Dogs make excellent companions. They are loyal, playful, and always ready to offer a sloppy kiss. They are also amusing at times, although sometimes their behavior can be perplexing. The Belmont Animal Hospital team wants to relieve your curiosity by explaining the reasons behind these confusing habits.

Question: Why does my dog roll in smelly stuff?

Answer: A walk with your dog is always an adventure, with tearing off after a squirrel at least once a requirement. However, when your pet returns reeking with a pungent odor, you may regret allowing them to roam. Dogs still have some wild instincts, and covering themselves with a strong smell conceals their own scent from prey animals and other predators. Your dog is effectively camouflaged. 

Q: Why does my dog move food away from their food bowl?

A: Your dog has the most adorable matching food and water bowls, yet they insist on taking a mouthful of kibble and scattering the pieces all over the floor before eating. There are two viable theories. First, in the wild, wolves and other animals take a portion of the kill away for themselves, to avoid fighting off their pack mates, and your dog could be following this instinct. Second, your pet may not like their food bowl, or its location. To avoid the mess, try moving the food bowl to a different spot, or changing the bowl type. If you have multiple dogs, feed them separately.

Q: Why does my dog kick their hind leg when I scratch their belly?

A: Every dog enjoys a good belly scratch, and most dog owners know the sweet spot that activates their dog’s hind leg. The kicking is actually a scratch reflex. When sensory nerves under the skin of the abdomen are stimulated, they send a message through the spinal cord to the hind leg. The reflex is meant to protect this sensitive area from irritating insects, such as fleas and mosquitoes. 

Q: Why does my dog sniff everyone’s groin?

A: Nothing is more uncomfortable or embarrassing than a dog thrusting their snout into your lap. However, the dog is only trying to get information about their new acquaintance. Sweat glands in a dog’s groin region release pheromones that relay details, such as gender, mood, and health status, about another dog, or about you. To stop this habit, you will need to train your dog to sniff a more appropriate body part, such as the fist. 

Q: Why does my dog chase their tail?

A: Watching your dog spin in circles in hot pursuit of his hind end is amusing, but why do they do that? Your pet may be acting out of boredom, or releasing excess energy. They may also be suffering from severe itchiness, caused by allergies or parasites, although in this case, you will likely also see them chewing and licking the affected area. Some dogs can develop a compulsive disorder, typically because of abuse or severe anxiety, and will require medical or behavioral treatment.

Q: Why does my dog kick grass over their poop?

A: After finding the perfect spot to do their business, your dog flings grass back over the excrement. They are not attempting to bury their mess. Dogs have glands in their feet that release pheromones stronger than those in urine and feces, and they do this to mark their territory.

Q: Why does my dog always sit on my feet?

A: If you cannot go anywhere without your dog settling between your legs on your feet, you may wonder if they are trying to exhibit dominance. However, this is actually a sign of anxiety. Your dog may feel stressed because strangers are present, or the situation is unfamiliar. They trust you, and want to be as close as possible to their comfort zone.

Q: Why does my dog stare at me?

A: You have that creepy feeling that someone is watching you, and then realize that it’s your dog who is staring at you intently. Dogs stare at their owners for a few reasons. They may be trying to figure out the information you are trying to tell them. They may want to convey something  they want, such as “Feed me.” Or, they may be staring at you to express their affection. When this action is mutual, oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone, may be released.

Now that you understand the impetus behind your dog’s bewildering behaviors, we hope you have a deeper understanding of your beloved pet. However, if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s conduct, do not hesitate to contact Belmont Animal Hospital. Our team members are happy to answer your questions, or schedule an appointment.