Just because dogs are man’s best friend doesn’t mean we understand everything they do. Dogs have lots of odd behaviors, such as tilting their heads or pinning their ears flat to their head. If you want to learn more about why your dog acts the way he does, read on to find out the meaning behind different canine behaviors:
1. Tilting the head
One behavior you might be wondering about is head tilts. Dogs tend to tilt their heads to show engagement in the conversation. The way a human would nod to show they are listening, dogs tilt their heads. This is also the case if you are holding something they want such as dog food or one of their favorite dog toys, as they will listen closer hoping to get what you are holding.
2. Exposing the belly
One of the weakest parts of a dog is their stomach, so they often protect their bellies when they don’t feel safe. So when a dog feels completely safe it might expose its belly. Typically dogs do this for two reasons. Reason one is that the dog is trying to be submissive, and by showing its belly to you it’s saying that you are more dominant. The other reason a dog might show its belly is to ask for a belly rub! That’s right, sometimes your dog is only asking for some love when they show their belly.
3. Licking people and other dogs
Dogs lick people and other dogs for many reasons. One of the main reasons is to show affection to the one they are licking. Studies show that licking releases endorphins in a dog’s brain which makes them feel calmer and more relaxed. Other reasons a dog might lick is for grooming, to get your attention, or to taste you if you have something yummy on your hands or clothes.
Scientists believe that dogs walk in a circle before lying down to sleep due to their ancestry as wild animals. Now that dogs are domesticated they don’t have much to worry about sleeping in their doggy bed, safe in your house. However, this wasn’t always the case, before dogs were domesticated they came from wolves and modern dogs have many of the same natural instincts. By spinning in a circle they can look for potential threats before falling asleep and also determine the direction of the wind so they can sleep with their nose in the wind to smell potential threats.
Unlike humans, dogs cannot sweat. Instead dogs need to pant to keep themselves cool. If your dog has been exercising a lot you might notice that your dog starts panting after, this is perfectly normal as panting will help your dog cool down after exercise. If your dog is panting for no reason however, it might be that your dog is excited or stressed out. It is important that you comfort your dog to help them calm down if they are panting outside of exercising.
6. Flat ears
Dogs often put their ears forward when they are listening and excited about something. However, if you notice that your dog’s ears are back you should be cautious as this is a sign that your dog is experiencing fear or aggression. A dog that is afraid will often put its ears back and its tail between its legs where an aggressive dog will bare its teeth and snarl or bark with its ears back. It is important to stay away from a dog showing aggression or fear as they may bite.
7. Raising a paw
When your dog lifts its front paw it can be a sign of a few different things. Typically it is a sign of uncertainty or stress. It could be that your dog feels insecure or uncomfortable with a situation and owners should comfort their dogs and assure them there is no threat in situations like this. Another reason your dog may raise its paw, is if it is very focused. Hunting breeds especially, such as pointers, tend to raise their front paw as they wait to pounce on their prey.