As we all know, dogs are descended from wolves. The dog sitting at your feet has ancestors that ran in packs, hunted for their food and slept in dens. For the most part, they’ve become pretty domesticated in the centuries since then. But some stuff from that lifetime is still in your dog’s head and explains some of the stranger dog behaviors we see today.
Digging before laying down: Wild canines settle down to sleep at night in a spot that is snug and hidden from predators’ view. This often means digging a small hole or trampling down some grass. That’s why, to this day, your dog may “dig” in the floor or walk in a few tight circles before laying down. He’s trying to trample down just enough tall grass to lay down but not so much that he’ll be visible from overhead. Sort of.
Howling: It's a form of communication that works well across long distances. With modern dogs, many dogs bark more than they howl. Some breeds, like Bassett Hounds, are more inclined to howl like their wolfy ancestors.
Read More: 4 Reasons Why Dogs Howl
Licking other dogs’ mouths as a greeting: When wolves went scouting for food, they would eat some of what they found, naturally. When they came back, other pack members licked their mouth to find out what they found for the pack to eat. That licking-as-greeting behavior still happens today.
Crazy for squeaker toys: Ever wonder why your dog loves squeaker toys, going on high alert when you squeak one and attacking it once caught? The sound of a squeaker reminds the ancient wolf in your dog of small prey, awakening the hunter instinct. No wonder they get so ferocious with those toys.
So there you have it. Dog behaviors that look strange today are often reminders of their wild wolf past.
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Photo by uberphot on Flickr and used with Creative Commons License