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Pet Column: Silly dog behaviors explained

Bandit invites Olive to play by doing a play bow. Photo by Elle Williams.

By Elle Williams  
Pet Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider  

Dogs have a huge array of behaviors. Some of these behaviors are easy to figure out while others leave us scratching our heads. I’ll fill you in on some of the cute yet odd behaviors and why your dog does them.

Rolling around in new locations: This one has a super adorable reason. If you notice your pup rolling around when you bring them someplace new or they encounter a new smell and roll in that, they are saving that smell to bring back to the pack. It’s their way of saying, “Hey pack, while I was out I got to be around what produced this smell.”

It’s also common for dogs to roll all over something we might find gross. For example, my little dog Bandit will roll over dead fish she finds around the lakeside. I remove her from the fish, of course. I’m not a fan of my dog smelling like dead fish. In her mind, she just wanted to show off the dead fish she found to the rest of my dogs.

Licking our lips or the lips of other dogs: This is submissive behavior. It’s a dog’s way of saying, “I mean no harm, look, I’m right next to your mouth.” When two bonded dogs do this, it can go on for seven minutes. They are just saying they are best pals who mean no harm to one another. This behavior can also be due to nervousness, most likely when around a dog they don’t know too well.

Shaking off at “random” times: This is a stress-relieving signal. It’s literally their way of saying, “ I’ll shake it off.” Dogs will do this when play becomes stressful and they want to reset back to calm or restart the play session. It’s important to notice this behavior when they are exposed to stressful situations. If they give a good shake, it means they are overcoming what stressed them out.

Bow, AKA play bow: A lot of us know what a play bow is, but for those who don’t, dogs will bow to say, “Hey, I want to play, you’re invited.” 

Sneezing when nothing is irritating their nose: Often when two dogs are playing, they will randomly sneeze as a way of saying, “Everything I’m about to do is all in good fun.” It’s a reminder that play will remain just play.

It’s important to know our dog’s body language. It can tell us so much about our dog’s emotional state. Too often we attach human qualities to our pups and forget the fine art of dog body language. I hope the information provided in this article inspires you to learn more about what your dog is trying to convey. 

Elle Williams is a local in-home dog trainer and the owner of Give a Sit Dog Training. She is certified in dog psychology, nutrition, and grooming, and specializes in basic and advanced obedience, puppy prep, and behavior adjustment training.

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