Our pups can’t use words to tell us how they feel, but they do communicate in other ways. So what do different behaviors tell us about our dogs? I researched an extensive list of things that our furry friends do and what their actions tell us to help you better understand your pooch so that you can take the best possible care of your pal. Table of Contents Facial Expressions Shows 'Sad Puppy Face' Are our pups sad when they show us those soulful eyes and drooping ears? According to Stanley Coren, PhD., DSc. and animal behavior specialist, tells us that dogs experience basic human emotions including affection, anger, contentment, and fear. The “sad face” look in dogs is a combination of: genetic traits - dogs have two facial muscles that allow them to take on a sad countenance learned behavior - “the look” gets them extra attention from you our interpretation of Fido’s expression - we feel guilty about something and project it on our pooch When your furbaby gives you “the look” it may be that he knows it will get him extra pets. If you’re wondering if your pal is sad, watch for signs like apathy, changes in eating and sleep patterns, avoidance, and extra self-grooming. When you notice any of these signs, call your vet for a check-up to rule out underlying conditions. If he’s healthy, you can try extra pets and treats, a special outing, or even a new pal to cheer him up. Has A "Guilty" Look About 74% of owners think their pooches experience guilt when they’ve done something wrong. However, current research suggests that the emotion of guilt is too advanced for dogs. So why do they look or act like they know they’re in trouble?A 2014 behavioral study by Barnard College psychologist Alexandra Horowitz shows that dogs were more likely to show guilty behaviors or expressions if they had been scolded by their owners whether or not they misbehaved. These findings suggest dogs are reacting to our cues when they display guilt behaviors. Actually Smiling at me When our furbabies roll back their lips and flash their teeth in a friendly greeting, are they really giving us a toothy grin? Scientists aren’t certain if the expression is a true smile or not. However, a 2017 study on canine facial actions suggests that the “relaxed open-mouth” expression is more common when dogs are in a positive setting like playtime with a furry pal.So, when Fido greets you with a smile, he may be letting you know he’s happy you’re home. A few ways that you can keep your four-footed friend happier include planning a daily playtime together and scheduling a special outing to a local dog park. Dog Pooping Behavior Sniffs Around Before Pooping Dogs seem to have a ritual before they squat to poop. They sniff around to find just the right spot, but why? It’s because this is how canines communicate with one another. They use urine, feces, and scent glands to mark where they’ve been and to leave messages for other dogs in the area.When Fido puts his nose to the ground, he’s picking up information about all the other pups that have been there. Once he learns about other visitors, he’ll leave his own pee or poop message for other pooches. So, let your pal take his time and gather data before he goes potty. Circles before pooping You’ve probably seen it. Your furry friend heads out to the yard, takes a sniff, circles a few times, then finally squats to poop. So, why does he have to circle first? There are a few theories to explain this behavior: When Fido puts his nose to the ground, he’s picking up information about all the other pups that have been there. Once he learns about other visitors, he’ll leave his own pee or poop message for other pooches. So, let your pal take his time and gather data before he goes potty. Your pal may be stomping down the ground cover to create a spot to poop It could an instinctive behavior from their wolf ancestors that lets them check for any predators or threats before taking the vulnerable squat position They could be marking the area with scent glands on their feet Dogs may also circle to line up with the earth’s magnetic fields No matter the reason for your pup’s routine, it’s an important ritual. So, when you’re out for a walk, give your furry friend all the time he needs to do his duty. Stares at me while pooping You might think your furbaby looks at you while he’s pooping because he’s embarrassed, but that’s not the case at all. When Fido looks to you as he defecates, he’s showing that he trusts you. You’re his pack leader, and he’s in a vulnerable position when he’s doing his business. So, when your pal locks eyes on you, realize he’s looking to you for protection. Kicks Up Grass After Pooping Unlike their feline counterparts, dogs aren’t covering their feces. They’re communicating with other pups in the area in a few ways. First, canines use the scent glands on their feet to leave a strong pheromone message. But kicking up clods of grass also leaves visible scratch marks for other pooches to see.So, what can you do to keep your four-footed friend from tearing up your yard? Try taking out a special treat or toy. When your pooch finishes his business, call him over, and offer the reward to distract him. He may just forget to scratch. Another option is to train your pal to go potty in a designated area so only one part of the yard is affected. House Soiling (Marking) Peeing & Pooping on the Bed f your pup is leaving his calling card on your bed, it’s important to find out what’s behind it. Rather than getting angry, seek to understand your furry friend. Some of the reasons for the behavior include: They’re feeling anxious or stressed about something. Fido may have lost bowel or bladder control in reaction to something that unexpectedly scared him. There could be an underlying medical condition. One reason your pooch picks your bed is that your scent is stronger there. If you can’t link the behavior to anxiety or loneliness, it’s time to give your veterinarian a call and schedule a check-up. Pooping In The House Everybody has accidents sometimes. It can even happen with the best-trained pup. But if your furry friend starts pooping in the house on a regular basis, it could be because: He’s feeling stressed over a change in routine or other circumstances He’s getting older and is either forgetting to go outside or is losing bowel control He has a medical condition that’s causing diarrhea So, if your special pal starts leaving calling cards around the house, it’s time to call the vet. Take him in for a check-up to rule out things like parasites, a food allergy, an infection, or cancer. Poops In The House In Front Of Me After Being Outside Is it revenge? Not at all. It’s natural and instinctive for them. Dogs often use their poop or pee to communicate with other animals and to mark territory. So, even after investing time and effort to housebreak your furry pal, he might not understand that he shouldn’t leave a message inside. He may think he’s bringing you a gift. Lovely!If there’s no medical reason for your pal’s behavior, he may be trying to tell you that he’s stressed or afraid. Your pal might feel unsafe going outside because something in the yard scares him. Rather than getting in a vulnerable position out there, he wants to come in for your protection.Another reason for doing his duty inside could be that he was too busy playing and forgot to do his business. Or maybe your schedules are out of sync and he’s not ready to go when you let him out.Whatever the reason for pooping in front of you, don’t punish your pal. Schedule a check-up with your veterinarian to make sure Fido isn’t sick. You may want to limit his access to uncarpeted parts of the home. Another option is to use potty pads or dog diapers for poop. Eating Poop (Coprophagy) - Their Own or Other Animals How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop Disgusting as it is, some canines eat poop. Whether it’s their own or another pooch’s droppings, the behavior (also known as coprophagy) can be normal. Some reasons for the action include: It’s instinctive. Bitches will clean their puppies, poop and all either to keep the den clean or protect their young from predators Puppies often eat poop, and some never grow out of it. Some dogs like the taste. Eww! Dementia, a nutritional imbalance, parasites, and other conditions can trigger coprophagy It may be to hide evidence of their presence from predators As an act of submission to dominant pack members They’re bored or trying to get your attention To hide the evidence from you if they went in a forbidden zone What can be done if your furbaby likes to dine on his droppings? You can watch your pal when he goes potty and clean up his mess as soon as he makes it. There are also food supplements that make the feces taste different.The bottom line is, this is a natural behavior. You can try to prevent it, but don’t punish your furry friend if he likes to eat dog poo. Eating Cat Poop Dogs seem to have a special affinity for cat poop. Felines have a shorter digestive tract, and their feces can have unprocessed proteins and other nutrients as a result. So these little tidbits probably smell and taste like food to your furbaby. However, in some cases, there could be an underlying condition like Cushing’s disease that’s making Fido extra hungry. If your pooch is raiding the cat box, schedule a checkup with your vet to rule out a medical condition. Then, find a way to restrict your pup’s access to the litter box. Try using self-cleaning or covered potties for your feline. You can also set it in a room behind a baby gate as long as Fido isn’t a jumper. Eating Rabbit Poop Did you know that rabbits have two different kinds of poop? The type you usually scattered around the yard is the actual waste or feces. They’re round, dry, and usually light brown. These pellets have undigested plant materials and fiber. If your pal munches on rabbit waste, it could be because: He’s hungry and will eat anything that resembles food He likes the flavor He sees the poop and tastes it out of curiosity He has a nutritional deficiency There’s an underlying condition causing the pica (indiscriminate eating) The good news is that rabbit poop isn’t likely to make your dog sick. If you want to prevent your furbaby from munching on these pellets, closely observe him when he’s in the yard. It’s also helpful to teach your pal the “leave it” command so that you can deter him even when you’re not standing right beside him. Dogs and Dirt Rolling in dirt & Mud You’re out for a walk with your four-footed friend. He comes to a patch of dirt, sniffs at it, and gets down to roll. Why does he do that? Pups roll for several reasons, including: Hold-over hunting instincts prompt him to roll in dirt or mud to cover his scent He’s leaving scent from his legs and back to mark his territory He likes the smell He’s collecting information to bring back to his pack He’s trying to erase the shampoo scent and restore his unique smell after a bath If Fido rolls every time you bathe him, there are some things you can try to stop the behavior. First, take your pal out on a long leash. The moment he starts to drop to the ground, draw him toward you and command him to come. Offer a treat when he obeys. Repeat several times. Another option is to use an unscented shampoo that won’t leave your pup smelling like a rose. Finally, you could take your pal for a brisk walk or jog to help dry off instead of letting him out in the yard. kicking up dirt It’s common for dogs to kick up a little dirt, especially after going potty. Nan Telleno, a canine behaviorist, explains that there are a few reasons for the behavior, which is also known as scraping. They may be using the scent glands in their footpads to mark territory. Dogs also kick dirt to leave messages for other canines in the area including pheromonal calling cards. When Fido starts throwing dirt with his hind feet, don’t scold him. He’s just trying to communicate with other pups. Let's Talk Dog Humping Help! My dog humps In her review of canine humping behavior, Julie Hecht finishes, “When trying to get behind any behavior (pun intended), Marc Bekoff recommends becoming an at-home ethologist. ‘Get a paper and pencil, and watch and record what happens before and after the behavior of interest. This can tell you more about the behavior itself.’ This technique can help you determine when a behavior needs to be managed and when it’s just fine.” Is humping normal, and if not what can you do about it? The ASPCA and other sources tell us that mounting activities, including humping and masturbation, are normal for dogs. However, in some cases, it can become a compulsive behavior like excessive licking or tail chasing. The key for you is to understand what these activities mean for your furbaby. That’s why you want to watch what happens before and after the behavior. Determine how often and how long the humping happens. If you think Fido is doing this because he’s not getting enough other stimulation, try providing additional walks, playtime, or a puzzle toy. For some pups, the behavior is anxiety-driven. If your pal resorts to humping in awkward social situations, find ways to increase his level of security. Teach them alternative behaviors like chewing on rawhide or playing with a treat-dispensing toy. If your furbaby only mounts occasionally, he may just enjoy the sensation. As long as it’s not at inappropriate times, you can just let him be. With a little time and attention, you should be able to figure out what triggers your furbaby and find ways to redirect the behavior if needed. Humping my leg and other people You may wonder why some pooches try to hump people’s legs. The first thing you need to understand is that mounting and humping isn’t always sexual for dogs. So, besides a romantic overture, some reasons for the behavior include: It can be an act of dominance It’s a play gesture It’s an expression of excitement Some pups will hump anyone while others may focus on their owners or family members. Part of that depends on why they’re engaging in the behavior. In particular, a dog that’s using mounting to communicate anxiety or stress may only approach a human that he’s familiar with because it helps him feel safe. What can be done to stop or minimize the activity? First, don’t punish or yell at your furbaby. He’s only doing what comes naturally. If your pooch is intact, neutering may help reduce the behavior. Otherwise, you may be able to train your pal to replace humping with an alternative activity. Humping other dogs Neutered or not, male or female, some dogs will hump other canines. In most cases, it’s not a sexual act, so why do they do it? According to Psychologist Stanley Coren PhD., DSc., FRSC, it’s often about social dominance. He explains that puppies adopt the behavior as soon as they start playing to establish their ranking in the litter. It continues into adulthood as a way to show who’s the boss. This also explains why males will mount males and females will mount females. If you have two pups, and one keeps trying to hump the other, they’re probably just figuring out who’s in charge. Humping other things and the air We might find it weird, but sometimes our furry friends hump things like their pillows, toys, other things, or even the air. What’s going on here? There could be an underlying condition like a urinary tract infection or an awkward itch Dogs may be exerting dominance and claiming the object or space as their territory It feels good - yes, your pooch may find humping a toy pleasurable They’re expressing excitement or anxiety They could be trying to get another dog to play If your pup suddenly starts mounting objects or humping the air, talk with your veterinarian about the new behavior. It may be time for a checkup to rule out diseases. If Fido has a clean bill of health, the bottom line is that this activity is normal and natural for your pal. Unless it becomes compulsive, let your pal have his moment. Dog Rolling Behavior Rolling around You’re out at the dog park and your pal drops to the ground and rolls over on his back even though he’s surrounded by canines. Is he acting submissive? Not necessarily. A study by Kerri Norman and others at the University of Lethbridge and the University of South Africa evaluated why pups roll over during play. They observed animals in staged play settings with dogs of equal and different sizes. The results indicated that rolling over was not an act of submission but a defensive move that set the stage for more play. When play isn’t involved, rolling around can be for a variety of reasons including: To rub off a scent like perfumed shampoo To scratch an itch in a hard to reach area like the back Your pal is showing he feels secure and relaxed with you Exposing the belly helps them cool down Your furbaby is seeking love and attention if your four-footed friend wants to get down for a roll while, let him. He’s showing you how secure and happy he is with you. Rolling in the grass Have you ever watched your pooch take a roll in the grass and wonder what he’s doing? This behavior can accomplish different things for your special pal. The activity may help scrub or dislodge debris, dry skin, or tree sap He may be marking territory or adding a new scent to his coat He may take pleasure in the activity and find it relaxing Exposing the belly helps them cool down Your furbaby is seeking love and attention As I outlined above, rolling behavior is normal and usually not a cause for any concern. However, if the activity is continual, goes on and on, or seems unusually intense, contact your veterinarian. It could be that Fido has a dermatologic or other condition that’s causing irritation. Rolling On His Toys Rolling behavior isn’t just for outside. Some pups will roll on their toys or other objects indoors. They may be marking the item with their scent to claim it. Some things also make good back-scratchers or provide a comforting massage. As long as your furbaby doesn’t do this non-stop or compulsively, just rack it up to natural behavior. Rolling in Stinky Stuff Canines have a habit of finding the smelliest things they can and rolling in them. What’s that about? Psychologist Stanley Coren, explains some theories behind this instinct: Some say that it’s a carry-over from wolf ancestors. They smear the gunk all over their fur to bring a message back to their pack. It tells them where they’ve been and what they found. Others say it’s due to predatory instinct. They use rancid stuff to mask their odor from prey. Another theory is that dogs are leaving their scent on the smelly item. They just happen to pick up the stink when they roll. It could also be that dogs like the aroma of the obnoxious smelling thing. The thing to remember is that this is normal behavior for dogs, so don’t punish your furbaby when he rolls. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with it either. what can you do to discourage your pup from rolling? If his favorite thing is his feces, clean up as soon as your pal goes potty. Use a short leash when walking your pooch and watch him closely. That way you can pull him away from dead animals, poop, or other icky stuff. Link the rolling action to an unpleasant experience, like: A loud, annoying sound, A squirt from a spray bottle, A remote collar that sprays citronella or another scent that dogs hate Hopefully, with patience, perseverance, and some yummy treats, you’ll be able to train Fido to stop rolling in stinky stuff. If not, you may be able to reduce the frequency. Dog Licking Behavior Licking and Grooming Other Dogs Sometimes, when we have more than one pup in our pack, one dog will lick the other. They may clean each other’s ears, lick the eyes, or groom one another. Some possible reasons for this behavior include: Puppies may lick their mama’s face asking to be fed For some adult canines, it’s an act of respect or deference Other pups lick as an act of affection or playfulness Sometimes, licking is a way to say “hello” Dogs will also lick each other’s fur or eyes to assist them with grooming In addition to these, pooches lick to help them bond and relax. Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell tells us that licking releases hormones called endorphins in both the licker and the recipient. These substances stimulate feelings of comfort and pleasure for the pups and contribute to bonding. In the wild, pack members lick each other to build a close-knit group. Even though their survival doesn’t depend on pack cohesiveness, our domesticated furbabies still have this instinct. So if you have two dogs that like to groom each other, they’re helping one another relax. Licking himself excessively Dogs love to lick. They’ll spend minutes running their tongues across their feet, lets, or even their privates. Is it something you should worry about? If they do it occasionally, don’t sweat it. It’s part of normal grooming. Most pups like to clean up after going potty or when they come in from outside. Sometimes, your furbaby will groom because he’s bored. If your pooch starts licking excessively, there may be other reasons like: A yeast infection between the toes or around the genitals It’s a compulsive habit and may indicate stress or anxiety There could be a painful or inflamed area Your pal might have a foreign body between the toes or in his mouth If he’s licking his feet, he might have a cracked nail or a growth between his toes He could have allergies There might be an underlying medical condition like dementia or a seizure If your pal seems to be licking all the time, what can be done to make it stop? First, talk with your vet and find out if there are any treatable conditions. Should Fido’s doctor determine the behavior is compulsive or anxiety-driven, you can try reducing stress in the environment with low lighting, quiet, and slower movements. Another option is to use natural calming products like thunder shirts or pheromone collars. For the excessive groomer, diversion techniques such as taking your pup for a walk or brushing his coat may help reduce unwanted activity. Licking his lips Dogs often use licking behavior to communicate with their pack. Research suggests that non-social contact licking is a sign of stress or anxiety. Some furbabies will even lick their lips or the air in response to an angry or aggressive expression in their master’s countenance. Pooches that are more fearful or anxious tend to lick. Sometimes the behavior becomes such a ritual that they’ll lick even when they don’t have a human or another pup nearby. The bottom line is if you see your special pal licking his lips or the air, he may be telling you that something is stressing him out. Try to provide a calming environment and reassure your furbaby. Licking his wounds The only tool your pup has to care for his wounds is his tongue. Fortunately, that’s a good thing. Canine saliva contains: Enzymes like lactoferrin that destroy bacterial cell walls Other antiviral and antibacterial compounds Growth factors and protease inhibitors that support wound healing The natural pain reliever Opiorphin Nitrate compounds that break down to nitric oxide when saliva contacts the skin. This process inhibits bacterial growth and promotes healing. While a little licking can be helpful in minor abrasions, there are times that you want to prevent your pup from doing more harm than good with his tongue. That’s when a pet recovery collar comes in handy to help the wound heal. Licking things obsessively The dog’s tongue is a powerful sensory organ. Our pooches use this muscle to taste and smell things. They may lick stuff when they’re bored or curious. If the behavior becomes excessive, Fido may be under stress or have a medical condition like: Lack of nutrients Cushing’s Disease or hypoadrenocorticism Liver failure A neurological disorder If your furbaby starts licking things all the time, contact your veterinarian for a checkup. They can help you get to the root of the behavior. Licking His Nose Dogs lick their noses a lot, but why? One reason they do this is that it helps them smell better. The tongue collects scent particles and transfers them to a specialized scent organ (Jacobson’s Organ) in the roof of their mouth. Other purposes for licking the sniffer include: To clean it off To show confusion or anxiety Medical reasons like a bee sting, foreign body, trauma, or an infection They’re feeling nauseous To wipe off a nasal discharge It can be a sign of a seizure If your four-footed friend seems to be licking his nose excessively, check the muzzle for signs of injury, foreign body, or other problems. You should also set up a veterinary exam to help you find out what’s causing the behavior. Licking Blankets and pillows Some canines will leave a wet spot on your blanket or pillow because they’ve been licking your bedding. They do this because we leave our scent on these items, and they’re attracted to it. For some pups, there’s the added bonus of salt from sloughed skin cells and sweat. Another reason your four-footed friend will lick these areas is that they’re dealing with loneliness or anxiety. If your canine companion keeps licking your bedding, try leaving an old clothing item of yours on the bed to comfort him when you’re not around. Licking my underwear Gross! But hey, they’re dogs, and some of them like to lick or chew on your underwear. Some of the reasons our furbabies go for panties and other undergarments include: The elastic reminds them of a toy Face it, dogs love stinky stuff It carries your scent and reminds them of you The color may be attractive to them It gets your attention Not only is this behavior annoying, but it can also be unsafe for your pooch. If your pal eats a pair of boxers or socks, it could cause an obstruction. To help prevent problems, make sure your pooch can’t get to your underwear. You can also use bitter apple spray to make the garments less desirable or offer a variety of toys that keep your pup’s interest. Licking his bed Some dogs develop a nighttime ritual of licking their beds and grooming before going to sleep. Different pups do this for different reasons. With some, it may be linked to latent memories from puppyhood. Their mamas constantly licked them when they were babies to clean them, stimulate growth, and show affection. For other pooches, this activity helps them maintain personal hygiene. If your furbaby is a senior pooch, licking may be his way of massaging stiff muscles or soothing painful joints. And of course, there are canine allergies that could be causing your furry pal to feel itchy. If your pal settles into bed and licks for a spell, he may just be doing something to help him go to sleep. On the other hand, excessive licking may be a sign of a problem or condition. Check your dog to see if he’s focusing on a particular area or if there are signs of parasites. If he’s focusing his attention around potty areas, you may want to take him to your vet. There could be infected anal glands or another issue that needs treatment. Licking human body parts Licking my wounds Dogs often want to help you when you get a cut or abrasion by licking the wound. They’re acting on their pack instinct to take care of you. According to Nigel Benjamin, a clinical pharmacologist, this behavior is also beneficial to humans. In clinical studies, he found that saliva has a chemical compound that converts to nitric oxide when it contacts the skin, and this chemical helps provide antibacterial protection to the scrape or cut. Other researchers at the University of Florida at Gainesville found a protein in saliva called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). The NGF helped licked wounds heal 2 times faster than non-licked injuries. The findings also suggest the same chemicals are in human saliva. So, in a pinch, you could lick your own wounds. However, scientists also found harmful anaerobic bacteria like Pasteurella in animal mouths. If these microbes enter the wound, they can cause deep-seated infections that can become serious and may be life-threatening. So, for minor injuries, a few swipes of Fido’s tongue could be beneficial. However, to be on the safe side, we recommend you practice good hygiene and cover the wound with a bandage. Licking my face For dogs, the tongue is a powerful communication tool. When they lick your face, they may be giving you a message, like: They love you and are showing their affection They want something from you like dinner or a walk They’re showing you their respect Other reasons that canines may wash your face include that they’re trying to groom you, they like the way you taste, the action triggers a release of endorphins which make them feel good. So, should you allow your dog to lick you?If you have open wounds or a compromised immune system, you may want to discourage the behavior. However, in most cases, there’s very little health risk when a dog licks you. As a precaution, let your pooch lick under your chin or offer your hand but avoid their contact with your lips. You can wash your face or sanitize your hands after Fido shows his affection. Grooming me Remember, our furbabies don’t have words for communication. They’ll often lick or groom their owners to bond as pack members or convey important messages. Whether your special pal wipes his tongue on your appendages, eyes, nose, or other body parts, he has good reasons: Your tears and sweat have salt that tastes good to him Natural moisturizers and lotions may smell and taste good to your pooch Licking gets your attention It’s a natural way for him to show his affection for you Social grooming behavior stimulates a release of oxytocin and other positive hormones Intense or excessive licking may mean he’s anxious or stressed about something Licking can be a sign of deference or submission Dogs may also lick because they detect a health problem like low blood sugar Unless your pup goes overboard or his licking gives you the creepy crawlies, it usually won’t pose a health risk. But, if you want to discourage the behavior, Victoria Stillwell from Animal Planet recommends you ignore your dog and walk away when he starts to lick you. With repetition, your furbaby will learn that licking brings no reward. Licking me when i pet him Dogs are mutual groomers. They often use licking:to communicate affection and other messagesAs a sign of conflict behaviorTo exhibit stressWhen you reach out to pet your furbaby and he starts licking you, check his body language. He may simply wants to return the favor, or he could be telling you that he’s feeling stressed or threatened. The behavior may also help comfort your pal because the action triggers a release of endorphins. If your pooch turns to lick you when you pet him, take it as a compliment. Digging behavior Loves digging Hey, they’re dogs, right? Canines like to excavate because it’s part of their nature. Let’s explore the science behind the behavior. Animal Behaviorist Dr. Emma Grigg discusses reasons that pooches enjoy digging: If your pooch turns to lick you when you pet him, take it as a compliment. It’s a predatory instinct carry-over from wolf ancestors They’re uncovering cool earth on a hot day so that they can lie in it to cool off To bury treasure like a bone or favorite toy The bottom line here is that the behavior is natural for your pal, so you shouldn’t punish them. Instead, you can try to redirect Fido’s behavior. Provide a designated digging area or a doggie sandbox. For some pups, digging is a signal that they have extra energy. Take extra-long walks or play ball with your furbaby to burn off some vigor. Digging in his bed One of our dogs digs up blankets before laying down all the time. This behavior is known as denning, and canines to it for different reasons: Some are making a nest It helps regulate their body temperature by making their resting place warmer or cooler They may be creating a den where they can hide They’re “fluffing” their pillows to be more comfortable The digging action marks the bed as their territory If your pooch messes up your comforter or the throw on the sofa, he’s not misbehaving. He’s just preparing his bed. Digging at Carpet If you have carpeting in your home, you may have seen your furry friend paw or scratch at the rug. What’s up with that? Some reasons that dogs look like they’re trying to dig a hole in the floor include: They’re trying to dislodge tasty crumbs that they can smell Like their bed, they’re trying to “fluff” the area before laying down He’s anxious or excited about something If your pal scratches at the carpet on rare occasions, it’s probably not a big deal. But if the frequency could threaten the rug’s lifespan, here are some measures you can take to redirect the behavior: As soon as the pawing begins, get your special pal’s attention and call him to you. Then you can run him through some obedience drills and provide treats to divert his attention. Another way to redirect your furbaby’s energy is to take him for a walk or get him a puzzle toy. If your pup seems to be digging for crumbs, consider vacuuming more often. Sniffing Everything Loves sniffing Dogs sniff everything! They rely on their noses to investigate the world around them. That’s because their sense of smell is 100,000 to 1,000,000 times stronger than ours, depending on the breed. Relatively speaking, more of their brain is dedicated to the sense of smell than it is for humans. Their sniffers pick out minute details when they take a sniff, and they use this information to learn about their environment. So, why not harness this incredible sense by playing some scent games with your pooch? Modern Canine Training offers a teaching video to show you some fun nosework ideas. Loves Sniffing People You probably get the once-over from your furbaby when you come home at the end of the day. He’s sniffing you to learn about the places you’ve been based on the scents you brought back. By smelling you or other people he meets, your furbaby can detect: Your mood Hormonal changes such as occur with pregnancy Whether you’ve been with friends or strangers Some illnesses, including diabetes and cancer We may not know what smells our pups are picking up when they greet people on a walk. But they have a way of letting us know what they like. Sniffing My Crotch (awkward!!!) One common place dogs check when they give you the sniff-down is your crotch. The reason for this is that humans have apocrine glands that secrete pheromones, and most of them are in the armpits and inguinal areas. The scents we emit tell our pups a lot about us. So, when they stick their nose down there, our four-footed friends are saying, “Hi.” Even though it’s a natural behavior, it can be embarrassing when your furbaby sticks his nose in a visitor’s crotch. To prevent the behavior, have your guests offer a hand or fist to sniff as soon as they meet Fido. Your pal will be able to get the same information by sniffing these body parts. Another thing you can do is put your pup in a sit-stay when a new person comes into the house. Sniffing My Breath If your furbaby is sticking his nose in your face, chances are he’s trying to get a whiff of your breath, but why? Well, the canine sense of smell is so advanced that Fido can discern individual odors on your breath. So, he’s getting closer to learn more about you and what you’ve been up to lately. The bottom line here is that if you’re comfortable with your pooch getting up close and personal, it may strengthen your bond. However, if you’d rather have more space, find another way to connect with your pal like going for a walk or playing a game of tug. Sniffing Other Dog’s Butts You’ve seen it at the dog park or out on a walk. Two dogs meet, and they sniff each other’s butts. Why? The anal sacs around a dog’s anus secrete a liquid that tells other canines important information about your pooch – like his age, mood, and gender. When two pups stick their noses under one another’s tails, it’s like they’re exchanging business cards. Is it ok to let my dog sniff other dogs? As long as you’re supervising the encounter and both parties are healthy and well-socialized, it helps them get to know one another. Keep an eye on them and watch the body language. If one pup gets too intense and the other one starts acting stressed or annoyed, pull them apart. You should also introduce unfamiliar canines in pairs to minimize the risk of overstimulation and fighting. Dog Sitting Behavior Sitting in my spot when I get up You get up from the couch for a snack, or whatever and Fido moves in. What’s going on here? Well, your furbaby could be doing this for one of these reasons: Preference - When you sat down, you took Fido’s favorite spot, so he’s taking it back in your absence Attention/rewards - you’ve actually trained your furbaby that he gets extra attention or rewards when you come back and ask him to move over The spot has your scent - If you come home to find your pup in your normal spot, he may be showing that he misses you when you’re gone What can be done? First, don’t drag your pooch off the seat. Train him to find another resting place. Call your pal off the couch and put him in a “sit-stay” or “down-stay.” Once he complies, provide a tasty treat. Then ignore your pup and go back to reading, watching TV, or whatever you were doing before. It won’t take long for your furbaby to figure out he needs to find his own spot. Loves Sitting On Me Do you have a cuddle hound that likes to snuggle beside you or even sit on top of you or your feet? There are some different reasons for the behavior: For warmth - if you’ve seen a puppy pile, you know that dogs tend to huddle up when they’re cold To show affection - he wants to be near you and get extra bonding time For reassurance - something is making him nervous or anxious To claim you - he’s marking you as his personal territory To protect you - he’s guarding you He wants something - either he’s bored and wants more activity, or he’s seeking attention If your furbaby doesn’t sit on your lap, should you be worried? Not at all. Just like their masters, dogs have different personalities. If your pooch isn’t the snuggly type, he might follow you around the house to show his affection. Enjoy his unique ways of communicating with you. Sitting On My Head Head sitting tends to be more common with small breeds and younger pooches. Puppies usually engage in the behavior when they’re part of a pack to be close to their littermates, but some continue into adulthood. Your reaction can also encourage the activity to continue. If you yell and chase Fido, he might think it’s a game and continue to plop his butt on your noggin to start the play session.What can be done to teach your pal to find a different seat? You need to break the cycle by stopping whatever reinforces the behavior. Pay attention to how you react to Fido when he sits on your head and change what you’re doing to encourage him to find a better spot, like your lap. You may need to consult with a trainer about command signals that tell your furbaby to get down. If you think that your pooch is plopping down on your head for warmth, set up a comfortable dog bed or blanket in a warm spot in your home. Sitting Behind Me On the Couch When you go to settle into the couch, you may find your pooch taking up a spot behind you. Dogs may do this because: It’s a comfortable spot for them It’s a great vantage point to guard you and the house They can be close to you without risk of being crushed If your sofa has deep seats, Fido may also curl up between you and the back of the couch if he’s feeling nervous, cold, or is afraid you’re going to leave him. In most cases, there’s no problem with your pup sitting behind you. However, if your pal starts getting bossy or aggressive with other pets, you need to take action. Remove Fido from the couch and give him a crate time-out. If your pooch growls or snaps at you when you sit near him or pet him, you need to retrain him. Ban him from the area any time he acts aggressively. It can help to provide another comfortable spot so that your pal has an alternative if his “favorite” place is already occupied. The bottom line is that sharing the couch with your furbaby can be rewarding for both of you. But if Fido starts guarding the spot and getting aggressive, you need to take steps to redirect the behavior. Sitting Next to Me When I'm On the Toilet If you have a dog that acts as your personal shadow, they’ll probably follow you into the bathroom. Some pooches do this because: It’s a pack thing - they want to be near you Curiosity - they want to know what you’re up to Protection - they’re trying to keep you safe Companionship - they don’t want to be left alone This behavior is normal, but it can be a problem if your pal cries outside the door or starts destroying things when you shut him out. These actions can be signs of separation anxiety. Talk to your veterinarian or trainer about ways to help Fido cope. If your pooch doesn’t have anxiety issues, there’s nothing wrong with diverting him to another room when you need to use the bathroom. Of course, you could just let him follow you in there. It’s only fair since you see him go potty all the time. Sitting On Cats If you have a cat in the house, your furbaby may try to sit on her. What’s the big idea? Some possible reasons include: Passive aggression - they’re getting revenge for the hissing and swats Butt hug - they’re trying to show affection but don’t want a scratched nose Acceptance - they’re telling the cat they belong to the same pack Face it, animals can be weird. The bottom line here is, as long as your pets seem to be getting along, let them work it out. Remember to keep an eye on the interactions just in case what appears to be playful fun turns into aggression. Sitting On Other Dogs In households with two or more canines, you may have one pup that likes to sit on the others. What’s going on here? Some reasons that pooches do this include: He’s snuggling up to get warm He’s affirming his relationship as a pack member Some dogs use the behavior to initiate playtime The more senior dog may sit on his younger companion to calm him down The bottom line here is that if the dog on bottom resents being a chair, you could have a problem. Monitor your pups closely for any signs of aggression and take immediate action to diffuse the situation. Talk to a trainer to learn command cues that remind both furbabies to stay calm. Dog following behavior Following Me Everywhere If you almost trip over Fido every time you turn around or back up, you may wonder what’s going on. Depending on your furbaby’s personality and the situation, it could be because: He’s reinforcing your bond by sticking close For some breeds, it’s an instinctive trait He wants companionship He suffers from separation anxiety and wants to make sure you’re not going anywhere This closeness with your furry friend can be beneficial for both of you. However, there are times when following becomes a problem. If your pooch clings to you and appears fearful around others, he may lack proper socialization and be over-bonded to you. The risk here is that your pooch could develop fear aggression or destructive behaviors. Try getting your pal an interactive toy or using desensitization training to help your pal cope when you’re not around. Following Me But Not My Partner Around Some pups will hang around one family member. If your furbaby becomes your shadow but doesn’t follow your partner, it may be because: Your pooch views you as the pack leader He may have bonded to you and not your partner or spouse If you had Fido before, your pooch may view your partner as an interloper Your pup may pick up on negative vibes if your partner gets angry or acts hostile toward you Your partner may have a scent that your dog doesn’t like If your furbaby always follows you around and ignores your partner, what can you do about it? To foster bonding, try to have training sessions that include your husband. Learning new commands or skills together can help build the connection between your pup and your significant other. You can also let your partner feed Fido so that he’ll see your mate as a provider and caregiver. If you think the issue is scent-based, try changing your partner’s hygiene products like soap, shampoo, and deodorant and see if your furbaby alters his behavior. The bottom line is that if your pooch is at odds with your partner, there are things you can do to improve their relationship and keep peace in the house. Dog Nesting Behavior My dog is nesting Nests aren’t just for birds. Dogs will engage in nesting behavior when they’re pregnant. In the wild, females will prepare a safe place to have their puppies. The instinct carries over to our domestic canines. But these aren’t the only pups that build a nest. Sometimes other pooches will prepare a bed in a private place to function as their den or safe place. The bottom line is that nesting behavior is normal and healthy for your pooch. If your pal builds a den or private area, treat it with respect to foster his sense of security. Circles Before Lying Down Some pups will plop down while others may turn in circles two, three, or more times. The behavior is a carry-over from wolf ancestors. Wild canines use the circling to stamp down the ground for a softer, more level bed. Another reason for the behavior may be for added safety according to Leslie Irvine, a sociologist who specializes in animal roles in society. She explains, “In the wild, the circling would flatten grasses or snow and would drive out any snakes or large insects. I have also heard that circling the area and thus flattening it leaves a visible sign to other dogs that this territory has been claimed. Even though our dogs now sleep on cushions, the behavior endures.” The bottom line is that circling is a natural behavior. In most cases, it’s not a reason for concern. However, if your special pal starts circling and pawing at his bed but never seems to settle into a comfortable spot, it could be signs of a health problem. Watch your furbaby to see if he’s having difficulty getting up and down or moving around. If the restlessness persists, contact your veterinarian to get to the root of the behavior. Going Around In Circles Sometimes a dog will start walking around in circles when they’re not preparing to lie down. There are different reasons for this behavior: They’re bored or anxious and trying to work off excess energy A newly rescued dog with obsessive-compulsive tendencies may be adjusting to the new home Your pooch may have an inner-ear infection that’s affecting his vestibular system Some parasitic infections can trigger circling behavior Neurological conditions including head trauma and dementia can cause circling If your furbaby starts to show circling behavior, consult with your veterinarian. The key is to get to the root cause and provide appropriate treatment such as anthelmintic medications for parasites or antibiotics for ear infections. If the cause of the problem is dementia, you may need to adjust your pal’s environment and supervise him closely to help prevent injury. The key here is that turning in circles usually points to an underlying condition. With the appropriate diagnosis, you’ll know the best steps to take for your pal. Crying and Whining My dog is crying...why? It’s important to understand that dogs cry differently than we do. They will shed tears, but not because of emotional distress. We’ll look at why dogs have tears in the next section. First, let’s talk about vocalizations like >whimpering and whining and the reasons for the behavior. Dogs cry to: Let you know they want something like dinner or a walk Tell you they’re nervous or anxious about something Tell you they’re frustrated or something is hurting them Let you know that they’re bored and want your attention If your furbaby is whimpering or whining, he’s trying to communicate a need. Take some time to observe your pup and see what he’s trying to say. If he needs something like food or water, attend to his needs. Offer comfort if he’s anxious. If you think he’s in pain, call your vet. By listening to your pal, you can help him stay healthy and happy. Crying at night Even if Fido doesn’t howl at the moon, he might cry at night. The reasons for his vocalizations depend on his circumstances: A new puppy may not be used to living without his littermates and mama If you’re crating your pal, he may be telling you he doesn’t want to be separated A senior dog may be feeling aches and pains A pooch with dementia could be afraid of the dark He may be telling you he has to go potty and don’t want to soil their kennel What can you do to curb the crying at night? If your pal has separation anxiety, you may want to move his bed into your room for a few nights then gradually move it further from you until you have it in the desired location. For a dog that needs a midnight potty run, try taking him out late at night and first thing in the morning. Puppies that aren’t used to being alone could benefit from a warm, familiar object in their bed. The important thing to remember when addressing the behavior is that it’s counterproductive to scold or punish your furbaby for crying at night. You’re more likely to increase any anxieties or fear by yelling at your pup. Instead, take time to understand the reasons your pal is whining and address the issue. Crying When I leave Dogs are social by nature. In the wild, they live in packs, and they don’t like to be left alone. If your canine companion tends to cry when you leave the house, it may be because he has separation anxiety or that you’re gone too much and he’s lonely. If you have a rescue dog, it’s also possible that he was abandoned and fears being left behind again. The good news is that you can help your furbaby learn how to self-entertain and overcome his anxiety when you have to leave him at home. Bones, toys, or treat puzzles can be engaging and comforting for many pups. You can also make sure he has a safe, comfortable space with a soft bed. If you usually leave the home in silence, try playing the radio or soft music in the background for company. Some pooches will handle your absence better if you plan a walk or playtime before you head out. Of course, you could also add to your pack with a four-footed sibling for Fido. There are many ways to help your special pal learn to cope when you can’t be there. With a little time and attention, you can find the best solution for your furbaby’s needs. Appears to cry real tears Although dogs don’t use tears because they’re sad, their eyes can get watery. Like us, canines have tear ducts and can sometimes shed droplets. The reasons that dogs cry tears include: An irritant like a dust speck got in the eye and may have scratched the cornea They have an allergy They have an eye infection They have a blocked tear duct Even though your furbaby can shed tears, it’s often a sign of a problem. Sometimes it’s as simple as a speck of dirt or an eyelash. In that case, the droplets will wash the irritant out. However, if the crying persists, there could be something more serious going on. Watch your furbaby to see if the tears continue and take him to the vet if needed. Destructive Chewing Behavior My Dog is Chews Everything Dogs rely on their mouths to investigate their world. They don’t have opposable thumbs or the ability to grasp things. Chewing comes naturally, especially for puppies. Other reasons that canines gnaw on all kinds of things are: The behavior provides an outlet for separation anxiety They like the taste or smell of some objects They have too much energy and are bored You reinforced the behavior by giving them treats to stop chewing When your furry friend chews on objects that you want him to leave, you need to retrain him. Any discipline must occur in the moment, or your pooch will not link your actions to his chewing behavior. To teach Fido to avoid forbidden items, you’ll also need to provide an alternative for your furry pal. Some dogs will not automatically avoid the shoe, rug, or furniture in favor of a new toy. Use games like chasing your pal when they pick it up or throwing it for them to pursue. The bottom line here is to teach your furbaby to avoid objects that you value. Finding something else for your pooch to enjoy can help redirect his unwanted behavior. Chewing On Me You’ve probably had a puppy nibble on your fingers or toes. It’s normal for them to gnaw on your clothes to explore, for play, or to ease teething pain. When the behavior continues into adulthood, that usually means they never learned bite inhibition. Fortunately, it’s not too late to train your furbaby to stop chewing on you. The best approach here is prevention. Start by providing your pal with plenty of mental and physical stimulation to curb boredom. In some cases, you’ll need to exercise your pooch while other pups will thrive on a little personal time and attention from you. You can also use positive reinforcement by treating your special pal when he lets you pet him without mouthing your hand. One note, if Fido nips at you any time you reach for a particular area, refrain from reaching for that spot. Your furry friend may have an injury that he’s trying to protect. Talk to your veterinarian about the behavior. The key here is that your canine companion needs to learn appropriate behavior around people for everyone’s safety. Chewing On His Paws Dogs will chew or lick on their paws from time to time as a normal part of their grooming activity. However, if your pooch continually gnaws at his toes or nails, it could be because: They have an infection caused by an injury or parasites They’re suffering from an allergy or atopic dermatitis They’re bored or anxious They need a nail trim If your pooch is spending excess time chewing on his feet, check his paws and talk to your veterinarian. You may be able to fix the problem with a nail trim, or he may need treatment. The bottom line is that gnawing on the feet can point to a health issue. If your pooch is showing this behavior, schedule an exam with Fido’s doctor. Chewing On Blankets Some canines have a habit of sucking or gnawing on their blankets. It may be a source of comfort for your pooch. Pups that were orphaned or bottle-fed sometimes use blankets to satisfy the instinct to nurse. Others turn to chewing to soothe separation anxiety or boredom. The behavior can even be a sign that your pooch is hungry. Chewing is normal for dogs. However, if the behavior becomes problematic there are things you can do to make it stop. Start by offering lots of chew toys to redirect the behavior. You can even find teething toys for puppies. On the flip side, try spraying a chew deterrent like bitter apple on the bedding or blankets that your pooch tends to chew. There are natural options you can use as well. Check with your veterinarian about safety. Because some canines turn to gnaw when they have excess energy, you should also increase his exercise and playtime. Try having extra sessions before you leave the house or as soon as you get home. The important thing to understand here is that while chewing behavior is normal for dogs, focusing on a blanket as a chew toy is less than ideal. You can take steps to redirect your pal’s activity to keep him and his bedding safe. Chewing On Wood/Rocks or Sticks When it comes to chewing on things, dogs don’t limit the behavior to indoor objects. Some pups will chomp on sticks, other wood, and even rocks. All of these activities fall under the general category of pica (eating of non-food items). Canines do it for different reasons: They may like the flavor of wooden objects Sticks can resemble some bones and chew toys Dogs chomp on things when they’re bored or frustrated Sometimes pooches gnaw on anything they can find to ease teething pain They’re trying to get your attention They’re dealing with separation anxiety or fear They have a medical condition like dementia, thyroid problems, or intestinal parasites They may be suffering from malnourishment or a nutritional deficiency If your pup shows signs of pica, you need to find out why. Eating rocks and sticks can be harmful to your furry friend’s health, so it’s important to diagnose any underlying conditions and take steps to stop the behavior. Set up an exam with Fido’s veterinarian. Once you understand his triggers, you can help redirect the activity. Remove as many sticks and rocks from the yard as you can. Offer alternatives like chew toys and interactive puzzles. It’s important to entertain your furbaby to stave his boredom. Take extra walks or play with your pooch more often. The bottom line here is that eating things like rocks and woods can be dangerous for your pooch. Do what you can to discover what’s causing the pica and to redirect your pup’s activity. Chewing on my personal items Do you have a pooch that chews on your shoes, underwear, or other personal items whenever you leave? Unless you have a puppy, he may be sending you a message. Younger dogs may gnaw on random items when they’re, but adult pups have other reasons: They’re bored or lonely They’re experiencing separation anxiety They like the scent or taste of the item They’re trying to get your attention They have dental issues that need attention Although chewing comes naturally to a dog, you’ll want to redirect Fido’s behavior. If your pooch is bored or lonely, try giving him more exercise to work off excess energy. You can also provide a secure place for your pal when you’re not home. Confine him to a crate or a small room and give him approved chew toys like a Nylabone or stuffed Kong. After a few weeks, you may be able to slowly allow your pooch to have increasing levels of freedom. The bottom line is that you should expect some aberrant chewing with new puppies. But as Fido matures, he needs to learn proper gnawing etiquette. With time and patience, you can train your pal to stop chewing on forbidden items. Dog Eating Habits My Dog eats everything Pups will munch on almost anything. If you have a pooch who eats everything in sight, he may be bored and have a mouth fetish. Pups use their mouths to explore their world and sometimes eat indiscriminately because they’re curious. Some canines also develop a scavenging instinct as if they don’t know when they’ll get another meal. If these reasons aren’t the case, there could be a medical issue like intestinal parasites, diabetes, or a malabsorption syndrome that make your furbaby incessantly hungry. If you think your pup may have a medical condition, consult with your veterinarian. The sooner you get answers the sooner you can start treating him. On the other hand, if you fear that Fido swallowed something that he shouldn’t have, take him to the clinic as soon as possible. When your pal snarfs up a stale piece of popcorn that skittered under the chair, it’s not that he has a warped sense of taste…It’s because he was born that way. Eating too fast Do you have a dog that inhales his food? Pups that gulp their dinner may eat that fast because: They have a self-preservation instinct and eat fast to make sure no one takes their food They’re competing with other pets in the house Abandoned pups or rescue dogs may eat fast because they’re not sure if they’ll get another meal Medical conditions like diabetes or Cushing’s disease can make your pal ravenous When your pal gulps his dinner, he’s at risk for choking on the boluses of food. This action can also lead to upset stomach and vomiting because the gut receives a large volume of material so quickly. But the most severe effect of eating too fast is that it can lead to bloat or a twisted stomach.There are some things you can do to discourage food gulping. If you’re a multi-dog house, feed your pups further apart or in separate rooms. That way Fido won’t feel the need to compete or try to finish before his canine companion. In the case of a single furbaby, you can invest in a slow feed dog bowl to help your pup take more time when he’s eating. The important point here is that gulping food can be dangerous for dogs, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent the behavior. Eating his Throw Up You’ve heard the statement that a dog returns to his vomit, but why? It’s gross but normal. Some reasons that pups do this include: It smells like dinner and may contain undigested bits of food Their wolf ancestors and some female dogs today will regurgitate food to feed young pups They want to hide the evidence so other animals don’t know they’re sick Occasional puking is no big deal. But if your furbaby vomits multiple times in a day or on a regular basis, take him to the vet. Repeated vomiting can cause dehydration, so you need to seek treatment ASAP. Face it. It’s disgusting to think about a dog eating his own vomit, but it’s normal behavior. And on the plus side – if Fido licks up his own mess you won’t have to! Has stopped eating If you have a chow hound, it can be disconcerting when he stops eating. Anorexia or loss of appetite in a pup can be caused by: Medical issues ranging from a mild upset stomach to a twisted stomach or intestinal blockage Eating something poisonous An infection Allergies or a reaction to a vaccination Dental problems like a cracked tooth or sore gums Pain from an injury or arthritis Depression Tumors When your furbaby starts passing up his dinner, it’s time to talk to your veterinarian. Even if Fido appears otherwise normal, going without his normal meals can quickly become life-threatening. For dogs that aren’t eating their normal food, you can try stage 2 baby foods unless they’re on dietary restrictions. Remember to avoid anything with onion, garlic powder, or other ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Other ways to entice your dog to start taking food again include warming up his meals, hand feeding, changing things up with a different brand, or feeding strongly scented foods. The key here is to get your pup eating again ASAP. Work with your veterinarian to treat underlying causes and find ways to get Fido back on his food. Eating dirt & mud When you think about the different things that your furbaby likes, it starts to make sense that he’d want to gobble some dirt. According to Dr. Oscar E. Chavez, BVetMed, MRCVS, MBA, “Dogs like to dig into and consume all kinds of smelly, pungent things, like trash, kitty litter, and toilet paper…Dirt is a delicacy and they are eating it simply because that’s what they like to do.” When a dog munches soil occasionally, it may mean he’s bored or that he can smell food particles. Pups that engage in regular dirt-eating could be lacking minerals like iron and are turning to dirt to supplement their diets. Some furbabies also swallow dirt to try to settle an upset stomach. Regardless of the cause, when you see Fido eating dirt, it’s time to talk to his doctor. Some things you can do to get your dog to stop eating dirt include: Exercise him regularly or teach him new commands to occupy his time and energy Distract him with alternatives - chew toys or an activity like playing fetch or running Cover the ground in the areas where Fido tends to eat dirt With a little effort, you should be able to redirect your pal’s behavior and stop the dirt-eating. Likes Eating Snow Because I live in the northern midwest, I get to see my pups eat snow every winter. Just why do they do it? Your dog thinks it’s fun to eat and play with They’re thirsty and the snow is more convenient than going inside Nauseous dogs may gulp snow to induce vomiting Under most circumstances, eating snow is not a problem. However, if your pooch ingests slush or powder that’s contaminated with ice melt, it could make your pal sick. Also known as rock salt, the products that we use to prevent freezing on our sidewalks and driveways contain salt compounds like potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, or sodium chloride. When a dog eats large quantities of these compounds, they can experience vomiting, diarrhea, kidney damage, or death. The salts may also irritate your furry friend’s footpads. The bottom line here is to avoid letting your pup eat snow or drink from puddles that might be contaminated with ice melt. If your furbaby is in the yard and gulps untreated snow because he’s thirsty, bring him inside. Give him a bowl of water to prevent vomiting. Shredding Paper Some pups seem to have a fetish for paper products like tissues, toilet paper, or paper towels. What’s going on? Your furbaby may have pica or a condition of eating non-food items He may be chewing on paper to relieve pain in his mouth from teething or a dental problem He’s bored and blowing off some energy He’s just trying to have some fun He’s hungry either because you’re underfeeding him or he has a medical condition In most cases, your furbaby is probably just shredding the paper and not eating any. If he does ingest small amounts of paper, they’ll probably pass right through. But large amounts can create a blockage in the digestive system and be life-threatening. In addition, your pal may unintentionally chomp paper towels with cleaning products or other toxic substances on them. what can you do to protect your canine companion? The best approach is prevention. Restrict access to paper products. You can use a covered wastebasket. If you have a dog that loves to unravel toilet paper either keep the bathroom door closed or teach your pooch impulse control by rewarding him for avoiding paper products. The point here is that dogs have an attraction for shredding paper, but there are things you can do to prevent the behavior. Eating socks Socks seem to be a canine favorite. What makes them so desirable? For one, they have your scent on them and remind your furbaby of you. These garments are also small and easy to grab and go. What’s more, they’re often just laying around the house. While socks may not seem like a big deal, they can pose risks when your pooch eats them. The string can unravel and get caught in the intestines, or the garment might ball up and cause an obstruction. Either way, you’re looking at a life-threatening situation. If you think your pal swallowed a sock, call your veterinarian for an exam. The doctor may be able to remove the item surgically or with an endoscope. To keep your pooch from eating your socks, don’t leave any lying around the house. You can also use positive reinforcement to teach Fido to leave your clothes alone. Offer an alternative toy to redirect your pal’s behavior. The bottom line is that dogs have an attraction to socks, but you can avoid expensive and painful consequences by taking preventative measures. Eating Tampons (Yuck!) It may be gross, but your pooch may munch on tampons if you discard them in uncovered trash cans. In addition to bearing your scent, these sanitary items are extra pungent. As natural scavengers, the discarded biowaste can be irresistible to some pups. If your four-footed friend swallowed a tampon, here’s what you should do: Contact your veterinarian Watch for signs of obstruction like inappetence, lethargy, vomiting, constipation, and a painful abdomen Store your sanitary items out of Fido’s reach to prevent a recurrence Redirect the behavior by providing him with interesting toys As always, prevention is the best cure. Take steps to keep tampons out of reach from your pooch. Eating Plants Although we may think of dogs as meat-eaters, they’re actually omnivores. Your pal may nibble on house plants because he’s trying to calm an upset stomach or he’s seeking vitamins that he’s not getting in his diet. Unless your pooch picks something poisonous, the behavior is often harmless, but why risk it? If you think your pup has eaten a houseplant, contact your veterinarian for the next steps. The bottom line is that if you like greenery in your house, the easiest way to avoid poisoning is to keep the plants away from your dog. Use hanging baskets or place flower pots on bookcases or elevated shelves. Eating Bugs Do you have a furry friend that likes to eat bugs? Remember that pups are natural predators, and they’re curious. It’s normal for them to see a creepy-crawly, chase it, and gobble it up. While many insects like June bugs and stink bugs are safe to munch, some can be dangerous for your pooch. There are insects that are poisonous or irritating to Fido’s digestive tract. But even with “safe” pests, your pal can get sick if he eats too many. They can cause an upset stomach or become a hard mass called a bezoar in the gut. The bottom line is that while many bugs are like potato chips for pups, it’s still best to avoid insect-rich areas. That way you can decrease the risk that your furbaby will get sick from too much snacking. Eating Grass and Throwing Up If you’re like me, you grew up believing that dogs eat grass to throw up. But according to a 2008 study at the University of California, Davis, that’s probably not the case. Researchers collected survey data from 1571 dog owners. 68% of the participants indicated their pups regularly chowed on grass, but only 22% vomited afterward, and just 8% acted sick before eating. Younger pups grazed more frequently and were less likely to become sick from the grass. The scientists concluded that grass eating is normal in dogs and it may be a carry-over from their wolf ancestors. If you see your pooch chomping on grass, don’t sweat it. He may just like how it tastes. Urine-marking behavior Peeing in the house Unless you have a new pup that’s not housebroken, peeing inside usually means something. If your furbaby starts urinating inside, it could be because: Something changed like a new pet or a baby joined the family or an older child left for college You remodeled and changed his routine or environment The family schedule changed and it upsets Fido’s routines Your furbaby is anxious, fearful, or excited Hormone imbalances or side effects of a medicine are causing incontinence Your aging dog has an issue like kidney disease or dementia There’s an underlying medical condition like diabetes or a bladder infection If your pooch suddenly starts peeing in the house, ask some questions to help you figure out why: When did this changed behavior start? How often does Fido pee inside? What time of day is this happening? Is the behavior in a specific place or all over the house? Once you have some information, contact your veterinarian for a workup. That way you can diagnose any medical conditions and treat them. If your pooch gets a clean bill of health, work with a trainer to redirect the behavior. The bottom line is that with some careful observation and care, you and Fido’s doctor should be able to work together and find a solution for your pal’s pee issues. Peeing on the bed Face it, finding pee on the bed is not a pleasant thought. You’ll want to get to the bottom of the behavior quickly. Some reasons your pooch might leave puddles on the bed include: They could have hormone-responsive urinary incontinence He has diabetes, a urinary tract infection, or another disease He’s marking your bed as his territory You’re no letting him out to go potty enough He’s stressing over a change in the routine or his surroundings Something is triggering a fear response He has arthritis pain and doesn’t want to get up or move If this is happening in your home, what can you do to stop it? After all, you don’t want the urine to damage your sheets or mattress. And who wants to stay up late to change bedding? If the behavior is a sudden change or you suspect your pooch has a medical issue, schedule an exam with his veterinarian. He can provide treatment for issues like urinary tract infections or hormone-responsive incontinence. Fido’s doctor may also prescribe medications if your pal is suffering from anxiety. In addition to medical advice, you can also seek feedback from a trainer. They can work with you and your furbaby to address marking, house-breaking, or excitability issues. The key when your four-footed friend starts peeing in the house is to be proactive. Uncover the reason for the new behavior and find the right solution to stop unwanted activity. Peeing In Front Of Me In The House If your pooch sees you coming and squats to pee on the floor, you may wonder what’s going on. Common reasons for a pup to pee in front of you while indoors are: Your furbaby isn’t fully house trained He’s showing excitement, intimidation, or submission through submissive urination He’s marking territory possibly in response to a new pet or other changes in the house He’s telling you that something is causing him to feel anxious or fearful No matter the reason for the peeing, there are some things you can do to correct the behavior. Try to identify the trigger that’s causing the urination so that you can eliminate it or retrain your pup to deal appropriately with it. Remember that yelling at or scolding your furbaby may increase his stress and lead to more submissive peeing. If you must, go back to square one with potty-training. Increase your pal’s potty breaks if you think there are any incontinence issues. In addition, make sure you thoroughly clean up any messes. Use an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate urine odor. With some TLC and diligence, you can retrain your four-footed friend to pee outside rather than at your feet. Peeing On me You’re welcoming a new guest in your home, and your pooch lifts his leg and pees on you…Awkward! What causes this behavior? Your dog may be showing submissive urination and hit your leg or foot There could be a urinary incontinence issue He’s marking you as his territory if there are other dogs nearby He’s resource guarding by laying claim to you He may be communicating anxiety or fear about something Thankfully there are things you can do to correct the problem. If your pal is marking territory or guarding you, use a distraction. When you see him lining up to pee, redirect his attention and offer rewards for appropriate behavior. For submissive urination, you’ll need to be reassuring and gentle with your pooch. Work to discover the cause of Fido’s fears so that you can address them. When you’re dealing with incontinence or a sudden change in behavior, consult with your veterinarian. The bottom line is that no matter the cause, there are steps you can take to redirect your pooch’s activity and stay dry. Peeing On Me When I Pet Him You just sat down and your pooch hops into your lap to greet you. As you reach out to pet him, he pees all over you. Why do dogs do this? Puppies have an immature bladder sphincter and tend to pee when they get excited For adults, it’s often an act of submissive urination He may be anxious or scared The key to either situation is your response to your pooch. You can minimize the risk of uncontrolled peeing by greeting your pup quietly. When you first get home, either bring your pup outside to go pee or attend to other activities before you turn to pet your furbaby. Call him over in a quiet tone and have him sit for a treat. Over time he may learn to be more interested in pleasing you for goodies than in getting all worked up over your arrival. The take-home message is to be purposeful and plan ahead. Build your pal’s confidence in his ability to please you. Peeing On Fire Hydrants and Tires When you walk your dog through the neighborhood he’s more likely to pee on a fire hydrant or a car tire than the grass if he can. He’s marking his territory, and he picks these items because they’re vertical surfaces. They’re like signposts, and the elevation allows the air to transmit Fido’s scent further. When your pal waters the fire hydrant or your neighbor’s tires don’t scold him. He’s simply leaving a message for other pups in the area. Peeing On His Leash and Other Dogs If you have a male, you might wonder why he gets his leash wet when you walk him. Canines and particularly intact studs spread their pee far and wide. They may even spray other dogs to mark them with their scent. On the other hand, your pooch may scatter his urine over his leash and nearby companions if he circles before peeing. Loving your pooch doesn’t mean you have to put up with inappropriate behaviors. Train your furbaby to understand proper urination etiquette. You can take your furbaby for a morning walk to encourage him to drain his bladder outside rather than on a packmate. The exercise will also help burn off excess energy. Peeing In His Sleep There may be times when your furbaby won’t be able to control his bladder as he sleeps. This urinary incontinence can be due to: Bladder infection Kidney or urinary tract stones A spinal injury or intervertebral disc disease An enlarged prostate Some diseases like Cushing’s disease or diabetes Side effects from medications Anatomical or congenital abnormalities Hormonal imbalance Here’s the deal: Peeing during sleep can point to underlying conditions. As soon as you notice bed-wetting, it’s time to monitor your pup’s other urinary habits. If he’s been drinking more and starting to have leaking issues, it could mean there’s more going on behind the scenes. Bring him to your veterinarian for an examination and workup. The doctor may take urine or blood samples to help reach a diagnosis. The sooner you identify the issue, the sooner you can start treatment and get your special pal back to normal. Dog cuddling behavior Loves cuddling with me and not my husband If it seems that your pooch prefers you over your spouse for snuggle time, there are a few possible reasons: Fido may have bonded with your first and picked you as his favorite Your pup is protecting you because your partner has acted aggressively toward you Your other half hasn’t been spending time with Fido If it’s a new relationship, your dog may still see your partner as an interloper He likes your sleeping style better There’s something about your partner’s scent that turns your pooch off What can you do to get into your pup’s good graces? The best way to build a stronger bond is to spend individual time with your pal every day. Set aside at least 30 minutes to engage in activities like training, fetch, flyball, or agility. You can also give him special treats and schedule a puppy massage. The bottom line is that if you treat your canine companion well, he’ll grow to love you. Dog Rubbing Behavior Rubbing his face Have you ever seen your pup rub his muzzle with his paws? If he only does it occasionally, he’s probably taking care of an itch. But if Fido is constantly pawing at his face, it may be because: He has a skin allergy He has skin parasites like fleas, ticks, or mites There’s a medical issue like an eye infection, dental disease, or a brain tumor His collar is bothering him He’s marking territory The item he’s rubbing against smells or tastes good to him If your pooch spends lots of time rubbing his face, call your veterinarian to schedule an examination. He’ll probably ask you about details like how often does Fido engage in this behavior, and when did it start? The workup will likely involve an examination of your pup’s muzzle, mouth, and paws to see if there are any signs of infection, irritation, or parasites. Depending on the physical signs, your vet may also take blood and urine samples. Based on the workup, the doctor will offer a treatment plan to help your pal feel better and stop scratching his muzzle. The bottom line is that when your pooch continually rubs his face, you can work with your veterinarian to help clear up the cause. Rubbing His Face On Me Like cats, some dogs rub their faces on people to mark them with their scent. But there are other reasons: It can be a greeting ritual for with new people Fido could be signaling that you’re intruding in his space especially if you’re not established as the pack leader Your pooch may have an itch or a medical condition that needs attention In some cases, it’s a way to show affection or get your attention What you need to know about face rubbing is that it’s a normal behavior for both dogs and cats. Many times it’s Fido’s way of telling other animals that you belong to him and they need to stay away. However, you may have inadvertently trained your furbaby to brush up against you by giving him treats when he did it. If these explanations don’t fit your pooch, he may just be asking for some TLC. Rubbing His Face On the Ground It’s one thing when Fido rubs his face on you or against his paws. But if you see him rubbing his muzzle on the ground, it may be a sign that something is bothering him. Check his mouth for: Signs of teething Objects like twigs or splinters stuck between the teeth or in the mouth Rotting teeth or gum disease Ear infections Skin parasites like fleas and ticks if your pooch keeps rubbing his face on the rug, set up an appointment with your veterinarian. Early intervention can help you identify medical issues before they become serious problems. Most skin, eye, ear, and mouth conditions are treatable especially if you address them quickly. Rubbing His Face In Soap No, your pal isn’t taking a bath. Remember that canines have an amazing sense of smell. They rub their face on soap because: They can smell your scent on the soap and they miss you Many soap recipes include animal fats or fish oil and smell good to your pup Your pal is using the soap to mask his scent You probably don’t want to share your soap with your pooch. After all, who wants dog hair on their bar? Fortunately, you can teach your pal to, “leave it.” Whenever he ignores your soap, treat and praise him for reinforcement. You can also get him some scented toys to divert his attention. They even have beef, wood, and bacon-scented toys for dogs! If you suspect Fido’s soap rubbing is a sign of separation anxiety, provide him with a blanket or article of clothing that has your scent. Having something he can snuggle with that smells like you may comfort him. Dog Scooting Behavior Dragging Its Bottom On The Ground If you’ve ever seen your pup sit down and drag his but along the ground, you may have wondered what was going on. It’s called scooting, and the main reason that pooches do it is that they have impacted anal glands. However, canines may also scoot if they have intestinal parasites, a skin allergy, or something like a tumor or injury around the anus. If you notice your furbaby scooting, check around his poop area. It’s possible a gentle cleaning will clear up the problem. If the behavior persists, take Fido to the vet to get to the bottom of things. He can perform a rectal exam and run a fecal test if needed. Depending on the results, your pal’s doctor can prescribe the appropriate course of treatment. The bottom line is that scooting points to other issues. Take the time to find out what’s causing it so you can help your pup find relief and return to his normal self. Burying His “Treasures” Burying His Bones and Toys My springer invented a new game this winter. She plunged her favorite ball into deep snow then dug it back up. What makes dogs bury their toys and other stuff? This behavior comes naturally to canines. They inherited the instinct from their wolf ancestors who would hide food and other treasures in the ground to protect them from predators and scavengers. Some pups bury stuff because they have too much to handle. If you’re endlessly spoiling your special pal with toys and goodies, they may stash some of it for the future. By cutting back on the gifts you give your pup, you may be able to prevent excavations in your backyard and avoid canine obesity. If you don’t want a bunch of burial sites around the yard, cut down on his toys or rotate them to keep him interested. You can also pay more attention to your four-footed friend by taking him on extra walks or playdates. If these measures don’t help, consult a dog trainer or your veterinarian. The bottom line is that digging and hiding objects is natural dog behavior. Don’t scold your pup if he buries something. Work with him to find a healthy outlet for his activities. Dog scratching behavior My Dog Keeps Scratching When a pup starts to scratch or to lick himself incessantly, it can become annoying. But remember it’s probably not pleasant for Fido either! If your pal is always itchy, it could be because: He has dry skin He has a skin allergy He has skin parasites like fleas, ticks, or mange He has an infection Something is hurting him He’s bored or anxious about something The key here is that if your pooch is scratching all the time, you should talk to your veterinarian. In addition to examining your pal, he may want to run some blood tests to diagnose the underlying cause. Then he can provide you with medications or other solutions to help your pooch find healing and relief. With the proper diagnosis and care, you and Fido should both be able to rest easy. Scratching The Floor Have you ever seen your pooch scratching at the ground and wondered what’s up with that? Dogs paw at the floor or ground for different reasons: They may be preparing a comfortable bed They’re using the scent glands in their paws to mark territory They may be buffing their nails They could be doing it to use up some excess energy They may be trying to bury or dig up something If they’re outside, they may be creating a patch of bare earth to lie down and cool off Only you can decide if the scratching behavior is causing damage and needs to stop. If you want to redirect Fido, try giving him a comfortable bed. High energy dogs may need more walks and active playtime to burn off some steam. The bottom line is that scratching at the floor or ground is instinctual and usually harmless. Unless your pooch is digging up your yard, you can let him have his fun. Scratching His Bed Some pups circle several times or scratch at their beds before plopping down to relax. There are a few reasons that they do this: To fluff their bed and make it more comfortable To mark their territory It’s a carry-over from canine ancestors who would dig dens It helps to heat or cool the surface If your furry friend is trying to make his bed on the couch, you may be able to prevent damage from scratching. Get an old blanket or comforter for Fido to use on top of the furniture. He may paw at it several times until his scent is fixed in the bedding, but it will spare the chair or sofa beneath. Remember, scratching to prepare a bed comes naturally for your pooch. Understanding why he does it can help you work with your four-footed friend to make him comfortable without damaging your best chair. Dog Biting Habits Biting Each Other If you’ve seen dogs at play, you probably know that mouthing or nipping can be normal behavior. So, it’s important to teach Fido bite inhibition as soon as possible. When a pup resorts to biting, it can be because: They’re acting out of fear or guarding a resource They’re showing dominance over the other pooch The other dog won’t leave them alone, and they reach a breaking point They’re in pain and lashing out It’s a mama dog who’s protecting her puppies To prevent your furbaby from mouthing you like you’re a littermate, you’ll need to teach bite inhibition. Avoid waving your hands at your pooch or jerking them out of his mouth if he bites down. Rather, when Fido chomps, make a wounded puppy sound, wait for your pup to release his biting pressure, then slowly withdraw your hand. A few sessions will teach your special pal to play gently. The bottom line is that with time and patience, you can teach your pooch proper mouthing manners. Keeps Biting Me As a dog owner, you need to understand that even the friendliest canine can bite under the right circumstances. So, what attitudes might cause your pooch to snap at you? Dominance - your pooch thinks he’s boss Fear - this is more common in poorly socialized dogs Territorial aggression - your pup is guarding you, another family member, or a resource Predatory aggression - herding dogs often demonstrate this behavior Pain - dogs that are hurting or don’t feel well may snap if you disturb them Protection - if you startle a pooch, he may bite as a protective reflex What can you do to prevent dog bites? Teach your dog proper behavior around others with socialization exercises and exposure to a variety of stressful circumstances. Be aware of your pooch’s trigger points for aggression and watch his behavior. Use positive reinforcement for good behaviors and avoid using aggressive punishment with your furbaby. If your pup has tendencies toward aggression or fear biting warn others in advance. Control your dog with a leash or fence until you know how he’ll behave in different settings. The bottom line here is that you are responsible for your pup and his behavior. With diligence and care, you can help keep yourself and others safe. Biting My Feet Some dogs may bite at your feet or nip your heels when you’re walking. For herding or guard dogs like border collies, corgis, and shepherds, it’s a hardwired trait. However, sometimes puppies go after feet out of curiosity. They don’t know any better unless you teach them to leave people’s feet alone. Other pooches may nip at your heels because they think it’s a game or they’re being aggressive. If you have a pooch that nips at your heels, you’ll need to redirect their behavior. These pups are often looking for something to do with their extra energy. Give them an activity like learning a new trick, working on a puzzle toy, or rolling an exercise ball around the back yard. In addition to physical stimulation, you can use other sensory enrichment like new scents. The key here is you shouldn’t punish your dog or get frustrated when they’re following their genetic programming. Find fun ways to enrich their environment. Always Bites Me When I Pet him You sit down and your furbaby comes over to you. But when you reach out to pet him, he grabs your hand in his mouth…This behavior can be common in puppies that haven’t learned bite inhibition. In adults, it’s usually either an attempt to start a play session or an act of frustration. If Fido comes over to you and bites you when you reach out to pet him, what should you do? You can retrain your pal to stop mouthing you. When you sit down and your pooch approaches you, grab a toy instead of reaching out to stroke his fur. Engage him in a game of fetch or tug. You could also take your pal for a walk or work on obedience drills before settling into the couch for the evening. If these actions don’t work, talk to a trainer about other options. The bottom line here is that your pal is probably telling you that he needs your attention. Rather than getting upset, take some time to bond with your furbaby by playing with him. Bites When He Get Excited When some pooches get excited, they tend to express it with their mouth. If your dog nips you when he’s worked up, it could be because: He doesn’t know any better. After all, he mouth-plays with his pup pals He likes to have something in his mouth, and you’re right there Your hands or feet are in motion, and he likes your response when he nips you Having something in his mouth calms him down If you want your pup to stop nipping at you, try tossing a few treats to him when he’s excited. This will provide a distraction and help your furbaby to calm down. Depending on the dog, you may also take a calm step toward Fido. He may be thrown off-guard enough to stop the behavior. If your pal is too scared or aggressive for this to work, you may be better off to calmly leave the room to show your furry friend that nipping gets him nowhere. Of course, you can also stay calm and boring so that your pup has nothing to be excited about. The bottom line is that your calm demeanor can set the tone in your home and prevent excitable biting. Bites Only Me And Not My Husband When it comes to biting, some dogs show preferential treatment for one member of the household. If Fido seems to be targeting you with his teeth it could be because: He’s asking for something like dinner and thinks you’ll understand Your pal sees you as his personal chew toy or plaything You’re doing something that he perceives as a threat He doesn’t see you as alpha and is expressing dominance There may be something in your scent that sets him off Fortunately, there are things you can do to change the behavior. Start by feeding your pal alone for about a week to teach him to rely on you as his provider. You should also correct your pooch with a firm, “No biting” every time he chomps on you. Offer your furbaby a toy to divert his attention from you. Another thing you can do to reassert control over your companion is to keep him on a leash. When he tries to bite you, tug backward on the lead to pull him away from you. Combined with a stern no teaches your pup that biting is not acceptable. The take-home lesson here is that you can work with your furry friend to teach him appropriate behavior around you. Bite While Playing If your four-footed friend bites or mouths you in play, no worries. It’s normal canine behavior. Play biting is something dogs use to practice hunting or fighting. When they wrestle with other pups, the mouthing is usually gentle. So, if your pooch mouths you when you play with him, it’s a sign of trust and affection. The key point here is that play biting is normal, but you can work with your pooch to teach him to stop. Whenever Fido starts to chomp on you during play, take a break. Stop playing for a set period of time. You can also teach your pal a stop command or offer a chew toy to replace your hand. Understand Pawing Pawing At Me You sit down on the couch after a long day’s work, and Fido starts pawing at you. That’s because he’s trying to communicate with you. So, when your pooch bats at you or wraps his paw around your arm, he may be trying to tell you: Pay attention to me! I’m hungry I’m nervous and need your reassurance I like/love you While your pup has legitimate needs, the reality is that you can’t always drop everything to give him attention right away. So, if your pal is becoming a pest, you’ll need to teach him a different approach. When you notice your furbaby getting ready to paw you, be pre-emptive. Give him a pat or throw a toy for him to chase. If that doesn’t work, ignore his repetitive toe taps until he sits quietly. Once your pooch learns to sit by you for attention, you can take the training up a notch. Teach him to wait for attention by telling him, “not now” and ignoring him. After he gives up and walks away, then reward him with some TLC. You can also offer a chew toy or food dispenser to help him self-entertain while he’s waiting for you. Over time you should be able to extend the length of time your furry friend is able to wait for your attention. It’s important, however, to reward him in the end with some playtime, a long walk, or a special outing. The bottom line is that your canine companion is a social animal, and he craves your attention. However, you can teach him that there is a great reward in waiting patiently for you. Putting His Paw On My Face When your furbaby puts his paw on your face, he’s not trying to shush you. So, what’s the point? Dogs learn this gesture as puppies. They often use it to show submission and affection. Pawing can also be a way of initiating play or asking for attention. While this behavior can be cute from a puppy, it can be annoying or unsafe in larger-pawed adult dogs. If your pal has a habit of swiping at your face, redirect the action. When Fido reaches for your face with his feet, turn away from him and firmly say, “no.” Then offer an alternative action like sitting at your feet or licking your hand. When your pooch responds properly, praise him to encourage the behavior. Dog Zoomies Running Around Like Crazy You’ve probably seen it. Your pup gets really excited and starts racing wildly around the house. He’ll zip around the yard for a minute or two before collapsing in a pile. These episodes are called the zoomies, or Frantic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs), and they help our pups expend excess energy. Zoomies can happen with puppies and adult dogs. Sometimes they seem to come out of nowhere. Some of the things that may trigger this erratic behavior include: Playing in the snow Getting a bath You came home Too much time indoors Lack of playtime They’re trying to engage you or another dog in play It can be a sign of anxiety or fear about something The bottom line is that zoomies are a great way for your furry friend to burn off some energy. So, when your pal starts zipping around, give him some space and let him enjoy himself. If you suspect his activity is fear or anxiety based, or if it’s a sudden change in his behavior talk to your veterinarian. Going Crazy After Bath It happens with my dogs every time I give them a bath. They go crazy and start zipping around the house. There are some reasons that pups get the zoomies after bath time: It’s a sign of relief to be done with the spray down They’re trying to dry off They’re trying to rub the shampoo scent off It’s just plain fun! Remember that getting a case of the zoomies after a bath is normal and should be expected. There’s nothing wrong with it. If the behavior creates other problems like wet floors and furniture, try confining your pal to a zoom-safe zone or let him go outside (weather permitting). Then sit back and watch the show. Sometimes our furry pals can be adorable and entertaining! Dog Howling Howling When I sing/Play Music Have you heard a pack of wolves howl? On starts off, and soon the others join in. That’s what’s going on when your pooch joins you or the radio in a serenade. As a matter of fact, some songs resemble a pack of wolves. Your pal just wants to fit in. When your furbaby joins you in a song, he’s just showing you that you’re members of the same pack. Howling At Sirens Have you heard a coyote howling? It has a high-pitched quality like a siren. When a pooch hears the ambulance or tornado siren wailing, he can mistake it for a wolf or coyote. Naturally, he wants to howl in reply. If your furbaby tends to howl when he hears sirens, don’t get upset. He’s just trying to communicate. Howling at Night Many pups that like to howl save their best cries for nighttime. Some of the reasons that they prefer to sing after the sun goes down include: They’re trying to communicate, and there are fewer competing sounds at night For strays or dogs that become separated from their pack, the darkness feels more isolating. This can also be true of pups dealing with separation anxiety. Wild canines and strays tend to be more active at night. That’s when your pal will hear them “talking” to one another. If your pooch goes out and howls at night, maybe he’s talking to other canines in the area. Otherwise, he may be telling you that he needs more time and attention. The key to redirecting the behavior is understanding your pal’s motivation and finding ways to meet his needs. Howling in His Sleep Dogs can do some strange things when they’re sleeping. They run, whimper, cry and howl. What’s going on? It’s a dream. Our pups have sleep patterns that include the REM stage where dreaming occurs. Just like us, they may vocalize in the middle of a vivid dream sequence. If your pal starts howling while he’s asleep, don’t panic. Make sure he’s sleeping and not crying out in pain, but try not to rouse or startle him. Uninterrupted sleep is essential for your furbaby’s health and well-being. Dog Laying and Sleeping Positions Laying Out in the Sun It’s a warm sunny day, and your pooch stretches out in the grass. Is he sunbathing? Not exactly. Dogs like to lay in the sun because: It helps them form and absorb vitamin D The sun’s rays boost immunity The warmth is soothing for joint pain It’s relaxing, and the rays stimulate serotonin production which boosts happiness It can help pups sleep better It helps bring warmth on a cold day Laying in the sun is beneficial to your pup’s health. However, there are a few precautions. Make sure that dogs with short hair or light skin don’t overdo it and get sunburns. You’ll also want to keep fresh water handy for your pup to prevent sunstroke. The bottom line is that as long as you practice moderation, you can let your pooch enjoy his time in the sun. It will do him a world of good. Likes Laying On Me Some pooches are real cuddle hounds. If you have a dog that loves to crawl in your lap or sprawl over your legs, he comes by it naturally. Most puppies pile on their littermates for comfort and security. They’ll often lay on or nearby you to strengthen your bond and show you their affection. As long as you’re okay with being up-close and personal, enjoy the cuddle time with your special pal. It can build a stronger bond between you and your pup. If you want your own space, give your pup a few minutes of cuddling then gently change your position to remove him from your lap. The bottom line is that some dogs love to be close. If you show them plenty of TLC they’ll probably understand when you make a little space for yourself. Sleeping All Day So, you got up, fed your pooch breakfast, let him out to go potty, and he went back to bed. Do you ever wonder why your dog seems to sleep all day? Every time you turn around, Fido is taking another nap. That’s because dogs need more sleep than humans. They get an average of 12-14 hours a day depending on breed and age. There are also some differences to canine sleep patterns. They can transition from dozing to REM sleep, but they also wake up rapidly. With such erratic patterns, pups wind up spending about 10% of their resting time in REM sleep. Is it OK for your furbaby to sleep all the time? That depends on the pooch. If Fido starts showing behavior problems like peeing on the rug overnight, consider putting him on a schedule. You want to get him up to go potty before he pees inside. Suddenly sleeping more than usual may also point to health conditions like diabetes or hypothyroidism. Talk to your veterinarian if your four-footed pal spends more time than usual in bed. Unless you see changes in your pal’s behavior, let a sleeping dog lie. He’s just getting his beauty rest. Sleeping On His Back When your dog rolls on his back, what is he trying to say? Knowing the context of the behavior may help you understand what he’s telling you. Some reasons that dogs show their bellies include: They feel safe with you It helps them cool off when they’re hot They’re catching some sun rays His back is itchy, and he’s scratching it He wants a belly rub He’s showing submission or appeasement He’s playing with another dog, and the rollover is an effective combat posture When your furbaby rolls over on his back, check him out. By observing his body language and behavior, you should be able to understand why he’s doing it. Sleeping Between My Legs There’s a reason they call dogs man’s best friend. If you have a pooch that’s always by your side, you’re not alone. Some of the reasons that dogs sleep between your feet or legs include: As pack animals, they’re used to huddling together It’s a sign of submission to you as their leader They’re feeling insecure about something, and they feel protected between your legs They want to be close to you They can face the door and be ready to protect you from any intruders You may have encouraged him to take the position by petting him or scratching his ears when he’s there When your pooch curls up in bed between your feet or legs, it shows you that he loves and trusts you. If his position is interfering with your ability to sleep, try encouraging him to curl up in his own bed by offering praise and positive reinforcement. Otherwise, let your pal enjoy the security of being close to you. Sleeping Next To Me Do you have a pooch that shuns his bed and climbs up into bed next to you? Some pups would rather snuggle next to their owner than curl up on a soft pillow. Here’s why: Some dogs get lonely They’re cold The freshly laundered sheets smell good The bedding has their/your scent on it There’s more room to stretch out Entitlement Your bed is softer or more comfortable than theirs They love you and want to be by you Not only are there benefits for Fido when he sleeps with you, but there are also rewards for you. Dogs can help us relax, keep us warm, and make us feel safer. So, the bottom line is that sleeping next to your pooch can be mutually beneficial. Curling up when he sleeps Our girls often curl into tight, lovable furballs at bedtime. This is a normal position for a pooch. It carries back to their canine roots. Dog ancestors in the wild would create a cozy nest for warmth and security. Pups in unfamiliar surroundings may roll up out of instinct. If you have a new puppy or rescue dog, give him time and space to get comfortable. You could also consider giving your pooch a blanket where he can make a cozy nest. Sleeping On My Pillow As soon as you get up in the morning and make your bed, your furry friend takes your spot. Why do dogs like to sleep on your pillow? They do it because: It’s the most comfortable spot in the house He sees you do it and wants to imitate you You sleep there, so it has your scent, and that’s a comfort to him He’s leaving his mark on top of your scent He’s getting close to protect you He’s trying to bond with you It gets your attention If you don’t want to share your pillow, try getting your pooch a comfy bed and placing it in a warm, secure place. Otherwise, there’s no harm in letting your special pal snooze on your bed. He’s just trying to stick close to you. Sleeping On My Clothes Have you ever caught your pooch sleeping on your clothes? When your four-footed companion chooses your garments for a bed, it could be that: They’re comfy and warm They smell like you, and that’s comforting for your pup He’s suffering from separation anxiety, and the duds make him feel more secure To keep your pup from leaving his hair all over your clothing, offer him an alternative. Get him a soft, cozy bed and warm blanket that he can burrow into. Make sure he knows the throw is his property. You can also get a covered hamper for your garments. If Fido has separation anxiety, consider letting him have one item that he can snuggle with for comfort. The bottom line is that your canine companion probably sleeps on your clothes because they’re yours and give him a sense of comfort. By providing him with something to call his own, you can help him feel safe and secure. Twiching/Shaking in his sleep Have you ever watched your furbaby move his legs like he’s running when he’s sound asleep? Like us, dogs have periods of REM where they dream. The movements you observe like running, paddling, or twitching are a reaction to the visions they see in their mind. There’s usually no reason for concern when you see these actions. However, for some pus, the twitching can interfere with normal sleep patterns and cause issues. If Fido can’t sleep because his constant twitching keeps waking him up, talk to your veterinarian. You also need to know the difference between normal sleep movements and a neuromuscular condition like a seizure. If your pal’s paddling progresses to full-body shaking or convulsions and includes loss of bladder and bowel control, it’s not normal. The bottom line is owners should observe their dog’s movements during sleep. If there are any concerns, speak with your veterinarian about what you’re seeing. That way you’ll be taking the best possible care of your pup. Barking Or Crying In His Sleep You wake up in the middle of the night because Fido is whimpering and barking excitedly. When you go to check on him, he’s sleeping. During their dream sequences, dogs will sometimes growl, bark, or make other noises. According to an MIT study, dogs experience dreams that are similar to ours. It’s a small wonder they talk in their sleep like some humans. It probably takes the average pooch about 20 minutes to start dreaming. Evidence suggests the visions in their head are replays of daily activities. When your pooch starts to vocalize in his sleep, it’s normal. Let him complete the dream, even if you think he’s having a nightmare. That way he’ll be able to complete the sleep cycle and get his needed rest. Meanings Behind Different Dog Sounds Sighs After Lying Down Your dog enters the room, lays down on the floor, rests his head on his feet, and lets out a big sigh. What’s that about? According to psychologist Stanley Coren, it’s “a simple emotional signal that terminates an action.” The meaning of this signal varies depending on the circumstances. If Fido’s eyes are open, he may be showing disappointment. But, when his eyes are partially closed, the deep breath displays contentment. Either way, the sigh may help your furry pal relax. The thing you need to know is that your pup’s body language will help you understand the meaning of his sighs so that you can better care for his needs. Makes Moaning/Groaning Noises You expect dogs to whine, bark, even yawn… but groan? Some dogs will let out low moans when they’re sleeping or at other times. Some of the reasons for this behavior include: To tell you that being petted or getting his tummy rubbed feels good To say that he’s tired and ready to rest after a good workout Because you’re not doing what they want you to do (like sharing your dinner) He has a medical condition that’s causing pain or discomfort Some groan when they’re in REM sleep You can usually figure out why your pal is moaning based on the timing and circumstances. If it’s associated with sleep or pleasurable activity, you’ll know he’s content. If your pooch groans every time he lays down, it may point to a medical condition. Contact your veterinarian for a check-up. Fido’s doctor can help you determine the cause of your pal’s issues and initiate appropriate treatment. The key here is that if you’re not sure why your pal is moaning, get it checked out. Understanding the reasons behind your pal’s behavior will help you take good care of him. Whimpering and Whining When we load our girls in the car and head to the dog park, they start whining. This vocalization is common in dogs, but they do it for different reasons: They’re excited about the outing They’re nervous or afraid They’re uncomfortable - hot or feeling ill They need to go potty They’re hungry or thirsty All the whimpering can be distracting and annoying. Fortunately, there are ways to train your pup to stay quiet when he’s in the car. Start by exercising your pooch before the car ride to make sure he doesn’t have excess energy. While in the car, teach your furbaby to be quiet. As soon as he starts whimpering, firmly say, “be quiet.” If he complies, immediately give him a treat and repeat the command. Soon your pal will understand the order. Once he gets it, start waiting a few moments between the quiet command and the treat. The bottom line is that you can train your pooch to ride quietly in the car, and a peaceful trip is good for both of you. Hiding And Acting Strange Hiding And Sleeping Under The Bed Remember, dogs inherited the den instinct from their wolf ancestors. In the absence of a personal cave, the bed offers a safe, secure place to hide or rest. Key reasons that Fido likes to hide under the bed are: He’s afraid of something He’s struggling with anxiety about something It’s dark, cool, and comfortable If your furbaby is retreating under the bed, do what you can to understand the reason for his behavior. He may just be looking for a quiet place to rest. But if he’s showing signs of anxiety, talk with your vet or a dog trainer about ways to help him feel more at ease. It may be time for a physical examination. The take-home message here is that dogs need a safe place to go. If you don’t want them under the bed, provide an alternative like a covered crate located in a quiet part of the home. Sleeping Under The Covers Not all dogs like to burrow under the covers, but others do. We had a mixed breed pooch that would sleep at our feet under the blankets every night. Some pups do this because it feels safe and secure to them. It’s like swaddling a baby. If your furbaby sleeps with you under the covers, there’s the added bonus that he gets to be close to his pack mates. What’s more secure than that? So, don’t feel annoyed or concerned when your four-footed friend climbs under the covers with you. He’s in his safe place with you. If the behavior is new, you may want to check with your veterinarian. Dog Chasing Habits Chasing Cats When it comes to chasing things, cats are high on the list for many dogs. This behavior got its start with canine ancestors and is tied to predatory instincts. Pups love to hunt small game-sized animals, and cats fit the bill. And of course, kitties usually run away when they see a pooch pursuing them. That makes it feel like a fun game to your furbaby. Even if Fido is just trying to play, chances are the cat doesn’t enjoy this activity. With on-leash obedience training and rewards for ignoring the kitty, you can teach your pal how to coexist with his housemate. Start by your dog past the cat and praising him when he remains calm. Repeat several times, getting closer to your feline with each pass.The key is to teach your pup to stay focused on you. Always be sure, however, to watch your pet’s interactions so that you can intercept any impending chases. The bottom line is that with patience and training, dogs and cats can live together amicably. Chasing Cars For some dog breeds, like Greyhounds, chasing things that move fast comes naturally. Whether they jump in front of the vehicle to head it off or dart out as the car passes, the behavior can be dangerous. If your pooch already runs after cars, consult a dog trainer about ways to redirect him. You may need to keep him in a fenced yard or kennel. Otherwise, your best bet is to prevent your furbaby from ever starting the activity. When you go for a walk with Fido bring treats or a favorite toy. Every time he shows interest in moving traffic, attract his attention to you and give him a tidbit, or toss the toy. That way, he’ll learn to look at you when a car passes by. The key here is to patiently work with your pooch until he learns the greater reward is looking at you when he sees moving traffic. Chasing Squirrels Do your pups go crazy when they see a squirrel outside? Ours do! Like cats, these wild rodents are small and usually run away. Their movements evoke your pup’s predatory instincts. But did you know that some squirrels intentionally taunt dogs? For both sides, it’s mostly playing. They make a fun game out of teasing and chasing one another. Of course, not all dogs chase squirrels in play. Some breeds will keep the game going while others hunt to kill. So, how can you stop your pal from chasing squirrels? Start training him when he’s young. It will take patience and perseverance to break Fido’s prey instinct. Every time you take your pooch for a walk, you’ll need to watch for signs that he’s ready to take chase. Your goal here is to get him to focus on you. Remember the chase game is fun and instinctive for dogs, and some pups have a strong hunting drive. Work with your furbaby to find alternatives that play to his natural desires so that he feels rewarded for good behavior. Work with your pooch to find something he enjoys more than chasing squirrels, and he may just thank you. Why is my Dog Pacing Back and Forth? My husband is a pacer. He’s constantly moving to work off anxiety. Just like people, our pups may start pacing in response to stress or anxiety. It’s usually not a sign of health issues but points to nervousness. According to Sara Ochoa, DVM, “When a dog paces they are usually walking back and forth from one spot to another. Sometimes they will just be walking around the house without a destination in mind.” Some other reasons for this behavior include: They’re excited or overstimulated They’re bored or have excess energy to burn They lost something like a favorite toy and are searching for it They can’t get comfortable They’re hungry A female in heat may pace They’re trying to get your attention Some medical and neurological conditions trigger pacing If your pup walks aimlessly around the house, see if you can pinpoint the reason for his behavior. It can be as simple as helping them find their toy or getting them an interactive puzzle to keep them occupied. If it’s feeding time, get dinner out. The bottom line here is that you should strive to understand your dog’s normal behaviors and pacing triggers. That way, you’ll be able to help him relax. Help! My Dog is Drinking Out of the Toilet Photo Credit: Amazon.com by Home Cabin Décor Humans are too refined to consider drinking from the toilet. On the other hand, our furry friends do it all the time.Some of the reasons that pups quaff from the porcelain bowl include: It may be fresher than the water in their drinking dish It doesn’t have that plastic taste It’s always available unless you put the lid down The sound of running water attracts your pup The bathroom is quieter and more private Is it safe for your pal to quench his thirst from the toilet? Not really. Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a holistic vet in Los Angeles reports, “if you were to swab your average toilet there would be an issue. If you don’t clean your toilet very often, you are going to put your dog or cat at risk for coming down with an infection, such as E. coli, because our feces can contain that—as well as other bacteria.” What’s more, our cleaning products can be toxic or cause chemical burns if your dog takes a drink. The bottom line is it’s best to keep your pooch from making the toilet his water dish. The best way to prevent this is to deny access by keeping the lid down and shutting the bathroom door. If you have kids that always forget, make sure Fido always has clean, fresh water available elsewhere and keep the toilet clean. Overly Jealous Dog My springer gets upset any time I pay attention to someone else in the house. Is she jealous? According to Christine Harris and fellow researchers at the University of California, Davis, dogs do get jealous. The team studied canine reactions when their owners ignored them and paid attention to other objects, one of which was a stuffed pup that wagged its tail and barked. While the pooches showed a minimal reaction to their owners interacting with a jack-o-lantern or reading a book, they treated the stuffed animal like a rival vying for their human’s affections.Another study observed dog reactions to their owners attending to another pooch as compared to interacting with an inanimate object. They found a stronger jealous response when Fido perceived a social rival. If your furbaby pushes in between you and your partner when you embrace or paws your arm when you’re petting the other dog, he’s probably jealous. Reassure him that you love him but teach him to share. Why Is My Dog Walking Sideways (crabbing)? You get home and your pooch bounds up excitedly then starts walking sideways toward you. What is it that causes crab-walking or walking sideways? It can be a natural gait for some pooches when they get excited. At other times, it happens when a dog’s dominant leg pushes their body sideways. Crabbing also happens with some puppies because their legs mature faster than their bodies. In some cases, medical conditions like nutritional deficiencies, anal gland problems, or neurological disorders can cause a sideways movement. For some dogs, this gait is normal and structural. If, however, your pooch suddenly starts walking sideways and seems uncomfortable or painful, there may be more to it. Contact your veterinarian to schedule an exam. So, if your pooch has always been a crab walker, no worries. He’s just built to move that way. My Dog Loves Watching TV With Me If your pooch likes to curl up with you on the couch and focus on the TV screen, you may wonder what he sees. Is he really watching the show, or is he just following your gaze? Using vision tracking methods that are commonly used in human studies, researchers have learned that dogs can perceive and interact with images on the screen. Understand that dog vision is different from ours. They see colors in the blue and yellow spectrum but not red. Canine companions also appear to favor shows about their species and could be attracted at first by familiar sounds of barking, whining, and squeaky toys. If you want to give your pup a special treat, tune in to DogTV. This channel features programming and color schemes that canines prefer. My dog keeps bringing me his toys My Springer Spaniel has a favorite squeaky ball that she carries everywhere. What is she saying when she brings it to me? Some reasons that our furbabies present their playthings to us include: They’re happy to see you when you get home It’s a gift to show you how much they love you To announce that it’s playtime He’s bringing you an offering because you’re his pack leader You trained him by your response to him when he brings you a toy He carries it around for comfort or reassurance in your absence When your pal drops a toy at your feet, he’s showing you affection and trust. Take it as a compliment and reward him with some playtime or a scratch behind the ear. My Dog Keeps Tipping His Food Bowl Over Some dogs aren’t satisfied to eat neatly from their bowl. They have to overturn the dish and eat their food off the ground. They may do this because: It’s a throwback instinct to forage for their food They’re trying to move the bowl to a private place but overturn it instead They don’t like the bowl. It may smell or taste funny to them Some dogs nudge or tip the bowl in play or curiosity You might encourage the behavior if you refill the dish after he spills it On rare occasion, it can be a sign of a medical issue, particularly if your pooch moves the bowl around but doesn’t eat much To keep Fido from tipping his bowl try changing up dog dishes to see if he didn’t like the container. You can also invest in a flared, no-tip bowl and a rubber mat to help prevent spilling. For over-exuberant eaters, an elevated feeding stand, and don’t put any special treats in there. Pups are usually a little calmer if they only get kibble for dinner. The bottom line is that your furbaby probably doesn’t mean to make a mess when he spills his bowl. Don’t scold him for being a dog. Work to find a solution you can both live with. Begging For Food at the Table Have you wondered why some dogs won’t leave you alone when you sit down for dinner while others will go lay down and ignore you? I hate to break it to you, but begging is a learned behavior. If your pooch can persuade you to give him something by nudging you, whining, drooling, or showing some other behavior, he’ll keep doing it. The good news is that you can reverse the trend. It’s not about the type of food but the when and where. So, if you want to stop begging at the table: Don’t give your pup food directly from the table Feed your pooch before or during your meal so that he’s not hungry when you’re eating Use a crate or a tether and cushion during feeding time. You can also give Fido a bone or a stuffed Kong to work on during this time If you want to treat your pup, give the goodies in a separate location or room so that he learns he won’t get any food rewards if he’s by the table The take-home message here is that you can shape your dog’s begging activity by reinforcing the behavior you want to see. Protecting his baby sister Looking back over family photos, our springer mix was always close to my daughter when she was a baby. Why do some dogs protect infants? When pups take a nanny role over children, it’s because they see these helpless youngsters as part of their pack and sense that they’re vulnerable. According to Veronica Sanchez of Cooperative Paws in Vienna, Va, some breeds like the Burmese Mountain Dog or the Newfoundland are bred for protective purposes. A family with young humans should consider the type of dog they add to their household. If you’re adopting, look for a pooch with an even temperament. Nervous or anxious animals pose a higher risk of unpredictable behavior. Regardless of their demeanor, make sure you prepare your pooch for the new arrival, monitor interactions, and take the time to train and socialize your dog. The bottom line is that if you have babies or toddlers in your home, consider a pooch that will make a good guard dog for the whole family. Giving Me His back With people, a turned back is like a cold shoulder. However, with our pups, it’s not a gesture of disapproval. Canines that put their tail side to you are showing you they trust you. After all, his protective end and teeth are facing the other way. Remember, dogs also present their derrieres to one another to greet and communicate. Sometimes our furry friends give us their backside from purely selfish motives. They’re itchy, and they can’t reach that area. When we have an itch we can’t get to, humans will go to great lengths for relief. We’ll rub against a corner or grab a utensil to reach the spot. Fido has found an easier way. He just backs up to us and waits. It’s possible your furbaby has already tried rolling around on the carpet or other actions. Now he’s asking you for a little help. When your special pal presents you with his butt, don’t be worried or offended. He’s showing you that he trusts you, and he may be asking for a little scratch. Dog Staring Habits Sitting And Staring At Me It can be unnerving. You settle into your chair, and your furbaby sits by you and starts staring at you. What’s up with that? Common reasons for the fixed gaze include: He’s looking into your eyes to show affection He’s watching you to figure out what’s next He’s asking you for dinner, attention, or something else He’s begging A hard, unblinking stare can be a sign of aggression So, staring is usually a positive behavior. Most trainers encourage you to teach your dog the “look at me” command. It helps them learn to watch you for important cues or signals. Not only that, sharing an affectionate gaze with your pooch can be quite rewarding. One word of caution, an unfamiliar dog may interpret a direct stare as a challenge. For that reason, we only encourage locking eyes with a pup when you have an established human-animal bond and no history of aggression or behavior issues. Staring Into My Eyes When you lock eyes with a loved one, you usually experience a rush of positive emotions. That’s because the activity triggers a release of oxytocin into our bloodstream. This is the same hormone that’s released during nursing. Scientists have confirmed that canines experience the same rise in oxytocin levels when they stare into our eyes. When your furbaby gazes lovingly in your eyes, don’t be concerned. They’re sharing a mutually beneficial moment with you. Staring At Nothing We know that even the weird things our pups are usually a means of communication. They wag their tails to tell us they’re happy, and they paw at the door to ask to go outside. So, when we find our furbaby staring into space, what should we think? Some of the reasons for vacantly looking at nothing include: When your furbaby gazes lovingly in your eyes, don’t be concerned. They’re sharing a mutually beneficial moment with you. They heard a sound and are practicing active listening to hear better You may have trained your pooch that he gets your attention by staring They could have canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) or dementia They could be having a mild type of seizure called an Absence Seizure It could be a compulsive disorder If you see your pal staring, give your vet a call. Based on your observations and Fido’s age and health history, he can recommend the next steps. Staring At The Wall We explained earlier that dogs hear much better than humans. Their acute sense means they can pick up sounds inside the walls. If your pooch is staring at the wall like he’s trying to burn a hole through it, he may be hearing rodent activity or other things behind the drywall. Other possible reasons for staring at the wall include dementia, head pressing, depression, or vestibular disease. The key here is that when your pooch starts staring at the wall, it may be cause for further investigation. Contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination. Likes Sticking His Head Out the Car Window You’ve seen them, and your pooch is probably one of them. Dogs love to stick their heads out of a moving car. It’s not just to feel the wind blowing his ears back. They can pick up more smells if their snout is outside. Robin Foster, Ph.D., animal behavior expert says, “The air being forced into the dog’s nose may intensify the odors.” The activity is also more interesting and exciting than standing in the car. There are some potential risks for your furbaby when he sticks his head through the window. High-speed winds, such as Fido may encounter on the freeway, can cause eye or eardrum damage. Your pooch could also jump or fall out of the car. You can reduce the danger by opening the window halfway. The bottom line is that what’s inside your car isn’t as interesting as what’s outside. Remember, car rides can be dangerous for an unrestrained pooch. So, let your pup have access to the exciting smells, but do it with safety in mind by securing him in a dog seat belt. My dog is head butting me As a part of the family, our dogs usually express affection with nuzzles and kisses. But what about headbutting? Not to be confused with head pressing, the headbutt can be a sign that your pooch loves you. He may also do it to rub his scent glands on you so that other dogs know you belong to him. Another reason that pups nuzzle your face is to show empathy when you’re feeling down. Here’s the deal, if your furbaby affectionately rubs his head against your face and neck, it’s perfectly normal behavior. On the other hand, if Fido presses the top of his head against walls or objects, there could be a medical issue. Take him to his doctor for a checkup. Constantly Poking Me with his Nose Does your dog ever poke or nudge you with his nose? Our furry friends don’t have our spoken speech, so they rely on body language for communication. In some cases, the nudges are friendly muzzle punches for attention or playtime. At other times the bumps are a warning to back off whatever you’re doing. You can usually tell the purpose behind the nose poke by observing other body language. If your pooch appears rigid or tense, he may be warning you to back off before he gets more aggressive. Pups with friendly intent will reflect that in their behavior. They may wag their tail, play bow, or give a playful yap. The bottom line is that sometimes nose pokes can go overboard. When our pooch continually prods you with a cold, wet snout it becomes annoying. Thankfully, with patience and time, you can train your pup to cool it. Consistently ignore any begging, nudging, or playful yips and Fido will eventually get the message. My dog shows aggression to other dogs It can be terrifying to witness a dog fight. Two pups locked in combat can seriously injure or kill each other. Trying to break up a battle royale can be dangerous to you, but what if your pooch is involved? Understanding why dogs fight and knowing safe ways to break it up could help you protect yourself and your furbaby. The causes of dog-on-dog aggression include: A strange animal is invading Fido’s territory Your pal is trying to protect you, his food, or something else Overstimulation can cause a friendly play session to escalate into a fight Your dog is frustrated that he can’t get at what’s really ticking him off, and he redirects his aggression at his packmate Rage syndrome - added stressors that increase household tension Same-sex aggression Stressors like changes in the routine or family members Regardless of the trigger, when two dogs start attacking one another, early intervention can help to prevent serious injuries. When trying to break up a dog fight, NEVER try to get between the pups and grab a collar. You will most likely be bitten if you do. Remember to keep calm and clear away any spectators. Next, you need to find a way to distract or interrupt the dogs. Try spraying the animals down with water, citronella, or vinegar. You can also use a jarring sound like an airhorn, dog whistle, or car horn. In some situations, objects may be useful to distract the combatants. Throw a blanket on top of the melee or try opening an umbrella between them. You may also be able to use a chair to separate the dogs. If other attempts don’t work, you may need to physically intervene. The best way to do this is called the wheelbarrow method. You need one person for each pooch. Each helper should carefully get behind a dog and firmly grab its hind legs. Then walk backward until the animals are separated. Keep each pup isolated from the others and check them for injuries. The bottom line is that dogfights are scary and dangerous. Your best bet is to prevent escalating aggression in the first place. Whenever your pooch is interacting with another dog, watch their behavior. Intervene if you notice any signs of tension or dominant behaviors. Better safe than sorry, right? Jumping On Me It starts with puppies. Our dogs love to jump up and greet us. What causes this? They’re trying to see us eye-to-eye. Canines look to facial gestures and eye contact for communication. Dogs also jump to get our attention. But a jumping dog can be a nuisance. That’s why we need to teach our furbaby appropriate manners. With patience and diligence, you can teach your dog to stop jumping up on you and other people. Start by withholding the attention they’re seeking. Turn away as Fido jumps up, and don’t reach out with your hands. As soon as your pooch stands still, give him a treat to reward the desired behavior. Keep practicing. Once your pooch masters this step, introduce a “sit command”. When you enter the room make your pup sit before treating him. Then, when he’s good at sitting, try the drill with other people. The bottom line is that you can train your pup to sit for petting rather than jumping on you or other people. It just takes persistence. Standing Over Me Does this happen to you? As soon as you lay down, your furbaby comes and stands over you. When pups do this, it’s an act of dominance. The instinct traces back to Fido’s wild ancestors. The top pooch would often tower over lesser pack members to demonstrate his high rank. At other times, your dog may take this position to gain control of the situation. Of course, you should be the leader of the pack. So, if your furbaby is trying to stand over you, you’ll need to remind him who’s boss. Don’t fly off the handle but correct Fido with gentle firmness. Stay consistent, and he’ll get the message. However, if your companion resists your rebukes, consult a trainer. The sooner you can adjust your pal’s behavior, the safer you’ll both be. Why Do Dogs Play Fighting With Other Dogs? Our two dogs love to wrestle on occasion. It’s fun for them, but there’s more to it. A study by Rebecca Sommerville at the University of Edinburgh, Royal School of Veterinary Studies examined four explanations for dog play behavior. The first theory is that regular play among puppies helps them build important motor skills that go beyond bite inhibition. Youngsters that take time to wrestle with their littermates learn how to move and defend themselves. Another reason for play is that the activity prepares pups for the unexpected. Changes in the hormone levels and brain patterns teach dogs coping mechanisms for future stressors. Contrary to some beliefs, the third theory for dog play is that it builds social bonds. Frolicking with another dog or their master allows the participants to build cooperative relationships. Finally, some believe that play is how dogs burn off excess energy. Sommerville explains this theory is not as likely as the others because play behavior is consistent across canines regardless of energy levels. The key here is that play fighting is beneficial to your dog in many ways. Whether you interact with your pooch or set up puppy playdates, you’ll be doing Fido a favor when you encourage amicable play. Speak Fluent Woof With Your Dog Did we answer your questions about your pup’s behavior? If there’s something you want to know about your dog’s behavior that we didn’t cover, leave a message below. We’ll add it to our list.