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Odd Dog Behaviors And What They Actually Mean

Dogs are amazing creatures. They come in all shapes and sizes, with a seemingly endless variety of personalities. But no matter the breed or personality, all dogs have one thing in common, they are constantly communicating with us, their owners, through their behavior. Sometimes it can be challenging to interpret what our dogs are trying to tell us, but by understanding the basics of dog behavior, we can learn to read their signals more clearly. This article will discuss some of the most common odd behaviors exhibited by dogs and what they mean.



Dogs yawn for many reasons, but it is often an indicator of stress. When stressed, they may act submissively to make themselves look smaller and less threatening, such as exposing their throats. This behavior can be seen in unfamiliar situations or around dogs the dog may not trust.

Sniffing Furniture Or Other Items

Dogs typically use their sense of smell to investigate and determine if something is okay to approach and interact with. Because of this, dogs often like to “check out” new items by sniffing them. Dogs may also engage in furniture or object sniffing because they are bored or otherwise unoccupied; it can signify that they need more stimulation or physical activity.


Excessive panting is commonly associated with heat and exercise, but it can also indicate anxiety. An anxious dog may open his mouth slightly as he pants, baring his teeth slightly as well, as opposed to dropping the lips back, so the upper and lower jaw appears as one piece. The term for this behavior is “submissive grin” and is often seen when a dog greets another dog he doesn’t entirely trust.

Lifting One Paw Off The Ground

This is usually a sign that the dog is afraid of something and wants to retreat from it. Dogs will typically do their best to resist whatever made them back away in the first place by keeping their eyes on it and backing up slowly until they feel comfortable enough to break eye contact and stand still with both paws on the ground again. This standing still position may look like a play bow, but no wiggling or posturing. The behavior often occurs when a dog is cornered by what makes him uncomfortable. Like when an unfamiliar dog is trying to pass on a narrow sidewalk.


The play bow is when the dog sticks its rump in the air while leaning forward with its head down. This typical behavior occurs when dogs become excited about something; it can be about toys, treats, or another animal, like when dogs chase cats. It’s not clear why many dogs engage in this behavior, but some pet experts believe it mimics what pups do when they greet their mothers after being separated.

Pecking At Food

Don’t fret if you find your pup pecking at her food before she eats it. There’s a good reason for it. Dogs don’t chew their food the way we do, and while some dogs may gulp down a meal in mere seconds, many need to break the food down more before they can swallow it. So when a pup is pecking at his bowl, he’s not just showing you how picky he is. Instead, they are trying to soften up the morsels so it will be easier on his stomach when he does eat them.

Circling Before Lying Down For A Nap

This behavior is typically seen among young pups, but some adult dogs follow the same routine. For example, circling before lying down can signify that your puppy feels anxious about relaxing. They may even whine or bark while circling in an attempt to stay alert and keep you near. Many dogs who engage in this behavior are also clingy. If you find your dog circles several times before settling down on his bed for a nap, try offering him more physical activity during the day so he won’t feel compelled to expend so much energy when it’s time to rest.

Sniffing Other Dogs’ Butts

It’s not personal. If your pup seems drawn to sniffing other dogs’ backsides, don’t take it as a sign that they are trying to make rude overtures. Many pups use their sense of smell to gather information about other animals, humans included! When your dog encounters another creature, he sniffs the air and smells all the unique scents that an individual has to offer. It’s kind of like reading someone’s personal “odor print.”

Lying On Back With Four Legs In The Air

You may find your pup suddenly taking up this position right after rolling around in something smelly. It usually signifies that they are feeling particularly good and relaxed. During this state, dogs will often lie down on their backs with their abdomen exposed so they can rub it against anything nearby or lick it themselves. It might seem like an invitation for belly rubs, but your dog is really just taking care of themselves. You can offer to help by rubbing his tummy with your hand. A good way to do this is to sit on the floor and let them crawl over.

Rolling Around In The Grass

Many dogs will engage in this behavior when they’re bored or trying to scratch an itch. Some pups might do it because they desire a cool place to lie down if it’s hot outside. While rolling around in freshly cut grass may not be as appealing as doing so on dirt or soil, your pup isn’t turned off by its fresh scent. Instead, they are simply trying to eliminate something that makes them uncomfortable. Rolling around like this also helps distribute his scent, which can help attract potential mates during mating season.


If your dog engages in any of these behaviors, they aren’t necessarily odd. Pups express themselves differently, and the best way to understand what he might be trying to tell you is by observing his behavior carefully. Taking note of when this behavior occurs can help explain the mood or feeling that causes it. While some dogs may do all of these things, others might only engage in one, but no matter how many are present, take time to learn more about what your furry friend wants from you!