Crack the Canine Code

If you’re like us, you love your dog so much it’s easy to forget he’s not human—until he hikes a leg or rolls around in something funky in the yard. Then you face the facts: your dog is a whole other breed (literally). But what’s behind those crazy dog antics? Here’s a quick breakdown of dog behavior and what it could mean.

Pre-Sleep Circling Ceremony

What he does: Makes two or three turns before lying down—every time.
What it means: This habit is probably left over from the dog’s ancestry. A wild dog will walk in circles to flatten plants or vegetation for a comfier bed. Also, wild dogs sleep in packs—circling is a good way to make more room and stake some claim before sleeping.

The Never-Ending Tail Chase

What he does: Makes you dizzy spinning in circles in a mad dash for his own tail.
What it means: He’s probably just bored. Many experts say that the movement of a dog’s tail catches his eye and offers a convenient opportunity to run off some energy. He also might be looking to capture your attention—especially if you respond with laughter. If it doesn’t look like he’s having a good time, check the base of his tail for fleas or irritation.

Howling & Harmonies

What he does: Adds his big bellow to the family sing-along.
What it means: Most likely, your dog is telling you, “I’m part of this pack!” Howling lets him connect with the group. Plus, remember that his hearing is much more sensitive than yours—howling is his way of responding to the music he hears.(Everyone’s a critic.)

Sniffing Salutations

What he does: Greets other dogs with a good old-fashioned behind sniff.
What it means: He’s just saying “hello.” Plus, it’s a way of identifying one dog from another and learning all kinds of fun facts about the new friend—such as where she’s been, what she’s been eating and if she’s pregnant or in heat.

Gourmet Grass

What he does: Makes the yard his salad bar.
What it means: Some vets say that dogs eat grass when they have an upset stomach. It often leads to vomiting—and getting rid of whatever it was that wasn’t sitting well in the first place. It’s also been argued that dogs simply like the taste of grass.

The Aroma Roll

What he does: Finds the smelliest thing outside and rolls in it.
What it means: Dead bugs and animals might be stinky to us, but not to him. Often dogs roll in something smelly right after a bath—the shampoo scent we love is awful to them and they want to cover it. It could also have to do with the canine’s link to wolves—they do the same thing to mask their own scent to stalk prey.

There you have it—answers to your burning canine conundrums. Remember, even if the behavior is odd (or disgusting) to us, it’s natural to your dog. Positive reinforcement and discipline can help curb unwanted habits.