Quirky and Unusual Dog Habits, Explained

Published: 11/10/2020

Why does your pup have to turn around before lying down? Why do they bury their food? What’s with mounting inanimate objects? And what on earth is the reason for “zoomies”?

Our dogs do some wonderful things, but they also have some weird and wacky habits that are hard to comprehend. However, you may be surprised to learn that there’s actually quite a good reason behind many of these seemingly bizarre doggy habits.

Keep reading to find out why your dog does those strange and unusual things that make you shrug your shoulders in amusement.

Turning around in circles before lying down

Have you ever taken any notice of your pup’s bedtime rituals? Have you noticed that before they lay down to sleep, they often turn around in circles a couple of times? This is quite a common doggy behavior, but why do they do it?

The good news is that this is a perfectly normal habit for your pooch. It’s simply your pup’s way of making sure they find a safe and comfy spot to grab some shut-eye. Dogs inherited this unique skill from their wild ancestors, who needed to be ready for fight or flight at a moment’s notice. 

But while it may be part of your pet’s innate survival instincts, we’re sure you can agree that it’s pretty darn cute!

Zoomies

It’s a situation many pet parents are familiar with. One second, everything is normal and your dog is perfectly calm; the next, they decide they need to start running frantic laps around your yard or house at top speed.

Watching your dog get a case of the “zoomies” is pretty funny, and there’s also a wonderful reason why it occurs. This fast and furious action is simply your dog’s way of releasing some excess energy. They may do it after they’ve been through a stressful event, such as going to the vet, or simply when they’re super excited.

Just make sure you stay out of your pup’s way until they’ve calmed down — otherwise, both of you could end up with an injury.

Burying food and toys

Have you ever given your dog a treat and then watched them go and bury it in the yard? Do you occasionally unearth dog toys when you’re doing the gardening?

Some dogs are quite prodigious when it comes to burying things, and there are several potential causes of this behavior. The most obvious reason why dogs bury stuff is to protect their resources from other predators. It’s a survival instinct that they can trace back to their ancestors. Dogs in multi-pet households commonly bury things to keep them safe from other pets, but if your pup is overly possessive, then you might need some help from a reliable dog trainer

In other cases, your dog might bury their food because you’re giving them too much of a good thing. If they’re already full of treats, they might want to keep some food to save for later, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not over-feeding your pooch.

Finally, burying things can also be a way for your dog to get your attention. By stealing things they know you like and hiding them, your pup could be trying to tell you they want to play. Spending more time with your pooch and providing boredom-busting activities to keep them busy can help solve the problem.

Mounting inanimate objects 

Of all the bizarre behaviors our dogs indulge in, this can be one of the most amusing — and depending on where you are and who you’re with, one of the most embarrassing. But what is it about your kid’s stuffed toy or your favorite cushion that puts your pup in the mood?

There are lots of reasons why dogs hump, and any of them have nothing to do with sex. Sometimes it’s a way of showing dominance, or a result of being anxious or over-stimulated. Dogs also know that humping is a sure-fire way to get your (and everyone else’s) attention. It can even be a sign of some medical problems.

If it only happens occasionally, mounting inanimate objects is not worth worrying about. But if it’s a regular occurrence, you’ll need to consider whether there are any medical or environmental problems prompting the action, or whether you need to work with a dog trainer to put a stop to the behavior.

Sniffing butts 

Dogs certainly have a unique way of greeting each other. While us humans go for a wave, a handshake, or even a hug when meeting new people, dogs take a slightly more intimate approach.

The good news is that the humble butt-sniff is perfectly normal. And it’s not just a greeting, but a way for your pup to learn a whole lot of useful information about their new friend. With their amazing sense of smell, dogs can tell everything from the other animal’s reproductive status to what it likes to eat. A quick sniff can even help them learn about the other dog’s mood and temperament!

So the next time your dog’s nose meets another dog’s butt, you can be sure that they’re doing something very important indeed.

Eating poop

Weird and wacky doggy habits don’t get any more disgusting than chowing down on a pile of poo. Whether it’s their own poo or another dog’s deposit, watching your dog tuck into poop is enough to turn anyone’s stomach.

You might be surprised to learn that it’s actually a common issue known as coprophagia. However, there are many potential causes of this behavior. For example, some dogs eat poo because they’re underfed or eat a poor-quality diet, while parasites, disease, and some medications can also lead your dog to feast on feces.

In other cases, coprophagia can be an attention-seeking behavior. Anxious dogs that have been poorly trained — perhaps by someone who forced their nose into poop to teach them not to go to the toilet inside — may also have a poop-eating habit. 

The best way to combat the problem depends on the cause, but limiting your pup’s access to poop is always a good place to start.

Kicking their leg when you scratch them in the perfect spot

If you’re the person your pup always heads to for a belly rub, chances are you’re a master at knowing the perfect place to scratch your pup. You know the spot we mean — the one where as soon as you start scratching, your dog’s leg starts shaking or kicking. And you know it’s an involuntary reaction because your dog looks just as surprised to see it happening as you are!

This is known as the “scratch reflex”, and it occurs when your scratching irritates nerves under the skin. Those nerves send a message to your pup’s hind leg to kick at whatever is causing the irritation, resulting in that unique display that lets you know you’ve found the sweet spot.

Kicking grass after doing their business

If your dog kicks back dirt and grass after doing a number 2, you could be forgiven for thinking that they’re trying to cover up the mess. But that’s not actually the case.

Known as “scrape behavior”, this is a way for your pup to mark their territory. Dogs have scent glands in their paws, and this unique kicking action allows them to spread their signature pheromone on their chosen spot.

So the next time you see your dog doing something a little quirky, unusual, or downright bizarre, hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of why our pups do what they do.