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Odd Doggy Behaviors

You love your dog Chippy, right? He’s your best friend, your constant companion, always happy to see you. And he’s probably well behaved in general. But he has one or two very strange behaviors and you’re wondering whether you should be worried about it. First of all, you are not alone. Many dogs have unusual or quirky behaviors. Most are nothing to be concerned about, but others may indicate a physical or psychological problem.

Weird or Actually Normal?
Just because it seems weird to you, does not mean that Chippy’s habit is abnormal. Some things that dogs do that we humans would not are normal for them. This would include butt sniffing, licking another dog’s mouth, sticking his head out of the window in a moving car, or circling several times before settling in for a nap.
• Sniffing another dog’s butt is a greeting in the canine world. When Chippy does this, he is getting crucial information about that dog. You should not stop him from doing it. Doing it to you and your guests is another story. It is okay to train him not to sniff human’s crotches.
• Licking another dog’s jowls is a way of showing submission. If Chippy does this, you know he’s not the alpha dog.
• The head in the window is simple: good smells!
• Circling before a nap can be chalked up to evolution. It is a remnant from their days of living in the wild. Dogs and wolves would circle before lying down to flatten grass for more comfort and to check for any potential dangers like a nearby snake before going to sleep.

Not So Normal?
If Chippy is exhibiting any of the “normal” dog behaviors, there is nothing to worry about. Others may not be so normal, but still may not be anything to ruffle your feathers over.
• He is scratching himself…a lot. If you have been careful about fleas and you bathe him regularly, Chippy may have a skin condition or an allergy. A quick trip to the vet for a skin test should get you an answer and help him stop.
• Licking or nibbling. If Chippy seems to enjoy licking people a little too much or nibbles on your guests’ fingers or ears, it is not a huge concern. It may be annoying, but some simple training techniques should stop the behavior.
• Chewing, chewing, and more chewing! When Chippy chews on and destroys your shoes during the day while you are at work, he is sending you a very clear message. He’s bored out of his mind! He needs a dog walker to break up his day, some more interesting toys to play with, or more exercise before you head off for work and as soon as you get home.

Any behavior that is unusual or annoying to you, but isn’t causing anyone harm is not a big deal. Work with a trainer to help change the behavior or consult with a behaviorist to find out what Chippy is trying to tell you.

When to Worry?
If Chippy’s behavior changes suddenly or drastically or becomes compulsive, you could have a problem on your hands. It is absolutely not normal for him to develop a weird behavior out of the blue. If he has always nibbled your ears when you cuddle on the couch, that’s ok. If he suddenly takes an interest in licking your ears and can’t seem to get enough of them, that is not ok. Get him to the vet as soon as possible and have him checked out for any underlying physical problems. Your vet can also tell you if the behavior is likely to be from psychological issues and can refer you to a specialist.

Try not to judge Chippy. He’s a dog, not a human and dogs sometimes do weird things. Take care of him, provide him with everything he needs, and get him some proper training and you and Chippy can enjoy life together, odd habits and all.

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