Have you ever looked at your dog behaviors and wonder “What are they doing?” or “What’s going on?” Then you’re not alone.
As much as we love our four-legged friends and care for them as furry family members, there’s no getting away from the fact that they’re a completely different species with their own dog behaviors.
While every dog has its own unique personality and characteristics, some dog habits apply across the board.
Here are 10 Dog Behaviors & What They Mean
1. Dog Howling
A dog that howls a lot can be an earache — literally. But remember that dogs can’t talk, so they have to use other ways to alert you to danger.
Most dogs are wired to sense danger, so when your dog howls, it could mean that your pet has sensed danger or is uncomfortable with the presence of a stranger.
But howling may also be a dog’s way of communicating with its people (when it’s left alone, for instance), and some breeds are more prone to howling than others.
According to the American Kennel Club, Siberian Huskies howl regularly, using their howl to “talk” and express a whole range of emotions.
2. Dog Who Humps Everything
The obvious explanation for a dog who humps everything insight is that it’s sexually exciting, and this is certainly often the case, says The Puppy Academy team.
But what you may not know is that humping can also be a sign that your dog is wanting to take control of a situation. Oh, and when it comes to humping targets, anything soft and pliant goes — from stuffed animals to blankets.
3. Dog Sits On Your Feet
Getting comfortable on your feet is typically a sign that your pup is wanting some love, says The Puppy Academy team.
But it could also mean it’s trying to own your space. If you have guests over, or there’s another animal in the house, it might be doing this to “claim ownership” of you (and your feet).
4. Dog Clings On To You
Pups are natural bonders, so it’s perfectly normal if your dog follows you around the house. It just wants to be close to you.
But if an older puppy or young dog is really clingy (like won’t-leave-you-alone-for-a-second-clingy), it’s a good idea to train it to survive on its own.
Try leaving it on its own in a safe space for a short time, and gradually increase this period over a number of days.
As soon as it realizes you always come back, it will be happier with some alone time now and again.
5. Dog Panting Heavily
Dogs can’t cool themselves down by sweating (like humans do), so panting is normal behavior for active, happy dogs. Generally, there’s no cause for concern.
But extremely heavy panting on a hot day can also be a sign of heatstroke.
Other warning signs include restlessness, laying out flat, and not responding to you because they’re so focused on cooling themselves down.
If you think your dog has heat stroke, get it seen by your veterinarian straight away.
Dogs running in circles (also known as “zoomies”) is a natural dog behavior experienced by dogs of all ages and breeds at times, which is frequently caused by an excess buildup of energy that dogs release in one big burst.
Some dogs like to “zoom” at certain times of day, such as the first thing in the morning or in the late evening after being indoors for a long period.
However, if you notice your dog is running in circles more often than it should, there may be a health issue.
7. Wagging Tail
If there’s a sure sign of a happy dog, it’s a wagging tail: Generally, this one doesn’t really need much explanation.
You probably notice your dog wagging its tail when you get home from work or school because they’re so excited to see you.
“A wagging tail is a sign of enthusiasm and happiness,” Sievert says. “If your dog wags its tail often, you’re doing a good job!”
8. Turning In Circles Before Lying Down.
Turning in circles before lying down is a dog’s form of nesting, say The Puppy Academy team.
You’ll probably notice your pup doing this in the evening, before going to bed.
“Pups like to make their spot comfy before settling in, just how we may fluff the pillows around us.
It can help dogs feel more safe and secure since they’re getting a sense of control over their bedtime routine by settling down in a position that feels most comfortable.”
According to VCA, turning in circles is an act of self-preservation that dogs have inherited from their wolf ancestors.
An instinctual behavior all dogs have is digging, and it’s something they do for a wide range of reasons.
If they’re left alone outdoors for long periods of time, digging can also be a sign of boredom, not enough toys, or excess energy.
In hot weather, dogs may dig holes to lie in to cool down, says The Humane Society of the United States.
If the digging is at the roots of trees or shrubs or focused on a single area (rather than the boundaries of the yard), they may be digging to try to catch burrowing animals or insects – this is their hunting instinct coming out.
10. Butt Scooting
Butt scooting might look comical, but it may be a sign that your dog needs to get its anal glands expressed, says Marissa Sunny from Best Friends Animal Society, a sanctuary for homeless and special needs animals.
If you’re not sure about doing this yourself, don’t worry; you can take your dog to a local groomer or vet clinic to get this taken care of. But don’t wait too long.
“If you see scooting, you need to get them expressed ASAP, as overfilled anal glands can lead to infections and even rupturing,”
Other possible reasons for butt scooting are skin irritation from grooming, food allergies, intestinal parasites or trauma to the anal sacs, says American Kennel Club.