12 Weird Dog Behaviors Explained

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How Do Dogs Pick Their "Favorite Person" - And 11 Other Weird Pet Behaviors Explained

Liam Rice / Dogsaholic

As a lifelong dog owner, there's just one thing I can say about man's four-legged friends: they're weird.

I've lived with dogs who chased insects, ate their own poop, and refused to sit on the couch without their favorite pillow.

It turns out most weird dog behaviors are extremely common, and their are simple explanations behind them.

How many of these 12 bizarre habits does your pet have?

1. Why do dogs pick their favorite person?

Dog hug.
Sberlazza / Wikimedia

It's so unfair when a dog obviously prefers someone else to you.

Even if they don't feed and look after your pet, dogs can get attached to certain people.

Part of this is because of socialization: based on their interactions as a puppy dogs learn to prefer certain kinds of people - for example men over women.

But mainly, dogs reward the affection you give them.

To get more love from your dog you need to spend more time giving them treats, physical contact like petting, and doing activities together.

2. Why do dogs eat poop?

This is one of the most common dog problems - 60% of owners say their pets eat feces daily (either their own or another animal's).

Researchers behind a new study say this is a defense mechanism dogs picked up from their ancestors.

Wolves would eat feces around their dens to keep parasites and pests from spreading.

Today, the nasty habit is (mostly) harmless, but hard to break. Try rewarding your dog any time they don't eat poop.

3. Why do dogs spin in circles before lying down?

Dog on pet bed
Howard Young / Flickr

This habit is called "rounding," and it's also passed down from your dog's ancestors.

In the wild, dogs make a safe and comfy nest by walking in circles.

The habit flattens tall grass, drives away bugs and small animals, and marks the dog's territory.

At home on your dog's bed, the habit is completely harmless.

4. Why do dogs sniff each other's butts?

Dogs butt sniffing
Tim Dorr / Flickr

They're not just saying "hello."

Dogs have a special organ called an anal sac, which is a gland on their butt that releases chemicals.

By sniffing these chemicals, dogs can learn your pet's sex, emotional state, and even their diet.

A dog's nose even filters out the gross smell, so sniffing another dog's butt is like exchanging business cards.

5. Why do dogs dig holes?

Because it's fun!

Some dog breeds are natural diggers, and they just can't resist the urge to make a hole or bury their treats.

But the habit is not always innocent.

Dogs will dig holes if they're not comfortable with their environment, especially in the heat and cold.

To stop repetitive digging, you can remove the texture (like sand) that makes your dog dig.

Removing small rodents from your property can also curb a dog's urge to dig.

6. Why do dogs pee inside the house?

Dog pee carpet

This is one of the most common pet problems, and 37% of owners report their dogs have "accidents."

Male dogs who have not been neutered are usually the culprit, since they're keen to mark their territory.

But repeated peeing indoors could also be a symptom of serious medical issues.

If your dog is not acting anxious or drinking too much water, ask a vet about their bladder troubles.

7. Why does my dog lick me so much?

dog licking man
Mike Baird - Wikimedia

Because he loves you - really!

Licking is one way dogs communicate. Usually it tells another member of their pack "I care about you" or "you are more important than me."

Dogs actually enjoy licking, because it's a form of bonding for them. But that can make the behavior habit-forming.

You can train a lick-crazy dog to stop by leaving the room if they won't leave you alone.

Treating your dog's anxiety in other ways should help control their licking.

8. Why do dogs stare at me when they poop?

Your dog is counting on you to look out for them.

When a dog is "going," they're at their most vulnerable to predators.

Even if their aren't any wild beasts in your neighborhood, your dog will look to you to keep an eye out while they poop.

Dogs can be very picky about how and when they poop, so let them do whatever feels comfortable.

9. Why is my dog's nose dry?

Dog nose
kenny kunie / Flickr

Most dog owners learn that a wet nose is a healthy nose, and that's true.

But don't get too worried about a dry nose.

The wetness comes from a dog licking its own nose. Obviously when a dog is asleep, their nose will dry out.

Humidity and allergies will also dry out your pet's nose.

You should only be concerned if their nose is regularly cracked and dry, or is covered in discolored mucus.

10. Why do dogs scoot their butts on the carpet?

Dog scooting on carpet
David Westberry / Imgur

Remember the anal sac we mentioned that makes dogs sniff each other's butts?

When the sac is irritated or itchy, dogs will drag their butts to scratch it.

This is not actually a "normal" behavior, and you should check to see if your dog is alright if they're constantly scooting.

A swollen or discolored anus means you should take your dog to the vet. It could be a symptom of worms or something much worse - like cancer.

11. Why do my dogs get anxious when I leave the house?

It's very common for dogs to go through some degree of separation anxiety.

You need to train your dog to accept that you leave the house and come back.

Try stepping outside for a few minutes and coming back, so your dog can learn healthy reactions.

Include all the usual "leaving cues" (picking up keys, putting on shoes) and practice the routine at different times of day.

Make sure to include the whole family in these drills, but keep them short for your dog's benefit.

12. Why do my dogs chew the furniture?

dog on chewed sofa
riann_cornelius / Flickr

Anxiety is a major cause of this behavior, but so is training.

Being weaned at the wrong time can lead dogs to suck on fabric obsessively.

Dogs who learn this addictive behavior may need the help of a behavior specialist.

But in most cases, buying chew toys, exercising your dog and rewarding them for good behavior will break the habit.

How many of these weird behaviors do your dogs show?

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I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.