All animals have unique personalities and accompanying quirks. There are particular habits, some of them very strange indeed, that are quite common in the world of cats and dogs.
Circle work before sleeping Many dogs will turn and walk around and around before lying down to sleep. Although completely appropriate on grass and leaves to wear down a nice sleeping spot, most dogs also perform this ritual when in their plush, soft doggy beds. Some even ‘dig’ their blankets and bedding. This habit is your dog making their bed comfortable, or at least that’s what they think they are doing. It’s believed this is an inherited behaviour from wolves and other canine ancestors.
Digging Dogs not only dig to make a comfortable spot to sleep, but also dig to hide food, bones or toys from others, to investigate a scent, to use up excess energy or simply because they enjoy it. Indoor dogs will also dig to hide toys and treats under pillows and furniture. If your dog is making holes all over your backyard, designate an area or provide a sandpit for them to go dig-crazy! Use positive reinforcement and rewards to encourage them to use this area only for digging.
Bum sniffing Whilst we use our eyes and language to gauge another person’s mood and learn about them, a dog’s strong sense of smell guides them in these matters and they skip the small talk! Dogs have an anal gland that excretes various chemicals and these provide other dogs with loads of important information such as gender, health, diet, mood and friendliness.
Chasing their own tail This habit usually begins when young. Puppies, still becoming aware of themselves, catch sight of their tail in their peripheral vision and the chasing and twirling begins. For many dogs it is a bit of harmless fun – as long as they don’t actually chew or bite their tail – but it can also be a sign obsessive-compulsive behaviour or that there is a dermatitis, flea, tick or worm problem. If you suspect one of these more serious issues is present then consult your veterinarian.
Acting like a pinball Every now and then, for no discernible reason, cats will run around, perhaps even doing laps of the house, and be jumping and leaping off furniture. Don’t worry, they are just letting off steam and getting some exercise.
Rubbing against you… and everything else Cats have a unique scent and when they rub against things they are leaving this scent to claim ownership (yes, you’re theirs) and mark their territory.
Unfortunately, it’s not a sign of affection unless your cat rubs their face against yours, then that is definitely love. This is how cats greet each other so feel privileged.
Rolling around and showing their belly If your cat falls down in front of you and rolls over, it usually means they want to play and get some cuddles from you. It’s also a sign of submission, which means your cat trusts you.
Kneading We’ve all been on the receiving end of a cat repeatedly stepping or kneading our laps. A kneading and gently purring cat is a very happy and secure cat. It is thought that this behaviour starts when kittens are very young and knead their mothers to stimulate the release of milk, and then carries through to adulthood to demonstrate contentment.
Box beds You could spare no expense in an attempt to make little kitty happy with luxury bedding and perches, but no doubt you’ll instead find them sleeping in a discarded cereal box or curled up in the smallest, most awkward space in your home. Cats are intelligent animals and know that they are exposed in the open so they feel safer if hidden in a small space.