There are some strange things about cats and dogs that cannot be understood just by simply being around them all the time. Often, pet parents feel baffled about the behavior of their furbabies. Decoding cat and or dog behavior and understanding their body language can be quite challenging, but with practice, constant communication, and gaining more knowledge about pet instincts, you’ll find these a lot easier—including the strange things they do. In this post, learn some of the common dog and cat behavior and body language.
Strange Pet Behavior Explained
- High-Level stealth skills
Have you ever noticed a tail coming out from under the couch only to find the rest of Fido just lying there, or perhaps Kitty’s silhouette behind the curtain? This cute behavior of poor hiding skills, in fact, may not be hiding. It’s not a cat behavior problem at all. Pets surround themselves either in blankets, underneath tight spaces and behind curtains because they may be feeling overwhelmed. They have heightened senses, and they’re simply trying to get some peace and quiet to get away from all the noises, smells, and sights.
- Destructive behavior
Shoes missing, food displaced, pillows torn, and scratched couches. While this level of destruction isn’t something pet parents love, this behavior isn’t something to blame your pet on entirely. You may notice that this behavior happens when you are not around. Take note that this may be your pets’ way of saying they miss you. They get bored, sometimes get separation anxiety, and even hungry for food and attention. As a pet parent, it would be a good idea to ensure that your pets understand where to channel their energy (and teeth) while you are gone. If you must leave your pet alone, take the extra step to ensure your furbaby that you will return, and leave them with adequate food and toys for the time being as part of a pet reward process.
- Circling before sleeping
In the olden days, wild dogs instinctively walk in circles, flattening the grass to create a comfortable nesting spot to sleep in. Now that you understand this dog body language, the next time you see your furbaby begin to go in circles, you know he’s about to snooze. This common dog behavior is also a way of patting down leaves or grass and clearing their nest of any snakes or large insects. A nice nesting spot marks a dog’s territory, telling other dogs to stay away.
- Butt scooting
Pets will be pets. Butt scooting sometimes just feels good to them, and it’s funny to watch! Butt scooting, particularly the alignment with the north-south axis of the Earth’s magnetic field is a strange kind of dog pooping behavior and apparently, normal. However, if it’s persistent, they could be scratching their rectal area. There may be an infection or parasite. If in doubt, better take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible to know further about pet behavior solutions.
- Barks at nothing
It’s usually alarming and creepy too when dogs bark at nothing. Does my dog have a “sixth sense”? Is he barking at a ghost? Don’t worry, understanding this dog behavior is nothing to be afraid of. Barking at nothing could mean that your dog senses something that you can’t. A dog’s senses are different to that of a human; eyes are a lot more delicate, sense of smell is 1,000 to 10, 000 times more sensitive and hears much higher frequencies.
In some cases, wherein some seem to have dog behavioral problems, barking excessively and repetitively at nothing while moving in repetitive ways, is called compulsive barking. You may ask your veterinarian how to decode dog behavior such as this and learn pet behavior tips as well to handle the situation.
- Bury poop
In the wild, smaller and weaker cats hide their urine and feces. This is not exactly a cat behavioral problem but a sign of submission to the larger and more dominant cats and a precautionary measure so that their predators will not be able to find them. At home, domesticated cats bury their poop because they feel subordinate to their human owners. On the other hand, dogs kick the grass after pooping and/or scratch the ground to mark their territory by leaving their personal marker and scent to let others know he was there.
- Bring home dead or live animals
You give your pet all the toys and food he could possibly need, and yet, he comes home bearing a (disgusting) gift – a dead or live animal. He places it somewhere at home or worse, at your feet. While this may seem like a behavior problem, this act is an instinct and a behavior that is more common in cats than dogs. Like their mother, they catch prey and bring it home to teach their babies how to eat. In this case, the baby is you. If the rodent is dead, it’s a gift to say thank you for feeding her. If it’s alive, then your pet wants to share how to finish off what has been started. Either way, your pet is trying to do something good for you. TIP: Remain calm! You can give your pet some treats for reward.
- Attracted to boxes
To us, a box is a box, maybe even trash. To our pets, a box could mean a lot of things: safety, security, comfort, warmth and sleeping quarters among others. Who knew something so simple had that much value? Cats hide in boxes instinctively. The four-walls limit visibility: preventing their predator from sneaking up on them from behind, to remain stealth when hunting for prey and to run back to safety if needed.
According to the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, boxes help reduce the stress levels of cats. Cats brought to a shelter were assigned to either a box or not, and research found that those assigned to boxes recovered from and adapted a lot faster than those without boxes.
If you plan to give your cat a box while you’re away, make sure it does not have any staple wires, string or tape. You could even leave a t-shirt for your cat to smell if your cat does not adjust well to new situations.
- Eats their own poop
Just when things couldn’t be any weirder, you learn cats and dogs both eat their poop. This sounds like an alarming pet behavioral problem! When pets approach their poop, you begin to panic and pull them out to stay away, but in fact, it’s normal unless your pet has a medical condition.
Coprophagia, the medical term for eating and ingesting feces, is more common behavior in dogs than in cats. The reason behind this strange behavior is that some pets experience nutrient deficiencies, increased appetite, has parasites, diabetes, or inflammatory bowel. Other reasons could be: it’s fun, he’s bored or he’s probably hungry.
It is also possible that dogs are duplicating their mother’s behavior. When they were puppies, their mothers used to lick their genitals to stimulate urination and defecation. Similarly, mother cats would also eat their newborn’s feces as part of their grooming routines. If your pet is eating his feces due to an underlying medical condition, it is best to consult your veterinarian.
Next time you think your pet is suddenly acting strange, think again. Remember the behavior of pet animals will vary depending on the environment and circumstances that they’re in. It is important for pet parents to learn about common pet behavior problems as well and train them accordingly to avoid mistaking instincts for misconduct and unwanted pet behavioral issues.