This article was contributed by guest writer, Julia Robson (Author at Dogs Planet).
10 Common Doggy Behaviors and What They Really Mean
Whether or not you are a dog owner, you are probably aware of some common dog behaviors. You know that wagging tails mean good moods, and that you should always introduce yourself to a dog by letting them sniff your fist.
In order to get to know your dog (or any dog, for that matter) even better, read through our list of the 10 most common dog behaviors and what they really mean. This new-found knowledge might just help you interpret a future situation correctly and help calm a dog down.
1. When they tilt their head
The head tilt is a very cute and comical behavior most dogs exhibit rather often, especially when you use your dog voice.
When dogs tilt their heads, it means they are trying to hear or see something better, and that they have focused their attention on something – you, in most cases.
If your dog tilts their head very often, even when they don’t appear to be particularly intent on something, you should take them to the vet as a precaution, as they may have an ear infection that’s bothering them.
2. The intent stare
A highly focused stare can mean one of two things. If, for example, you are waving a ball in front of them, or are eating, the stare will only mean your dog wants in on the action.
If they are staring at another animal however, the stare can mean trouble. When a dog is staring down another animal, is rooted to the spot and is wagging their tail close to the ground, they are probably about to pounce. In this case, your best course of action is to remove your dog from the situation.
There is also a third variant of staring, when two friendly and playful dogs stare each other down before starting to play chase – this is totally common and perfectly okay. Pay attention to the body language – taut as a bowstring is the sign of trouble.
3. When they walk in circles
As you’re watching a dog walking in circles before they choose to lie down, you may consider the action completely futile. After all, the ground won’t get any softer. However, this curious habit has most likely been inherited from the dog’s ancestor, the wolf, and is simply in their blood.
The action essentially means the dog is trying to get comfortable and is their way of marking the spot where they are about to flop down.
4. The teeth barring
When a dog is showing its teeth, it means they are trying to assert dominance and are aggressive. They are essentially trying to intimidate someone and are very angry.
If they are also snarling or wrinkling their muzzle, chances are they are about to bite. Don’t approach a dog who is exhibiting this kind of behavior. Even if it’s your own dog – understand that you may get bitten and act accordingly. Knowing how to calm your aggressive dog down is something you should definitely learn in puppy school, so act according to your trainer’s advice if this does happen.
5. When they show their belly
Exposing the belly is essentially a sign of giving up. In a fight, the dog who lays down and offers their belly up is throwing in the towel.
When they show their belly to you, it means they trust and respect you, and would like a bit of a belly rub. Essentially a sign of submission, the upturned belly means your dog has accepted you as the leader of the pack.
6. The ear movements
Dogs have very mobile ears, and they tend to move them quite a bit.
When the ears are held forward, your dog is focusing. They may be curious about something, or may want to play.
Ears held flat to the head are a sign of fear or insecurity. Ears that are flat and also held apart are usually a sign of sadness or confusion.
Ear flicking means a dog is listening and focusing on a specific sound. They are just trying to catch a sound more clearly, especially if it’s an unusual one or new to them.
7. When they eat poop
Frankly, this is probably the grossest thing most dogs do, but it’s simply a habit with them. Dogs can eat sheep poop, dog poop, and practically any kind of poop. There are plenty of theories as to the cause of this behavior, but none of them are known to be correct.
In short, your dog is likely to try and eat some poop at some point – all you can do is prevent them. It may not actually be bad for them, but it is certainly unappetizing and quite disgusting, so teach them to leave poop alone.
8. The butt scooting
Scooting their behinds on the floor is essentially a dog’s way of scratching. It means there is something back there that is bothering them that they need to reach, and the only way to reach it is to scoot.
While not usually a sign of illness, excessive scooting could mean an infection, so if you notice your dog is doing it more than usual, take them in for a checkup just to be safe.
9. The humping
Another incredibly annoying habit dogs have is humping, especially when they do it to your friends or unsuspecting strangers.
While most people consider it to be a sexual act, it most often isn’t. It’s simply a part of dog play. It may also be a sign of excitement and a way to get some attention.
If your dog is humping other dogs, let them play unless the other dog is bothered, in which case you should get your dog to stop. Object humping (pillows, for example), you can allow if it doesn’t bother you. As for humping people, you are best advised to prevent this behavior, as it will most likely annoy your friends (and yourself).
10. The butt sniffing
Sniffing each other’s butts is the way dogs get to know each other. Their noses are incredibly fine-tuned, and they can learn a lot about a fellow dog just from giving them a bit of a sniff back there.
While it may seem awkward to us, it’s perfectly acceptable behavior in the dog world, so don’t prevent it. Dogs will usually be very adept at ending this ritual on their own.
To sum it all up
If you take some time to get to know your dog’s behavior a bit better, you’ll become incredibly adept at recognizing their moods. This will in turn enable you to prevent an altercation, give them the treats they are seeking, or reward certain behaviors.
Don’t forget that each dog is unique and a completely individual being that has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies, so always take that into account when dog watching.