We love our dogs, but they are definitely strange creatures. Lovable! – but strange. Ever seen a dog circle before lying down? Tear across the park to smell another dog’s butt? Eat poop? Jerk their legs in strange movements when you give them a belly rub? Yeah, the list is endless. We know you have questions and, it turns out, The Pet Project has answers! Here are some of the more bizarre dog habits explained:
Why do dogs eat poop?
It’s every dog walker’s number one look out: make sure this dog does not eat poop. Dogs gravitate towards poop not just because they’re curious but also because poop is actually high in nutrients and this habit (which is called coprophagy in the medical world) probably originated from when dogs were scavengers and would eat faecal matter to get their nutrient intake. Poop eating in dogs can also be a sign of malnutrition in your pup, so keep an eye out for that. (If you’re looking for the healthiest food for your canine, look no further.) Otherwise, poop eating is fairly common – just an everyday, strange dog habit.
Why does your dog suddenly start running?
‘Zoomies’ are an unofficial term for when your dog gets a sudden burst of energy and starts running up and down madly. The zoomies can hit anywhere – in a park, in the garden, when you’re watching TV at home. This running is frantic and adorable and it’s for a lovely reason – your dog is happy! That’s right – when your dog is filled with uncontrollable happiness, they get the ‘zoomies’. They’re literally running because they can’t contain the joy in their hearts. (If your dog doesn’t zoom enough, try getting them more toys – it always does the trick.)
Why do dogs kick their legs when you scratch them?
All dogs love belly rubs, but often when you tickle their belly, they jerk their legs out in strange and sporadic movements. They cannot control this movement; it is what is known as the scratch reflex. The scratch reflex evolved to help your canine get rid of irritants. When you scratch their belly, it activates the nerves under the spinal cord, which register the scratching as done by an alien entity. Out in the wild, this would be the grass or an insect, or the wind. In your house, it’s you. And so your dog’s legs jerk out in an attempt to get rid of the irritant. (If it’s not you though, it may be fleas so make sure your pet is protected.) This doesn’t mean your dog secretly doesn’t like belly rubs. They love them. Their bodies just haven’t got the memo as yet – which probably explains why your dog looks as puzzled at the scratch reflex as you.
Why do dogs howl, bark or move their legs in their sleep?
Your dog is dreaming. If you see them howling or yapping or moving their legs, they’re probably having a very intense dream – probably involving treats – and you’re seeing the effects of it.
Why do dogs smell butts?
Again, this is a seemingly crazy dog habit that has an excellent evolutionary explanation. Dogs have a far keener sense of smell than humans – about 1,000 times more keen. Dogs make a lot of sense of their world through smell and search out scents that can give them information. It turns out – another’s dog’s butt releases scents with that information! A butt sniff can tell your dog if the new dog is male or female, happy or stressed, what their diet may be like… essentially, useful things to know. Pretty extraordinary that they got all that from a sniff, right?
Why do dogs circle before lying down?
Now this may seem strange to us but it’s entirely normal for your dog. This habit originated way back, when dogs were still wolves and lived in the wild, and it is now hard-coded in their genes. Circling may look silly when it’s done on the wooden floorboards or tiles of your home; out in the wild, however, circling can create a comfy dip in the soil, which means a warmer and better night’s sleep for your pup. So just let them do what they are doing – your dog is just trying to get comfortable.
This list of oddities only skims the surface. But if these explanations for strange dog habits reveal one thing, it’s that dogs are the cutest, craziest, most adorable creatures in our lives. And they are fascinating.