Why Do Dogs Do That?

It happens every single time. It's the same exact bed, in the same exact spot. And yet, every time one of our dogs goes to lay down on it, they spin around several times and finally lay down and let out a huffing sound. Sometimes they dig in with their paws, and other times they root around with their nose.

Have you ever wondered why your dog does that? Is it anxiety? Some canine form of OCD? Actually it appears to be more evolutionary than that. There seems to be two different trains of thought about why this happens.

One theory is that the dog is making himself a den. Our dog's ancestors would have to create their own shelters and beds. If this was in tall grass, that would involve spinning in circles to flatten the grass and make a bed. In other landscapes, a dog might have had to dig down to cooler soil to escape the heat. Any thing that needed to be done to make a comfortable bed for the night. Similar to a dog that will push all his blankets into a corner of his crate, or using her nose to push pillows around.

Another theory is that it is a sort of protection instinct. Dogs may have spun around while scanning their environment looking for predators. Once sufficiently satisfied that they are safe, they will settle in for the night. This may also explain why some dogs love the relative solitude of a crate. They feel safe and secure in their "den" and it makes it easier for some dogs to settle in a crate.

Something else that many dogs do is eat grass. Why do they do that, and is it dangerous? Some dogs eat and swallow it, some just chew on it, and yet others eat bunches of it and then throw it all up. Once again, there may be several different reasons for it.

Many people believe dogs will eat grass if they have an upset stomach or gas. This may just be strictly anecdotal, as it doesn't seem that grass has any medicinal properties to it. Many people however seem to observe their dogs eating grass when not feeling well as a possible way to induce vomiting and then seemingly feeling better. For the most part, eating grass does no harm, but please be aware of any pesticides or fertilizers that may be harmful to your pet.

Others believe that the dog is eating grass because of some nutritional deficiency. Like people taking a vitamin supplement, your dog may be eating grass as a way to add something to it's diet. The truth is that grass holds no nutritional value for your dog, and they can't even digest grass. They lack the ability to break down the fibres in their system. Make sure that your dog is getting a high quality food.

Another possible theory has to do with your dogs ancestors. Dogs are opportunistic omnivores. As such, their ancestors would eat all of their prey, including the contents of the stomach. Most of the prey these wolves would eat would have had a plant based diet. Another possible explanation could have to do with protection. A dog may have eaten grass as a way to remove his scent from other predatory animals, as a way to remove evidence that they were there.

And lastly, some dogs may do it because it tastes good or out of boredom. No harm, no foul if they like the taste. In the case of boredom, lack of exercise could be a factor. Proper daily exercise may reduce the need to eat grass.

In any event, the general consensus is that grass eating is a normal canine behavior, and for the most part safe. Again, please be cautious in unfamiliar areas, as there may be dangerous pesticides or potentially harmful plants that could pose a health risk for your dog. If your dog is healthy, this may be a harmless activity. If you have concerns, please schedule a trip to your vet to have a checkup, make sure your dog is getting enough exercise, and always make sure you are feeding a good quality, nutritional diet to your dog.