20 Quirky Dog Habits and What They REALLY Mean

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Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason. Social creatures that love to be loved, dogs can make a fantastic addition to just about every household. Whether you grew up with a little Chihuahua or you grew up with a yard of Saint Bernard’s, you probably remember all the special ways that your dog ‘communicated’ with you. Today, we are going to analyze all of the quirky ways your dog has tried (and failed/succeeded) to communicate with you!

Keep on reading to find out what these 18 quirky dog habits REALLY mean!

Constantly Eating Toilet Paper

Dogs tend to get into things, so it isn’t unusual to see your furry friend chewing on unusual items. That being said, if your dog is making a habit out of eating tissue paper, they might have Pica. Pica is a developmental disorder that can be treated with exercise and a consultation with your vet.

Sniffing Your Crotch

If dogs communicate through their noses, then a sniff to your crotch is like a phone call. The primary reason that your dog wants to ‘call’ your crotch is simple, that is where you have a higher concentration of your pheromones. Pheremones are basically downloadable info files for your dog’s snout!

Tail Between Legs

Seeing your dog with a tail between its legs can launch your mind to a variety of different outcomes. Ostensibly, a tail between the legs is a symbol of fear, anxiety, or submission. However, when combined with other physical symptoms, a tail between the legs could imply greater health problems.

Chronic Floor Scratching

Floor scratching is as annoying to hear as it is distressing to watch. Unfortunately, floor scratching is a destructive behavior that is often seen in snow breeds such as the Malamute or Husky. Traditionally linked to their ‘burrowing’ instincts, floor scratchers should be kept busy to avoid wonton destructive behaviors.

Circling Bed Before Sleeping

Circling their sleeping spot before bed is considered a vestigial behavior. Dogs like to circle their sleeping areas especially when they are on the ground. This is a callback to a canine behavior that was implemented to cushion grass by stomping it into place.

Staring at You

Dogs can stare for any number of reasons, some of which may still be hidden from us. Staring typically indicates rapt attention or a desire for whatever it is that you are doing. Staring can mean ‘Feed me!’ or it can mean ‘Let’s go to the park!’ In either situation, rest easy and understand that staring is normal and healthy.

Munching on Blankets

Puppies, like toddlers, love to put things in their mouths that they shouldn’t. Dogs tend to chew or play with blankets when they want to feel comforted. Much like a pacifier, dogs can use blankets as a source of relaxation when in times of stress. This is a typical behavior found in dogs that were bred in G.W. Zoos of the canine breeding world.

Pacing in Circles

While it is normal to see your dog pace in a circle before laying down to sleep, it isn’t a common behavior at other times. Pacing in circles can be a symptom of anxiety and doggo distress. If you see your dog pacing when they tend not to follow that habit, consider bringing your furry friend to the vet for an examination.

Violent Toy Shaking

Outside of health issues, some forms of dog communication indicate health and happiness! When your dog takes a toy in its mouth before violently shaking it, this is a callback to your pup’s instincts! Your dog is remembering what it should do when it captures prey. Neat, huh?

Barking With Ears Pressed to Head

Dogs barking at other dogs is normal behavior as there is in the canine world. With that being said, if your dog is barking while its ears are pressed closer to its head, that is indicative of a specific behavior. Ears pressed tightly to the head will indicate that your dog is the passive participant in the exchange rather than an alpha. Ears elevated during barking will indicate that your dog is taking the alpha role.

The Play Bow

The ‘play bow’ is as adorable as it is informational. A play bow is represented by a slight cant of the head followed by the raising of the dog’s hindquarters. Put plainly, this means that your dog is excited and ready to get down with some fun playtime.

Hiding Beneath the Bed

We typically associate hiding beneath the bed with fear and anxiety. While this may be why your dog is sleeping under the bed, it might not be the only reason. Some dogs tend to have private personalities and they like to sleep in places reminiscent of a conventional den. However, if your dog exhibits signs of fear or anxiety while under the bed, a health issue may be present.

Leaning Against You

There is absolutely nothing wrong with your dog leaning on you. A lot of the times, canines will exhibit this behavior when they want comfort or are afraid of something, be it the vacuum or the cat. Most of the time, however, a dog leaning against you will simply signify its desire for your attention.

Sneaking and Hiding Treats

Have you ever noticed that smaller dogs tend to stash their treats? Seeing breeds like Cairn Terriers stashing their treats might make you raise an eyebrow. However, this is a completely natural evolutionary behavior. Smaller dogs like to hide their leftovers and treats to keep larger food competitors away.

Running in their Sleep

Sleep running is one of our favorite unofficial doggy sports. While this cute behavior is harmless, many people are curious as to what it signifies. Sleep running is common when dogs are dreaming as they trigger a series of reflexes and behaviors to mimic the conditions of their dream. If your dog is running, yipping, and moving its tongue while it sleeps — that’s normal!

Licking the Floor

There is something distinctly uncomfortable about watching a dog lick a tile or wooden floor. With that being said, compulsive floor licking is certainly not normal, sans having leftovers spilled onto the floor. Licking tile floors can be a symptom of a dietary deficiency, likely because the dog can smell missing minerals in the brick or clay tile.

Slow Tail Wags

A slow tail wag is typically indicative of a nervous/tired animal that is still happy to see you. Slow tail wags can also manifest in response to anxiety, similar to the way that a human might laugh in an uncomfortable situation.

Yawns of all Sorts

Yawns are weird and mysterious for people, and we can communicate! Yawning in dogs? Well, that’s equally mysterious. Mostly, we think that dogs yawn to calm themselves down. However, chronic yawning mixed with barking can signify nervousness, serious anxiety, or some other underlying health issue.

Four week old puppy yawning

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