We love our companion animals. But sometimes their actions are mystifying, if
not altogether baffling. Fortunately, our own Dr. Jane is on-hand to offer some
rationale behind some of the most perplexing pet behaviors.
Why Does My Dog Stare At Me?
Dogs stare at their human companions for any number of reasons. Often, it’s
because they want something from you: a tasty snack, a walk around the block, an
impromptu game of fetch, etc. Dogs can also stare as a form of attention-seeking
behavior. Others are simply indicating neediness for human touch, praise or
direction. With more perceptive dogs, they may actually be attempting to read an
emotion in our facial expressions. Rest assured that in most cases, staring is
considered to be a positive behavior, as most trainers encourage dogs to stare
at their pet parents. There are instances, however, where staring at a dog can
be considered confrontational or a direct challenge (in the wild, canines stare
down their challengers). Staring deeply into a canine’s eyes is an activity that
should only be engaged within the bounds of a healthy human-dog relationship. If
you aren’t sure, don’t do it before talking it over with an animal behaviorist.
Why Does My Dog Turn in Circles Before He Poops?
Not all dogs do it, but many pet parents have watched with confusion at a dog
who spins in circles, then steps from one back paw to the other before doing his
business. No one knows for sure why dogs do this, but there are several
theories. Twirling in circles may be evolutionarily beneficial, in that it
enables wild dogs to scan the horizon for predators, so as not to be attacked
while in a vulnerable position. Other experts believe the walking helps get the
bowels moving. Canines have scent glands in their paws, so twirling might be
another way for them to spread their scent around, letting other dogs know that
the territory has been claimed.
Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
How many of you have had a cat that licks you incessantly? Well, experts in
feline behavior believe that when a cat grooms and licks another cat or a human,
they’re conveying trust, affection and caring. These licks are actually ‘kisses’
and a sign that your cat feels happy and safe. When a cat bonds to a human,
there can be no limit to feline affection.
Why Does My Cat Meow At Me?
Anyone who has ever lived with a vocal cat has certainly asked this question.
The experts say that when a cat meows at their humans, they’re asking for
something. Over time, felines have figured out that meowing gets results, but
why is this so effective? Feline behaviorists believe that ‘meowing’ is actually
a cat’s way of imitating the cry of a human infant. It’s a behavior that kittens
learn early on, as kittens meow to their mothers, often because they’re hungry.
I find it interesting that cat meows can vary depending on what they are asking
for. For example, the meow to ‘go outside’ can sound very different from the one
for ‘feed me’. Experts have also found that cats meow differently to different
For the most part, when a kitty is making a vocal request, it is out of
pleasure and trust that their human companion will fulfill the feline’s every
If your cat is obsessively meowing and the behavior is increasing, it is always
a good idea to get your kitty checked by your local veterinarian. Certain
medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, can cause excessive vocalization.
If you have a question about your pet kid’s behavior, please share it with us in
the comments section below!
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr. Jane Bicks