10 Common Dog Behaviors And What They Mean

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Are famous 'zoomies' really common within the canine world? Should you be worried if your dog starts digging? Read on to discover the top ten most common behaviors that dogs love to do in front of people.

People and animals act differently. It’s something that is best seen in the ways how animals and people act.

People work humanly, while animals have their own rules that they follow around.

This is something that is best seen in dogs – after all, dogs and humans have the unbreakable bond that has been lasting for centuries, and time only makes it stronger.

Have you ever noticed your dog doing something that you cannot understand, no matter how much hard you try?

You would just look at your Fido and be like – Why is this dog doing that?

Since dogs are masters when it comes to body language and not human language they cannot answer you, but they will do their best to try to show you.

This is why mastering dog behaviors (this knowledge) will help you understand dog habits better along the way.

Your dog may be best-behaved canning alive, trained from day one, socialized early on, and he still may display some behavior that may be defined as ‘unusual’.

Now, let’s see what are the most common dog behaviors and what they mean.

Not only that we will show the most common dog behaviors, but we will also provide extra tips on how to deal with most of them.

After all, sharing is caring.

1. Biting

Dog lovers know that dogs use biting as a way to express how they feel.

Did you know that dogs usually bite when they are in pain or scared of something? This is why you should never make sudden moves around dogs (especially children) because dogs tend to see it as a threatening move.

As for the puppies, biting occurs because they are learning how to communicate with their parents.

This is often seen while they are playing – they literally communicate and interact with their mouth.

Biting can also happen without any special reason. However, if you miss to stop it, biting can develop into a serious behavior along the way.

Do your best to understand what motivates your dog to bite and what are the triggers.

If you need help with these issues, hire a professional dog trainer, or a veterinary behaviorist.

2. Digging

Some dogs are diggers.

For example, terries are known for digging all the time. Digging is in their genes, as they were bred to search and destroy vermin which is why they are so passionate diggers.

If you are just thinking about getting a dog, make sure that you do detailed research on the breed, or you may have to deal with an unwanted behavior for a decade or longer.

Dogs dig for many reasons:

  • Some dig to escape
  • Some dogs dig to track animals
  • Some dogs like to dig during the summertime to have a cool spot to lie
  • Some dogs grab treats, food, and toys when no one is looking they want to keep them hidden

One reason cannot explain a dog’s need to dig, especially since dogs choose to dig because they are bored – then may find digging to be equally exciting and purposeful. Dogs love when there is a job to be done, otherwise, they might become bored.

How to stop your dog from digging?

The most effective way is to address this issue during socialization. It’s important to interrupt this behavior with a simple ‘No’ or ‘No dig’ if you want to use the ‘no’ command for general rules.

Extra hack: You can place hard materials on digging spots, such as rocks.

3. Howling

If you have a Siberian Husky you know how taunting howling might be.

A dog that howls can produce a real earache. This is something that is strictly reserved for dogs.

After all, they cannot talk, so howling is often a sign that your dog is in some kind of trouble.

It can also be a sign that your dog has sensed some sort of danger, or that he doesn’t feel comfortable with the presence of a stranger.

In some other cases, howling can also be a sign of communication – this is why Siberian Huskies are so passionate howlers, they communicate with their people.

Can you somehow affect this behavior? You can try with commands ‘hush’ or ‘quiet’ and reward him with treats when he stops howling.

4. Humping

Did you know that when a dog hump objects when other dogs are around it’s in fact a sign of stress? Some dogs are prone to anxiety, and if your dog remains alone for a long period of time, this may be the cause.

Another reason is that your dog wants to show dominance when sourcing with other dogs.

People believe that humping is sexual activity but in fact, it’s not.

Excitement, need to play, and need for attention are the most common reasons why dogs are humping.

What to do if your dog humps on house visitors?

The best way is to walk away from your dog and avoid sharing even eye contact with your dog until the humping stops. Another, maybe even more effective way is to amuse the dog by playing with a favorite toy.

5. Eating Poop

Let’s remind ourselves once again that dogs just do some weird stuff, like poop eating.

Dogs eat feces, and for them, it’s a part of a normal day. Mothers clean puppies and mimic this behavior.

If you are a feline owner as well, make sure that you remove the litter box from the dog’s reach or try with a ‘no’ approach when a dog approaches a litter box.

Some dogs may eat feces due to fear, while some just might be curious.

Another interesting view, according to dog experts, is that dogs may eat poop as an instinctive need or solution to a nutritional deficiency. This is why you should do your best to provide the best nutrition possible and make use that your dog gets the nutrients that he needs.

If you notice any drastic weight gain or loss, make sure that you contact your veterinarian.

6. Sitting On Your Feet

When it’s cold, it is great to have a furry buddy sitting on your feet. Dogs are constantly warm and keeping your legs warm is something that they can do while literally doing nothing.

If your dog gets often conformable around your feet it means that he feels safe and wants your love.

Another possible reason is that your dog does his best to occupy your space.

After all, they are territorial beings and if there are any other animals in the house, they might decide to ‘own you and your space’ to claim you.

This is something that is often seen when you have visitors over. It cannot be harmful to have a guardian next to your feet, right?

7. Panting

Panting is something that is common to dogs no matter how big or small they might be.

Panting is also seen in dogs of different sizes, no matter if they are obese or not, going up the hill, or not.

As long as your dog spends time in a warm area, he will experience panting.

Not sure what panting is? Panting occurs when dogs display heavy breathing that is actually releasing heat from their mouth.

When you Fido pants it means that he is too warm, and via panting he in fact regulates his body temperature.

Is panting only heat-related? It’s not. This is why panting shouldn’t be taken too lightly, as it may be a sign that he is in pain as well.

Help your dog regulate his temperature, by always having a dog bowl of freshwater within easy reach.

Serve him cool summer treats and keep him hydrated.

Heading to the beach? Think about using sunscreen that is specially designed for dogs and make sure that your dog remains under the shade all the time.

As you may expect already, you should have water on you. If you notice any injury in your dog make sure that you take him to the vet immediately.

8. Extra Clinginess

If it were up to dogs they would only eat, sleep, and have kisses all day long.

Dogs are massive people-pleasers, and it’s not uncommon for them to follow us around wherever we go.

How do you feel when your dog follows you around the house? It feels normal, right? However, there is a difference when the dog is too clingy.

Clinginess can be challenging. It’s just much more than your dog just following you’re around.

It’s a condition where you-can-not-leave-your-dog-alone-for-a-second and it can be exhausting both for you and your Fido. This is why early training and early socialization are so important.

Dogs should be taught from puppyhood to be more independent. They should be left alone for short time and rewarded once you return… This is how you train your dog to wait for you while you are in the office.

Separation anxiety can also be a reason for clinginess.

Talk with your veterinarian to understand this condition better and work on building your dog’s self-esteem.

The treatment for clinginess is simple: your dog should have his own safe place where he can be left alone for some period (a short time) and with each passing day, this time should be increased.

Always reward him for waiting for you. The trick here is for your dog to understand that you will always come back.

9. Running In Circles

Dogs love to play. They also love to run. Very often it’s possible to see dogs running in circles.

Do they spend time chasing their tails? Do they just love ‘zoomies’?

Dog experts claim that zoomies are natural dog behavior that can be spotted in dogs of any size, breed, and even activity level. What are zoomies exactly?

Zoomies occur when dogs have extra energy that they release in one burst.

Some dogs ‘zoom’ just a few times per day, while some dogs have certain hours of the day when they ‘zoom’.

This is something that is most common in the morning period or late evening hours. Is there such a thing as having too many zoomies? Yes.

If you notice your dog running in circles more often than he should, you might contact your veterinarian, as there might be an underlying health issue.

10. Urinating

If your dog is house trained and knows that walks are toilet breaks, it can be unusual to see him urinating around the house.

This is not just surprising, but also stressful, because no one wants to deal with extra cleaning.

A constant battle with urination smell and constant territory marking -it’s a lot of work.

Dogs who are house-trained do not change overnight.

In other words, if your dog is urinating inside your home, something is wrong.

Very often they can behave in such a manner due to some extreme factors that push them to experience fear.

Dogs who are scared of wind may urinate without control, dogs who are sick may easily urinate, and also dogs who are angry at you may urinate inside the house as a way to punish you.

In some cases, indoor urination may be a sign of a kidney infection. In senior dogs, indoor urination may be a sign of dementia.

If urination happens once or twice in an extended period you shouldn’t be worried but if it happens over and over again, you might contact your veterinarian.

The Bottom Line

Your dog’s behaviors will change continually through the years. You can expect your dog to be more mischievous during his puppyhood phase and to love zoomies during his adult phase.

Once your Fido reaches his senior years it’s unlikely for him to enjoy digging holes anymore, as he is more likely to enjoy a chill time curled on your feet.

Respect the dog’s space, monitor his behavior, and know his body language. This way you easily notice when something changes.

If a certain behavior starts appearing beyond normal, you should contact your veterinarian because dogs tend to change their behavior when they are under some sort of pain. Otherwise, dogs are just being dogs.