By Kim Gilliam
If you have a dog or cat, you probably notice them doing some weird things from time to time. Have you ever wondered why? Some of these things have interesting explanations routed in science.
So why does your pet:
Hide during storms: Do thunderstorms send your pet into a tizzy? It is likely because they just don’t understand what the loud noises are and see them as a threat, so they run or hide. While it is OK to help them feel more secure by providing background noise or taking their mind off it with play, try not to soothe your pet too much — you may encourage their fear if they sense insecurity in your voice.
Spin in a circle before pooping: Believe it or not, dogs, like other animals, are sensitive to the Earth’s magnetism. Recent studies suggest that they prefer to do their business when their body is aligned with the north-south axis. Cool, right?
Lick you: Pets can lick their owners for a variety of different reasons. Cats may be trying to give you a good cleaning to show that you are cared for and belong. Dogs like the taste of their owner’s salty skin and see it as a sign of affection. Plus, it releases endorphins, which give them a feeling of comfort.
Scoot their bottom along the floor: Butt scooting usually indicates a problem with your pup’s anal glands. These glands help scent your dog’s poop, serving as their calling card, but can become impacted and need to be expressed or emptied of fluid by your vet or groomer.
Eat grass: Dogs love to eat grass. Some even do it daily. Experts say not to worry; dogs, unlike cats, are not carnivores but they are not omnivores either. For thousands of years, they were actually scavengers, eating whatever provided them with nutrition, including plants.
Fido could be seeking grass out as an alternative food source to fulfill an unmet nutritional need. Unfortunately, almost 25 percent of dogs tend to throw up after grazing.
Shake, shiver or tremble: We all know animals shake when they are wet or cold, but there are other reasons. If they tremble with excitement while playing fetch or being affectionate, that’s just a way to decrease pent-up energy.
Do you give your dog more attention when they shake? It could become a learned behavior, where they shake when they want love. Stress or anxiety can cause trembling as well — trips to the vet, riding in the car, etc. — which can often be addressed through training and confidence building.
Stare at you: Why do pets sometimes stare at you? They could just be showing affection, but don’t grab their head to look into their eyes in return as this could be seen as a threat. Or maybe they are looking for clues to see what you are up to and how it will impact them. Or they could actually need something — their favorite toy is under the couch or they have to go outside.
Only if paired with stiff body posture could it be a sign of aggression, like if they are guarding a treat or a toy, but this is rare.
The next time your pet does something strange, don’t just cock your head at them and wonder why — like they do to you — go ahead and find out more.
The writer is the co-owner of Frolick Dogs, an indoor dog gym in the Eisenhower Valley.