Common Dog Behaviors And Their Significance

Have you ever observed your dog doing something and wondered, “What is going on?”? You’re not alone. No matter how much we love and care for our four-legged companions as furry family members, the fact remains that dogs are a distinct species with distinct dog behaviors.

While every dog has a unique personality and set of qualities, certain canine behaviors are universal. Here are some of the most frequent canine behaviors and their typical meanings.

Howling
A dog that howls excessively can cause a literal earache. However, keep in mind that dogs cannot speak, so they must utilize other means to warn you of danger.

According to Claudine Sievert, DVM, a cat and dog veterinarian from Kansas and veterinary consultant at CatPet, “most dogs are designed to feel danger.” Therefore, when your dog howls, it could indicate that he or she has detected danger or is uneasy in the presence of a stranger. However, howling may also be a dog’s way of communicating with its people (such as when it is left alone), and certain breeds are more prone to howling than others. Siberian Huskies, according to the American Kennel Club, howl frequently, using their howls to “speak” and communicate a wide range of emotions.

There is some overlap between howling and barking; some dogs bark when they perceive danger or are suspicious of an unfamiliar person. According to PetMD, some common causes of barking include enthusiasm, attention-seeking, boredom, fear, and pain. As with howling, the key to understanding this activity is to observe the animal’s body language and determine the stimuli producing the barking.

Some owners may believe that if their dog looks at them before doing anything, it is a sign of guilt or defiance, but according to dog trainer Steffi Trott, this is not the case.

“Dogs do not demonstrate disobedience or guilt in the sense that people often interpret it,” explains Trott. As social creatures, dogs frequently seek out eye contact with humans. Your dog may gaze at you for reassurance, to make sure you are still there, or simply because he loves you and enjoys your company.” So savor the looks!

Humping
The logical reason for a dog who hump everything in sight is that it is sexually aroused, and The Puppy Academy team confirms that this is frequently the case. But what you may not realize is that humps can also indicate that your dog wants to assert dominance over a situation. Oh, and when it comes to thumping targets, anything soft and malleable is acceptable, including stuffed animals and blankets.

Standing While On Feet
The Puppy Academy team explains that when a dog becomes comfortable on your feet, it is usually a sign that he desires affection. However, it may also be attempting to occupy your space. If you have visitors or another pet in the house, it may be attempting to “assert ownership” of you (and your feet).

Clinginess
Puppies are natural bonders, so your dog following you around the house is entirely normal. It only desires to be near to you. Sievert suggests training a dog to survive on its own when it is extremely attached, such as when it will not leave your side for even a second. Try leaving it alone in a secure area for a little length of time, and gradually expand this period over several days. As soon as it knows that you will always return, it will appreciate the occasional time alone.

Heavy Sneezing
Unlike humans, dogs cannot cool themselves by perspiring, hence panting is a typical activity of busy, contented canines. According to Sievert, there is typically no cause for alarm. However, unusually heavy panting on a hot day may potentially indicate heat stroke. Other warning indicators include restlessness, flattening out, and silence because the individual is so intent on cooling themselves off. Immediately consult your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog has heat stroke.

Circling In Place
According to Sievert, dogs enjoy playing, and running in circles (commonly known as “zoomies”) is a common favorite game. In fact, you can join in (with or without the ball) for a pleasant bonding experience with your dog. According to the American Kennel Club, zoomies are a natural dog activity exhibited by dogs of all ages and breeds. Zoomies are typically caused by a buildup of surplus energy that dogs release in a single burst. Some dogs prefer to “zoom” at certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning or after a lengthy period of time spent indoors.

However, if you observe your dog running in circles excessively, there may be a health problem. In this circumstance, Sievert recommends that you consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Wagging Tail
A wagging tail is a reliable sign of a dog’s happiness: In general, this one requires little explanation. You may observe your dog’s tail wagging when you return home from work or school because it is so happy to see you.

“A wagging tail is an indication of exuberance and joy,” Sievert explains. If your dog’s tail wags frequently, you’re doing a good job!

There are, however, exceptions. According to the VCA, a wagging tail may also signify agitation, bargaining, aggression, submission, or interest. And wagging speed is an essential component; the faster the wag, the more thrilled a dog is, whereas a slow, slight wag may reflect a dog’s insecurity or reluctance to meet a new human.

Circulating In Circles Prior To Lying Down
Nesting occurs when a dog spins in circles before to lying down, according to The Puppy Academy team. You will often observe this behavior in the evening, before to bedtime.

They explain, “Dogs like to fluff their bed before settling down, much as we do with our pillows.” “They acquire a sense of control over their bedtime ritual by selecting their most comfortable resting position, which might make them feel more protected and secure.”

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