5 Common dog behaviours explained

Friday August 07, 2020

Dogs are an endless source of joy for owners. But sometimes they also show some odd behaviours that can leave owners scratching their heads. From burying bones to sustained intense staring while going to the toilet, all their behavioural tendencies have a reason. We thought it would be interesting to delve into a few of them and offer an explanation.

1. Why do dog’s kick after pooing?

Have you ever noticed that often, straight after your dog does a poo he starts covering and kicking it with dirt? While some of us might find this behaviour funny or even frustrating (especially when your shoes are in the firing line), there is a good reason for it. Dog’s are still very much driven by instinct and when they scratch up the area after pooing – they are claiming territory. Dogs have scent glands in their paws and their poo also has a strong odour – by kicking the dirt around their poo they are effectively signalling to other dogs “This patch of grass/dirt is mine!” It can also serve as a warning to other dogs.

2. Why do dogs bury their bones and toys?

Dog’s still obey their instincts. Their ancestors, the grey wolves, wild experienced turns of feast or famine. In times of famine, wolves will bury their food to eat at a later time enabling them to endure times of famine. Your dog, despite being far removed from their lupine ancestor will still bury extra resources – especially bones. If you’re looking to limit this behaviour to save your backyard, then you might be providing your pet with too many resources. Try cycling their toys and offering bones only occasionally.

3. Why does your dog sit at your feet?

Does your dog sit on your feet or hide between your legs when you’re standing or sitting? While this can be a little annoying at times, it’s actually believed to be a display of affection. Dogs are pack animals and their instinct is to be close to those higher in their pack. This is for a number of reasons; it’s warm, it’s close to you if you’re getting up or going anywhere, you represent safety (and dogs LURV to feel safe) and they also feel that they’re doing their job of keeping you safe as well. Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) indicate that dogs prioritize the smell of their human over anyone or anything else, including food. For your dog, your smell evokes the rewards centre of their brain more than any other scent. More than their favourite meal, more than Dig-In, their favourite treat or toy. Basically, being close to you whenever you’re still is always a great time for your dog.

4. Why do dog’s make eye contact when pooing?

We’ve all been there, enjoying a walk with your dog, taking in the day, when suddenly your dog starts making circles and sniffing for the best possible spot. As soon as they start doing their business, they also start making INTENSE eye contact with you. For most dog owners this is all part of pet ownership and we’ve been taking in our stride for a while now, for passers-by it’s an uncomfortable but kind of humorous experience. A number of experts have suggested different explanations for this behaviour.
Nick Jones, dog behaviourist and trainer with Alpha Dog Behaviour in London suggests it could relate back to the time they were puppies. As owners, we rewarded our dogs for going to the toilet outside, by looking at you when going to the toilet they may be looking for that reward again. Other experts claim that this behaviour is likely to be an instinctual behaviour, harking back to their wolf origins. The theory being that dogs are vulnerable when going to the toilet, they look to you as pack leader to be assured that nothing bad is going to happen while they are vulnerable.

5. Why does my dog stare at me, like always?

While we’re discussing staring behaviours, how about all those times you’ve looked up and found your dog simply staring at you? Most of us have a story about a dog following you everywhere and simply watching. The reason for this is pretty simple. Your dog is devoted to you and they depend on you for EVERYTHING. Often your pet is staring because they’re expecting something. That could be a pat, a tasty morsel or simply to see if you’re heading out soon and if they can come. Dog stares are super expressive and unbeknownst to you, you may also know what their different stares mean. If they’re tense, curious or trying to tell you something, like “Hey, it’s nearly dinner time, can you stop watching TV and get my dinner started?”
Dog staring is super important for human and pet bonding. Dog’s have piggybacked on human bonding chemicals throughout their evolutionary history and like us, they release oxytocin when they stare at their owners. Your dog loves you and when you stare back, you let your dog know that you love them too.

Does your dog show any of the above behaviours? We’re willing to bet they do. It’s all part of dog ownership, learning their quirks and their funny idiosyncrasies which gives them such endearing personalities. In return we love, protect and provide for the adorable ball of fur that shadow’s your every footstep – we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Interested in stepping up your dog ownership game? Try some Dig-In today – here!

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