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Common Dog Behaviours Explained

Dogs come in different sizes, characteristics, and personalities – not all are built the same. However, you may observe that they exhibit some behaviours that are common among most dogs. A dog’s behaviour can be easy to read or difficult to understand. If you’re not paying attention to your dog’s behaviour or if you’re not sure what they meant, read on further!

Understanding your dog’s behaviour is a step to helping them while building a good relationship. It’s also another way to read their mood and interpret a potential health issue that could be addressed right away. Here at Pretty Pets Kennel, we have the common dog behaviours explained and why they happen for all dog-owners out there!

Common Dog Behaviours Explained

  1. Looking At You While They Do Something

First, the common dog behaviour explained is when dogs make eye contact while doing something. Whether they’re walking, peeing, or pooping, they can sometimes catch your eye and maintain it while they do the do. Some may believe it’s a sign of guilt or defiance, but that’s simply not the case! It’s actually a way for them to reassure you that you’re still there and a way for them to show how they love you and that they can’t stop looking at you. 

  1. Digging

Dogs dig for many reasons. Most commonly they dig to find, to catch something, to hide, or to simply prep the spot they’re digging at before they lie down. If they do the digging action while inside, especially on top of their beds or where they sleep, it’s a sign that they are getting comfortable while trying to find the perfect spot to lie on. It’s normal behaviour that usually occurs before they sleep or take a nap.

  1. Tilting Head to The Side

When dogs tilt their head, it’s usually a sign that they are curious or interested in something. It’s usually how they react to unfamiliar sounds they hear, where they try to determine where the sound is coming from. 

  1. Dragging Its Bottom Across the Floor

Notice how your dog drags their behind on the floor sometimes? Which happens after they poop? It’s also called scooting, which means something is irritating or stuck on your dog’s anus. If it’s something stuck, it’s probably some poop that got caught in their anus or something else such as grass or dirt. Otherwise, if it’s a reoccurring behaviour, it could be a sign that your dog has allergies, its anal sacs are full or worms. Make sure to consult with your vet to get this issue solved!

  1. Urinating

This shouldn’t be an issue if your dog is potty-trained. However, if you catch your furry friend suddenly urinating inside your house, it could be a way to catch your attention. It can be a sign of infections in their urinary tract, bladder, or kidneys. In older dogs, it can be a sign of dementia.

  1. Yawning

Dogs can yawn when they’re tired or interested to have a nap, but there are other reasons why they yawn. They yawn as a way to show they’re stressed or in fear. Be sure to check your surroundings to prevent this and make sure to do anything your dog wouldn’t want you to do such as raising your voice or scaring them.

  1. Shaking Its Head

There are many reasons why a dog may shake its head. It could be a way to shake off the tension or de-stress itself, shaking off anything that may have been in contact with its head or ears, shaking itself out of being aggressive or alert, or simply a way to know they’re excitedly waiting for something.

  1. Licking

Next on the list of dog behaviour explained, is licking! While it is known that dogs lick you to show some affection as “kisses”, that is not always the case. They do it to groom their owners, similar to what mother dogs do to their pups. It’s also a soothing gesture that is relaxing to them. It’s a way to catch your attention or even dismiss you as a way to get you away.

  1. Panting

Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat, so as a way of releasing heat and regulating their body’s temperature, they pant. Pay attention to them when they do this to avoid heatstroke or overheating. Another reason for this dog behaviour is a way to relieve pain or stress.

  1.  Eating Poop

Last on the list of common dog behaviours, is one of the grossest things your dog can do, which is eating poop or coprophagia. It’s never fully explained why they do this, but many theorize that it’s a behavioural response to stress or anxiety, a sign of malnutrition or illness, or just plain curiosity, 

List of Dog Behaviours

There are many more dogs behaviours that your dog can exhibit in their lifetime. Here’s a list of other dog behaviours that your dog may do. Remember, if these actions persist, make sure to pay attention to your dog’s mood, body language, and how they respond. There could be an underlying health-related issue that you may miss. Make sure to visit your veterinarian to consult on your dog’s behaviour to address an issue. Otherwise, you can hire a trainer to help lessen bad habitual behaviour such as excessive licking or barking.

Below is the list of other dog behaviours that are usually normal:

  1. Howling 
  2. Barking
  3. Tail Wagging
  4. Kicking Feet from Behind
  5. Exposing Belly
  6. Pacing
  7. Licking Itself
  8. Whining or Whimpering
  9. Sitting on Your Feet
  10. Leaning On You
  11. Jumping Up
  12. Growling
  13. Flicking Ears or Ears at Attention
  14. Play Biting
  15. Sniffing the Air
  16. Humping
  17. Raising Paws
  18. Crouching
  19. Stretching
  20. Sniffing Another Dog’s Behind
  21. Head Pressing
  22. Wrinkling Its Snout
  23. Tail In-Between the Legs
  24. Circling before Lying Down
  25. Squinting or Blinking
  26. Puppy Dog Eyes


Paying attention to your dog’s behaviour is a way to better understand and help them. In return, you build a stronger relationship with them, and you can understand their needs better. Most of the common dog behaviours mean something that needs your attention or could be an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed. 

If you need help with your dog’s behaviour that you are not sure about, or it’s a behaviour that keeps happening, make sure to visit your vet for a consultation.

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