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Pet Friendly: Why Do Dogs Blank?

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Last month, our “Match Game” explored cats’ behaviour. This month, we turn our attention to dogs.

Why do dogs _______? (Wag their tail.) Although strange, this almost universal habit of dogs can also be a constant source of entertainment for your cat. The wagging tail is a source of communication but not always of friendliness.  Wagging means they’re willing to interact and learn about their environment.  Some tracking dogs change the wagging pattern from back and forth to a more circular motion, stirring up scents in their environment like a helicopter displaces snowflakes on a mountain.

Why do dogs _______? (Roll in dead things.) When Rover returns from his outing smelling of musk and bursting with pride, he’s probably found a carcass that was unsuitable to consume but still valuable enough to mark as his own. Give him a bath and don’t read too much more into it.

Why do dogs _______? (Pant.) When humans sweat, the evaporation of water on our skin has a cooling effect. Dogs have sweat glands in the pads of their feet and in their nostrils, but nowhere else. As a result, they rely on the evaporation of water on their tongues. This rapid pattern of breathing (which would cause most people to pass out) combined with increased blood flow to the tongue keeps them from overheating.

Why do dogs ______? (Bring you things.) When two-legged family members return home, many dogs express their joy by taking a quick pause from their elation to dash off and return with something they consider mutually valuable. This is likely just a simple retrieving instinct and, unless your pooch starts fetching frankincense and myrrh, doesn’t symbolize much more.

Why do dogs _______? (Sniff one another’s butts.) Like skunks, dogs have two tiny sacs buried beneath the skin of their anus that emit a liquid with a foul smell that some have compared to rotting fish. While spectacularly unpleasant to most people, this pheromone-laced fluid is full of chemicals that signal “friend” or “foe” to other canines choosing to interact. Based on the message received, the meeting can result in fun and frolic or deteriorate to unwanted aggression.

While canine behaviour can be perplexing, learning about the language of dogs helps us know our furry family members better – no butt sniffing required!

Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at danielle@NeighbourhoodPetClinic.com. Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.


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