Why does my dog do that?

WHY

By Phil Snyder, Executive Director of Suncoast Humane Society

Published in the Englewood Sun on August 30, 2015

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does my dog do that?” Or in a more angry moment, you may ask, “Why in the blankity blank does that blankity blank dog do that?” Dogs are creatures of habit and, if left to their own devices, they can become creatures of bad habits.

Digging is a very good example of what can be a bad habit. Dogs dig for a variety of reasons. Number one would be out of boredom. When left alone in the yard, he may be digging just because it is something fun to do. Staying with him in the yard may be the solution, while playing with him and giving him toys to enjoy also may be deterrents. Then again, he may ignore you, dig a hole and bury the toy.

If he is digging near a perimeter fence, he may be trying to leave home. If he is digging a deep hole, he may just want to cool off. Digging is an instinctive behavior. Some terriers and hounds were bred for years to dig out game, and may require extra training to reverse this tendency.

Leg riding is cute and funny to some people, but very embarrassing for the dog owner. This is usually thought to be a sexual act, but it can also be a display of dominance. Some dogs, when overly excited, will jump up on people or things, or may ride things. Years ago, when my kids were still little, they had a teddy bear that had to be kept in the closet when the dog was in an excitable mood.

Dogs have great noses that often enjoy certain scents that we don’t particularly like. Why is it that some dogs even love to roll in the most awful stuff, and then want to take the smell with them and, in fact, run to you just to share it?

It’s funny, but my dog loves to raid my wife’s closet in the middle of the night and scatter several pairs of her shoes across the living room. I have as many pairs of shoes as she does, and yet the dog never bothers a single pair.

Dogs chase cars, bicycles and even sometimes fast-running people, just as their ancestors use to chase prey. They paw at the rug or bed, either harmlessly or in a shredding manner to make a comfortable nest. I find it interesting that they circle or even spin when going to the bathroom or lying down, as they did way back when they had to beat down the grass to clear a spot they could call their own.

I really don’t think my dog can tell time, or is much of a clock watcher, and I know he can’t gauge the length of time when I am gone. Whether it is one hour, one day or one week, I know I can expect that same “I missed you” look in his eyes and his “love me, love me” wiggle to greet me at the door.

And I know why he does that.

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