Different dog behaviours

Have you ever scratched your head in confusion or wonderment at your dog’s wacky behaviour? I’m sure most dog owners have at some point pondered why on earth their pet engages in behaviour that seems completely nonsensical to us. From chasing their tail, sniffing other dog’s butts to slobbering you in kisses and howling at the doorbell, Petcover have demystified some common canine behaviours that are both humorous and bizarre.

Chasing their own tail

There are a few possible reasons why a dog chases their own tail. A dog may just find the dangling appendage on their backside curious and chase it to amuse themselves or out of boredom. If this is the case then most dogs will easily be distracted from tail chasing by an alluring toy or attention from their owners. But if you notice your dog is constantly chasing its tail, it may be an obsessive compulsive trait or your dog may have fleas and is attempting to bite at them. If you think your dog’s tailing chasing is excessive than it may be time to call on a vet or behaviourist.

Sniffs other dog’s butts

Among the social faux pas our dogs commit, sniffing other dog’s butts is one of the most cringe worthy (just after eating poop and humping other dogs). But while we might turn up our noses in disgust, this behaviour is actually completely normal for dogs. Their keen sense of smell is far superior to humans and is used to gather information about their environment. And a dog’s anus happens to have important glands which secrete chemicals that tell them everything they need to know about their friend. A fellow dog’s gender, health, diet and emotions can all be picked up by a sniff of the rear. So next time your dog sniffs another dog’s butt you should applaud its curiosity and interest in learning about the world and others!

Cocking the head

Dogs are very alert and attentive animals and if you’ve noticed your dog tilt their head while you speak you may assume this is your pet responding with a quizzical gesture as they attempt to decipher what you’ve just said. This is not far from the truth! While dogs may not have the capability to understand exactly what you’ve said, they do become familiar with certain words and phrases. I’m sure you’ve noticed your dog perk up when they hear the magic word W-A-L-K! Dogs cock their head to open the ear canal which helps them locate the source of a sound and listen out for familiar words or phrases.

Sticking out its tongue

For some dogs sticking out the tip of their tongue is a sign of relaxation. A dog’s tongue is also used to cool the body down. If your dog has just done some laps of the park, their open mouthed panting is a way to create moisture which evaporates and cools the tongue. As the tongue cools, the blood flow is cooled which cools the entire body through the respiratory system. However, as adorable as it looks if you notice your dog’s tongue sticking out all the time, they may have Hanging Tongue Syndrome (yes it is a thing!). Smaller breeds of dogs are usually more prone to Hanging Tongue Syndrome due to the tongue being too large for the oral cavity, having an abnormally shaped jaw structure that doesn’t support the tongue or having an overbite or underbite. While Hanging Tongue Syndrome isn’t a serious health concern it can become an issue as the tongue being constantly exposed can cause a bacterial infection or can get dry and cracked from lack of moisture. Take your tongue-wagging dog to a vet if you notice any changes in the tongue’s colour or texture or if you notice swelling or bleeding.

Licks you

Whether you love it or hate it, most dogs can’t resist licking their owner’s face. Why? Licking is a sign of affection and a way of getting your attention. Research suggests that this behaviour may also be instinctual in dogs who are licked by their mothers as puppies and so naturally continue this behaviour in adulthood.


While the howl might sound sombre, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s rarely in response to pain or sadness. In fact, it has its roots in their ancestral history, as howling was used to communicate to dogs located far away. So when your dog howls at the doorbell they are likely interpreting the sound to be a fellow dog’s howl in the distance and are signalling their presence in response.

If you find yourself embarrassed, amused or just plain confused by your dog’s behaviour it’s worth reminding yourself that your canine buddy is wired differently to you. Many odd behaviours are leftover traits from the dog’s ancestral past or they are using their sense organs to communicate and interpret the world around them. Celebrate species diversity by championing your dog’s weird and wacky ways!

How Petcover can help your pet

Petcover specialises in offering quality, straightforward pet insurance with a range of policy options that suit your needs. Whether your pet is big or small, furry or scaly our range of cover options are packed with added benefits. Accidents can happen at any time and the reality of veterinary costs can come a quite a shock. With our range of cover levels for dogs, cats, horses and exotic animals, why not get a quote today.

Get a quote