Your dog may not seem as mysterious as your cat, but dogs are certainly individuals—and some have strange, but common, behaviors. Some of these behaviors may have started in puppyhood and become habits over time, while others may be instinctive. Still others may signal an underlying medical problem. However they began, a dog’s strange activities can be endearing, perplexing, or downright disgusting. Our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team helps you understand nine common weird dog behaviors. 

#1: Tail-chasing dogs

Tail chasing can be cute and weird at the same time, and is usually your dog’s way of releasing pent-up energy or anxiety. You should seek veterinary help if the tail chasing is excessive, because anal gland problems or obsessive-compulsive disorder may be the cause, or your dog may have underlying health issues. 

#2: Sniffing another dog’s hind end

This may seem the epitome of weird dog behavior, but sniffing is actually part of a dog’s meet-and-greet behavior. Dogs have extremely sensitive noses and often begin a meeting with another dog by sniffing their hind end. Dogs learn a great deal about another animal, including gender, diet, lifestyle, overall health, and stress or anxiety level—all the interesting facts—through hind-end sniffing.

#3: Eating other animal’s feces

Dogs may eat another’s feces, known as coprophagia, because of boredom, curiosity, or hunger, and can quickly make it a habit. Coprophagia can also be the result of your dog missing key dietary ingredients, so check with your veterinarian if you notice this behavior. 

#4: Head-tilting dogs

Your dog’s extremely cute head tilt when you talk is one of their most endearing, yet odd, behaviors. Animal behaviorists still do not know exactly why some dogs cock their heads when they hear voices, but they suggest that your dog may be trying hard to determine what you are saying by getting their ear closer to the source of the sound. 

#5: Dogs who walk in circles

Do you wonder why your dog turns in a circle—or two or or three—before lying down? This is considered an instinct left over from the wild, when dogs needed to tamp down grass to not only make an acceptable bed, but also to get rid of pests and snakes, and to mark their bed, before sleeping.  

#6: Digging dogs

Dogs dig for many reasons, including attempting to escape, to hide something important, to track another animal, to prepare a cool resting place, or out of boredom. If your dog starts digging indoors, your couch cushions or their own bed may be in trouble. If your dog’s digging habit becomes destructive or merely bothersome, call us for help. We may refer you to a certified professional dog trainer. 

#7: Dogs who howl

Most dogs howl because they heard a loud or high-pitched noise, such as a passing firetruck or fireworks, or because other dogs are barking. This behavior likely stems from their wolf ancestors, who howl to communicate across long distances. When your dog hears a siren, their instincts kick in, and they may feel compelled to add their voice to the cacophony.  

#8: Canine stealers and hoarders

Some dog breeds, such as Golden retrievers, Yorkshire terriers, and papillons, are especially prone to stealing and hiding objects, although any dog can form this habit. Dogs may steal objects or personal belongings because they think it’s fun and games, they consider the item special and important and are trying to get your attention, or they want to spark—and lead—a chase.

If your dog is a stealer, take care not to leave out medications, cleaning products, and human food that may be hazardous to their health. 

#9: Last but not leastdogs who hump

Probably one of the most embarrassing, and strange, dog behaviors, is humping—and some dogs hump not only other dogs, but also people and objects. Humping is not necessarily sexual in nature, but a way for dogs to deal with excess mental stimulation, overload, or anxiety. Humping can definitely make you, and others, uncomfortable, but try not to overreact, because paying attention often only reinforces the behavior. Instead, try to distract and redirect your dog’s attention with a toy, a walk, or a game of fetch.

Dog behavior, though often odd, can be perplexing, but understanding the reasons behind the action can help. Understanding can also help you discern that your dog’s strange behavior may not be innocuous. Pets are masters at hiding pain and discomfort, so if you think your dog’s behavior may be more than weird, or their behavior has recently changed, do not hesitate to call us, although scheduling an appointment so we can ensure your pet has no underlying health problem is best. The Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team is always ready to help.