12 Common Dog Behaviors

Dogs sometimes exude behavior that may seem baffling to both experienced and new dog owners.

Some of the common dog behaviors exhibited by them is a way of them trying to communicate with their human handlers.

To fully grasp the communication experience, it is vital for the handler to understand such behavior and what they mean.

This article will attempt to explain what some of this behavior means and if they pose a risk to the dog or their handlers.

1. Chasing the Tail


Dogs’ chasing their tail is a general dog behavior that may sometimes be amusing but if conducted in extended periods may become worrying.

While a majority of the dogs usually engage in this behavior, when the dogs do this for extended periods, it may mean a sign of some much deeper rooted problem.

One such question might be that the dog is exhibiting a symptom of an obsessive-compulsive disorder or it might be a sign that the dog has some anal gland problems that cause them to feel an itch.

Additionally, the tail chasing behavior would be as a result of an allergy to flea dermatitis.

If your dog exhibits this behavior extensively, it may be reason enough to seek the help of your veterinarian.

Recommended Article – What a Dog’s Tail Tells You

2. Licking


Universally, dogs tend to lick those whom they find to be longtime friends or newly acquired friends.

While most people are not always comfortable letting the dogs lick them all over, this behavior tells much about the relationship that the dog has with its owner.

Dogs lick people to show the extent of their affection and as a way of seeking out the owner’s love.

Although these may be the primary reasons why dogs lick their owners, research has also uncovered that licking may be a sensitive tool for the dogs the same way that touching is for humans.

Additionally, just like cats, the dogs engage in licking as a way of grooming either by themselves, in the litter or a pack.

3. Cocking the Head

dog cocking head

Dogs cock their head occasionally as a result of several cues.

Some of these cues that elicit these behaviors from dogs include one making high pitched noises including whistling, speaking in a high-pitched voice or making noises that are funny and otherwise unnatural for one to be making.

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These behavior cause dogs to tilt their head to one side and occasionally cause them to whine.

Behavioral scientists studying the dog behavior have as yet been unable to uncover just why they show this behavior, but they are inclined to think that the dogs are merely trying to make sense of what they are hearing and what this means when a human does this.

The other reason why dogs tilt the head would be that they are trying to determine the direction from which the sound is coming from.

If the dog continues to tilt its head to one side without an obvious trigger, then it would be advisable to consult a veterinarian.

Recommended Article – Why Does My Dog Tilt His Head?

4. Howling

howling dog

Howling among domesticated dogs is not uncommon, but it happens only on occasion.

As opposed to their cousins the wolves who howl to enforce territorial dominance and to send messages to far off pack members, domesticated dogs have no reason to howl.

However, this behavior may be as a result of it being passed on to them from their common ancestors with the wolves.

Indeed, behavioral scientists seem to believe that this howling behavior is an instinct that drives the dogs to howl as a necessary action that is inherently rewarding to them.

Such behavior should not be a source of concern to the dog owner as it usually passes and comes only once or twice throughout the year.

5. Eating Poop

funny dog face

While this common dog behavior may be gross and in some cases cause anguish to the dog owner, this should be taken quite seriously and should entail a discussion with a vet.

Poop eating behavior in dogs shows some underlying problem that needs to be addressed to stem such gross activities.

Several reasons may cause the dog to consume feces majorly being the lack of some nutrients in the dog’s diet.

However, the behavior may also be attributed to the dog licking the taste or the smell of the poop, or it may just regard the behavior as being fun.

However, the behavior is not something that can be tolerated not only for the stomach of the owner but also for the health of the dog. Indeed if one notices such behavior in their dog, it is strongly advised to consult your vet.

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Related Article – Dog Poop Color Meaning and Health Problem Signs

6. Humping

dog humping leg

While people commonly associate humping with sexual innuendos, for dogs, this is not always the case.

Dog humping has no cause for eliciting alarm for dog owners, but it is one of the common dog behaviors that will inevitably cause embarrassment especially in public spaces.

Dogs have the uncanny behavior to hump just about anything at times including, the handler, objects or other dogs.

Dogs especially those that have been spayed or neutered do this as a result of being excited in the case of seeing other dogs or they may be seeking attention in situations where they hump the owner.

This behavior does not correlate with any medical condition, and it may be advisable for the owner to either ignore the behavior or if it becomes too much to try and distract the dog with a treat or some toy to change this behavior.

7. Staring

dog staring

It is tough to resist the bleary puppy-dog eyes of a dog that is staring at you insistently.

This dog behavior may be attributed to several things including the desire to be given a treat, showered with praise or to be petted. Starring is a typical dog behavior that should not cause concern to the dog owner as it is quite natural.

However, it might be essential to realizing that some dogs consider direct eye contact to be threatening or aggressive.

Therefore, it may be important for one first to ensure that the dog is not eliciting any outward aggressive or threatening behavior.

Sometimes, finding a dog’s eyes trained on you may be a good reason to concede and grant the dog that desire of being patted or given a treat.

8. Walking in Circles Before Lying Down

dog sit down

Most times, dogs have this curious behavior where they walk around in circles severally before finally lying down in their chosen resting spot.

This behavior baffles owners as it is something of a ritual where the dog will not lay down unless they have gone around the spot in circles.

This behavior is akin to one checking out their surroundings for anything ominous before finally deciding to settle.

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Behaviorists believe that this is a behavior that has been passed down to the dogs from their ancestors who in the wild had to first walk around their resting spot to press down any leaves or debris to compact them to create as a comfortable resting spot.

While this may not be relevant when the dog is sleeping on the couch or a comfortable pillow, it hurts none to let them fulfill their inherent desire for this behavior.

9. Sniffing other Dog Butts

dog sniffing dogs butt

Another unusual, ordinary dog behavior is one where the dog sniffs the butt of other dogs.

This behavior may be baffling and even disturbing to the human handlers, but it is socially acceptable behavior among the canine family as a way of greeting.

The ultra-sensitive nature of the dog’s olfactory senses makes the sniffing behavior revealing from one canine to another.

Dog owners should not be alarmed at this behavior as it is purely a natural process of the dogs’ interaction.

10. Thrashing Toys

dog thrashing toys

A typical dog behavior that may cause anxiety on the dog owner is the behavior of the dog thrashing his toys.

This behavior, while it may not sit well with the dog owner, is part of a natural process from the dog.

The way the dog thrashes the toy is manifest of how he would be killing his prey in the wild and playing with the toy like that is just a way the dog playfully practices this killing act.

11. Chewing

dog chewing

Another common dog behavior is that of chewing especially among the pups.

This chewing behavior is quite common especially when the pups are teething.

The process makes the puppies feel good for their raw gums and additionally, the puppies use their mouth to explore the world.

To mitigate this behavior, it is essential to dog proof the home and remove any small chew-able objects out of the dog’s reach.

12. Biting

puppy biting

Another common dog behavior, especially among puppies, is biting.

This behavior is a natural part of a friendly and healthy play between animals.

When it comes to biting humans, this behavior is not desirable, but puppies usually know how hard to bite and when to bite so it should not be a problem unless the biting goes out of hand and grows into the dog’s adulthood.

Related Article – How to Stop Puppy Biting

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