The Chew: Why Does My Dog Do That?

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Do you ever wonder what your dog is thinking? Why does she chase her tail? Why on earth would he want to sniff another dog’s behind? Our dogs make us laugh, smile and sometimes scratch our heads. Here are some fun facts about man’s best friend.

Why does my dog…

Bury Bones

Maybe you’ve caught your dog digging in the backyard, burying favorite toys, or hiding treats in the couch. We know that our dogs came from wild ancestors like wolves and foxes. These animals might hunt large prey that they can’t eat all at once or have remaining bones to chew from their last meal.

Wild dogs bury those items to hide them from other dogs and scavengers, while they are busy with other activities. Burying valuable items is a survival instinct that our dogs maintain from their ancestry. When your dog hides a beloved toy, it doesn’t mean she’s finished with it. She’s just saving it for later!


Occasional howling, whether at you or along with a siren, is another ancestral instinct. Wolves howl as a form of communication, especially to find one another if members of their pack become separated or to warn another dog to stay away.

Your dog may howl briefly when he loses sight of you in an unfamiliar place, to be sure you can find him again. Your dog’s howl might be alerting you to distress (be sure to check for injury or threat!), or to show you an exciting discovery. Howling at a passing truck or dog is probably your dog’s way of telling the intruder it’s in his territory.

Dogs also howl as a bonding experience, joining in on the fun when other dogs are howling.  In fact, at any given time of day, you may hear our resident bandleader Barry leading the Bark+Board pups in a lovely howling chorus!

Chase Her Tail

A puppy running around in a circle in pursuit of its own tail can be very entertaining. Your puppy thinks so too. She probably doesn’t know yet that her tail is a part of her body, and she sees it as a toy or prey. Adult dogs may chase their tails because they’re bored or seeking your attention.

If you have a dog that spins often, try throwing a tennis ball or taking your dog on a walk during times of high energy. If your adult dog suddenly starts biting at his tail, he may be experiencing pain in that area, such as fleas or parasites. This unusual behavior calls for a vet visit.

Lick Me

Your dog’s “kisses” really are a sign of affection. Mother dogs stimulate and comfort their newborn puppies by licking them. As the puppies grow, they lick their moms in return. It is bonding and comforting.

Your dog may lick you a few extra times to taste your salty skin. Among groups of dogs, the members of the pack often lick the leaders as a sign of submission. Your dog may also try to lick you when she’s in trouble.

Sniff Other Dogs’ Behinds

Dogs’ noses are estimated to have 215 million more scent receptors in their noses than humans do. Dogs sniff each other’s’ anal glands as more than just a greeting. It’s a full introduction. They learn the sex of the dog, what the dog is eating, and even some clues about a dog’s emotional state or readiness for mating.

Sniffing one another’s behinds can also disarm potential aggression between two dogs meeting for the first time.  At Bark + Boarding we make sure to give each dog the opportunity to meet other dogs in a non-aggressive manner so they’re all friends in the end!

Now you know a little more about your furry companion and his odd and amazing natural habits.

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If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you and your pet are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services!  For more information check out

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