Dogs can be quirky. They do the most unexpected, funny things. But why do dogs chase their own tails or eat dirt? And what should you do if those odd behaviors start to worry you? Kayla Fratt, associate certified dog behavior consultant and owner of Journey Dog Training, talks about some of the crazy things dogs do and why.
1. Why does my dog pant so much?
Does your dog pant a little too much? He might have a health problem.
"If your dog is panting constantly, and it doesn't make sense given the temperature and activity level, he's probably either really stressed out or even in pain," Fratt says. "This is a good warning sign, and you should ask a behavior consultant or a vet about it."
2. Why does my dog eat grass, poop, or dirt?
You might be surprised to learn that coprophagia (eating poop) can be caused by a gut or nutrient imbalance, Fratt says. And some experts believe dogs eat grass to ease an upset stomach. (Although this reason is still debated, she adds.)
Your dog might also be eating poop, grass, or dirt because it's fun. Wait. What?
"(Some) dogs learn to eat poo because their owners pay attention to them when they do it," Fratt explained. "Eating poop ... makes mom play the fun game where we run around the yard yelling and barking! Other dogs seem to eat poop almost compulsively, and that's poorly understood."
So step back and consider if your dog gets extra attention when she's eating something you find a little gross. If that's the case, it may be time to ignore the action instead.
3. Why does my dog lick me?
"Licking faces is an appeasing behavior — puppies do it to beg for food from their parents and dogs do it to make up after a fight," Fratt says.
But while it's cute to get a few licks when you get home, some dogs become almost obsessive lickers. "Your dog might be licking your face obsessively because it's soothing for her, another underlying sign of some stress or nervousness," says Fratt. "Other dogs just seem to enjoy the taste of sweat."
Why does my dog chase his tail?
There he goes again. Around and around and around and ...
"Tail chasing or spinning that gets in the way of normal life merits a call to the veterinary behaviorist," Fratt says. "This is more common in certain breeds (Dobermans, Bull Terriers), and is a cause for concern."
If the chasing is just occasional, or not frequent enough to interfere with their regular schedule of eating, sleeping, and playing, it's probably just a fun game to them. If you had a fluffy toy attached to your back, you might play with it a lot, too.
5. Why does my dog roll in the dirt?
"This seems to be a really pleasant scratching and cleaning behavior," Fratt says of rolling in the dirt. "It kind of exfoliates the skin and fur, and just feels delightful. We invented backscratchers, but dogs don't have thumbs — so they roll."
Hello, bath time — again.
Whether it's obsessive tail chasing or trying to clean in the dirt, there are some goofy dog behaviors we humans will just never understand. But humans and dogs can always agree on a good meal. Use Nature's Recipe's Find Your Recipe Tool to find the best food for your dog based on their age, size, activity level, and special dietary needs. Because enjoying a yummy dinner is one thing your dog does that just makes sense.
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