Look around – do you see anyone? If you see at least two other people, odds are pretty good someone in the crowd is a dog owner. With somewhere between 37-47% of Americans being dog owners, you’re bound to see a dog lover almost anywhere you look.
The reasons we love dogs are plentiful; they never judge you, they are always there for you, they’ll convince even the laziest of us to get up and go outside and they’ll love you no matter what! But no matter how much you love your dog, he or she probably does a few things you don’t particularly like. Don’t we owe it to our four-legged friends to try and see their point of view?
Deciphering Dog Behavior
From sniffing the butts of every passing pooch to catching (and eating) mice, man’s best friend can sure do some strange, disgusting things that rub us the wrong way. At the same time, they can exhibit amazing loyalty and affection. We’ll help you understand some of the stranger things your dog does.
Following: Dogs are pack animals. “Alone time” isn’t a thing they desire. Dogs will follow you anywhere you lead them simply because they enjoy having company.
Licking: Licking can be interpreted in many ways: a puppy may lick your face if it is hungry, an older dog may lick to let you know it is submissive towards you, or as an attempt at grooming — which doesn’t necessarily mean you need a bath, but just a way of showing how close you two are.
Sniffing butts: Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and dogs have unique scent glands that allow them to tell one another everything they’d ever want to know about each other. A friendly butt sniff is really just the standard way of saying, “Hi, nice to meet you!” for dogs.
Eating poop: Few things seem more disgusting to people, but for dogs, this is an evolutionary behavior that makes perfect sense. Canine mothers eat their puppies’ feces in the wild so predators cannot find them easily. Although this behavior is not necessary for domestic pets, it is still a natural instinct.
Killing little critters: Man’s best friend’s natural instincts aren’t always so friendly for smaller animals. Dogs are closely related to wolves, and lived as predators long before we started keeping them as pets. They don’t necessarily hunt out of hunger, just instinct! They may be hunting small animals like rats and mice for fun too.
Tips for a pet-friendly (and pest free) home:
Keep your home clean and odor free.
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and use scent to mark their territory. Rats and mice also have a strong sense of smell and use scent to mark the best path to food (FYI: dog food is their favorite!), safety, and potential mates. Keeping your home clean and odor free will keep your dog from feeling the need to ‘mark his territory’ and will also reduce other pests like rodents or insects that your dog may view as a source of competition or entertainment. Use a covered garbage bin with a fitted lid so pets as well as pests can’t get into food scraps and other smelly trash.
Give them space to play.
Dogs especially need room to run around. If you are able to offer your dog a fenced in yard or safe space to play outdoors, that is excellent. Otherwise, make sure you take them for walks and out to other settings such as dog parks where they can get some exercise and social interaction. Giving dogs plenty of opportunity to practice healthy behaviors will help prevent them from engaging in undesirable behaviors.
Protect your pups from dangers around the house.
Get down on your dog’s level and take a look around your home to make sure there aren’t any curtain cords hanging low that could pose a strangulation risk. Cover or unplug any electrical wires or cords a pet may pull on or play with. Consider child locks on lower cupboards and cabinet doors, especially if harmful cleaning supplies, chemicals, or other pet threats are stored inside. One of the most tragic and preventable threats to pets is accidental poisoning because of pesticide exposure. Keep mouse traps, rat poison and other rodenticides out of your home and use pet-friendly rodent repellent and pest prevention methods instead.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Let’s not let them down!