Dogs are adorable, right? But they can be super weird at the same time. They sure do display an array of behavior. Some of it, they might get from us. Raising my hand here.
While some of their actions can be straightforward, others can be harder to understand. Even though they seem act odd to us (some of us), their bizarre behaviors can be normal for them.
But if you’re wondering why your dog is doing the strange things they do, then you are not alone. Here are some reasons why dogs do the things they do.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
This is a behavior that often worries us dog-moms. I tend to immediately think they don’t feel well and that the eating of grass is designed to induce vomiting. So, why do they eat grass? Are they bored? Hungry? Or unwell?
These may be a few of your questions, too. It’s a topic I’ve heard asked about hundreds of times. Rest assured, it is pretty standard for dogs to eat grass. Most veterinarians even consider such behavior to be normal for dogs. A small-scale survey shows that a good percentage of dogs have all eaten grass at some point with zero repercussion.
So, one reason is for a well-functioning digestive system. Just like us, dogs need fiber in their diet; and one good source of fiber is grass. And lack of roughage will cause indigestion and constipation. So dogs may be eating grass just because it is an easy and tasty way to maintain a fiber-rich diet.
While some dogs vomit after consuming grass, in most cases dogs show no symptoms of upset stomach.
With that being said, if your dog shows signs of discomfort in its stomach after eating grass, then it could be a medical problem. They can have pancreatitis, gastric reflux, etc.. Therefore, if it continues, the best idea is to visit the vet and get it checked out. I don’t tend to drop everything and rush to the vet for every little issue. I know my kids. And I make my decisions based on my knowledge of each one. I’m not going to pile us into the car and head to the vet because somebody vomited.
I’ll watch the pooch. See how he/she is acting otherwise. I’ll see if they tend to perk back up again after the vomiting incident, like I often do… (not that this is a common occurrence, but you get the point). Let’s move on.
Why Do Dogs Lick Various Things?
Licking is a very natural action for dogs. It’s their way of communicating and expressing themselves. Dog licking can happen for various reasons; showing affection, change in environment, when physically hurt, and so on.
Let’s dive into some of those reasons-
One of the dog’s most common behaviors is licking people. As you may have already guessed, licking people is a usual dog way of showing their affection. It’s just them expressing how much they love you. I’ve got a dog who is an incessant licker. It’s never bothered me, even when she has gotten me unexpectedly on the face… often my mouth. It’s just her way. Something she likely learned as a pup and had never been dissuaded from doing. However, my brother doesn’t really like it that much. He will let her lick a bit and then ask her to stop and if she doesn’t, she is removed from his lap.
Another reason for licking is you is because you taste good. Prettu straightforward. No real big surprise. And we aren’t just talking about the stray food particle that missed your mouth, (come on… let’s be honest). Additionaly, our skin tastes salty. I think our skin has lots of tastes that we cannot possibly discern. Just as they have an incredible ability to smell, I think they have an amazing ability to taste.
Tasting our skin might be simply a way for them to figure out where we’ve been and who we’ve seen or what we’ve done. It’s a story. Dogs roll around in ‘things’ and then they happily bring that smell back to share with others. … you know the smell and guck they bring back and we thin it cannot possibly be natural and as we herd them toward the bathtub, we are wondering what we are going to have to use to get that off their fur? You know, THAT smell and guck? Whatever it may be to us, it’s a story for them. I think the tasting of our skin is telling them a story in a way they can better understand it.
Another reason why dogs lick us? Dogs also tend to lick as a sign of seeking your attention. It could be them telling you something; maybe they want you to fill up their water bowl, or are hungry, etc. Since it’s not apparent why your dog might lick you, you will need to investigate and solve the mystery.
Typically dogs indulge in paw licking as a process of self-grooming. And if a dog is very particular about grooming, you may see him licking his paws more often. Like, he may lick his paws after walking on sandy or dirty ground. You will also probably notice your dog licking paws after meals or when he is ready for a nap. Thus, if you see your dog occasionally licking its paws, then there is nothing you should worry about. They are just self-grooming.
However, if their paw licking habit is getting a little excessive, it could indicate that something is wrong. Therefore, if you find your dog’s paw licking habit frequent and aggressive, then you will need to determine the underlying problem.
If the licking started suddenly targeting a single paw, then there may be an injury. There could be a cut or thorn or stone stuck between the paw pads. Foreign objects can get into their paw, which can lead to a feeling of irritation. I see this a lot with my kids. They often lick the tops of their paws, but when I see them sort of knawing underneath, I check it out. I often find dried mudballs or pieces of gravel stuck there.
Another problem can also be allergies causing the paw pads to itch. Food allergy is one of the common allergies causing dogs to lick their paws for relief.
The licking can also be due to environmental allergies like dermatitis, a skin condition. Your dog can catch dermatitis through grass, chemicals you use in your garden, dust mites, etc.
If the licking becomes excessive, you might want to check it out with the vet. If your veterinarian rules out any health problem, then it could simply be a behavioral issue. Your dog may most likely be suffering from anxiety or boredom. This being the reason, some dogs can begin licking their paws as a compulsive behavior.
Thus, to relieve your dog from boredom, you can introduce playtime with other dogs as well. Doing this will help them use up more of their mental and physical energy. Or take your dog for walks more often or give them toys to distract them away from their paws.
Licking Eyes of Another Dog
Dogs can lick another dog’s eyes for several reasons. They could be doing it as an act of mutual grooming. Some dogs have more discharge or tear production, and it needs cleaning since the discharge can later cause irritation or infection around the eyes. Dogs also lick each other’s eyes as a sign of submission. Pepper can often be found licking the eyes and ears of Max and Agatha. Max seems to either enjoy it or take it in stride. He is very tolerant of her. There’s a bond between them, and has been there since the day I took them out of the shelter. And I think her licking his eyes and ears is a way to strengthen that bond and keep it going.
Also, when they lick each other’s mouth, it often means that they are ready for some playtime.
Licking the Carpet
Licking the carpet is one of the weird things you will find dogs doing. This habit is strange and can get quite annoying as well. One of the obvious reasons for such a pattern can be because the carpet has spilled foods. While snacking, you could have dropped food crumbs on the floor. (Raising my hand here… a very likely scenario in my home, just sayin’). Although you may not notice the food particles left behind, dogs will quickly catch the scent because of their sharp sense of smell.
Another not-so-obvious reason for a dog’s carpet licking habit can be emotional. When dogs feel depressed, stressed, and anxious, they tend to develop a licking habit. Or chewing. I know of a pooch that would suck on a stuffed toy due to anxiety of her mom either leaving for a weekend or returning on Sunday night. It was her way of coping.
Boredom can also be one driving factor for your dog’s carpet licking habit. I’ve got a GSD, Max, who often is found licking the carpet right next to the bed he is laying on. He can go outside if he wants. There are things to chew on everywhere. And If I whisper to him, ‘stop licking,’ he stops easily. I get the impression that he doesn’t realize he is doing it. Like it’s not conscious.I ask him to stop licking because I think it is potentially hazardous. He could ingest carpet fiber, germs, or other damaging residues.
Medical problems can also be the factor for developing such a habit. They could have neurological problems, physical discomfort, canine dementia, or other gastrointestinal issues. This is where I say you need to judge your particular situation. You may need to get Rusty checked out with a vet. And you may not.
Why Do Dogs Put Its Paw On You?
A dog’s most common way of communicating with humans is by pawing at us. Most dog owners must have had their dogs do this to them. Just as humans show their affection by petting them, they also do the same to reciprocate love and affection. Although most can’t do the actual stroking, resting its paw on you is a way of showing trust, closeness, and affection. And if you have been petting your dog, then their action could be a signal, telling you not to stop what you’re doing.
How many times have we been petting the dog and stop and the dog starts to move back and forth under our hand? Basically petting themselves? I have a horse that does that, too. I love it.
Their act of pawing at you can also have several other reasons. It could mean that he is hungry, wants to play, is in pain, or even anxious. While a small portion of this act could be their way of saying that they need help, for the most part, it is a positive approach. Yet another reason to get to know your dog and his/her quirks.
Two of my five kids are excellent time-keepers. They often come to me and nose and paw me right around breakfast or dinner time. If they are more than 15 minutes early, I’ll tell them how long they need to wait. And then they will come back about that time. They are better time keepers than I am.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
All dogs bark (except our neighbors’ across the road. I am not sure I’ve EVER heard him bark), and it is a very regular activity. After all, it’s their way of communication. Dogs bark to catch their owners’ attention or call out to other dogs, express emotion, etc. Even the slightest noise would prompt them to start barking… or imagined noise.
They bark for various reasons, and depending on the kind of situation they are in, it could also mean different things.
Every time your dog barks, they are trying to say something. I think where a lot of us screw this up is we assume they are speaking in sentences. I think they are expressing emotions. Excitement, joy or sadness. You remember the robot on Lost on Space? “Danger, Will Robinson.” That’s how I interpret barks.
There are different types of barking. You will need to pay attention to figure it out. I have a pooch, Agatha, who can bark rapidly and incessantly. The same sound over and over and over. She’s excited. What she is excited about changes. But her expression of it doesn’t. If we can see that they are expressing emotions rather than speaking sentences, we can accept it rather than get angry and annoyed.
You may have noticed that dogs bark at loud cars, other animals, or sometimes even the weather. They could be scared of loud noises, thunder, etc. Although a little of this barking is normal, if Rusty is barking incessantly you might want to talk to your vet.
Another reason that can cause dog’s to bark is their behavioral issues. They may bark out of boredom, excitement, fear of being left alone, or when anxious. They may be barking because they need some attention. Again, incessant barking might be a symptom you need to have checked out or at the very least, try some remedies. If Rusty is barking due to emotional turmoil, can you imagine the suffering he is feeling? Some emotional pain is normal. But dogs who are either in seemingly constant turmoil or just have no coping skills for any emotions need help. You can help them to cope… in a positive manner.
While barking is normal for dogs, it can be a sign of more severe issues when it gets excessive. It could be a health-related issue; maybe they are in physical pain. You can assess your dog and see if they have any tender spots. Or take them to the vet to thoroughly check and discover any symptoms of pain.
Dogs also tend to bark more as they age. In some cases, aging dogs can go on barking for hours and hours without even being aware of their own action (Kind of like my aging dad when somebody gave him coffee). For instance, in CCD (Canine cognitive dysfunction) syndrome, dogs suffer from deafness and body aches, leading to excessive barking. My body aches sometimes lead me to more complaining .
Barking dogs can be curious, happy, hungry, anxious, and many other things. By understanding their environment and situation, you will soon figure out what they are telling you.You need to really get to know your dogs in order to know when things are wrong… or just different.
Why Do Dogs Chase Cars?
Chasing cars is an impulsive act for some dogs, while for others, it can be a habit they developed over the years. Though chasing cars can be thrilling for dogs, it can be worrying for the dog owners. We make an effort here to keep our dogs from charging the road/gate, or approaching vehicles or strangers without permission. I’ve put signs on the gate for our delivery people, advising them not to encourage the dogs to run to them. When I’m outside and I see the UPS or FEDEX trucks, I call the dogs back to me. When my brother comes home, I call them to me and only when he has parked his truck, shut off the engine and opened his door do I release them.
Whether we realize it or not, there are reasons behind a dog’s car chasing behavior. To understand why they do so, read on.
One obvious reason dogs chase cars is because they are being defensive and guarding their territory against intruders. Many dogs are very different behind a fence. Normally easy going dogs can become aggressive.
Most dogs bark at new visitors at their house, it is the same with cars they don’t recognize. They expand their territory by urinating on the rims of car tires, trees, or other objects in their neighborhood. They do this to mark their territory. So when they catch a car with an alien scent passing them, they think it’s an intruder and become defensive.
Another reason could be their predatory nature. This predatory aggression gets activated when anything moves away from them with speed. As an instinctive reaction, they will begin their chase because they tend to hunt down anything that is escaping them. We also do not allow our furkids to chase rabbits or birds etc. We try to curb their prey drive whenever possible. It just creates a safer environment for them. Out here in the Black Hills, catching something that is trying to escape, could have lethal consequences for the dogs.
Loneliness/boredom could also be a leading cause of such behavior. Dogs, being very social creatures, might just want to pass the time by chasing cars when not otherwise, more positively, occupied. Doing this gives them some temporary release, makes them happy, killing their boredom… temporarily. As a dog parent, it is your responsibility to do what you can to guide your dog in a positive direction. Occupy their mind and body appropriately.
Why Do Dogs Nip?
Nipping is something puppies usually do during harmless play. But you will also notice this irritating, sometimes painful behavior in some adult dogs. Even if they are playfully nipping, it can get quite dangerous. When puppies gnaw or mouth your hand, it can be adorable… painful, but adorable. While their little puppy teeth are usually quite sharp, they often do not have the jaw strength to do any serious harm, at least when they are really young.
However, the harm that can follow with the meeting of the adult canine teeth and human skin is high. So let’s nip that in the bud.
See what I did there?
So, in puppies, nipping can usually happen for fun or because of teething. But if this puppyhood behavior is not corrected, it can soon become a problem. As your dog grows older with a stronger jaw and teeth, his playful nipping can end up hurting you… or somebody else. Perhaps somebody with a lawyer. Just sayin’.
One way to curb the behavior is to yelp. You might let them gnaw a little but decide at a certain threshold that you’ll let little Rusty know that hurts. Pepper was a real gnawer when she first came home and for several months. When she out her teeth around my tender fingers, I would kind of grab her jaw (gently), which she didn’t like, but she also continued. However, when I changed my tactic to a yelp… she slowly did it less and less. Another option would have been for me to leave the room. And then return somewhat quickly, but this would entail a level of non-laziness that I don’t think I have.
Something that works with foals, and might work with puppies, is to make the behavior uncomfortable. For example, when Pepper fondled my fingers with her teeth, I could have gently but uncomfortable poked her tush. It would not be ‘fun’, but more of an annoyance. It would be a consequence of her action. Personally, the yelping is far easier, takes a lot less energy and works quickly AND you can measure the yelp according to the pain.
Leash And Fence Aggression
This was mentioned previously, but could do with more details. Dogs with leash aggression can give their owner a hard time. Walking a dog with leash aggression can result in excessive barking, jumping at strangers, etc. Basically, it’s not safe and is really annoying. In most dogs, such aggression happens due to frustration.
When the dog feels that he’s being restrained in any way, whether it be a leash or fence, he can get frustrated and lose control. They can act out by growling, barking, or lunging. Most dogs that show such aggression do it because they want to socialize with other dogs. When my kids are loose in the yard and the neighbors’ dog comes to the gate, all my kids are excited, but 2 of them become a bit aggressive/offensive. The two of them can get the others going in a negative direction.
However, if we open the gate and let a couple out at a time, it doesn’t take more than a minute for al the kids to be in the common area outside their respective properties and playing together. It’s my job to not allow ANY aggressive action from anybody in my little pack. I want to allow them to socialize with other dogs whenever I can, but they must have good manners even when they are trapped by a fenceline.
A dog’s fence aggression is often deep-rooted in fear, stress, frustration, anxiety, or overexcitement. There are technical terms for such behavior, namely, barrier frustration, barrier aggression, or barrier reactivity. And dogs with this behavior will aggressively bark, lunge, growl, or snap when they are behind fences or bars and are prevented from investigating or meeting other dogs or people.
You can help Rusty cope with the situation. Rusty has to respect your authority. When I tell 4 of my 5 kids to shut up or knock it off, there is instant response. Pepper is a bit slower. However, when Pepper first came home, she didn’t give a fig what I wanted. She cares now, she just still weighs it against what she wants. I am slowly gaining weight… er… well, you know what I mean.
Another option to help your dog overcome this behavior is to try blocking their view. Plant some hedge or shrubs or whatever that will help create a visual barrier.