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Why do dogs have strange behaviours?


Author: Layal Bou Abdo, MSN

Illustrator: Angeline Boswell


Have you ever thought that your dog is crazy? Or wondered about your dog’s strange behaviours?
Dogs are adorable, loyal companions and man’s best friends for thousands of years. But, it’s hard to deny that they are sometimes weirdos.
It is only recently that humans start to understand the dogs’ body language and the way they communicate with us. Dogs also can understand us so much.

We are listing below 27 dogs’ weird behaviours


  1. Why do dogs poop on a north-south axis?

No clear knowledge yet! But it has something to do with the Earth’s magnetic field.

  1. Why do dogs run after pooping?

Your dog may run around because he feels relieved and lighter

  1. Why do dogs pee with one leg up?

Urine marks territories! Dogs can appear taller and more dominant if they make a vertical line. Some dogs take this pretty far, even performing handstands to ensure the greatest coverage.

  1. Why do dogs stick their tongues out and start panting?

Panting is normal for dogs. Unlike a human, the dog’s skin does not produce sweat the same way we do. They sweat only through their paws. So, the way they cool themselves up is different. They reduce the temperature of their bodies by using their mouth and tongue to exchange the hot air in their lungs for the cooler air outside.

By sticking out their tongue and panting, they use the evaporation of moisture to draw the cooler air in.

  1. Why do dogs kick the grass?

There are 2 theories behind this behaviour:

    • Covering the crime scene! In fact, dogs are being polite and trying to cover up the spot they soiled.
    • “This property is mine”! For instance, dogs produce pheromones (some kinds of chemicals) for property claiming purposes.
  1. Why do dogs sleep on their backs?

It’s proof of how much the dog trust you and how much they feel secure.

  1. Why do dogs stick their heads out of car windows?

There are two reasons for this. Because dogs don’t like confined spaces. Or, to take in the endless world of smells. Because dogs navigate the world with their noses, they love taking in all the aromas that come from being on the open road. They can pick up so many scents.

  1. Why do dogs smell each other’s behinds?
This is a way dogs use to communicate with one another through chemicals. Dogs have many glands in the posterior region of their body. Many of which produce hormones. Those hormones produce an excess of scents. With a dog’s incredible sense of smell, they’re attracted to this area which gives them a great deal of information about the other dog. They can pick up the gender, reproductive status, diet and the general feeling of the dog – all from the rear-end. Dogs that spend a great deal of time sniffing each other out, tend to get along better in the long run. Dogs sniffing each other’s butts is like human shaking hands
  1. Why do dogs smell your crotch?
Much like rear-end smelling, dogs smell human chemicals. It’s sometimes embarrassing in front of your visitors, but it does not mean that you smell. Our crotch area does have higher levels of pheromones. And dogs sniff to understand their world.
  1. Why do dogs steal your underwear?

What is the second available option for the dog in the absence of the crotch? – Your underwear.

Dogs have a super sniffing power; they can smell your undies even if you washed. Your furry friend will find comfort in your smell, which is often why they’re stealing your underwear! Be careful if your dog ripped them to shreds and swallowed the pieces.
  1. Why do dogs follow you into the bathroom?

Think about this way, don’t you take your dog to do his own business? Your dog may be returning a favour. So like you take care of their needs, they will try to take care of your needs. The unofficial term for dogs that follow you to the bathroom is “Velcro Dogs”. And they always want to be by your side.

  1. Why do dogs twirl around before lying down?

It goes back to when dogs were first domesticated! Long before dogs had a comfy bed that we know today, most dogs slept in the wilderness. To get comfortable; they will have to circle to make their beds while packing grass and bushes they find on their way.

  1. Why do dogs chase their tail?

When a dog chases his tail that means that he’s is so bored. Dogs need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. And, when they don’t get it, they resort to other means to keep themselves busy. It’s a way of seeking attention.

Some people think that it all starts with being a puppy. The dog raised by humans does not know that he isn’t one of the people in the family. And since he is the only one who has a tail, he thinks that it’s a toy.

Consult your vet if this behaviour is if repetitive because your pet might be suffering from the dog version of OCD (Obsessive, Compulsive Disorder), the CCD (Canine Compulsive Disorder).

  1. Why do dogs chase shadows?
They are having fun! Shadow chasing is OK up to a certain limit! You must not embrace this behaviour. As the game might turn into something they cannot control. Try otherwise to distract your canine friend from this behaviour.
  1. Why do dogs tilt their head?

Dogs Strange Behaviours: tilting the headThere are 3 reasons for this behaviour:

    • Either they’re trying to hear and understand you,
    • Or they’re playing you because they know you think it’s cute and you’ll give them extra attention or treats.
    • It’s a survival instinct. Dogs prick up their ears so that they can sense how far unknown danger is away from them, as many of them have floppy ears. So they tilt their head to make sure they can pinpoint where the unfamiliar sound is coming from. This is why many dogs hide from thunder.
  1. Why do dogs eat grass?

They are very bored or they are not feeling well! If your dog has an upset stomach – they can’t tell you about it. So, they eat grass because they know it will help them throw up whatever is bothering their digestive tract. In short, a dog eating green grass is their way of telling you they need to go to the vet for a checkup.

  1. Why do dogs chew on wood?
Chewing on wood can be very satisfying for your pup. It’s natural behaviour as chewing is a primal instinct for them. Your dog may chew on any wood he sees out of boredom, anxiety, or if he’s teething. Chewing wood is so important for your pet as it will keep your dog teeth clean and healthy. Yes, his is their way of brushing his teeth.
  1. Why do dogs run or moan or cry in their sleep?
Like us, dogs have a dream and during the REM stage of their sleep, they act on their dreams. They might be chasing a frisbee. Same for the cry, if your dog is crying while they sleep, this doesn’t mean that he is at all depressed. Do not wake them up because you might scare the pup or might end up getting bitten.
  1. Why do dogs jump on guests?
Dogs are playful animals. Puppies start jumping early in life. This is their way to greet other animals by hopping up and licking their faces. So, when the dog jumps on your guests it’s his way of greeting them and telling them “I like you”.
  1. Why do dogs lean on you?
This behaviour could mean 3 things. In general, they want to show dominance. Or, they love you so much and they want to be close to you as much as possible. Finally, they are seeking comfort because they are afraid. Dogs have an unbelievable hearing, they sense danger even before it happens. That’s why when your dog leans on you, he is protecting himself and needs a little support.
  1. Why do dogs suck on a blanket?
Dogs also suck on a piece of their skin. This behaviour is also called “Flank Sucking”.
Flank sucking behaviour in dogs is almost exclusive to Dobermans. When a mother weans her nursing puppies, some will still seek out objects they can suck on as a way to self-soothe. Like a baby sucking his thumb. Flank sucking behaviour disappears when a pup grows. But some dogs continue to suck on their flanks or objects (such as blankets) into adulthood. When this happens consult with your vet, maybe your pet is having a CCD.

Dogs Strange Behaviours: wagging the tail

  1. Why do dogs wag their tails?

Researchers confirmed that it’s a form of communication. But wagging the tail can have different meanings. It’s not always an open invitation for you to go and pet your friend. Researchers have discovered that swinging the tail left or right could explain how the dog is feeling. A tail leaning toward the right is positive and the left is negative. Researchers also have proved that if a dog is wagging his tail toward the left it stresses other dogs out.

  1. Why do dogs eat another dog poop?

That’s Gross! This behaviour is Coprophagia! It is sometimes caused by boredom or a lack of nutrients (Vitamin B). Some scientists think that it’s a habit that the dogs kept to date. That is to say, the mother eats the puppy’s feces to keep their home clean! It’s a nature’s way of keeping the puppies free from disease and a mother’s way of protecting her young. Since puppies have learned this behaviour since birth, there is no wonder they continue behaving like that!

  1. Why do dogs eat tissue paper?
If you catch your dog eating non-food items like tissue paper, he might be having a condition called Pica. Pica can develop when:
    • A dog doesn’t receive nutrients from his regular diet,
    • Boredom,
    • An odd eating habit turned into a compulsion, the CCD that we spoke about.
  1. Why do dogs lick the floor?

They are trying to grab some crumbs from the floor, or this might be a sign of dietary deficiency. Other signs can include anxiety or nausea and licking the cool tiles can make them feel better. For instance, if your floors are clay or brick, they could smell of certain minerals in the clay that could be missing from their diet.

  1. Why do dogs lick your face?

Dogs love licking, they are your doggy kisses, and this is a way dogs express how much they love you. It’s also because they like the taste of the sweat and oil on your face.

  1. Why do dogs stare at you?

It’s a way your dog is trying to read you and dogs are so good at staring! Your dog may stare at you while you dress. Dogs often watch us get some information. Dogs may watch you dress for a cue of what’s coming next. Your clothes can tell him if you’re leaving for work or taking him on a walk. So he must pay attention, even if it does creep you out.


Do you have a dog at home? Try to do with him a staring contest and tell us who is the winner? We bet! It’s the dog!

Fun Facts

Did you know that dogs are also called canine? Canine derives from Canis, the Latin word for dog.

Did you know that dogs are 10.000 to 100.000 times more sensitive to smells than humans are?

Did you know that dogs and humans have about the same amount of bacteria in their mouths? You’re not going to catch any bacteria from a dog that will affect you.

Did you know that dogs cannot smell poops? It’s no wonder why they don’t differentiate it from any other food.

Did you know that dogs have approximately 220 million sensors in their noses? In contrast, Humans have 5 million.


Learn more about our vet program and how your child can become a paw-some veterinarian! At Little Veterinarian School, students will assume the role of a veterinarian and learn how to perform a nose-to-tail exam, the importance of proper nutrition, perform a tick check, and identify animal body language. Here is a sneak peek to some classroom pictures. 

We are certain your kid asks you health (human & animal) questions that genuinely leave you stumped! Leave a comment below and we are happy to answer “why” in future blogs.

Copyright © 2020 Little Medical School Ottawa



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