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Dog sticking out his tongue

Dogs might be man’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean we always understand one another. There are a lot of times when our pups have us tilting our heads and wondering, “Why do they DO that?” Today, we’re going to answer some of the most common questions about dogs, so you can stop questioning and start understanding your pup better. We’ll cover:

#1: Why is My Dog’s Nose Dry?

Dog's nose close up

When it comes to sniffing, a wet nose works better than a dry nose for dogs. Dog noses are naturally wet because of the combination of mucosal glands in the nose, and frequent licking by your dog. Do when their pup’s nose is dry, many folks think it’s a sign of illness. Your dog could have a dry nose for any number of reasons, such as being outdoors on a sunny, hot day, or naptime when your pup isn’t licking his or her nose and keeping it wet. However, if your dog’s nose is severely dry, cracked, or bleeding, then it’s time to talk to a vet and make sure there’s nothing wrong.

#2: Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

White dog looks spacing

While poop-eating may seem gross to us, to dogs, it comes from total instinct. When a mama dog has a litter of puppies in the wild, she cleans up after their little poops the only way she can, by eating them. Not only does this keep her den clean; it also protects her puppies from nearby predators, who could be drawn in by the smell. Puppies often learn this behavior from mom, as it coincides well with their natural curiosity and desire to smell and taste EVERYTHING. While most pups grow out of this habit, some dogs eat poop as adults out of boredom, a lack of proper nutrition, or a lack of training against the behavior.

#3:  Why Does My Dog Stare at Me?

Brown dog stares at camera

We’d all love to think our dog is staring at us out of undying devotion and love. But more likely than not, your dog is staring at you for one of two reasons. Either they want something, or they are trying to figure out what you want. In the first scenario, it might be food, or a treat, a walk, or playtime. In the second, you could be training, or you might’ve said something your pup doesn’t understand, and he’s working hard to try to find the meaning in your expression.

Paws a moment.

Peace of mind starts here.

#4: What Does a Dog Howling Mean?

Dog howling outside of the house

Is your dog connecting with his inner wolf by howling? Howling, along with barking, whining and other noises is simply one way that dogs have of communicating with each other, and us. Dogs howl to make their presence known and to mark their territory. Dogs also may howl for attention, or wail as a response to loud or high-pitched noises, like an ambulance siren. Sadly for fantasy lovers, howling has nothing to do with the full moon; it’s just your dog’s way of saying (loudly), “Hello!”.

#5: Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Small dog sits on grass

Different vets and research institutions continue to argue about the answer to this question. Many folks believe that dogs eat grass when they have a stomach ache, to make themselves throw up, or do so to fill a nutritional deficit in fiber. However, owners report that only about 10% of dogs appear unwell before eating grass, only about a quarter of dogs vomit right after eating grass, and some dogs on high fiber diets still go for the green. The most likely reasons for your dog’s grass-eating habits are boredom, or that they like the taste.

Should you worry about your dog eating grass? Vets say this is normal behavior that occurs in one out of every two pups. As long as your dog isn’t eating all kinds of plants, some of which can make them sick, grass alone is fine and is digestible by your dog, so there’s no need for concern.

#6: Why Does My Dog Lick Me?

Dog licks man's face

Like barking and howling, licking is a form of doggie communication. Dogs are instinctually drawn to licking right from birth when a mama dog is licking the babies to feed and care for them. This habit translates into a submissive gesture of affection in older dogs. Dogs also do like the salty taste of our skin, which is why some dogs love giving kisses after a workout (Yuck!). But mostly, if your dog is licking your face, they are just trying to say, “I love you.”

#7: How Can I Stop My Dog from Barking?

Dog opens his mouth barks loudly

This question is as old as the relationship between man and dog. The answer lies in training. Most dogs bark to alert their owners or other dogs about something interesting, whether it’s a squirrel or deer, a car, or the mail person. Teaching your dog not to bark can include several different methods. Positive reinforcement training teaches dogs to ignore outside distractions by rewarding your dog for quiet behavior, such as passing another dog on the street without barking. The pup quickly learns that being quiet earns a treat, while barking gets them nothing.

#8: What Vaccinations Should My Dog Have?

Fluffy dog taking vaccinations at vet

Just like vaccinations for humans, immunization shots for dogs fall into two categories: necessary and optional. While laws vary by state, dogs are usually required to have an annual rabies vaccine, to prevent the spread of this dangerous disease. The ASPCA includes the rabies vaccine as a part of the core vaccines: those recommended by most vets for ALL dogs.

The other core vaccines are:

  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Distemper Virus
  • Adenovirus-2

 

Non-Core, or optional vaccines, include Bordetella, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis, and canine influenza, among others. While these are optional legally, and may not be recommended for all dogs, most canine boarding facilities and dog parks require all visiting pups to receive Bordetella vaccines in addition to core vaccines at least once per year (some need Bordetella once every six months).  Before bringing your dog to a daycare or dog park, be sure to go over the vaccination requirements, and talk to your vet about the best way to keep your dog safe from disease.

#9: Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Dog waiting for tooth brush

The answer is: Absolutely! Doggie dental care is just as important as vaccinations and other preventative health measures you take for your dog. Just like in humans, dogs are prone to tartar and plaque, which can build up and travel below the gum line, causing gingivitis, periodontitis, and in extreme cases, blood infections. It’s estimated that by two years old, most dogs will have some form of dental disease, but this is easily preventable when you brush your dog’s teeth regularly and take them to the vet for annual exams and cleanings. Want to learn how to brush your dog’s teeth, from what products to use to how often you should be cleaning them? Our complete guide to doggie dental care has you covered.

#10:  How Often Should You Bathe a Dog?

Dog taking bath

Unlike kitties, while dogs do lick themselves, they don’t truly self-bathe. And, unlike a pristine indoor cat, your dog is much more likely to get dirty in the great outdoors (hello, mud puddle!). So you will need to bathe your dog with some frequency to keep them clean and healthy.

How do you know when to bathe your dog? There are two times to bathe your dog: when he or she gets notably dirty, such as after a swim in muddy water, and your regularly scheduled baths. How often you bathe your dog depends on your dog’s breed. For example, hairless breeds need the most bathing, with hairless dogs needing a bath once a week to keep their skin healthy. Furred dogs and long-haired dogs don’t need to be bathed as often, as long as you are brushing your dog’s coat regularly. A good bath every 4-6 weeks should be enough to keep their coat shiny and healthy.

The Bottom WOOF

Dogs still do plenty of things that confuse us, but we hope these answers have helped you get closer with your pup, and provide the best care possible for your furry best friend. Having a pet insurance policy can also help you, and your dog have a long and happy life together, so be sure to check out our options for pet parents.

Have more questions about your dog’s behavior or care needs? Share your questions with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!

Paws a moment.

Peace of mind starts here.

About the author

Alice is the proud mama to her beautiful 3-year-old Labrador Retriever, Bella. Bella loves to cuddle up with Alice when she's reading a book on a cold Chicago night. No matter what the occasion is, Bella is always ready to pounce at the closest squirrel or rabbit when Alice runs with her along Lake Michigan in the summertime. When Bella's not tracking down random animals, she's taking a cozy nap or destroying toys left and right.

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