Quirky Canines: The Behaviors that Make You Go, “Huh?”

Let’s clear the air. As much as we love them, dogs can be, well, quirky. There are some behaviors we may never fully understand, but this is an attempt to answer some of the more common questions about doggie behavior.


I enjoy watching a dedicated dog owner walk her aging Border Collie, Scout. Up until the last year or so Scout could walk with the best of them. But Scout’s get up and go has got up and gone. As his owner says, “His walks have turned into long sniffing sessions.” Scout clearly enjoys his sniffing sessions and, while it isn’t possible for him to get as much exercise as he used to, he does seem to be sniffing with a sense of purpose.

Dave Barry was probably onto something when he said, “Dogs need to sniff the ground; it’s how they keep abreast of current events. The ground is a giant dog newspaper, containing all kinds of late-breaking dog news items, which, if they are especially urgent, are often continued in the next yard.”

Turning Circles

Why do dogs turn circles before they lie down? Who knows? There are several theories. Some people claim it is because wild dogs used to trample down tall vegetation before going to sleep. Others say it is because wild dogs were looking for snakes. Hmm…

I’m pretty sure my dog is just trying to get comfy. I think it’s the equivalent to fluffing a pillow, but that is purely a hypothesis on my part.

Kicking Up Grass

Why do dogs kick up grass or dirt after they relieve themselves? The answer seems to be that they are further marking their territory—as if the puddle of urine or pile or poop weren’t enough! For the most part, this appears to be a macho “guy thing” although some females kick up grass.

That Leg Thing

Why do dogs kick a leg when you hit the magic spot while rubbing their bellies? The answer is… Wait for it. It’s magic! Okay, not really. But it is a sign that you have activated their scratch reflex. It’s the equivalent to hitting your knee with the little rubber mallet—except funnier.

Does your dog have any unique quirks? If so, I’d love to hear about them.


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