Sometimes, dogs can be strange, mysterious creatures. While most dog behaviors are easily understandable, certain canine behaviors can seem bizarre and weird to humans — and since dogs can’t speak, they cannot explain their unusual actions.
However, there is generally a sensible reason behind such oddities. Here are eight of the strangest dog behaviors, along with explanations for each one.
1. Burying objects. While burying toys might seem like some kind of weird game, it’s actually the canine form of putting a valuable object in a safe. In the wild, dogs would protect their food by burying it in the ground until they were ready to eat it. A domesticated dog’s similar behavior is done to keep an object secure.
2. Howling. In a natural environment, howling is a way for dogs to communicate with each other over long distances, and is not a sign of distress or anger. While some dogs howl out of habit, usually a domesticated dog howls as a response to some sound in their environment that they have interpreted as another dog howling.
3. Butt sniffing. Dogs often sniff each other’s behind, especially when first meeting. While this action is partly a way to say ‘hello’, it also allows a dog to learn important information about their fellow canine. Every dog has a pair of glands near their anus. Dogs have very keen noses, and sniffing the secretions from these glands can tell them about the other dog’s sex, health, and diet.
4. Eating feces. Although extremely disgusting by human standards, a dog that eats its own poop isn’t acting all that far out of the ordinary. Many dogs consume fecal matter as a way to obtain extra nutrients, others because of boredom, anxiety, or curiosity. Since this habit can indicate a medical problem such as malnutrition, owners should visit a vet if their dog exhibits this behavior.
5. Humping. Many dogs like to hump humans, objects, and/or other dogs. Surprisingly, this behaviour is actually unrelated to canine sexual instincts. Rather, it’s believed that dogs hump as a means to seek attention or because they are excited or is a way for the dog to burn off energy or relieve stress. Humping can also be a common dominance gesture between dogs and can happen if the dog humper is unsure of their place in the pack.
6. Tail chasing. Tail chasing, which is often triggered by boredom, is generally a way for a dog to burn off energy or find entertainment. Although usually harmless, tail chasing can sometimes be a sign of flea allergy dermatitis, or that a dog is suffering from excess stress.
7. Circling before sleep. It’s probably the most famous of idiosyncratic canine behaviors: the way a dog will wind around in a circle before finally lying down for bed. Experts believe this is a holdover from the domesticated dog’s ancestors. These dogs, it is thought, would walk circularly so as to pat down vegetation, making for a more comfortable place to sleep.
8. Rolling around in disgusting things. If a dog encounters a dead animal, it will often respond by flopping on its back and vigorously rolling around in the rotting, stinking carcass. The origin of this seemingly crazy behavior is found in the fact that dogs in the wild hunt prey for food. By masking their natural canine smell with a powerful stench, a dog gains an advantage in catching quarry.
Most weird canine behaviors have their origins in a dog’s natural instincts. What might seem extremely bizarre to a human is often perfectly normal in the world of a dog. In fact, strange dog behaviors provide a fascinating window into the mind of a canine, helping humans understand what it’s really like to be a dog.
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