We have all looked at our dogs from time to time and simply wondered, “What is going on in that head of yours”? This look tends to transpire following a behavior that is on the fringe of abnormal. If you have ever marveled an odd dog behavior and would like chase down the causes, three very unusual behavior mysteries are cracked below.
CHASING OF THE TAIL
One behavior that is commonly observed in our canine companions is the incessant act of chasing their own tail. This habit is most frequently seen in German Shepherd and Bull Terrier breeds. Notable observations have been made in the association of length of maternal care and development of tail chasing compulsions. There is an increase in tail chasing even when a pup was taken from its mother at seven weeks as opposed to the recommended eight.
If your dog begins to frequently chase its tail, the best way to help stop the habit early is to refrain from encouragement. If a dog notices increased attention and affection while chasing its tail, the dog will continue to do so whenever attention is wanted (and let’s be serious, dogs LOVE attention). It has been recommended that if a dog begins to chase its tail regularly, do not pay attention to the dog until it has stopped. This conditions the dog to not see tail chasing as a means to attention. It is also observed that vitamins B6 and C help to diminish the frequency in which a dog chases its tail.
What has been named ‘Canine Compulsion Disorder’ (CCD), similar to human Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is believed to be another cause for the never-ending chase. The difference is that humans with OCD have tendencies towards checking, collecting, and ordering; while dogs with CCD are inclined to predation, locomotion, and feeding. You guessed it: One of the most common locomotion compulsions is chasing of the tail.
While there is no definite cure for CCD, it is commonly treated with Prozac for dogs paired with behavior modification training. The Prozac alleviates anxiety and helps the dog focus to get rid of the bad habits that it develops. If you notice obsessive compulsive behavior in your dog, the best thing to do is get it to a veterinarian for professional advice.
Almost every dog eats grass as a puppy, either out of boredom, hunger, or just simply curiosity. Sometimes however, there are beneficial reasons that the dog is landscaping your lawn. (Well, for the dog at least.) A main benefit to eating grass is very much the same one that we eat our bowls of FiberOne in the morning. You guessed it: to get fiber. When a dog is having trouble digesting food or excreting waste properly, they will eat grass to supplement the fiber deficiency. The grass is also known to treat intestinal worms.
Have you ever developed a behavior out of need for comfort in an anxious time? Something such as biting your nails, or eating that whole pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream? The reasons we seek these comforts are essentially the same that grass-eating may become a comfort behavior for a dog.
These factors being said, it is hardest to determine why exactly your dog is eating grass. If the dog is vomiting after consuming frequently, the behavior should be stopped. It is also to be aware of any chemical treatments that may have been used on the grass. You do not want your dog eating chemically treated grass. But if the dog occasionally munches on a light snack of healthy grass, you need not be alarmed.
Since we’re on the subject of diet, here it is: The most unusual behavior of the bunch. What about the mind of a dog compels them to snack on such a foul subject? Eating poop, also known as ‘Coprophagia’, occurs for two main reasons.
The first reason for coprophagia lies in a dog’s instinct and genetics. Before dogs were domesticated they were known scavengers. This involved living off whatever they could find. Fecal matter served as a good source of protein for hungry canines, so it seemed obvious that they should consume it. Another instinctual reason that dogs consume their own waste is a maternal trigger. In the wild, mothers would consume their litter’s waste in order to better mask the location of her den.
Instinct and genetics are hard to alter, but training technique can play a significant role in future consumption of waste. For example, a puppy that is scorned for pooping in the house may consume the waste to hide the evidence. Even if your puppy watches you clean the mess up, the next time it may try to ‘clean the mess up’ itself.
If it is a puppy that is displaying this behavior, do not worry. Most puppies develop a natural distaste for this in a fairly short period of time. However, if it is a prolonged habitual occurrence, you can visit the ASPCA’s blog article for some tips and tricks to diminish the behavior.
Since we do not yet have the ability to read a canine’s mind, the exact causes to every abnormal behavior are not absolute. We can only speculate after countless observations, tests, and research. If you think the reasoning for your dog’s behavior is one that requires medical attention, please don’t hesitate to contact your local vet.