Weird Dog Behaviors Explained
I know; why on earth would any animal eat its own waste or that of another animal? It’s a bizarre behaviour from our perspective and one that can sometimes be detrimental to a dog. So then, why would your beautiful little fur ball stoop to such a vulgar level?
Several reasons exist for a dog eating what would seem to be such a poor food source. If you have ever raised a litter of puppies, you’ll know that their mother will normally clean up after them by eating their feces. This is not only a sanitary solution, but an age-old survival mechanism. In the wild, predators hungry for a bit of puppy could locate the den simply by the scent of feces. It became necessary, then, for the mother to get rid of this evidence. Good canine mothers today do the same thing, even though those nasty predators are by and large no longer a threat.
Though humping is a sign of sexual excitement and is often paired with signs of physical arousal and a desire to mate, it’s not that simple. The motivations for humping/mounting are varied. Though unneutered males are the most likely culprits, any dog—male, female, young or old—can develop a humping habit. Often evolving out of play, puppies will often hump each other, as will older dogs. The anxious, isolated dog can evoke this behaviour as a stress release mechanism. Status confusion among a group of dogs and/or humans can result in a dog humping sequential “victims,” in an attempt to clarify his/her standing. Some pushy dogs will do it simply as a way of controlling others, while the un-socialized dog just might not know any better, because no other dogs taught him or her the finer points of getting along. Lastly, humping can become an obsessive-compulsive behaviour; like barking or tail chasing, it can self-reinforce over time and be nearly impossible to stop.
Technically known as “paroxysmal respiration,” reverse sneezing sounds awful but really isn’t. Reverse sneezing can be caused by an irritant in the air, by eating or drinking too fast, by a foreign body or hair balls, or even a nasal infection. The resultant irritation of the palate or throat causes a spasm, resulting in quick inhalations of air into the dog’s nose. The trachea can narrow, causing difficulty in air movement. The condition is more common in older dogs.
To reduce the chances of reverse sneezes, minimize chemicals, cleaners, rug deodorizers or other potential irritants from the home. Groom your dog often, and vacuum up hair very day. If a nasal drip is present, see the veterinarian.
I suppose if we had long, fluffy tails and could chew on them, we might even give it a try. It’s a behaviour that often starts early on; a puppy, barely aware of his own individuality, sees the tail and begins to whirl around after it. It’s fun, and serves some deep-seated need to chase something. Of course when humans see this, they laugh, and often encourage the dog on. And so the behaviour slowly becomes engrained.