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5 Common Dog Behaviors and What They Might Mean

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Every dog has its own unique personality and characteristics. If you’re the owner of multiple pups, you can attest to that! However, there are many traits and behaviors that are shared between dogs of all sizes, ages, and breeds.  

Your pooch may not be able to talk, but he can certainly communicate. Dog behavior and body language can tell us a lot about what our furry friends are thinking and feeling; it can even alert us to potential health concerns. Read on to learn about what your dog may be trying to tell you with five common dog behaviors.

Tail Chasing/Circling

Many dogs enjoy zooming in circles and/or chasing their tails. This can be normal, playful dog behavior, often caused by excess energy or simple curiosity. 

Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise in order to release that buildup of energy. In fact, unreleased energy can often lead to stress and anxiety. If you notice your dog running or walking in circles more than you think is normal, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your vet. Excess circling could be a sign of health problems or even cognitive issues. 

If your dog is frequently chasing, catching, and chewing on his tail, check the tail for any signs of damage or skin problems. The chewing may be a result of skin irritation, or it could be an indicator of mental health concerns. 

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Whether your dog likes to dig holes and craters in the yard or sticks to digging into his bedding before a nap, digging is stereotypical dog behavior. Common reasons for digging include:

  • Searching for prey, especially if it’s your yard is full of small critters that your pooch keeps smelling and hearing. 
  • Creating a spot to lie down and cool off. 
  • Burying treasure to keep safe until they find it later. 
  • Attempting to escape, often as a result of separation anxiety
  • Relieving anxiety, or pent up energy. 
  • Creating a safe space to retreat to during times of stress. 
  • Fun, entertainment, and curiosity! 

In order to put a stop to your dog’s problematic digging, you first need to figure out the reason behind his behavior. For example, if he’s digging as a result of anxiety, you’ll need to provide him with another outlet. If he’s digging to find groundhogs and moles, you may need to use some non-toxic pest removal products. Depending on the severity of your dog’s digging habit, you may need to invest in some dog behavior training.


Before you and your dog go for a walk, you probably anticipate several sniffing stops. This is because dogs use scent as their primary form of communication, and Fido is likely stopping to “read” a urine marker message from an earlier explorer—he may even leave one of his own. 

If your pooch comes across another dog, the two canine counterparts will likely begin using their noses as a way to introduce themselves and get to know each other. Through scent, dogs can learn about each other’s sex, age, health, mood, and recent experiences including meals and encounters. 


When your dog scoots on his rear, it may be an entertaining sight to witness. However, keep in mind that your dog’s behavior isn’t purely random—if he’s doing something strange, there’s probably a good reason for it. 

When dogs scoot on their butts, it’s usually because there’s something bothering them from behind. Perhaps his anal sacs sacks are backed up and need to be expressed—some dogs do this naturally on their own, while others need extra assistance from their owner. 

Alternatively, your dog may simply have a piece of poop or debris stuck to his bottom which he is trying to remove. Get things moving smoothly with a healthy, well-balanced diet

Your dog may also be trying to scratch an inconveniently-placed itch. This could be due to skin irritation from grooming, itchiness caused by seasonal allergies or pests, to name a few culprits. 

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If Fido’s scooting doesn’t stop after a reasonable amount of time, contact your vet to get to the bottom of the issue. 

Head Tilting

If your dog cocks his head and perks up his ears at the words “walk” and “treat,” he’s not alone. This cute dog behavior shows that Fido is interested and engaged in what’s going on. 

Some dogs also tilt their heads in order to get in a better position to see something, since their snouts can block their vision. Dogs with floppy ears may also tilt their heads in order to hear better, since those ear flaps can block sound. 

If your dog is constantly tilting his head to one side, there may be an underlying health concern that needs to be addressed. He may have an ear issue, or even a cognitive health issue. 

You know your dog best—if you notice any suspicious dog behavior, talk to your vet for a proper diagnosis and care plan.