Wellness

Why Is My Dog Acting Weird? (12 Behaviors Explained by a Vet)

Has your dog been acting weird? If your dog is doing odd things and you just can’t figure it out, you came to the right place for some answers.

As a veterinarian, I get these questions ALL the time.

“Hey Doc! Why is my dog doing (insert weird behavior here)?”

Most of the time I have an answer. Other times I just say “He’s just a dog being a dog.”

Our dogs are our best friends, and they bring us so much joy. But sometimes, their behavior can be downright confusing. Many dog owners like you have questions about their pet’s strange behavior.

In this blog post, we will explore 12 common dog behaviors that may seem strange, shedding light on the reasons behind these quirks and offering insights into understanding your furry best friend’s unique ways.

1. Why does my dog pant?

Dogs pant to cool down—they don’t sweat like us humans do, so panting helps them regulate their body temperature. Sometimes they’ll pant when they are feeling anxious or stressed, due to possibly a change or routine or new people in the house. 

Panting can also be a sign that your dog is experiencing some type of pain or discomfort. Check your dog thoroughly for injuries or any signs of illness especially if it’s coupled with other signs like lethargy, restlessness, or sensitivity of some part of their body. 

It could mean something’s up health-wise and it would be best to give the vet a call just to be safe.

2. Why does my dog eat grass?

Well, it turns out there are a few reasons why your pooch might be chowing down on grass. Sometimes it’s just because it’s there and they fancy a bit of greenery in their diet. Other times, they might be feeling a bit queasy and think grass will help settle their stomach. 

Some dogs just like the taste of grass, go figure! As long as they’re not overdoing it or showing any signs of tummy troubles, munching on a bit of grass every now and then is usually no biggie.

Discourage your dog from eating grass by distracting it or walking them away from the area. If they continue to do it, and refuse their regular food, it might be time for a check-up.

3. Why does my dog eat poop?

Ah, the age-old question of why dogs eat poop. It might seem totally gross to us, but for some pups, it’s just a quirky habit. Sometimes they’re just curious and want to give it a taste (weird, right?).

 Other times, it could be because they’re missing some key nutrients in their diet, so they’re trying to supplement their nutrition in a less-than-appetizing way. And hey, some dogs might do it out of boredom or just for attention-seeking behavior. 

While it’s not exactly pleasant, it’s usually nothing to worry about unless it becomes excessive or is paired with other concerning symptoms like vomiting or weight loss. If you’re really stumped or concerned, a chat with the vet might shed some light on the situation.

There are stool-eating deterrents that can be purchased online and they come in a powder form or chews. If you have a puppy, they usually grow out of this behavior. In the meantime, hold thm back from giving you doggie kisses.

4. Why does my dog keep peeing and pooping in the house?

Dealing with accidents in the house can be frustrating, but there are a few reasons why your dog might be doing their business indoors. 

  • Not being fully housetrained yet, especially for puppies who are still learning the ropes.
  • Change in routine, like if you’ve moved house or there’s been a disruption in their environment. 
  • Health issues, like urinary tract infections or gastrointestinal problems, can also cause accidents, so it’s worth ruling those out with a trip to the vet. 
  • Older dogs might start having accidents due to age-related issues like incontinence or arthritis making it hard for them to hold it in. 

With a bit of patience, consistency, and maybe a visit to the vet, you’ll hopefully get to the bottom of the problem soon.

Pro Tip! Use an Enzymatic Cleaner

If your dog is urinating inside at one particular spot, you can try cleaning the area with an enzymatic cleaner. These products are very effective at cleaning up urine stains because they are designed to target proteins in the urine. 

The protein is what causes the odor and for some reason, dogs will be attracted to that same spot because of the odor. 

Using a good enzymatic cleaner will help remove stains and eliminate odor, decreasing the chance that your dog may have another accident indoors.

5. Why does my dog like to lick me?

  • Communication – Dogs use licking as a way to communicate with other dogs and humans. When they lick your face or look up while licking, they may be trying to convey affection, submission, or simply seeking attention.
  • Exploration – Dogs explore their environment through licking, and looking up might help them assess their surroundings or seek out interesting scents.
  • Taste and Texture – Dogs have highly sensitive noses, and they may be interested in the taste or texture of something on your face or in the air above you.
  • Bonding  – Licking is a bonding behavior for dogs. Looking up while licking may enhance the bonding experience by establishing eye contact with their human companion.
  • Seeking Food  – Sometimes dogs lick to get leftover food particles or to express interest in what you might be eating. Looking up might be a way of gauging your reaction or hoping for a treat.

 

6. Why does my dog lick his paws?

Occasional paw licking is normal behavior for dogs. Sometimes their little toes are just itchy! However, excessive paw licking can be a sign of a problem, such as allergies, boredom, or anxiety.

If your dog is licking their paws excessively, here are a few things to try:

  • Foot soaks with Epsom salts
  • Cleaning their paws with a pet-safe shampoo
  • Adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diet

If this behavior persists, consult with your veterinarian for an exam.

See my post about paw licking.

7. Why does my dog shake?

Dogs shake for lots of reasons. In my experience, because many of the dogs I see are sick or injured, they are shaking from pain. 

Other common causes of shaking include:

  • Excitement
  • Stress, anxiety, and fear
  • Old age
  • Cold temperature

Give your dog a once over to make sure you don’t see any obvious signs of sickness or injuries when they are shaking. If they do not stop, it’s time to take them in.

8. Why does my dog whine?

When our furry friends start whining, they’re not just making noise—they’re trying to communicate something important. Since our pups aren’t fluent in English, they rely on body language, barking, and yes, whining, to express their needs and desires. 

So, if your dog’s excessive whining has you scratching your head and wondering, “What’s up with that?” it’s time to pay attention!

As pet parents, it’s on us to decode the different whines our fur babies make. Maybe they need a bathroom break, or perhaps they’re feeling scared, anxious, bored, or just super hyped-up. Whatever the case, that whining is your dog’s way of telling you about their emotional state.

It’s totally normal—as long as we’re tuned in and meeting their needs without inadvertently reinforcing unwanted behavior. Keep an eye out for accompanying body language cues to get the full picture of what your doggo is trying to tell you.

9. Why does my dog stare at me?

Your dog may be staring at you to get your attention, especially if they want something from you, such as food, playtime, or a walk.

Staring into your eyes can be a way for your dog to strengthen the bond between you. Eye contact releases oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” which promotes feelings of attachment and trust.

Dogs are highly attuned to human emotions and body language. Your dog may be staring at you to gauge your mood or intentions, helping them understand how to react or behave in certain situations.

Dogs may look to their owners for guidance or direction, especially in unfamiliar or uncertain situations. Your dog may be staring at you to understand what they should do next.

Staring can be a way for dogs to express affection and admiration for their owners. Your dog may simply enjoy gazing at you because they love and feel comforted by your presence. Awww how sweet!

10. Why does my dog lick his bum?

Licking their bum is a natural way for dogs to clean themselves, similar to how cats groom themselves with their tongues. Dogs may lick their anal area to remove fecal matter or other debris.

Dogs have anal glands located near their anus that produce a foul-smelling secretion. Sometimes, these glands can become blocked or inflamed, causing discomfort or itchiness. Dogs may lick or scoot their bum to relieve the discomfort or try to express the glands themselves.

 Irritation or itching around the anal area may prompt a dog to lick their bum as a way to soothe the discomfort. Common causes of irritation include allergies, skin infections, parasites (such as fleas or worms), or anal sac problems.

In some cases, dogs may lick their bum out of habit or as a form of self-soothing behavior, especially if they are feeling anxious or stressed.

If you notice your dog licking their bum excessively or persistently, be sure to monitor for any signs of discomfort, redness, swelling, or unusual discharge. Excessive licking or scooting may indicate an underlying health issue like an anal gland infection that requires veterinary attention.

Your veterinarian can perform a thorough examination to determine the cause of the behavior and recommend appropriate treatment options.

11. Why does my dog scoot?

Dogs may scoot, or drag their bottom along the ground, for several reasons, and it’s often a sign of discomfort or irritation in the anal area. Here are some common reasons why dogs may scoot:

Dogs may scoot to try to relieve the discomfort or express the glands themselves.

Anal sacs can become inflamed, infected, or impacted, leading to discomfort and scooting behavior. Anal sac problems are common in dogs and may require veterinary attention to address.

Irritation or itching around the anal area, caused by factors such as allergies, skin infections, parasites (such as fleas or worms), or fecal matter stuck to the fur, may prompt a dog to scoot as a way to soothe the discomfort.

In some cases, gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea or constipation may cause discomfort in the anal area, leading to scooting behavior.

12. Why is my dog humping (anything)?

Humping is a normal behavior for dogs, but it can be embarrassing for their owners. 

While humping often looks sexual, it doesn’t always have to do with mating. Understanding the underlying reason for your dog’s humping can help you address it effectively.

Here are some possible explanations:

Playful Behavior

Humping can be a normal part of play, especially in puppies and young dogs. They may hump each other, toys, or even people during playtime. While this might seem strange, it’s usually not a cause for concern unless it becomes excessive or unwanted.

Excitement or Arousal

Dogs of any age can hump when they’re excited or aroused, regardless of whether it’s related to mating. This could happen when meeting new people, playing vigorously, or even during thunderstorms.

Seeking Attention

Sometimes, dogs hump to get attention, even if it’s negative attention. If your dog responds quickly to being scolded or yelled at for humping, they might be doing it intentionally to elicit a reaction.

Dominance or Anxiety

In some cases, humping can be a sign of dominance or anxiety. This is more common in unneutered males, but it can also occur in other dogs. They may hump to assert their dominance over another dog or person, or to relieve stress and anxiety.

So how can you actually address the humping?

If your dog is humping playfully or for attention, try ignoring them. The lack of reaction will make the behavior less rewarding and may cause them to stop.

When you see your dog starting to hump, distract them with a toy or command like “sit” or “down.” Redirect their attention to a more appropriate activity like playing their favorite game of fetch or squeaky toy.

.If certain situations trigger your dog’s humping, try to avoid them or manage them carefully. For example, if they hump during greetings, keep them on leash and greet people calmly.

If your dog’s humping is excessive, unwanted, or accompanied by other concerning behaviors, consult a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can help you identify the root cause and develop a training plan to address it.

Remember: Humping is not always a bad thing, but it’s important to understand why your dog is doing it and address it appropriately. Be mindful of how you react to this particular behavior. Punishing them harshly can make the behavior worse and damage your relationship with your dog. 

Patience and positive reinforcement are key to successfully addressing unwanted humping behavior.

Final Thoughts:

If you’ve made to the end of this very long post, congratulations! Now you are armed with the knowledge and advice on what to do when your dog being silly or weird.

With patience and love, you can navigate these quirks and enjoy a fulfilling relationship with your best (dog)  friend.

For the pets,

Dr. Gina

Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.

Leave feedback about this

  • Rating