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For the Love of the Dog

Why Does My Dog Do That? Some Quick Answers to Perplexing Doggie Behavior

Sometimes a dog’s behavior and actions can leave us completely baffled. This is especially true for new dog owners. So, here is a little guide to help you figure out why your dog might be doing the weird things that he does.

1. Why does my dog keep eating the cat’s poop out of the litter box?

Coprophagia is the technical term for eating feces. This has been studied in dogs by several people with no definitive answer for “why” being found. While this particular dog behavior seems to be among the most bizarre, there really is a simple explanation for it. Your cat’s diet consists mostly of protein, so his stool has a high protein content as well. Many dogs simply crave the protein located there. Try using a litter box with a cover or one that automatically scoops litter after each use.

2. Why does my dog try to eat pantyhose and socks?

Most likely, your dog starts chewing these items from boredom, frustration or anxiety. Then, once the chewing starts, his natural instinct is to continue the process by swallowing the object. In other words, it might just be a mistake. Once you know which clothing items of yours are your dog’s favorites, keep those and similar items tucked away in a drawer.

3. Why does my dog love to chew up my shoes?

Your dog chews your shoes up for one of two reasons: your dog is a puppy who is teething or he just loves the attention that such an act brings. If you have a teething puppy on your hands, provide him with some appropriate alternatives in the form of store-bought chew toys. If your dog is an adult, try not to react by chasing him around or making a big scene. This is exactly what your dog wants (your attention) and doing so will simply reinforce the behavior. Keep your shoes in a safe place and give your dog more of the good attention that he obviously craves.

4. Why does my dog like to dig holes in my yard?

Digging is an instinctual act for dogs, especially among certain breeds. The dog could also be trying to bury something or could simply be trying to reach the cooler soil beneath. If you determine that your dog is simply digging for no apparent reason, you can train him to dig in a designated spot in your yard instead of all over. Do this by spraying protected areas with a non-toxic dog repellent.

5. Why does my dog jump up on anyone who walks through the front door?

Your dog is simply attempting to affectionately greet you and your visitors. Puppies do it all the time, but they are hardly ever corrected because the animal is so small and the behavior, especially for a tiny puppy, can be pretty cute and endearing. Once the animal grows up, however, the behavior can be uncomfortable and threatening to both children and adults. The best thing to do is to train your dog not to jump up on people from the time he is a puppy.

6. Why does my dog like to ride with his head sticking out of the car window?

Your dog likes to stick his head out of the car window for the fresh air and the inundation of new smells and sights. While this behavior seems harmless enough, the potential for road debris to cost your dog an eye or head injury is fairly great. For your dog’s safety, keep the windows rolled up and the air conditioner on.

7. Why is my dog afraid of thunder?

Many dogs that are normally brave and outgoing creatures will cower and whimper at the first crack of thunder. The most likely reason for this behavior is the dog’s feeling that he cannot escape the looming danger that thunder (or any loud noise) represents. Their first instinct is to run from the danger (which would explain why so many dogs run away in reaction to July 4th fireworks); however, if they are confined, distress at their inability to escape can take the form of pacing, whimpering, howling and crying.

8. Why does my dog like to roll in the smelly dirt?

Your dog likes to roll in the dirt, especially after a bath, in order to mask his scent. This is an instinctual behavior that no amount of training is likely to change.

9. Why does my dog chase his tail?

A little tail chasing every once in a while is a perfectly normal dog behavior. If the tail chasing becomes excessive, however, it could be that your dog is craving your attention. If you laugh out loud, clap, or show other positive reactions whenever your dog chases his tail, then you may be encouraging him to repeat the action over and over again. Give your dog attention in other ways and make sure that if he does start chasing his tail, he is in no danger of injuring himself.

10. Why does my dog eat grass?

Eating grass is normal for a dog. Some dogs just like it, they may have certain species of grass or plant material that they will search out and eat. Some dogs just develop a taste for it no matter what the effect is on their digestive system (i.e. vomiting, diarrhea). If you can’t dissuade your dog from eating grass by offering him treats, make sure that the grass and plant matter to which he has access are not toxic to animals. In any case, grass eating is basically a normal behavior, and is not of concern unless your dog does it excessively.

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