Unlike many other animals, dogs aren’t shy about showing their emotions, and one of these emotions is licking. It’s unmistakable when they’re angry, and likewise when they’re happy or stressed out — just like with humans. Of course, each dog has a different personality, and so will express his or her emotions in a different way. Just why do dogs lick us, each other, their feet or other random things around the house?
Certain breeds are more aggressive, while others are shy and nervous to the point that they can be prone to illness. But when dogs want to show their affection, they universally wag their tails and lick their owners, something you’ve probably noticed when you get home from work and your dog jumps up on you with excitement.
So, why do dogs lick, stretch and exhibit other behaviors? As a dog owner, it’s important to understand a dog’s range of emotion and how he shows it.
Why Do Dogs Lick and are they really kisses?
Dogs often lick their masters. When you’ve been away for a long time and your dog misses you a lot, he’ll definitely cover you with licks when you get back home. This is one of their chief ways of showing love, affection and loyalty. Most of the time, it’s a positive sign.
However, there are also instances where dogs lick because they are stressed. Unfortunately, there are some dogs that may take their stress on themselves, which can negatively affect their health. As the pet owner, it will help you to become familiar with the typical behaviors dogs exhibit and the different expressions they make to know when they’re happy, stressed, angry or sad. Are they kisses? Pedigree doesn’t think so and neither do we
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All dogs shed hair. But just like humans, if they seem to be shedding more than usual, something could be wrong. You will notice that when your dog is really stressed out, it tends to shed excessively. Some pet owners notice their dogs lose a lot of fur when they visit the vet’s office, for instance.
Yawning is most often associated with sleepiness. When your pet wants to sleep and to just have a rest, it yawns. But there are also cases where yawning can also be a sign of stress. When yawning is accompanied by other behaviors, such as pinned-back ears or attempts at avoidance, there is a high chance that your dog is stressed out.
Dogs have different kinds of ears. Some ears are stand up high, while others droop down low. But regardless of the shape of the ear, most dogs pin their ears back when they’re under stress. This is a universal trait across pretty much every dog breed. If you notice that your dog is has pinned-back ears, then it’s a telltale sign that she or he is anxious about something.
Sometimes, your pet might try to avoid other dogs or even people. This can be expressed by turning away and trying to flee the situation, or through subtler signs such as avoiding eye contact. The reasons for avoidance may vary, but when you notice your dog exhibiting this behavior, it’s best to give him the space he wants and let him be alone for a while.
Some dogs are really playful and physically active, always wanting to move and run around, causing them to pant from exertion. But if you notice your dog has started panting without reason, and you also notice that your dog has pinned-back ears, this is a sign that your dog is stressed. And watch out — in these cases, if your dog is panting and suddenly stops, he may bite.
Chewing and Biting
Dogs find different coping mechanisms to alleviate stress. For dog breeds that are on the more aggressive side, they may resort to biting and chewing your shoes, furniture or anything else lying around at home. In the most severe cases, a highly stressed dog may even bite or nibble at his own skin. This is a destructive behavior that signals that something is truly wrong, and must be attended to immediately.
Dogs bark when there is a threat or when someone is encroaching on their territory. But if you notice that your pet is howling or barking a lot more than usual, this is a sign of anxiety. Since many dogs tend to bark a lot in general, it can be hard to determine what constitutes normal and what constitutes excessive barking. You need to be attentive to your pet and get to know his patterns. As the pet owner, you know your dog better than anyone.
Refusing to Eat
When your dog is really stressed, he may start refusing food, which can severely affect his overall health. Dogs find it very difficult to eat under extreme stress, even you offer their favorite, most delicious foods.
Apart from these behavioral traits, there are plenty of other behaviors your dog may exhibit, many of which may drive you crazy!
From time to time, every dog gets really angry and wants to chase cats. This can be a difficult behavior to control, especially if your dog hates cats. This behavior tends to be more pronounced in breeds that were historically used for hunting. When these kinds of dogs see cats, they switch into predator mode and start chasing. This can be quite problematic, as if the dog engages in a fight with the cat, both animals could end up hurt.
This may surprise you, but several dogs actually enjoy eating grass. There is no definite explanation as to why certain dogs seem to enjoy eating grass, but according to experts, dogs eat grass (which contains fiber and chlorophyll) because it can aid their digestion. Another reason could be attributed to canine evolution. Before veterinarians and medications, wild dogs would resort to natural plants to help heal themselves. So if you ever notice that your dog is eating grass, there is nothing to worry about — this is a perfectly natural behavior.
Licking Other People and Animals
It’s normal for dogs to lick their owners as an expression of their affection, or when they are asking for food. For dogs, licking is almost the same as kissing. However, when they start to lick other people or other animals, this might mean something else. If you notice your dog has begun licking excessively, it could signal anxiety, another type of emotional imbalance or a physiological problem that should be checked out by a vet.
Walking In Circles
Dogs can become quite uneasy at times, and to self-soothe they will often walk around in circles. They also tend to walk in circles before they lie down. This is a normal part of the doggy routine as they search for a comfortable place to sleep. Don’t be alarmed if you see your dog walking in circles, as this is perfectly normal behavior.
Another way dogs express emotion is by wagging their tail. Dogs and even cats usually communicate with their tails. Dogs often wag their tails when their happy, but they could be expressing another emotion, as well. To understand your dog’s mood, look at the position of the tail. If your dog is wagging his tail while it’s in a low U position, that means he feels relaxed. But if your dog’s tail is held high, it means that your dog is angry or annoyed. Be attentive, because if your dog is holding his tail high and stiff and starts growling, he may be preparing to bite.
How to Help Your Dog
If you notice any of these signs, you should come to the rescue right away. The last thing you would is for your dog suffer, which can negatively affect his health. Knowing your dog’s reactions, behaviors and attitudes makes it much easier to know how to respond to his needs. Here are several different ways to keep your dog’s life fun and stress-free.
Keep the Routine
Dogs love to stick to a routine, and any deviation can cause stress for them, so try to feed, walk and play with your dog at the same times every day.
Avoid stressful situations: Depending on the dog’s personality, he can get overwhelmed when he encounters stressful situations. If you know that your dog does not like interacting with other people or being in public, for instance, then try to avoid taking him to places where there will be lots of people in order to prevent him from becoming anxious.
Do fun activities or exercise
Just like humans, dogs need to exercise often. Take the time to play with your dog and make sure he gets plenty of physical activity. Exercise is a great stress-reliever. Learn which activities your dog enjoys the most, such as going for walks, running or playing fetch. Purchase toys for your dog so he that he can stay entertained even when you’re not at home. Just remember to ensure that the toys are specifically designed for dogs and are safe for use.
Spend Time Together
It’s crucial to spend quality time with your pet. This helps you to get to know more about your dog, its personality, behavior and set of characteristics. The more you know about your dog’s personality, the easier it will be to train your pet. Playing with your dog every day also helps to establish a stronger bond. But bear in mind that you’re not just your dog’s pal — when it comes time to train your dog, he must respect you and view you as his master.
Set the rules
When they’re not trained properly, dogs can be really difficult to control. You need to train your pet as early as possible so that things don’t get out of control down the road. Teach the basic commands your dog needs to learn to stay safe, like sit, stay and come.
When your dog does something good, give him a reward like a treat or words of praise. But if your dog breaks a rule, you need to discipline him in a way that’s firm, but never harsh or cruel. Always remember that your dog really wants to please you.
Dogs are man’s best friend, but there are plenty of challenges and responsibilities that come with being a pet owner. When your dog starts exhibiting behaviors like excessive licking or barking, you need to know what those signs mean so that you can respond to the situation.
These actions could be attributed to a myriad of factors, from lack of training to stress or injury, in which case you need to know when it’s time to take your dog to the vet.
So over to you? What does your dog do that seems strange or weird to you? Let us know in the comments