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Funny Pet Behaviors Explained

written by Ellie Walker

From their active sleeping habits to seemingly random zoomies, dogs have a knack for charming us with their endearing quirks and captivating behaviors. If you’d like to have these funny pet behaviors explained, join us as we explore what is going on inside the mind of your four-legged friend.

Funny pet behaviors explained: Head tilt

Dogs tilt their heads in response to certain stimuli or to gather more information about their surroundings. There are a few reasons why dogs exhibit this behavior:

  • Sound localization: Dogs have a keen sense of hearing, and by tilting their heads they can adjust the shape of their ears to better locate the source of a sound.

  • Curiosity and attention: Dogs may tilt their heads when they encounter something new, unfamiliar, or intriguing. This head tilt can be a sign of curiosity and attentiveness, as they try to gather more visual and auditory information about the object or situation in front of them.

  • Communication and empathy: Dogs are highly attuned to human emotions and body language. When a dog tilts their head in response to their owner's voice or facial expressions, it may be an attempt to show empathy and understanding.

While this behavior is most often harmless, if you notice excessive or unusual head tilting accompanied by other concerning behaviors, it's always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Funny pet behaviors explained: Zoomies

Zoomies – also known as frenetic random activity periods (FRAPs) – are what we call the rapid and erratic movements, including running, spinning, and jumping, that our dogs display seemingly at random. If you observe closely, however, you’ll notice that zoomies often occur after a period of rest or in response to certain triggers such as playfulness, social interaction, or being in a stimulating environment. For instance, you might notice that your pup starts to do laps of the house every time you prepare their favorite Freshpet recipe. Zoomies are a way for dogs to release pent-up energy and express their joy and is a completely normal behavior for dogs. In fact, it’s seen as a form of play and self-enjoyment!

Funny pet behaviors explained: Side-eye

Have you ever noticed your dog turn their head slightly while keeping their eyes fixed on something else? This subtle body language is used by your dog to express both positive and negative emotions.

  • Playfulness: Dogs may give side-eye when they’re feeling playful or mischievous and it’s usually accompanied by a wagging tail and a playful stance.

  • Wariness: Giving a side-eye can indicate that a dog is feeling cautious, unsure, or even slightly suspicious about something or someone.

Behavior like giving a side-eye, which has multiple meanings, highlights the importance of taking into account all aspects of your dog’s body language when interpreting their emotions. For more information on how to understand your dog’s emotions, take a look at this blog.

Funny pet behaviors explained: Spinning in circles

Spinning in circles before lying down is instinctive behavior dogs have inherited from their wild ancestors. In the past, wild dogs would trample down vegetation and create a nest-like area to sleep in, providing warmth and protection from potential predators. While your dog likely doesn't have the same environmental concerns as their ancestors, the instinct to circle before lying down can still be observed.

Funny pet behaviors explained: Tail chasing

Tail-chasing behavior can be attributed to a combination of both instinctual behaviors and playfulness.

  • Entertainment: Dogs have a natural inclination for play and may chase their tails as a form of self-amusement – it’s simply fun for them to try and catch it. They may also do it as a form of attention-seeking behavior as they learn that tail chasing results in a positive response from the people around them.

  • Predatory instincts: Dogs descend from predatory animals and chasing moving objects triggers their natural hunting instincts. When a dog sees its tail moving, it may perceive it as something to chase, much like it would with a small animal or prey.

While tail chasing can be perfectly normal, if it becomes excessive, interferes with daily activities, or is accompanied by other concerning behaviors, speak to your veterinarian.

Funny pet behaviors explained: Active sleeping

Dogs may run, bark, or even sniff when they are in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. During REM sleep, dogs experience increased brain activity, similar to humans, and their sleep brain patterns resemble those of when they are awake. Researchers believe that running and other similar movements observed during sleep are a reflection of their dream activity. Dogs may be reenacting or responding to the stimuli present in their dreams, which can include things such as playing, chasing, or exploring – how cute is that!

As pet parents, it’s easy to embrace and appreciate the quirks that make our dogs who they are – they’re a testament to their individuality and what makes your pup special. So, the next time your pup engages in a head-scratching activity, remember that there's probably a method to their madness!

A person holding a black and white dog reaching for a Freshpet recipe.

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