Dogs are some of the most delightful creatures but sometimes, the weird things that dogs do can leave owners scratching their heads. Whether you’ve got a pomeranian or a pharaoh hound, your dog’s behavior can give you a little insight into what is going on in their minds and bodies, as well as providing the whole family with entertainment.
From the ‘zoomies’ to chasing their own tails, dog behaviors can be completely normal, healthy, and an expression of excitement and happiness. No matter how mortifying it is for his owner, your dog greeting his friend in a nose-to-tail position is just your dog being a dog. Some odd behaviors, although common, might help clue you into problems your dog may be having. Often a bored dog might be expressing that it needs more entertainment, and offering a long lasting dog chew or a challenging game might help to keep them happy and occupied.
We’ve rounded up some of the most common weird dog behaviors to help demystify some of the things your four-legged-friend gets up to.
It can be quite concerning when your usually placid pal starts sprinting around the house bouncing off the walls, but this is actually a natural behavior for dogs. ‘Zoomies’, or Frenetic Random Activity Periods are totally normal and mean your dog is happy, according to the American Kennel Club Association. ‘Zoomies’ happen due to a buildup of excess energy, which is then expressed.
2. Sniffing other dogs' butts
One of the more embarrassing and weird behaviors your dog may engage in is the sniffing of another dog’s rear end, however, this is also completely normal. According to VCA Animal Hospital, this is just how dogs say hello and learn important information about other dogs from their anal gland secretions. The VCA adds, 'By simply smelling, a dog can determine if a new friend is male or female, happy or aggressive, or healthy or ill.'
3. Licking their privates
Even more embarrassing than your dog’s butt-sniffing may be, is their tendency to lift a leg and lick their privates. There’s nothing worse than the background sound of slurping and the view of your dog in a compromising position when you’re trying to eat dinner, but this is also an important and totally normal behavior for your canine friend. This is natural grooming behavior and how your dog keeps itself clean, according to the VCA Animal Hospital. Just like generally people wipe after a visit to the bathroom, after a visit to their favorite tree your dog is likely to want to clean up. If your dog is licking more than usual or the area looks red or swollen, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet as they may have a health problem.
4. Chasing their own tail
Similar to ‘zoomies,’ your dog chasing their tail is usually an expression of excitement or playfulness. A bored or under-stimulated dog may chase their tail, according to VCA Animal Hospital, so be sure to provide highly intelligent breeds like a Border Collie or German Shepherd with plenty of mental challenges to keep them occupied.
Tail chasing can also be a symptom of Canine Compulsive Disorder (like OCD for dogs) as seen in a PloS One article on excessive tail chasing. If your dog is chasing their tail or spinning more than is normal, it might be worth seeing the vet, as it can be a symptom of something more sinister.
5. Digging holes
According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are several reasons your dog may be digging up the yard such as being bored, being a breed that naturally likes to dig, or even because they've seen you gardening, but it is a completely normal, dog-tastic behavior. They might be bored and entertaining themselves or they may smell something interesting under the ground that they want to get to. In hot weather, your dog might just want a slightly cooler spot to hang out in, particularly if their usual haunts are warmer than normal.
6. Rolling in stinky things
Another canine behavior that might not be particularly fun for us humans to experience is their tendency to roll in the smelliest thing they can find. The most likely theory as to why dogs do this is to mask their scent in order to hide from prey, according to the American Kennel Club. They may also be doing it to show other members of their ‘pack’ that they have found something interesting by carrying the scent home with them, as this is thought to be why wolves roll in carcasses and the two species have several behaviors in common.
7. Bum scooting
While normal, this behavior is one to keep an eye on as it may indicate your dog has worms or clogged anal glands. If your dog is up to date on their wormer and has had their anal sacs expressed recently, then they may have irritation down there for another reason. The American Kennel Club lists food allergies, irritation from grooming, and injured anal sacs as other possible reasons for bum scooting.
A study in Veterinary Dermatology found that dogs who scoot generally also sneeze a lot, indicating potential underlying problems.
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Lou is an experienced writer and keen dog lover who works at PetRadar's sister site, LiveScience. When Lou isn't covering health and fitness, she's busy spending time with her family dogs or growing all kinds of veggies and flowers on her allotment.