9 Odd Things Just About All Dogs Do


"Just about every dog breed finds it a lot of fun to roll around on top of dead animal carcasses."


©Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, USA Dog Behavior, LLC

Our dogs do things sometimes that we find crazy and embarrassing. You'll probably find some of your dog's odd habits in the list below of unusual, but common, dog behaviors. They may be weird to us, but they’re normal for dogs.

1) The top of the list has to be coprophagia, i.e., eating feces. As disgusting as this is, it's a normal behavior for dogs that comes and goes in many dogs' lives. Unfortunately, it's a difficult behavior to stop. We don't really fully understand what drives this behavior.

2) Have you noticed times when your dog seems to shake water off her body even though she isn't wet? This is actually a stress behavior. More specifically, it signals the end of stress similar to how humans feel when we say "Phew, what a relief!" after something stressful.

3) There are countless jokes about how dogs are obsessed with their genitals and anus. They lick these areas to clean themselves, but they also do this to calm themselves and to signal to other dogs that they are not a threat.

4) Just about all dogs dream and move in their sleep. Dogs have levels of sleep just like humans do and when they hit REM sleep, they can get physically active. One interesting note, there seems to be a negative correlation between dream activity and exercise. The more a dog exercises, the less he dreams.

5) I like the joke about the baseball player who could throw so hard that he could throw a pork chop past a dog. Well, there is a lot of truth in that joke. Simply stated, healthy dogs will eat about anything that isn't bolted down and will eat so quickly that food is gone in a blur. Strong appetites are indicators of health in dogs.

6) Have you ever noticed that dogs do not urinate and defecate in the same location? They carefully pick a site to do one, and then, after considerable thought, carefully pick the next location to do the other. There are scents and pheromones associated with urinating and defecating; these send messages to all of the neighborhood dogs. Placement is critical.

7) There is nothing more embarrassing to most dog owners than when Max, or Bella (yes, females do this too), starts to mount another dog (and they mount both males and females). Many people think this behavior is purely sexual, but the reality is that it is normally stress or play related.

8) Dogs love nasty smells. In fact, the nastier it is to us, the more they are likely to love it. Just about every dog breed finds it a lot of fun to roll around on top of dead animal carcasses. We're not sure why they enjoy this activity, but one theory is that in their evolution it helped mask their odor and allowed them to sneak up on prey.

9) If a dog doesn't bark at the mail carrier, he'll automatically lose points on his "dog card". It's a fairly universal behavior. Many dogs are afraid of the mail carrier and bark at him to make him go away. Since the mail carrier always walks away after delivering the mail, the dog thinks his barking works - and keeps doing it.

See, your dog isn't so different after all.