The Best Places to Sit, Stay + Play with Your Pooch

Why Does My Dog? Part 1

While our pets provide unconditional love and always find a way to make us laugh, they also tend to partake in some odd behaviors. Have you ever found yourself asking “why does my dog do that?”

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Those quirks may seem normal to our pets, but may be very confusing to us as dog owners. Whether we realize it or not, these behaviors are actually a form of communication—a way for our furry friends to express themselves and communicate with us about their internal health and wellness. Being able to better understand these particular behaviors can help owners improve their dog’s overall well-being. So without further ado, here are the first answers to your most pressing questions for “Why does my dog…?”

Why does my dog eat poop?

Eating poop, or coprophagy, is quite common for dogs. If your dog starts to eat stool, you may need to have him evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out any potential health issues or concerns, such as internal parasites, dietary insufficiencies, malabsorption syndrome, diabetes, and/or thyroid disease.

Benjamin L. Hart, DVM, Ph.D. concluded that most dogs eat poop because of an innate predisposition to protect fellow pack members from potential parasites that will form in the stool. In other words, poop eating could simply be your dog’s attempt to clean up after themselves. Many environmental stressors such as anxiety, stress, boredom, isolation, attention-seeking or confinement can cause your dog to eat poop. Working with a professional behaviorist can help to find alternative ways to isolate these stressors that may be negatively affecting your pet’s mental and emotional state. Try cleaning up after your dog right away or avoiding areas, such as public dog parks, where you would not be able to supervise them as closely. This will help to prevent him from eating another dog’s stool.

Why does my dog lick everything?

When a dog starts to lick, either his human, himself or his toys, he is trying to communicate. Licking can be a sign of affection from your dog. When a mother licks her puppies, a connection develops between them through pleasure hormones in the brain.

A dog who is anxious, scared, unsure, insecure or bored may try to self sooth through the act of licking. When the dog licks, the brain releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body making them feel happy and secure. A dog who feels some form of stress in his life will be more likely to lick in order to make himself feel comfortable in his surroundings.

If your dog is licking himself quite often, bring him to a vet to get him checked out for any possible skin irritations or allergies. Some neurological obsessive disorders can also cause your dog to lick excessively.

In Part 2: Why Does My Dog Sniff Other Dogs’ Butts and Why Does My Dog Roll in Grass?

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About the Author

Alyona DelaCoeur, UW-AAB
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Alyona DelaCoeur, UW-AAB is the founder and face of Why Does My Dog. Aly has a certificate in applied animal behavior through the University of Washington and is a certified veterinary assistant and AKC Evaluator. Aly provides an unbiased perspective on dog training by providing practical, intelligent and caring advice for people to impart on their canine companions. Her experiences come from years as both a pet specialist and independent dog trainer, where her constant interactions with dogs provided a broad spectrum of behaviors to interpret and understand. When she is not creating new videos for Why Does My Dog, Aly enjoys some down time with her dogs King (Lhasa Apso), Pumpkin (Lhasa Apso), and Truffle (Pit Bull).

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