Your Domesticated Animal is closer to being Wild than you think! Yes, there are indeed some very curious, strange, or downright disgusting wild dog behaviors that are frequently displayed by our domestic dogs, but which are very misunderstood by people. How can we eliminate unwanted dog behaviors if we are unfamiliar with their origins in the wild, their true meanings and purposes? Let’s expose a few.
After your Pooch does his elimination job outside, he kicks his feet and covers his mess with dirt and leaves. That is purely dog instinctive behavior. What he is doing is applying a very intelligent and critical skill for survival in the wild. He is covering and removing his scent, which otherwise might cause him to be found by predators.
Mother wolves actually eat the feces of the young pups until they are old enough to run with the pack. As awful as this sounds, if the mother failed to do so, the very young pups would lie or sit in their own mess or that of a litter mate. Then they would be easily located by predators. Until the pups can walk away from their feces, they must be licked by the mother and stimulated to go to the bathroom under her supervision.
Another annoyance to people, most dogs will scratch the ground before lying down at night to sleep. Contrary to popular opinion, your dog’s scratching the carpet or ground at most times is not a nesting instinct but, rather, is a signal that he is in his assigned place and content. Then he will turn to the left, to the right, and left one more time and lie down. You see, each pack member sleeps in the same spot every night, and your domestic dog still has this animal instinctive behavior firmly ingrained.
Several people have told me that their dog wants attention when he shows his belly to them. This is partially true, because many dogs do it so sweetly that no one can resist them, and they know it! You need to understand, though, that it is another instinctive behavior for dogs in the presence of their leader – It is a sign of submission and respect, but not of fear.
Higher ranking wolves posture over lower ranked wolves, especially the younger ones, to show displeasure or to put them in their place. The lower ranked animal then often shows his belly, or as the author of the popular children’s book series, “Julie of the Wolves,” put it: “flashes the white flag of surrender.”
Another annoyance and possible tripping risk is that overly enthusiastic greeting you get from your favorite Pooch. Wolf pups jump eagerly and lick the mouths and faces of the adults when they get back from hunting. The jumping is a welcome and a joyful greeting that comes to them quite naturally. After all, they cannot reach the faces of the adults without jumping.
Our puppies also seek to lick our faces, smelling the food we recently ate – because the adult wolves regurgitate for them. I go a long way for my dogs, but not that far!
Other licking? Chin licking is an animal instinctive behavior that is a great show of respect, so it is intended as an honor when your Pooch wants to “kiss” yours. He recognizes you as his superior and wants to curry favor. If you are still having serious issues (e.g., humping), be encouraged. The chin licking is a sign that your dog is seriously seeking you as a Leader. Be one!
Wolves and dogs also clean one another’s eyes, ears, and genital areas to groom and clean each other and to keep the pack healthy. That is not being fresh. You may also have noticed wolves or dogs mouthing each other all over. This is actually a massage they do to build muscle.
Another unwanted but common dog instinct is stealing food from people and other animals. This one can get serious, for food is one of the power struggles among dogs. My Labrador Retriever puppy lost that power struggle after ONE time – when she dared to swipe a bite of my cheese eggs, which I took back!
Remember, for any of you who have pets who display these dog instinctive behaviors and you do not like them, there are ways to stop any and all of them. Dogs instinctively submit to their pack leader, and will stop a behavior when they know it is not wanted by you. You do NOT have to live with disgusting or annoying wild dog behavior! Just ask an expert for help.