8 Unusual Dog Behaviors and What They Really Mean

All dogs have their special quirks that can leave us, humans, scratching our heads in confusion. 

Some of them are adorable, some of them are frustrating, and some of them are just downright puzzling. From zooming around randomly to burying bones to insisting on eating grass, our dogs’ behavior can leave us wondering what on earth is going on! 

Like people, our pets have unique personalities, and eccentric behaviors come with the territory! But more often than not, there’s a simple explanation for even the most unusual dog behaviors. 

Read on to find out some strange behaviors your dog might show, and why they’re doing them.

Spinning in Circles

Most of us have witnessed our pooches turning circles several times before settling in for a nap! You might think it’s cute, but wonder if there’s an underlying reason. The explanation is pretty straightforward—your dog is just trying to get comfy.

Think of it like fluffing your pillows or tossing and turning a few times before bed. Your four-legged friend is simply finding that oh-so-perfect sleeping position.

Many dogs will often turn a few circles if they get very excited, or even give their tails a chase sometimes! But spinning in circles isn’t always harmless. Pay attention to your dog’s demeanor during the circling. If you notice that your dog is excessively spinning or doesn’t seem happy when they’re doing it, this could actually be a sign of an illness, like an inner ear infection or even a brain lesion. 

Eating Grass

There’s an old wives’ tale that dogs eat grass because they are sick and want to make themselves throw up. But that idea doesn’t seem to have any scientific basis.

Researchers believe that some dogs might eat grass out of a need for more fiber. Dogs need a healthy balance of fiber and vitamins to digest their food properly, and munching on grass could be your dog’s way of getting their daily dose.

But that situation doesn’t fit most dogs that try to snack on grass. If your dog has a healthy, balanced diet, there’s another explanation—good old animal instinct.

Many behaviorists say that eating grass is simply a callback to ancestral doggy times when dogs had to hunt for their own food and often had to settle for whatever they could find.

Overall, eating grass is usually not a cause for concern. But it’s wise to limit your dog’s grass intake, as too much can definitely upset their tummy.

Burying Things

Many dogs will take bones, toys, or treats and try to bury them in the yard. Don’t worry—this doesn’t mean they don’t like them.

It’s a regular old animal instinct to hoard and save food and other special items, especially if they have extra and think they don’t need it right now. They’re just trying to save it for later. 

If you do notice burying, it might be a sign that you need to scale back on treats or toys. After all, they’re telling you they don’t need them all at once.

Staring at You

If you feel a gaze on you and look up to find your dog studying you intently, don’t be creeped out! In fact, you should take it as a compliment.

Dogs often stare at their humans as a sign of affection. This is their way to initiate some bonding with you.

Of course, your dog could also just be asking for some attention, or even for a snack. But even so, it’s a sign of trust and connection. 

If you’re closely bonded to your dog, try staring back—it can release oxytocin and make your dog feel even more in love with you. But if your dog is newer to the family, tread lightly. Direct eye contact can come across as a threat. 

Pay attention to your dog’s body language and cues and build up to some good staring!. It’s basically like cuddling your pup.

Licking Lips

It might seem cute if your dog starts licking their lips, but more often than not this is a surefire sign of stress. Dogs will often lick their lips if they’re in an uncomfortable situation, especially if they’re around new dogs. If you notice this behavior, try to find a way to calm your dog or remove them from the stressful situation before they start feeling completely out of control

The Zoomies

All dogs get the “zoomies,” a sudden burst of energy where they just can’t help but run around wildly. It’s usually very cute and endearing. But if it happens at an inopportune time, you might be wondering why it’s happening and what you can do to stop it. 

The zoomies are simply a release of too much pent-up energy or a reaction to something particularly stimulating, like a bath. 

If you feel like your dog’s zoomies are getting excessive, try providing extra outlets for exercise, like an additional walk or some extra playtime. Iif you notice that a certain stimulant is causing the zoomies, just keep that in mind and try to schedule those events at times that are convenient for you.

Tilting their Head

Is there anything cuter than your dog tilting their head while you’re talking? But…why are they doing it? 

The answer is even cuter! Your dog is tilting their head to show you they’re engaged in what you’re saying or doing. They want to be involved and interact with you.

In their own way, they’re listening to your conversation and trying to be a part of it. Soak up the cuteness and be sure to involve your dog.

Moving their Food

Is your dog moving pieces of food or even the entire food bowl to a separate room? This is their way of protecting their food source.

They’re probably feeling a little territorial—most likely because of another pet. They could also just be telling you they don’t like the location of their food.

Either way, pay attention to your dog’s cues. If they move the bowl to a specific place, try to accommodate it and feed them in the new location.

Trust Your Gut about Your Dog

As you can see, most of your dog’s unusual behaviors have a harmless and simple explanation—dogs being dogs! 

But if you feel like something is up, it might be. Any sudden changes in behavior can be signs of underlying conditions and are probably worth mentioning to the vet. 

Nobody knows your dog like you do, so pay close attention and try to listen to what they’re saying.

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