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6 Strange Behaviours Dogs Exhibit and What They Mean

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(Image from Deposit Photos)

 Owning a dog can give you endless love, emotional support, and constant affection that can help combat various mental health issues. Not to mention, your furry friend will also be a source of entertainment, providing you, friends, and family with a lifetime of memories and stories to share even when they’re not around.

Like when they got into your kitchen cupboards, emptied all your baking supplies over the floor and trekked their flour-covered paws around the house. Or the time they jumped over your garden fence out of excitement and jumped all over your brand-new white t-shirt. Whatever stories you might have, all dog owners can attest that their canine companions can perform actions we don’t understand.

While some of these behaviours make for some amusing stories, not all are for entertainment and can, in fact, link to an underlying psychological reason for exhibiting these behaviours. The zoomies, head tilting, sniffing other dogs’ butts and eating their excrement can all hint at an environmental change, routine change, a new stress trigger, or the onset of illness/injury.

Therefore, it is essential to understand the difference between a quirk and something that could be an underlying health issue. To make distinguishing this difference easier, we’ve created this article outlining several strange behaviours that dogs exhibit, what they mean, and how you can stop them from doing it below:


Licking Their Paws

Considering that dogs walk on all-fours twenty-four-seven over some less-than-desirable terrain, you may occasionally catch them licking their paws and think: what on earth are you doing? Do you even know where they’ve been? If dogs could speak, they’d tell us that they do this because it releases a feel-good hormone which makes them feel soothed and calm. Yet, they also exhibit this behaviour more frequently when they’ve got a behavioural problem or an underlying health issue.

So, how do you know when it's for the latter reasons? Well, most adult dogs or puppies lick their paws after eating, playing with others, or returning from a walk – this is considered ‘normal’ behaviour. However, suppose you see them exhibiting this behaviour more than often or witness them doing actions beyond licking, like biting, nibbling, chewing, or scratching. In that case, it could hint that something is irritating them.

More than likely, you will find that a piece of grass, pollen, or rock has caused an allergic reaction that has caused inflammation and irritated the paws. Therefore, whenever you notice your dog licking their feet more than usual, you should check the area for irritation and anything that might be lodged in its pads. If you spot anything out of the ordinary, ensure that you book an appointment with a veterinary professional at their earliest convenience.

Depending on your dog insurance policy, some providers like Purely Pets offer their customers twenty-four-seven complimentary video calls with a vet to give you peace of mind whenever your pet starts exhibiting these strange behaviours. As well as giving you access to veterinary advice whenever you want, their policies can also be managed online; choose from fifteen levels of lifetime cover and much more. Consider visiting their website for more information, or contact a team member directly for specific inquiries.


Sniffing Other Dogs Butts

 Since humans greet each other with a simple handshake, our dogs' excitement to sniff each other's butts may sometimes baffle us and even look like strange behaviour. But, like the standard handshake, butt sniffing is a way for dogs to greet other canines, get to know each other, determine the other’ sex, weigh-up emotions and much more.

Dogs do this because their anal glands are scent markers, and each canine has its distinctive smell depending on its mood, sex, and much more. So, when dogs sniff each other’s butts, they assess the other dogs' mood, gender, and how the other will react to the interaction. Therefore, it is essential that you allow your dog to get personal information about other canines they encounter.

Despite it being considered a ‘strange’ behaviour to us, letting our dogs sniff each other’s butts is normal behaviour. Aside from being a friendly greeting, it doesn’t harm our animals which is why we allow them to do it – although it can get annoying when you’re trying to complete a two-mile hike and your dog won’t leave another dog’s backside alone!



 Although you might consider yawning normal, it can highlight your dogs’ genuine emotions and hints that pets are more in tune with their owner’s emotions than we might think. It’s more common to see your dog yawn when they’ve woken up from a nap after returning from a walk or when they’re growing tired.

Yet, when your dog yawns, it can hint at other emotions beyond sleepiness or boredom. One of the most peculiar emotions it can indicate within our pets is stress, which is why it’s essential to assess these behaviours when they happen so that we can pick up on how our dogs are feeling and avoid any problems that could arise from their discomfort.

Even if your dog is the most loving, laidback animal in the world, during moments of stress, your dog can engage in compulsive behaviours like destroying furniture or eating non-food items, and could even lead to bodily harm if you aren’t careful. For example, we all love showering our dogs with affection, whether picking them up like babies, kissing them on the snout and cuddling them.

Although you might have the time of your life, your pet might not be, and as a result, they might start yawning to showcase their discomfort. So, if you begin to pick up on your pet yawning when you or your children are near them, do ensure that you monitor this behaviour to predict what might happen next and potentially avoid an accident before it happens.



 Have you ever seen your dog let off excess energy, or what has become known as the ‘zoomies’ due to social media platforms like Tik Tok. Typically, you can predict when a case of the ‘zoomies’ is coming on when your dog gets a wild, mischievous glint in their eyes and starts running around in circles, chasing their tail, or any other display of erratic, repetitive behaviour.

While it might look like they are exhibiting strange behaviour, the ‘zoomies’ is a usual way for dogs to let off steam and often highlight a positive mood. Whether they’re hit with excess energy as soon as you return home from work or after you’ve bathed them, you should be happy whenever they have a case of the ‘zoomies’ as it means they’re excited and pleased at that moment.

Although zoomies are generally thought to be a ‘normal’ behaviour that dogs exhibit and are safe for the dog’s mental health, these random bursts of energy can potentially cause damage to your dog physically. So, although it can be challenging to predict when these moments might happen, if you get the chance, ensure that you move anything that could cause harm to your dog out of its way.


Tilting Their Head To One Side

 We usually associate dogs tilting their head to one side as cute or a sign that they want something; however, much research has been conducted on why dogs exhibit this behaviour. One of the most commonly believed reasons dogs does this is to help their advanced sense of hearing, as the tilting action might allow them to understand specific words better.

Tilting their head to one side could also be a reaction to words they know well, like ‘walk’,’ dinner’, and ’treat’. Or, it has been suggested that dogs who do this are more in tune with their owner's emotions and, as a result, have a better bond with them.

Due to this, watching your dog tilt their head to one side is generally not a reason to start worrying; however, if you notice them doing it constantly or often, this can hint at an underlying medical issue. There are various medical issues that frequent or continual tilting of the head can indicate, such as vertigo, ear infections, brain disease, an adverse reaction to a medication, and much more.

So, if you pick up on this strange behaviour, ensure that you book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible, as this will allow the issue to be identified sooner and give your pet the best chance of recovery.


Spinning Around In Circles

 As we discussed in one of our previous points, watching your pet chase its tail, run frantically around the garden, or spin around in circles can be highly amusing. Yet not all strange behaviours that your pet exhibits are meant to be entertaining and can even indicate something is wrong with your pet – like spinning around in circles constantly.

If you notice your dog spinning in circles constantly, it can be a symptom of health problems like ear infections, seizures, brain lesions, and much more. However, this behaviour can highlight positive emotions such as excitement and happiness; it could also be a behavioural problem, hereditary issue, or hint at a serious medical problem which is why it’s best to consult with a vet as soon as possible.