Spring is knocking at our doors, which means Spring Fever is about to strike both human and animals alike! But to be fair, dogs act kind of crazy all year round. Because why do dogs love to roll around in dirty things, what is that odd look he gives you, and why does he randomly run around the house like he’s being chased by bees? We’ve investigated the answers for you!
A love of funky smells
Here is something you can count on: After a thorough bath or a visit to the groomer, your pup is looking fresh and clean… and then he runs out to splash and roll around in stinky mud or even poo. It seems to be their thing. The moment they smell something interesting, they’ll want to rub their shoulders, back and neck in it!
Why dogs love pungent smells so much isn’t entirely clear, but it is important to know a dog’s nose works quite differently from ours. Their anatomy ensures their sense of smell is much more sensitive. That means they smell a lot more, and not only the gross stuff. A canine nose can detect many more layers in a scent as well. Imagine, you were supposed to replace the bin bag several days ago, so it is bound to be kind of smelly. Humans will smell only one strong compound odour of old garbage. Your dog will smell a banana from two days ago, a sandwich you threw out 4 days ago, this morning’s coffee grounds, etc. So who knows what deliciousness your dog has detected?
Rolling in pungent odours may also be a wild remnant, inherited from their ancestors. Many of these wild predecessors were scavengers, which means they didn't mind the smell of rotting meat. On the contrary: that smell said 'mealtime', so it was an entirely positive thing!
Another theory is that rolling in smelly things is about demarcating territory. Pack animals that defend their territory demarcate the area with the smell of urine and faeces. That is how they warn others of their kind to stay away. So it is possible rolling in poop is a reaction to that. They might be giving their own warning or trying to overpower the scent of another animal. Lastly, the purpose of rolling in poop and other smelly things may be to mask their scent. They might be trying to make sure a potential prey doesn’t smell dog, because that would mean they miss out on a meal. Camouflage!
Ten minutes of crazy
If your dog ever gets these ten minutes of craziness, you’ll know exactly what we mean. Some dogs will get these random bursts of energy and will go absolutely nuts for a few minutes. They will race around the living room with no regard for anything or will chase their tail for ten minutes straight. Any attempt to distract them will most likely fail, as they are completely locked in their own little world. The only option is to just let them run out of steam.
The official term for such an ‘attack’ is Frenetic Random Activity Periods (or FRAP), but most people call it the zoomies. What triggers the zoomies depends on the dog. Have you ever noticed how some little kids handle exhaustion? They become loud and boisterous. That may be happening to your dog as well. The zoomies may also be a way to get rid of pent up energy or frustration, even with dogs that get lots of exercise. Or maybe your pup is triggered by enthusiasm about a toy or even meeting a friend. Finally, it may also mean your dog is stress or bored and isn’t getting enough mental and physical stimulation . The key is to understand your dog!
Why is my dog showing me the whites of her eyes?
Dogs express their emotions and thoughts through body language and behaviour. They communicate with each other and with us, but we don't always understand what they are trying to tell us. A great example of that is what we call "whale eye". "Whale eye" is when your dog averts her head, but her gaze is still focussed on something or someone. You can clearly see the whites of her eyes. We often project human feelings on our dogs and say they are feeling guilty about being naughty. That makes for funny dog memes on the internet… but what is your dog really saying?
“Whale eye ” is an indication your dog is uncomfortable, anxious or even frightened about the current situation. She might be anticipating your cross reaction after she has done something naughty, unsure about another animal approaching, or unamused by a child taking her toy. When your dog is truly uncomfortable, you will see other signs of stress, like licking their lips, yawning, nudging up to you with her tail between her legs, or licking your hands. Worst case scenario: the hair on her back is standing up, she is growling a warning or is standing stock-still.
When your dog is giving you or someone else the whale eye and is displaying other signs of discomfort, it is important to figure out what is causing it. Is there another animal nearby that is making her anxious? Is she hearing something you haven’t picked up on? Did an unfamiliar small child think it was fine to hug your dog? Is someone petting her in a place she doesn’t enjoy?
Your dog is telling you they want you to make the situation better, as you are her protector and support. Try to help her and not scold her for her behaviour. The problem is external, and by punishing your dog you are only making things worse. Can’t change the situation? Lead her away from the problem.
Why are you staring?
As a dog owner, you’ll probably recognise the penetrating and never-ending stare. Your reading a book, minding your own business, but have a funny feeling you are being watched. Or maybe you are brushing your teeth, cooking dinner, or are taking a shower. Your dog doesn’t care what you are doing, they need to tell you something! Are you puzzled as to why your dog is staring? We’ll explain four possible reasons she might be staring at you. As always, don’t forget to look at the entire dog: what is her body language telling you?
For starters, it is likely your dog wants something from you that only you can give her. A tasty snack, a cuddle, or some playtime are their primary reasons for living! Our dogs quickly learn that staring is thé way to get something done because it never fails to get results.
Is your dog tilting her head while she looks at you? She might be a little confused and trying to figure out what you want from her. Are you mid-training? She probably didn’t understand you. Take a few steps back and try to communicate more clearly.
Where in the previous example, the eyes were soft and gentle, the direct, hard stare is very different. This look is a clear indication that if things don’t change, a bite will follow. Are you approaching a dog to pet her or to grab something from her basket and is she giving you the hard stare? Is she displaying other signals, such as a rigid tail, a stock-still body, closed mouth, and a head held low? Retreat, because that was a clear warning.
It may also be that your dog is gazing deep into your eyes because she loves you! Again, it is crucial to look at the entire dog. In this case, her tail is probably swaying softly back and forth, she is panting lightly, and her ears are relaxed. This look is most likely when your dog is fully relaxed, so if she is staring while playing or eating, something else is going on.
As you can see, with these wacky behaviours, our dogs are telling us precisely what they are thinking and how they feel, and it is up to us to learn what they mean. It would be so much easier if we just spoke each other’s language!