Chances Are, You Don’t Know What These Dog Behaviors Mean
3. Howling Wolf
Everyone could use a good bay at the moon now and again. But before you start thinking your dog is anxious about impending lycanthropic hordes, it’s best to look at the hard evidence behind the howling.
Dogs may howl to communicate with their local community, mark their territory, find their way home, attract attention, detract threats, or even just to let of steam when overstimulated. According to research cited in a Vet Street article, howling may be less related to ancestry than instinct and reward.
At the heart of these howls is nothing more than a language defined by different emphases of tone and emotion, not unlike how humans communicate, which may be what makes it so easy for our species to understand each other.
What makes howling unique from other forms of canine communication is its versatility. As Dogster reports, a howl’s meaning depends on the situation, from injury to anxiety to sheer enjoyment.
2. Cocked Head
It certainly makes them look curious, and that’s quite possibly what the behavior signals. A dog will cock its head to get a better sense of what’s going with its ears, essentially triangulating the sound or event and defining it more clearly.
As Psychology Today reports, this area of canine behavior is not deeply studied, but a quick poll of 562 readers with dogs found that 62 percent of their animals frequently or always tilted their heads when spoken to by a human. Dogs of different breeds and skull shape responded differently as well, with larger-muzzled canines tilting more often than their flatter-faced cousins. It’s possible the long muzzle of a Greyhound or Collie may get in the way of hearing correctly.
Not all communication is verbal, however. The head tilt could also be your dog’s way of reading body language. When the tone of your voice and body language indicate seemingly different ideas, it may be worth a tilt, and further inspection.
1. Eats Poop
Not every dog does it, but many do, and it can signal of a number of issues. Apart from being unhealthy, eating feces, or coprophagy, could mean your furry friend is very hungry, lacking key nutrients, or–shudder–just really into poop.
“More often than not, when animals engage in this behavior, they’re not trying not to repulse us — but to communicate something vital about their health and biology,” Jacob Brogan writes in Smithsonian.com “In fact,” he writes, “even when coprophagia does suggest that there’s something wrong with a dog, they’re often engaging in it because they’re trying to make things right, not because they’re fundamentally broken.”
According to Dr. Karen Becker of Healthy Pets, dogs may eat poop when diet or other issues have forced their pancreas to produce less insulin or other crucial enzymes, or when unhealthy bacteria is present.
“In my experience, coprophagia is more prevalent in dogs fed kibble, which is a biologically inappropriate diet that can create a chronic digestive enzyme deficiency,” Becker maintains. “Since the feces of other animals are a good source of digestive enzymes, dogs with a deficiency will sometimes ingest enzyme-rich poop.”
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