Snoqualmie Pets 101: Strange Animal Behavior Explained

This is the latest from guest columnist, Melissa Grant, who is a pet expert and in-home dog trainer at Le Chic Pet in Issaquah.  To get more training tips visit the LeChic website.

dogblog02:12As much as we all love our furry friends, sometime they get caught up some pretty weird, seemingly unexplainable behavior. Whether you have a massive Dane, a tiny Chihuahua or a lovable kitty cat, they all do some pretty weird stuff.

Not to worry, though. They do have their reason for doing what they do. Some reasons are weird, some disgusting and some can be explained by evolution –  but all is explainable.

“Why does my cat head butt me like a pro wrestler?”

Ever had your kitty walk up to you and bonk you in the forehead with his forehead?  This is called Bunting and is something domestic cats share with their wild counterparts. They do this to deposit facial pheromones on people or objects in their environment. Your kitty is probably relaxed and happy when he doing it and only does it with those people he is most comfortable with. Rather than a territorial or ownership behavior, it is more like a marker of what he considers “safe” in his environment. So consider this odd quirk the highest kitty compliment

“My dog always spins around a couple of times before settling in one spot. Why is that?”

This behavior can be explained by instinct and comfort. It could be that the dog is merely making his chosen resting spot more comfortable. Wild dogs sleep in the open and need to tramp down vegetation to make it more comfortable. Or if it’s hot, it may be a way of exposing a cooler layer of dirt to lie in. It also could be a way of marking their chosen spot. It seems to be an instinctual behavior, hard-wired into their behavior through the centuries.

“Why do cat knead?”

Such a mysterious and always delightful behavior. Quirky and comical, this behavior makes it appear as if your kitty is kneading bread dough. Cats begin this behavior as tiny little kittens, even before their eyes open. They learn quickly that this motion around moms nipples will produce a squirt of milk. Cats continue to knead all through their lives as a gesture of comfort and happiness. So if your kitty “kneads” you consider it the highest feline compliment.

“Why do dogs shake themselves?”

The simple answer to this is to dry off. One simple shake and many dogs can very nearly dry themselves off. A good fast shake can keep water from saturating their skin and cooling their vital organs. The more complicated answer is that shaking may be a way to calm their own tension or tension around them. It could be a calming signal to get their “pack” or themselves to relax. More examples of calming signals can be lip licking, yawning, sneezing or stretching. If you have a tense or nervous dog and they do any of those things, they may be trying to ease their tension.

“What’s the story behind cats covering their poop?”

One of my favorite things about kitties is the neat way they cover up what they do in the litter box. Is this habit explained by mere cleanliness or is there something more to this behavior? If you have a multi-cat household, it is possible one cat may be dominant and leaves their feces uncovered as a gesture of dominance. Cats “mark” territory with their urine and feces. For the most part, though, cats bury their waste as a way of attracting undue attention from predators. Another instinctual behavior hard-wired into your domestic kitties psyche.

“My dog is dragging his butt all over the place! Why?”

A friendly way to describe this odd behavior would be “scooting” and it’s a sign something is irritating your dog on his back-end. Dogs have two sacs on either side of the anus that collect a smelly substance. If they become blocked or too full they may become uncomfortable to your dog. The “scooting” is your canines attempt to deal with this smelly problem himself. Unless you want a stinky mess, its best to visit your groomer or vet to have the glands “expressed.” Your pooch will thank you for it.

No matter how weird or strange a pets behavior may seem to be, most can easily be explained. Some habits are learned, some are genetically explainable and some are instinctual, but all just make our furry pals all the more endearing and fun to be around.

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