Is My Dog Normal?

Photo: Carol Browne

Let's face it—sometimes our dogs can be weirdos. Thankfully, most of this behavior, while being potentially awkward, is generally harmless. We've listed below the five most common odd canine behaviors and give you some tips on when these habits can become worrisome.

Scooting
You know the dance—your dog plants his tush on the floor and then proceeds to drag it in an odd shuffle. This scooting is generally normal as dogs will drag their bottoms to clean off any excess stool after going to the bathroom (especially if their stool is loose), but if your dog starts to drag his butt regularly, take him to the vet. Frequent scooting may be a sign of internal parasites.

Reverse Sneezing
If your dog has done this before, you know it's a rather disconcerting sight. A reverse sneeze actually sounds and looks more like choking than a sneeze, and is repetitive, lasting at times past a minute. Although watching this happen is terrifying and can make you feel pretty helpless, a reverse sneeze is actually pretty normal. Your dog will experience this when something irritates her throat, causing a spasm (the reverse sneeze), which usually culminates in an actual sneeze to dislodge the irritant. An effective remedy is to momentarily cover your dog's nostrils so she's forced to swallow, clearing out the irritation in her throat. If your dog frequently reverse sneezes, take her to the vet as she may be allergic to something in her everyday environment.

Tail Chasing
It's perfectly normal when puppies and younger dogs chase their own tails (and pretty adorable, too)—this is just one of the ways they test out their physical boundaries. If you notice that your is compulsively chasing his tail and cannot be distracted, even with something as enticing as a treat, you should take him to the vet. Certain breeds are more prone to compulsive disorders and may need behavior modification training or medication.

Rolling in the Garbage
Stuff that we'd like to sidestep, garbage, decaying matter, etc., make our dogs want to roll around and get comfy in it. Dogs generally do this out of an instinct to cover their own scent from predators, but unless you're living next door to a bear cave, this instinct is basically useless. The best practice for this behavior is to immediately leash your pooch and steer her clear of any smelly matter the second you spot it.

Herding
My dog is one of those unfortunate herding types that ends up sticking out like a social sore thumb. Rather than play chase with other dogs or fetch balls, if she had her way, she'd bark at other dogs, ducks, and children for hours, herding them into tighter and tighter groups. While this is loud and slightly embarrassing, it's perfectly normal as herding dogs were bred for this specific behavior. The most practical solution is to train them to herd only when appropriate (i.e., playing with other dogs of similar size in an open area) and to gently herd smaller, more delicate subjects (i.e., gently nudging children and small animals rather than bark in crazed circles around them).

Permalink Tips N' Tricks Training Tips

Published on by Beatrix Chan.

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