5 Strange Dog Behaviors Explained

We like to think we know all about our dogs. It is true that they are highly proficient at communicating with us, and the bonds we share are unlike those with any other animal. Still, there are some things they do, which are totally void of any reason or rationality. Sometimes these sorts of behaviors can even be considered harmful to themselves and annoying to others. Here we explain some of the most inexplicable dog behaviors, and what to do about them.

Tail Chasing

You may have seen your dog spinning around in circles before, eyes transfixed on its tail, which seems to always dart away just out of your dog’s reach. This behavior is actually quite common, as evidenced by the many dogs taking part in this Dogs Chasing Tails Youtube Compilation.

Why it happens:
This, for the most part, is normal behavior and owners of dogs that do this can consider themselves lucky that their dog is getting their energy out in a way which is not destroying their house. However, if tail chasing is a regular or constant occurrence, it may be indicative of a bigger problem. Tail chasing can be a symptom of problems with the dog’s anal gland or a result of irritation caused by flea allergy dermatitis. It can also be a symptom of dog obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yes, dog OCD is a thing.

What to do about it:
If this behavior is happening a lot, you may want to consider contacting a vet to make sure your dog is alright.

Sleep Running

One minute, your dog is lying there, fast asleep. The next, all of its legs are moving at full force. If you have ever sleep walked or woken up from a dream about eating a giant marshmallow, only to find yourself chomping on your pillow, you know what this is about. Youtube’s most famous example of a sleep walking dog is a perfect example of this. We can only imagine the poor fella was chasing a rabbit in its dreams only to be rudely interrupted by the real world.

Why it happens:
Dogs dream too, and if they have a certain REM (rapid eye movement) sleep disorder, they are liable to have their muscles spring into action as they happily bounce around in dream land. Unfortunately, this can be hazardous to the dog if it actually gets up and starts running around while its eyes are still closed, as it could easily collide with a wall or something worse.

What to do about it:
If your dog does this frequently, there are some medications which may help, so seek a veterinarian if this becomes a common occurrence.

Taking a Stink Bath

Sometimes it seems as though a dog would much rather live in a house made out of hot garbage and rotting flesh than the nice clean one you try to keep. In some cases they will take any opportunity to cover themselves in all sorts of vile smelling biohazardous material. Some dogs seem to do it even though they know it’s wrong, like the one in the video below.

Why it happens:
We are not really sure why dogs are so inclined to dive into a pile of smelly garbage head first. They may be looking for food. Perhaps it was part of a hunting strategy or defense mechanism from their ancestral roots, or perhaps their smell preference is simply opposite to ours. Whatever the case, the inclination for dogs to roll around in terrible smelling things and spread that smell into our house is annoying at best and vomit inducing at worst.

What to do about it:
There are a number of ways to avoid your dog being a stink magnet and some are easier than others. The easiest thing you can do is eliminate any areas which might have that attractively stinky aroma on your property. This means securing garbage bins and restricting access to any compost piles you keep around. You can also work on training your dog to obey the ‘leave it’ command, thereby giving yourself a way to stop the trash rolling fest before it starts.

The Bedtime Ritual

What does your dog do before it lies down and drifts off to sleep? It probably does some combination of scratching the floor and circling the area. Some dogs take this to absurd extremes, like the one in the video below. Looks like this one really needs to get well acquainted with its blanket before it finally goes to bed.

Why it happens:
It is theorized that these habits carry over from the days when dogs were wild and slept outside. They would find an area which was dry and flat enough to sleep on, and circle around the area to flatten down and feel for anything that might make them uncomfortable. They would also scratch the area to warm it up. Habits like this are ingrained in the brains of dogs as they spent thousands of years in the wild before being domesticated.

What to do about it:
Nothing. This is not anything to worry about. However, you may opt to guide your dog to avoid sleeping on surfaces where it shouldn’t be scratching.


This one can be annoying. After cleaning the house, you put out a nice neatly placed bowl of kibble for your dog to chow down on, only to have him remove the food from the bowl and place it on the floor before eating it. This gets dog food everywhere and let’s hope you don’t have carpeting where your dog eats. The video below is an example of what we’re talking about, and if you are someone who is only comfortable when the house is clean, you know what a problem this can be.

Why it happens:
Like many other things on this list, this may be explained as ancestral behavior practiced by dogs in times gone by. It is the product of a pack mentality where, when feasting on a newly discovered bounty, dogs would move food away from the source and try to eat it in private so as to not have it usurped by the alpha dog. Don’t blame the dog. It’s instinct. It is also possible that the dog just doesn’t like the food much and would rather just mess around with it.

What to do about it:
If this is a problem for you, there are some things you can try in order to alter this behavior. Some people have found it helpful to change the dog’s food. If you change the food to something more appealing, it may override the dog’s urge to spread it all over the place. You may also want to try moving the point of feeding to a lower traffic and quieter area so the dog feels as though he has more privacy. This is especially important if you have multiple animals in the house.


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