Writer Melissa Bromley has joined me at Welcome to My Library. Not only will she be penning some highly informative articles on the loveable pooch, she will also be talking travel in some upcoming articles.
What is up first? Well read on…
Have you ever wondered why Penelope Poodle takes her food onto the beige Berber pile to eat, or why Buster Bulldog insists on fifty circles in a clockwise direction before settling down for the night?
They may be the most beloved members of your family, but our prized pooches can indulge in some weird and wonderful behaviour on a daily basis. Today’s domestic dogs and the modern wolf both share a common ancestor, which is where the majority of habits are believed to have originated. Here’s a brief explanation of some of the more common behaviours:
Rolling in dead or smelly stuff
Back in the olden days, wolves did not care much for social niceties. It is thought that they would roll in the stinky stuff to mask their own scent, thus making it easier to sneak up on their prey. Offending items could be anything from herbivore animal droppings to dead carcasses—the smellier the better. Whilst today’s canines no longer have to hunt their own food, rolling in poo or dead things is still on trend.
Another theory is that the wolf would “advertise” to the pack what they had found by rolling in it.
Circling before lying down
This one is thought to date back to prehistoric times when wolf-like ancestors would have to flatten down the grass or snow before bedding down for the night. This also served the purpose of driving out any unsavoury creatures lurking in the grass, such as snakes, large insects or old men wearing trench coats.
Other theories include: circling to get the nose in the direction of the wind for security purposes, establishing the correct position within the wolf pack, and temperature control—tight turns to warm up, larger turns to get to the cool soil underneath the surface.
Taking kibble out of their bowl to eat elsewhere
As wolves were pack animals, they lived in a hierarchical system. The pack leaders would have their choice of spoils, whilst the subordinates would be forced to pick what they could and carry it elsewhere to avoid fighting with other members. Some domestic dogs still maintain this behaviour even those in one-dog families. Noisy children could be to blame.
Flicking grass after pooping
Have you ever bent over to pick up your dog’s warm, freshly emitted poop and been hit in the eye by a clod of grass as they gleefully kick up their heels with wild abandon? Unlike cats, dogs don’t flick grass to cover up their chocolate logs. Rather, they are making a bold announcement to the world. I have pooped, therefore I HAVE ARRIVED! Their paw pads emit scent with every grass scratch and the flicking is an attempt to disperse the stink as far as it can (favourable wind conditions permitting).
The head tilt
Some research indicates this is a dog’s way of showing empathy; a sign that they are listening and are trying to pick up your emotions. Other sources believe that dogs can hear better when their head is tilted. Finally, there is a theory that dogs cannot see so well past their muzzles, so they tilt their head to see you better.
In my opinion, they’re just waiting for food. All. The. Time.
Experts believe this isn’t generally something to worry about, unless accompanied by vomiting or diarrhoea, as this cow-like behaviour is normal and harmless for most dogs. Some say dogs eat grass as a nutritional supplement where the diet lacks fibre, others believe the dog is treating intestinal worms or improving digestion. Pete Evans reckons they are following The Paleo Way.
Is it just an itch, or something more sinister? The most common reason for scooting seems to be the inability to empty the anal glands. Other causes could be a faecal contamination, a rectal prolapse, worms, or growths or tumours. Unless you like the skid marks on your carpet, you should probably take your dog to the vet to get it checked out. Or, if you prefer to DIY, you should Google “How to express my dog’s anal glands”.
So that’s a bit of enlightenment into why dogs exhibit some weird behaviours. It’ll make no difference to your life, but at least now you know! For a more comprehensive insight into wolves themselves and their interaction with humans, please refer to the highly informative movie “Dances with Wolves”.
Melissa Bromley for Welcome to My Library