Strange Dog Behaviors Explained

Dogs do some crazy things that make us scratch our heads and laugh. And while we’re entertained and baffled by what they do, sometimes we just want to know – why do they do … that?. Here are answers to some of the questions that have probably run through your mind as a dog owner.

1. Why is my dog dragging his bottom? Ah, the infamous scoot that embarrasses us and haunts us in our sleep. Why does your dog scoot along the floor or ground? Chances are something’s really irritating your dog where the sun don’t shine. Here are some common reasons why your dog scoots:

  • Anal Sac Problems,such as being abscessed, blocked or inflamed. You can treat that through expressing the sac (at home or at the vet’s), using antibiotics or adding more fiber to your dog’s diet.

  • Worms – yup, your dog could have worms. The best way to find out if this is true is to check out your dog’s anus (or excrement) for white-rice-looking tapeworm bits. Meds (and even garlic) are ways to rid your dog of this.

  • Contamination – maybe your dog’s anus is a bit contaminated from prolonged diarrhea. The hair in her anal area could cause discomfort, so scooting relieves it. You might have to trim and wash that area to help her out. If your dog is susceptible to diarrhea or constipation, you definitely want to talk to your vet.

2. Why is my dog eating grass? You thought you got a dog, right? Not a cow. But sometimes your dog grazes like there’s no tomorrow. Why? There is actually some debate around this topic. Whenever you eat something that isn’t food (including the topic we discuss next), it’s called pica. And grass-eating is one of the most common forms of pica. More often than not, grass-eating results from boredom, and more so in younger dogs.

However, there are people who believe that dogs eat grass on purpose to throw up, as a way to settle their stomachs. Evidence doesn’t suggest this to be so, and people argue that dogs aren’t smart enough to realize that grass can make them throw up. However, yours truly can attest to the contrary. For example, my older dog will wake up early in the morning and whine, excessively, to go out. I’ll take her out, she’ll go right to the grass to eat, and will proceed to vomit slightly. Afterwards she’s right as rain.

Most other days (like 99% of days) she pays no mind to grass. Is she really bored at 5 a.m.? Or is she trying to fix an unsettled stomach? I’ll let you decide.

Aside from boredom (and puking) your dog might be eating grass because of a poor diet, so make sure he’s getting all his nutrients.

3. Why is my dog eating poop? We couldn’t talk about eating non-food items and leave out the poop. Nothing seems so out-of-the-norm, but in fact, many dogs practice this behavior. It’s called “coprophagia” and it’s most likely a behavior issue, and not something medical. Puppies are prone to initiate this habit, that they carry on through their lives, because, like children, they have an oral fixation. They need to stick things in their mouth, and poop is there for the taking. You can keep your puppy from starting this behavior by encouraging the chewing of toys.

Or, believe it or not, it could be a matter of monkey see, monkey do. You pick up poop, so why can’t your dog? He worships you and wants to do all that you do, so while he can’t really pick up poop with his paws, he’ll try with his mouth.

There are other possible reasons as well, including:

  • Housekeeping – to clean up his “area”

  • Lack of nutrition

  • To get attention

  • Genetics or instinct (mothers will eat their puppies’ poop, for example, and might not stop there)

  • Lastly, medical. This is the least likely scenario but it’s possible your dog has parasites that’s making them eat poop (and, coincidentally, the more poop he eats, the more likely he’ll get parasites).

4. Why is my dog digging holes? There are a number of reasons why a dog may dig a hole, none of which make it any more acceptable in your backyard (or the public park). Dogs could dig holes to keep cool and comfortable – like an igloo or fort. You’ll know this is the cause if you find holes typically in cool areas (during hot days) or warmer areas (during cooler days).

Dogs also dig because, well, they like to. Terriers (terra meaning land, by the way) are more prone to dig, but any dog could learn the habit. It’s a form of entertainment. You can assume this is the case if you have holes in random places and your dog approaches his holes with a play-like crouching stance.

Dogs also dig to bury things, like toys and bones. Some dogs will try to bury their treasures indoors too. That’s pretty adorable. They’ll dig at the carpet (without actually digging anything up) and will place their bone in their makeshift hole.

Separation anxiety is probably the biggest concern. If this is the cause of hole digging, then your dog’s behavior could lead to other unwanted actions. If your dog exudes other types of anxiety (barking, chewing), then you’ll want to talk to a trainer.

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