The Strangest Things Dogs Do And Why?
The Canis lupus familiaris, or the domesticated dog, is a strange breed; pardon the pun!
Beyond jumping up and licking faces or choosing to shake the water out of their coats right as they are alongside you, they exhibit somewhat strange behaviours that can be confusing at times. Maybe they like to roll in gross stuff or make it their life’s mission to dig a giant hole to the centre of the earth.
While not definitive, there could be many reasons why dogs choose to exhibit perplexing behaviours at times. Here are some of the weirdest and funniest things you see dogs doing and the theories behind why.
1. Why Do Dogs Have The Zoomies?
Frequently after a bath or at random periods during the day, suddenly, your pup starts doing the F1 race around the house and tearing it up. Maybe he’ll even run in circles, chase his tail, or spin around like an out-of-control windmill. The mad dash is often nicknamed the “zoomies”. This explosive behaviour is also known as “FRAPs” or “Frenetic Random Activity Periods”.
One of the causes agreed by canine behaviourists is the dog is naturally trying to expel excess energy, sometimes triggered by stressful or frustrating situations like going to the vet’s or getting a bath. Once the anxiety from the situation abates, the buildup of nervous energy and happiness from being released from a stressful situation is discharged in one big burst.
Zoomies affect younger dogs most but can be triggered in dogs of all ages. According to behaviourists, this phenomenon is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Frequent zoomies, however, might indicate inadequate exercise or other behavioural problems.
2. Why Do Dogs Turn A Few Times Before Laying Down
We humans plop ourselves to bed, falling asleep as soon as the head touches the pillow. Some dogs, however, spend lots of time “making” their beds, turning around several times, doing some kind of little jig before finally relaxing and laying out.
Behaviourists believe that this instinct of self-preservation is inherited from wolves. A dog instinctively knows how to position himself in a specific way to ward off an attack when sleeping. Even their sleeping position tells a lot about their natural behaviour. Most dogs like to sleep curled up to preserve the warmth in their core and protect vulnerable underbellies from predatory attacks. Although dogs know that they are in a safe environment, this evolutionary trait stuck around for thousands of years, still apparent today.
And what about scratching at their bedding? Wild canines don’t have the luxury of dog beds. They pat down grass and underbrush, move rocks and branches, check for snakes and insects, and finally settle in. See the similarities?
3. Why Do Dogs Love Rolling In Gross Stuff?
We all know the feeling of having Fido come back stinking of something long dead and thoroughly repulsive. The standard agreement is that dogs do that to mask their scent from predators and hide themselves when they are hunting prey.
Some research done on wolves indicates that wolves might roll in scents to bring information to the pack, like a fresh kill or a decaying carcass.
4. Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
This one is a common topic of debate. While some dogs eat grass and then puke while they are feeling ill, less than 25% of dogs actually vomit, and less than 10% show signs of illness before eating grass, indicating that sickness isn’t the main reason.
All signs point to dogs eating grass because of a condition called “pica”, your dog’s attempt at balancing their diets by eating non-food substances. Dogs, like wolves, aren’t true carnivores. Stool samples from wild wolves showed 11 to 47% of wolves with grass in their diets. In addition, wolves eat herbivores, with their prey’s stomach often full of grass and plants.
Domestic dogs typically eat kibble out of a bag. While commercially prepared meals are usually adequate nutrition, your dog might simply be trying to supplement its dietary fibre intake by eating grass.
5. Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
By far one of their most unappealing habits, poop-eating, or Coprophagia, is more common than you think, with one in four dogs eating poop at least once! One easy explanation is that Coprophagia is a learned behaviour. Mother dogs eat the poop of their puppies when they are born and continue to do so for weeks. This is to keep the den clean and hide the scent from any would-be predators.
Another explanation is that Coprophagia results from anxiety, boredom, and being restricted for long periods. Shelter dogs and sled dogs chained to a kennel have shown increased occurrences of Coprophagia. The last reason is also the most likely. Similar to other animals like baby rabbits, puppies consume their feces to get adequate nutrition.
While a natural behaviour in young puppies, many dogs continue this unappetizing behaviour into adulthood. The same goes for vomit. Puppies eat partly-digested regurgitated food from their mothers and might carry this behaviour into their adulthood.
6. Why Do Dogs Scoot Their Butts?
On a more serious note, although they look funny doing it, dogs scooting their butts across the floor often indicate a medical problem. More often than not, their anal sacs are full and are causing a great deal of pain.
The sacs are two small glands located around the anus, secreting each dog’s unique scent. (Which is why dogs sniff butts!) Secreting the anal sac is easy and can be done by a medical professional. Prolonged periods of irritation can lead to an infection that can worsen rapidly, so have those sacs taken care of immediately.
If the culprit isn’t the anal sacs, the two other possibilities are allergies or parasites. If in doubt, check it out!
7. Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?
By far the most adorable, endearing look, the head tilt must be the most heart-melting look that a dog can have. (After the begging look!) Research suggests that the head tilt has to do with improving their audio and visual receptors.
A dog’s muzzle might be obstructing the field of vision, so he might tilt his head to get a better look. A pilot study showed that breeds with longer muzzles like Greyhounds tilted their heads more frequently than flat-nosed breeds like the Pug. While dogs have double the frequency range and four times a human’s hearing, they find it tougher to tell which direction a sound is coming from.
Dogs like Spaniels have long, floppy ear flaps that partially or wholly cover the ear canal, preventing some sound transmission, so they need to change the position of their heads to make the adjustments. Breeds with perky ears have flaps covering only the back of the canal, limiting audio detection from the rear.
Aside from being absolutely adorable, the head tilt has the bonus of your dog basically saying, “I’m listening”.