Why Does My Dog Do That? Decoding Canine Behavior

Dogs are awesome, but no one said they never do anything weird. Here are some odd (to us) but fairly common dog behaviors explained.


Why does my dog roll around in stinky stuff?

It’s confusing to us when our pups seem to enjoy rolling around in things like garbage, poop, and yes, even roadkill. Why do they do it…and like it so much? Dogs are extremely tuned in to scents, and what may smell disgusting to us could smell just really interesting to them. Some experts think it’s a leftover behavior from their hunting days, as a way to camouflage their own scent. Others think that when dogs encounter a strong smell, they will instinctively try to scent mark the area with their own scent, rolling around to make sure it sticks.


Why does my dog eat rocks?

Dogs eat a lot of weird things, but chewing on rocks is a particularly puzzling behavior to humans. Adult dogs can do it, but it’s more common with puppies. Puppies in particular will chew on rocks out of boredom, frustration, the need to chew, or to seek attention. An underlying medical condition such as a nutritional deficiency can also lead to rock chewing. Obviously, biting and swallowing rocks is not a healthy thing for your dog to be doing, so it’s a good idea to provide a lot of different chew toy alternatives for puppies to chew on, and limit their access to rocks as much as possible. Take your adult dog for a checkup at the vet if rock eating is a new behavior.


Why does my dog stare at the wall?

Many dog owners notice that their dogs will spend minutes at a time staring at nothing. Does your house have ghosts? Probably not. It’s possible that your dog sees something that you don’t, but a more common cause is cognitive dysfunction, which can occur in older dogs. Older dogs can stare at nothing, or some random object, for no apparent reason. If you notice this behavior, and other symptoms such as confusion and disorientation, house soiling, and changes in activity level and the sleep/wake cycle, talk to your vet about cognitive dysfunction, and also to rule out any other medical causes.


Why does my dog moan and groan?

Dogs make a lot of interesting vocalizations, but what does it mean when your dog moans? It depends on the circumstances. Many dogs start to groan more as they age and their joints begin to ache. You’ll notice the moaning when they stand up, lie down, or stretch. A dog can also groan more when he’s tired and sleepy. Moaning during sleep usually means there’s a dream happening. Many dogs will also groan with pleasure, like when you scratch them on the head or belly.


Why does my dog turn around before lying down?

Ever wonder why dogs turn in circles before they go to sleep? This behavior is an evolutionary leftover from the days before rugs and dog beds. Dogs would turn in circles to flatten out tall grass to sleep in, and also to clear away any debris or possibly dangerous critters that might bite them if they lie down right away. Some experts think that this is also a way to expose more dirt, which is cooler than grass in hot weather.



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  • Aaron Seminoff
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