Ever see your dog do something and think “what was that all about?” Pups have some normal and not so normal dog behaviors that may seem strange to us four-legged friends. Here are some of the most common dog behaviors that make humans scratch their heads in wonder and tips to figure out what’s right and what what’s truly abnormal.
Q. Why Does my Dog Eat Grass?
The basic truth is, nobody knows for sure. Experts debate whether it’s a natural part of what dogs do or if it has some pleasing effect. Andrea Rediger from Purdue University of Veterinary Medicine shares that some theories suggest “undomesticated dogs are naturally omnivores (meat and plant-eaters) therefore domesticated dogs instinctively include plant material in their diet.”
Because some dogs have been known to vomit after ingesting it, many have linked grass grubbing to stomach issues. But there’s no hard evidence to support the causality of one or the other. However, most seem to agree that if it’s more than just an occasional nibble, it may be time to talk to the vet.
Q. Is My Dog Sleeping Too Much?
First, consider the age of your dog. Puppies and senior dogs require more sleep. Puppies can sleep up to 20 hours a day and this is normal. Senior dogs can also range from 12-18 hours a day depending on breed and age. Large dogs will slow down more than small or mid-sized breeds.
The American Kennel Club suggests that certain abnormal sleep behaviors can be signs of disease in older dogs. Watch carefully if your dog is sleeping in different places, not waking to sound or stimuli, staying awake at night and acting confused, or not curling up to sleep comfortably. Consider an orthopedic dog bed or crate pad to help your pup rest easy no matter their age.
Q. Why is My Dog Humping Other Dogs or Humans?
Laughable or even disgusting as it may seem to some, dogs may naturally mount or “hump.” There are several reasons for this act, none of them totally out of line, although admittedly awkward. Some do it to “sort out social rank,” according to Dogster.com. They may also be doing it to relieve tension, or even to get attention.
You can dissuade your dog from humping by redirecting or simply giving a firm “no.” When they start the deed, distract them with a toy or game or even exercise. If your leg is the object of desire, walk away to show this behavior will not give them attention they want. Structured play and training go a long way to eliminate this unwanted behavior that can even come from pets who are spayed or neutered.
Q. Why does my dog roll in smelly things?
There are a few theories for this that dog experts and vets suggest. One is that dogs actually find repulsive scents interesting and want to show it off. This harkens to a sense of pack behavior that some theorize descended from wolf ancestors. Rolling in a fresh animal carcass may tell the pack “hey, there’s good meat over there and this is what it smells like!” Or something like that.
Another idea is that dogs naturally want to cover their scent to disguise themselves and confuse predators. Icky things can apparently do that well. Whatever the reason, although this habit seems repulsive to most four-legged companions, it’s normal behavior for a dog. Behaviorist Sophie Yin told the American Kennel Club that this behavior can possibly be avoided by distracting your pup with a treat or toy. Anything to get their mind off rolling in something stinky!
Want to calm some of these behaviors? Give structure to your pup with training and enriching daycare that builds good habits. Check out our expert-led courses for your furry best friend at A Ruff Day Bark Club.