It’s not Weird. It’s Wonderful. aka ‘Why We Dogs Do The Things We Do’

It’s not Weird. It’s Wonderful. aka ‘Why We Dogs Do The Things We Do’

Ever wonder why your precious pup rolls in fox poo? The reason they follow you everywhere? Or even why they always poop facing the same direction? If you’re curious as to the why behind the what of your dog’s weird, wacky and wonderful behaviour - this one’s for you. 

Antinol Team

By Antinol Team

Ever wonder why your precious pup rolls in fox poo? 

The reason they follow you everywhere? 

Or even why they always poop facing the same direction? 

We asked Peanut, our resident CCO (Chief Canine Officer) to take a moment away from strategising ‘how to reach the sausage roll’, to give us his insight into dog behaviour.

If you’re curious as to the why behind the what of your dog’s weird, wacky and wonderful behaviour - this one’s for you.  

1. Sniffing Superpower

You might know us for our penchant for bottom-sniffing, but did you know that in a few fleeting seconds of sniffing, we can download a wealth of information about our fellow pups? With a single sniff, we can decode their health, gender, diet, and most crucially, their mood—deciding in a blink whether they're friend or foe. 

Think of it as our quick 'hello,' usually lasting 3-5 seconds - if your pup allows a lingering sniff, you've probably got an 'over-sharer’ on your hands, while a swift sit-down and tail clamp indicates a secret squirrel—playing hard to get with their personal intel!

The reason we’re able to learn so much is down to the staggering 300 million receptors in our noses.  If you want a comparison, you’ve only got 6 million.   To put it in perspective, just imagine being able to detect 2 teaspoons of sugar in two Olympic-sized pools.  Amazing right?   

Our nose prowess is what enables us to perform some truly astonishing feats to support our humans. In fact, those of us who have completed Higher Education certificates have gone on to hold some seriously important jobs. Did you know that:

  • Cancer Dogs can detect cancer from breath, urine, or blood samples with an accuracy rate of 88-97%, surpassing machines at 85-90%.
  • Seizure Dogs can warn about an impending epilepsy attack 15 minutes to 12 hours before it strikes, taking actions like guarding our owners or dialling emergency services.
  • Hypo-alert or blood sugar-detecting dogs are trained to identify shifts in blood glucose levels, providing crucial assistance to those in need.
  • Police Dogs use their keen noses to locate drugs, explosives, missing persons, crime scene evidence, and even protect officers by stopping fleeing suspects

2. Va Va Voomies

Zoomies, FRAP's and The Midnight Crazies.   Different names, but the same thing... delightful chaos! 

Spontaneous bursts of energy that see me and my pup pals tearing around at lightning speed, only to return to our usual composure in the blink of an eye.  They don't last long but are signs of contentment and playfulness or the pure joy of welcoming you home after a long day. 

They’re also a darn good giveaway if we've been a bit of a lazy bones, as it's also how we burn off all that excess energy.   On rainy days when we’ve not had as much outdoor time, you’re more likely to see us go a little bit nuts out of frustration and pent up playfulness.

In case you’re wondering, there are key moments when we might leap into action:

  • Before Bed - we need to release a bit more pent up energy before we bed down for the night so we can have a restful snooze
  • Post Bathtime - we can sometimes get a post-bath adrenaline rush (either because we’re happy to be out of the bath, or because we’re trying to dry off)
  • Post Dinner - for me and other food oriented pups, this is a big one for us
  • During Training - when we’re not getting what you want us to do and you’re getting frustrated with us, sometimes it’s the perfect moment to let go of all our nervous energy with a race around

As we get older we’re less likely to get the zoomies, but I think that's because, like you humans, we’re more partial to an afternoon snooze, than a sprint. 

*FRAPS: Frenetic Random Activity Periods 🐾

3. Pole Position

You may or may not have noticed that all of us pups share a trait when it comes to toileting.  We all like to face the same direction.  In case you thought you were imagining it, you’re not.  It’s a thing.

Our bathroom habits are seemingly aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field.  We will only go to the toilet on the Earth’s North-South axis.  We will instinctively have our heads to the North and our tales to the South (or vice versa).  And we do this every single time.  Without fail.  

Despite a surprising amount of research on this subject, we're still none the wiser as to why we do it - we simply follow our instinct, just as foxes prefer a North-East axis! 

Scientists have tried to understand whether we do it “consciously” (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial perceived (we “see”, “hear” or “smell” the compass direction or perceive it as a haptic stimulus) or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (we “feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable” in a certain direction). The mystery persists…

4. Doggy Dreaming

You know when you catch us running, twitching, or barking in our sleep? Well, that's just us in a little bit of dreamland magic. Turns out, we're more like our human companions than they might think, especially when it comes to a bit of shut-eye. 

Just like you, we experience REM sleep—the dreamtime—though our dreams lack the colours. We dream of our favourite toys, yummy treats, and, of course, the thrill of chasing things—we love that! 

Amazingly, our genetic makeup adds a unique touch to our dreams; my Doberman pals might be chasing burglars, while those Golden Retrievers dream of snacks and cuddles. My mini-mates have lots of little dreams, while my larger buddies have fewer, longer, dreamy adventures!

And, in case any of you have experienced the miracle of your pup being able to perfectly execute a trick or move the very day after they were terrible at it - it’s most likely because like humans, our brains process and ‘file’ what has taken place during the day.  All the things we’ve learned.  It’s why sometimes we surprise you (and ourselves) by being able to do with ease, something that stumped us only 24 hours before. This is a cognitive process known as latent learning.

It’s worth remembering this ‘learning’ as you humans also play a pivotal role in our dreamscape. By showering us with good times during the day, as our brain’s cycle through all the day’s memories in our sleep, we'll be sure to be reliving and dreaming about those moments later!

So, next time you see us caught in a sleep-time sprint, know that we're running through a world where treats, toys, and cuddles take centre stage. 

5. Stuck On You

Velcro Pups. The soft ones.  The ones with the big eyes.  The ones who can’t bear to be separated from you.  The ones who make us more feisty, independent pups look like we don’t care!  One of the wonders of having us as companions is you never know what you’re going to get.

Whilst I prefer a little alone time, I know many of my furry friends prefer to shadow their human’s every step.  They’re always there. 

Following you up and down the stairs as you look for your phone, hot on your heels when you head to the bathroom, and always by your side every moment you’re sitting or laying down.  The closer the better.

The reasons behind these four-legged shadows are varied and all, some or one can apply to your pup:

  • Imprinting: if you got your dog when they were a puppy, there’s a chance they imprinted on you and as you became their main source of food, water, safety and attention, you also become the centre of their world.
  • Treatastic: for food motivated pups, if you’re the main snack-giver, this extra closeness can also be food-seeking.
  • Separation anxiety: some pups, especially those who have spent a lot of their lives with their humans at home, can have the equivalent of a panic attack when they’re left alone so seek to avoid it at all costs
  • Communication: often your dog may be following you as a way to tell you something, hoping that if they get your attention, you’ll follow them to see what they need, whether that’s a toilet break, a water bowl refill or to let you know they’re not feeling their best or they’re scared.

Sometimes, it's for food, it could be a nudge for a walk, or we might just be nosey - we love to know what you're up to and most of us suffer from a bit of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). 

But above all, the primary reason is simple: we just love you so, so much.

6. Gift Giving

Do you find yourself on the receiving end of random gifts from your four-legged friends? An assorted range of items from a lonely sock to a cherished toy or even a garden stick?

If you’re a parent to a Labrador, Cocker Spaniel or Golden Retriever, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  I’d imagine there’s not a matching pair of socks in sight.

Now, as to why we do it.  For the most part, these gifts are tokens of our love. As your four-legged best friend, it's only natural that we express our affection by showering you with presents—because isn't that what best friends do?

Yet, behind our innocent gestures, there may be some underlying motives at play. 

While we may lack the spiritual enlightenment of our human counterparts, the art of reciprocity,  'give to get' philosophy runs deep in our DNA. We're almost 99.99% certain that presenting you with a gift will get us a smile, a tummy tickle, or an ear rub, and to us, any of those are worth their weight in gold.

Sometimes, however, bringing you gifts is a way to calm ourselves down, especially when welcoming you home. If you've trained us not to jump and bark excessively when you walk through the door, some of us need a little help to keep it all under control and holding objects in our teeth is a great coping mechanism to keep us cool(er), calm(er) and collected.

Last but by no means least, we want to play… especially true when we drop our gifts at your feet and stare at you with our big adoring eyes. We are shameless attention seekers and wanting a bit of one-on-one play time isn’t too much to ask. Is it?

7. Tilting Heads

Why do we tilt our heads when you're talking to us? Well, the cute part of the reason is that we use this endearing gesture to prolong the conversation with our beloved human. When we tilt our heads, we’ve found that as our humans feel we're listening, they’ll spend more time talking to us. And honestly, we just love that! 

However, as you’ve probably already realised by now, there’s almost always a surface reason and a deeper reason for why we do what we do.  Understanding our human companions involves being able to take in a lot of information about you all at the same time; we need to see your facial expressions, eye movements, and read your body language, as well as hear the tone of your voice to truly understand what’s going on for you, and therefore for us.

Mastering this communication dance is no easy task, and to add another little twist, our long snouts also create a hurdle. The head tilt is our solution to navigating this minor anatomical challenge. 

You’ll notice that our flatter-faced friends like Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih Tzus and Boxers don’t tilt as much… they’re just doing it for the cute factor!

8. Fox Poop

No forest or woodland walk can escape it.  We love it.  The ancient art of fox poo rolling is in our history and part of our ancestry.  It dates back to the days when our forefathers roamed freely in packs, when the tales of the Great Canine Legends were created. In the wild, our clever forefathers used this practice to protect and communicate. 

Masking their own scent with other animals’ faeces, outsmarted hungry predators like bears and wolves,, preventing them from becoming prey themselves.  The pungent aroma doubled as a communication trail for the pack to follow, leading to epic adventures and pack reunions.

Fast forward to our cosy homes with humans, where the need for protection against wild predators isn't quite so prevalent (!), and yet the age-old practice continues.  In the absence of an imminent threat, the act of fox poo rolling is now purely for a doggie dopamine hit. 

The potent and pungent odour becomes a sensory delight, captivating our 300 million nose receptors, sending us into seventh heaven!  We’re just sorry it’s not such a delight for you.

When it comes to our little quirks, our idiosyncrasies and funny character traits, the main thing to remember is no matter what we do, all we want is for you to love us, forgive us and forever be with us.  Oh and feed us.  Always feed us.

With love,

To read up on the Weird & Wonderful of Feline Behaviour [click here]

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