a bigger issue on your hands. Especially, if your dog bites or growls.
There are lots of reasons that dogs misbehave. They might suffer from separation anxiety, feel confused, or learn bad habits from the dog park. Regardless of the reason, aggressive behavior should never be ignored.12
If you have an aggressive dog, then you must consult a veterinarian. Many of the silly or strange behaviors above can be addressed by dog parents. However, bigger problems that lead to bad behavior or aggression need the consideration of a vet.
Dogs: A True Breed Of Their Own
Dog’s do all sorts of fun and silly things. It’s part of the reason so many people love having them as pets. Sometimes their behavior is just an expression of their unique personalities. Other times, they’re using common dog behaviors to convey a message to you or other dogs.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with these behaviors to better understand your pet. Through this understanding, you can deepen your bond and have a much stronger relationship. Understanding your pet and their behaviors also makes it easier to tell when they aren’t feeling well and need medical attention. Your dog will love you for it… and probably find a strange way to show it.
Pet Behavior: How To Get A Scared Dog To Trust You
Dog Freaking Out Every Time You Leave? Learn All About Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Tips For Training A Puppy To Grow Into An Obedient Dog: Positive Reinforcement And Love