We’ve all looked at our dog and thought “why oh why is he doing that?” For every impressive trick they learn, there seems to be a behavior that is just plain odd. However odd these behaviors seem to us, there’s a quite natural cause. Some of these behaviors are quirks of nature, instinctive relics inherited from his wild ancestors and others are simply the result of your dog adapting to life in the human world.
Tail chasing can be funny to watch, but there is a chance that it is a sign of obsessive compulsive behavior. In most cases, tail chasing started as a reaction to boredom. The under stimulated dog one day notices movement near his posterior and tries to chase it. But then, without realizing it, you and your family teach your dog to repeat the behavior. By laughing, pointing and generally making a fuss, Lucky learns that chasing his tail gets him attention, so he repeats it.
Pica is the phenomenon of eating non-food objects, such as rocks, his own fur, clothes and even poop. Again, boredom can be a driving force behind this odd behavior. Your dog explores with his mouth, so if he’s left to make his own fun, he’ll chew on a variety of things to relieve that boredom. Improper nutrition can also cause pica. Once again, humans can inadvertently reinforce this behavior. For example, a dog that is chewing his fur due to a skin irritation may get a lot of attention at first, mainly as you try to stop him, but attention is addictive, so he’ll do it even when the irritation is gone.
Barking at Nothing
Remember that dogs have exceptional hearing and smell. To you, he may be barking at nothing, but it is most probable that he has heard or smelled something that has startled or alarmed him. If your dog is phantom barker, observe his behavior over a course of a few days and see if there are any patterns. It may be something as mundane as your neighbor putting out the trash that is spooking him.
Turning Around Before Settling Down
This behavior has baffled man for generations and there are multiple theories. Wild dogs and wolves turn before lying down too. Are they trying to trample the grass to make it flat? Checking for snakes? The most plausible cause for this is that turning so he can detect which direction the wind is blowing. Wild dogs and wolves sleep with their noses pointed to the wind, so they can detect the presence of a threat more easily.
Head out of the Car Window
Most dogs hate it when we blow in their face, but seem to love having the wind in their face when they’re in the car. They love to stick their head out of the car window because of all the new smells. To them, the car journey is a cacophony of new information.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.